King Edward I and York

An image, most likely of Edward, from Wesminster Abbey (source wikipedia)

1272AD - 1307AD

Edward's reign began with the death of his father, Henry III, in 1272.  He is admired for his reforms to the way England was governed and the model Parliament, generally regarded as the first representative assembly.  But for much of his time he was preoccupied with mastering the rest of  Britain.

After successfully conquering Wales, he turned his attention to Scotland.  In 1296 Edward launched the first of his large-scale military expeditions north of the border.

This began the 300-year struggle for Scottish independence which only ended when James VI of Scotland became James I of England too in 1603.  And York frequently found itself as a base for royal military operations against the Scots.

In the summer of 1298 Edward I moved the two departments at the heart of government, the Chancery and Exchequer, to the city.  They only returned to London in 1304.  For those years, York was effectively the capital of England.

The city was also the base for Edward’s army.  Thousands of men stayed in York on their march north, and meat and grain was stored in the city.  It was boom-time for the city's shopkeepers and merchants.

Edward himself only visited York occasionally.  Two of his decisions unrelated to the Scottish campaign had long-term effects on the city.  The first was his expulsion of Jews from England in 1290.  The Jewish community in York, revived after the massacre of 1190, had once included some of the wealthiest figures in the city but they had been made penniless by excessive taxation.

Secondly, Edward created Kingston upon Hull by Royal Charter in 1299.  Within decades it had become a major shipping centre and port, diminishing York’s role as a centre of trade.


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