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Edward I. as a Military Leader.

THE period between the death of Richard Coeur de Lion and the birth of Edward, son of Henry III., though marked by political advancement on a striking scale, was a period of loss and disaster in all other respects. John was a poor soldier, and Henry was less than none. In the reign of the former a foreign prince actually landed in England to fight in a domestic quarrel, and in the reign of the latter another foreign prince was made the arbiter between the sovereign and the barons, who, in striving for themselves, were indirectly forwarding public liberty. Neither father nor son was able to uphold the reputation which Richard had won for the crown of England. But the first-born of the weak Henry was destined to revive the greatness of the English name in arms, and at the same time to give willing aid in laying the foundations of political liberty. Henry's chief title to respect is that he was the father of Edward Longshanks. And so it was felt to be at the time, for, says Fazio degli Uberti, an Italian poet who lived in the middle of the fourteenth century, and part of whose poem entitled Dittamondo has been translated by Mr. Dante Rossetti,—

Handsome in body and most poor in heart,
Henry his son and heir succeeded him,
Of whom to speak I count it wretchedness.
Yet there's some good to say of him I grant,
Because of him was the good Edward born,
Whose valour still is famous in the world.

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This Edward, our first king of that name since the Conquest, was also our first really great soldier as well as statesman; equal in prowess to Richard, and his superior in the higher walks both of war and polity. His many campaigns, fought chiefly to secure the unity of Britain, afford further proofs that the medieval warriors were not so ignorant of sound principles as we moderns have been taught to believe.

Edward, like so many of our early kings, was educated in a school of trial and adversity. Born in 1239, he had Simon de Montfort for a teacher, and St. Louis for an example. The first, Henry's brother-in-law, had been taught the warfare of those days by his father, and from the son Edward must have learned much that helped him to develop his faculties, both as a soldier and a statesman. St. Louis presented an example of a prudent and conscientious ruler, having the habits of a patriarch and the VOL. XV.-No. 87.


air of an enthusiast. In the court of his own father Edward must have seen much to admire, but much also that was distasteful to him; and although he loved his father, yet the visible disorder and want of purpose in the conduct of affairs must have made a painful impression on one who was himself orderly and capable of framing and following out a plan of action. Betrothed at the age of fifteen to Eleanor of Castile, Edward accompanied his mother and brother Edmund to Burgos, where her brother Alphonso held his court, to claim his bride, and this journey in the summer of 1254, followed by a subsequent visit to Paris, where Edward must have seen some of the survivors of St. Louis' great but fatal expedition to Egypt, gave him still further opportunities for improvement which his after-career shows he did not neglect. At eighteen, after his return to England, in his quality as Earl of Chester, and nominally Lord of Gascony, Wales, and Ireland, he came abruptly into contact with the roughness of life, and found himself obliged, with a poorly furnished exchequer and few followers, to exercise his wit as well as his courage in checking the incursions of the Welsh. Here, while riding through the border, unable to strike, both because he wanted men and experience, he must have meditated deeply on the best means of dealing with the Welsh difficulty, and what was destined to prove of great importance to him, he acquired a knowledge of the topography of Gloucester, Hereford, Worcester, and the border generally, which in a few years he was able to apply. Now and subsequently Edward was made to feel how his weakness on the borders was a double fetter on the King of England, and hence his devotion in after-life, with rare exceptions, of the bulk of his resources to the great end of securing unity of power in Great Britain. His sojourn on the frontier must have served to complete that physical training which was begun in the tilt-yard of Windsor. With a frame more powerful than that of other men, he derived great advantages, whether in the chase, or the tournament, or in actual combat, from the length of his limbs; and the firmness of his seat on horseback is specially recorded in the chronicles; but his chief strength lay in a soul which never saddened with adversity, and a brain which could foresee, and devise, and execute. Much of his military knowledge he acquired, no doubt, from Simon de Montfort, especially in those branches of the practice of war which include the attack and defence of strong places; but he could not fail to learn also from Anthony Beck, scholar, statesman, soldier, who went with him to the Holy Land, and who afterwards became famous as the warrior-bishop of Durham; and from Robert Burnell, who was his private secretary for many years, and finally his chief minister, and who is described by Dr. Hook as one of the greatest statesmen our country has produced.

