Edward I (17/18 June 1239 7 July 1307), also known as Edward Longshanks (notably, he stood 6'2'' (1.88 meters) tall, pretty impressive for his time) and the Hammer of the Scots was king of England and son of Henry III. He was named after England's royal saint, Edward the Confessor who was then thought to be The Paragon of kingly perfection. He has been immortalised as the bad guy from Braveheart (though that version is blatantly a significant Historical Villain Upgrade).
He first came into prominence during the Baron Wars when radical elements of Parliament led by Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, tried to wrest power away from King Henry. The King was imprisoned but Prince Edward escaped and rallied royalist forces and defeated de Montfort.
After becoming King, Edward decided to settle old scores by conquering Wales—the Welsh had sided with the barons, and Llywelyn ab Gruffudd (the "Prince of Wales", at the time an actual leader) married de Montfort's daughter Eleanor. Edward incorporated Wales into his kingdom and named his infant son Edward of Caernarfon (who was actually born in Wales; Carenarfon is the site of one of Edward's major castles built to control the country) Prince of Wales, in order to keep to the terms of the agreement that his candidate would be Welsh-born and non-English-speaking.note The firstborn sons of English kings had been named Prince of Wales ever since.
Then Scotland thought it a good idea to have Edward judge who would be their next king. He gave his support to John Baliol who in turn acknowledged Edward's overlordship. But when war with France coincided with a Welsh rebellion, he exercised his overlordship and summoned the Scottish nobles to fight for him but they refused and sided with France. Edward would spend the rest of his life fighting Scotland. As a King, Longshanks was also responsible for persecuting and censuring Jews and finally passing the 1290 Edict of Expulsion that would eventually be revoked by Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War. Despite these less-than-pleasant actions, English historians of the 19th and 20th Centuries nontheless feel that Edward I was very important in developing and nurturing English institutions, encoding several important laws and legal reforms that made him a highly important medieval monarch.
Edward I in fiction:
- Braveheart, natch.
- Not directly, but he's one of the main inspirations for Lord Tywin Lannister in A Song of Ice and Fire. The backstory of Lord Tywin's defeat of House Reyne parallels Edward's fight against Simon de Montfort. Montfort's standard (Silver Lion on Red Field) is inverted for the colours of House Reyne (Red Lion on Silver Field).
- Speaking of the above, Edward is portrayed by Stephen Dillane (Stannis Baratheon in Game of Thrones) in Outlaw King.
- In Age of Empires II, he is the antagonist of the "William Wallace: Learning Campaign", although outside of pre-scenario artwork sketches he does not make a direct appearance.