Page 1431


and his son, the younger Montfort, were slain

in the battle.

The story of Prince Edward's departure

for the Holy Land, to take part in the Eighth

Crusade, has already been narrated in the

preceding pages' This event happened in

1270. Henry III. had now occupied the throne

of England for fifty-four years. His government was as feeble as himself was decrepit.

The land was full of violence and distress.

His nephew, Prince Henry, son of Richard,

the King's brother, was assassinated by the

exiled sons of Leicester, who had survived

the battle of Evesham. Richard died of

grief. The barons despised their sovereign,

and looked forward with pleasant anticipations to the day of his death. Riots and

violence prevailed in many parts of the

kingdom. At last, in November of 1272,

the aged and despised Henry died, being

then in the fifty-seventh year of his reign.

Prince Edward, on hearing the news of

his father's death, set out from Palestine,

and arrived in England in 1274. His presenceeven the knowledge of his coming tended to restore confidence and order.

He began his reign with the enactment of

many salutary regulations relating to the

police of the kingdom, and other measures

of public safety. He was greatly distressed

on the score of means with which to administer the government, and, in his embarrassment, adopted a measure which came

near producing a civil war. He appointed

a commission to examine into the titles by

which the barons of the kingdom were holding their estates, with a view to the confiscation of any which might prove to be illegally

held. The commissioners had not proceeded

far, however, until they came upon the Earl

of Warrenne, who, when summoned to produce his titles, deliberately drew his sword

from its scabbard, and, laying his hand significantly on the hilt, replied: "This is the

instrument by which my ancestors gained their

estate, and by which I will keep it as long as

I live." This answer reported to the king had

the effect of putting an end to the project of

fine and confiscation.

In the year 1282 an insurrection broke out

in Wales. The people of that country had

illy brooked the conditions of peace which

Edward had imposed upon them after the

See ante, p. 1411.

battle of Evesham. Llewellyn, the king, led

his countrymen in the insurrection, which

came to a climax in a great battle in which

the Welsh were totally defeated. Llewellyn

was killed, and his brother David, the only

remaining heir to the throne of Wales, was

taken and beheaded. A good excuse was

thus afforded to King Edward for claiming

the crown for himself. In settling the terms

of peace he promised to give the people of

Wales a prince of their own country, and

when the condition was accepted he presented

them with his own son, who had been born

a few days before in the Welsh castle of

Caernarvon. To this babe was given the

title of Prince of Wales, which has ever

since been borne by the eldest sons of the

kings of England.

While Wales was thus acquired by conquest a plan, partly the product of natural

events and partly the work of Edward's

ambition, was brought forth with a view of

adding the crown of Scotland to that of

England. In that country King Alexander

III. had chosen for his queen the sister of

the English monarch, and of this union the

only issue was the Princess Margaret, who

was married to the king of Norway; and of

this union only a little daughter survived,

who became the heiress of Scotland. - In

1286 Alexander died, and the Norwegian

princess inherited her grandfather's dominions. Edward now proposed that his newborn son and the infant queen of Scotland

should be betrothed, and the proposition

was accepted by both the king of Norway

and the Scottish parliament. It thus appeared that the union of the crowns of England and Scotland was about to be effected.

But destiny had prepared the event otherwise. The Norwegian princess on her way

from the country of her birth to the kingdom

which she had inherited was taken ill on

shipboard and died at the Orkney Islands.

This unfortunate occurrence produced great

grief throughout the three kingdoms of

England, Scotland, and Norway. The union

of the former two realms was postponed

for three hundred years, and such was the

distraction of the Scottish councils that no

fewer than thirteen claimants of the crown

appeared in the field. While feuds and turmoils prevailed on all sides, it was agreed to

refer the settlement of the succession to King