Although Edward took an active part in public life, and entered with a healthy zest into the lighter pastimes and serious sports of youth, he was not called upon to display any military ability until the outburst of the Barons' War in 1264, preparations for which had long been made by both sides. The campaign of that year was not fought out in an aimless

fashion, but on a plan dimly discernible to the patient student. London, and next to London the ports, were the objects contended for; and hence Kent and Sussex and the country round the metropolis became the theatre of war. Early in March Henry issued a summons to his lieges to meet him at Oxford, then one of the most important towns in the kingdom. The summons was only a pretext for form's sake, the king's real purpose being to collect an army composed of the forces of his adherents; and of this army Prince Edward was the chief. While the king's men were assembling at Oxford, De Montfort was collecting an army in and around London; De Clare, Earl of Gloucester, was performing a similar duty in East Kent; and the younger Simon, at Northampton, the chosen rendezvous, gathered a host, including the students whom Henry had driven from Oxford. In order to keep De Clare in check, the king detached Earl de Warrenne to hold Rochester and Reigate as a counterpoise to Tunbridge. Dover was in the hands of the barons, and the other Cinque Ports were on their side. Thus it will be seen that the armies of both parties were in detachments, but that the king was in a more central position than his adversary. This determined the first move in the game. Before the baronial forces could assemble in strength at Northampton the king resolved to strike, and he quitted Oxford in April, and marched direct upon Northampton. His reasons for this step were twofold, first to beat his foes in detail, next to effect a junction with Comyn, Bruce, Baliol, and other Scottish lords who owed him service, and were on the road to join him. This vigorous movement surprised Earl Simon. Northampton was taken after some fighting, in which the Oxford boys and their servants did good service with long and cross bows; the castle surrendered, the town was sacked, and the baronial troops which had arrived in the place were killed or taken. It was a great blow. Pursuing their march northward to meet the Scots, the royal troops took Leicester and Nottingham, where the Scots fell in. In the meantime Earl Simon, when he learned that the royalists had taken the Northern road, moved out of London to succour Northampton, but his course was arrested at St. Albans by news of the disaster which had befallen his son. His resolution was quickly taken. He marched forthwith back through London, taking with him a number of citizen volunteers, and moved upon Rochester, to besiege that place in concert with De Clare, who advanced from Canterbury. It was here that De Montfort is said to have made use of military engines, previously unknown in England, though well known to Cœur de Lion. Knowing the value of time, De Montfort pushed on the siege with vigour and adroitness, and rapidly got possession of the town; and he pressed the defenders of the castle so sharply that they were on the point of yielding, when a messenger brought word that Prince Edward was advancing on London from the North. Learning that De Montfort was on the Medway, Edward had started for the Thames at his utmost speed. But the leader of the baronial troops was not so to be caught. He broke up the siege, left a blockading force in Rochester, and doubled back to London. Finding that he had been anticipated by his

wary rival, Edward did not hesitate, but, crossing the Thames at Kingston, he marched into Rochester five days after he had quitted Nottinghamthat is, he marched on an average of more than thirty miles a day. This was a very successful stroke, but it must have been dealt at a great sacrifice of horseflesh. The king's army being now united, it was determined to march towards the south coast, in order probably to be within reach of any aid Queen Eleanor might send, as well as to overawe the Cinque Ports, and turn to the best account the resources of De Warrenne in Sussex. The king, therefore, capturing Tunbridge on the way, and placing a garrison there to hold De Clare in check, moved by Winchelsea and Battle upon Lewes. He was, however, foiled in an attempt to obtain the aid of the barons of the Cinque Ports for an attack on London from the Thames, and unable to get the aid of ships, he took hostages from the towns. This march through Kent and Sussex must have been a hard one for the royal army, so thinly peopled and partially cultivated were those counties at that period.

When De Montfort learned that the king was on his road from the Medway towards the coast, he probably guessed the goal of the march, and on the 6th of May, four days before Henry reached Lewes, De Montfort, strongly reinforced by Londoners, and taking with him as prisoners certain suspected citizens, headed for Lewes. What route he took is not recorded. But as the army he commanded was concentrated at Fleching, nine miles north of Lewes, it is probable that the troops moved on that point in two or more bodies by the roads which go through Bromley and Westerham, and Croydon and Godstone. If so, the left column would have to keep a sharp eye upon the garrison of Tunbridge. There is no proof that these routes were taken, and had the garrison of Tunbridge been active, some notice of it would have been preserved. Arrived at Fleching, De Montfort and De Clare sent two separate offers of accommodation to the king. Both were refused; both were answered with a defiance. The answer to the last was received on the 13th, and De Montfort at once resolved to force a battle next day. While his army spent the night in religious exercises, and in the making of knights, the royal forces were indulging in revelry and debauchery, profaning even the churches. A very lax watch was kept, and it was probably a knowledge of the condition of the royal forces which made De Montfort decide on a prompt and sudden attack. Accordingly he quitted his camp before sunrise, and put his different columns in motion. It was an arduous piece of work to guide them through the Weald to a position of vantage on the hills over Lewes; but, says Mr. Blaauw, in his excellent History of the Barons' War, "such exact orders had been issued by De Montfort to each banneret, how to direct his own forces and to meet at the appointed spot, that all parts of this military movement were combined with a regularity quite novel in England." The solitary sentinel on the hills was seized in his sleep, and the army was able to get clear of the Weald without interruption and to form line of battle on the Downs. Arranged

in four divisions, Henry de Montfort led the right, and next in succession were De Clare, then the Londoners, and finally Earl Simon, who held the reserve. In this order they moved down upon Lewes, following the sloping ridges of the Downs, here separated by ravines, a defect and a weakness in the line, but one which had a great share in determining the remarkable issue of the conflict. De Montfort had brought with him a car or litter of some kind, which he had used for his own conveyance, having been ill. In this car he now confined several London citizens, enemies of his cause, and he left them with the baggage, in charge of a baggage guard, on the hill-side, visible to all. It is supposed that he thereby wished to make his enemies believe that he was in the car, and still unable to take part in the battle; and it certainly had the effect of drawing their attention away from the decisive point of the field.

The van of De Montfort's army had come upon a party of foragers, sent out from Lewes, and had driven them into the royal lines. This was the first warning of the nearness of De Montfort, and he thus had the advantage of surprising his foes. But they were quickly afoot. Edward, being in the castle, hastily formed a division for fight, and thus he, being on the right, was opposed to the London division, led by Nicholas de Segrave. The King of the Romans, brother to Henry, mustered on the left, that is towards the Priory, while Henry headed a central and reserve body. The flower of the army gathered round Edward. It seems likely that these divisions came into action one after the other; and that the Prince and De Warrenne and William de Valence, all eager to close with the Londoners, charged them as soon as they could get themselves into order. No body of troops ever withstood the impetuous onset of Edward, and on this occasion, though they charged up hill, the iron-clad warriors split up the ill-armed citizen volunteers as a wedge splits up a treetrunk. The prince spurred into the throng to avenge a mother they had insulted; while his knights gloried in slaying the London citizens. This charge and pursuit carried Edward and his horsemen and foot clear off the field of battle over the ridge of the Downs. It was an attack separated by the nature of the ground from the rest of the line; and the two wings having disappeared, the remainder on both sides was left intact. Had Edward turned the ravine, and by wheeling to the left, swept in upon De Montfort's rear, he must have been victorious. Even when he had exhausted his wrath, in returning towards the field he delayed in order to capture the car and baggage of De Montfort. In the meantime the centre and right of the baronial army had fallen impetuously on the King of the Romans and King Henry, and at the right moment De Montfort, taking advantage of Edward's fault, threw upon the royalists the whole weight of his reserve. The charge was decisive. There was a mighty tumult of men and clangour of arms; the King of the Romans was cut off from his command and driven for refuge into a windmill; Henry's division was broken, and he himself, fighting in the press, was wounded, and lost two horses. The shattered royal bands, cut off from the castle, fell back

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