Marc Morris - Edward I
Award winning historian
Taught history at the universities of London and Oxford
Presented the television series Castle, 2003
Castle: A History of the Buildings that Shaped Medieval Britain (2003)
The Bigod Earls of Norfolk in the Thirteenth Century (2005)
A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain (2008)
The Norman Conquest: The Battle of Hastings and the Fall of Anglo-Saxon England (2012)
Kings and Castles (2012)
King John: Treachery, Tyranny and the Road to Magna Carta (2015)
William I: England's Conqueror (2016)
Q: King Edward I – Historian Marc Morris – Intro
A: I studied history at university and became interested in the medieval period. I remember visiting a castle on a school trip, 12th, 13th century. This was a period I knew nothing about. I saw the courses offered and got hooked on English Medieval history, subjects like the Norman Conquest, King John and the Magna Carta, Henry III; subjects I wrote books about twenty years on.
Q: What did 13th century England & Europe look like?
A: In terms of England, England is basically the same size and shape as it is now. England solidifies as a country in the 10th century. By and large it’s very peaceful especially in 13th century England. There were occasions of breakdown. But it’s peaceful, prosperous, the population is rising.
Q: What were Edward’s strength’s that propelled him to leadership?
A: Edward is portrayed in the Mel Gibson film, Braveheart, and is called LongShanks. That is accurate. It was a name of a contemporary warrior; and Edward was very tall. He was encouraged to hunting and outdoor pursuits from a young age. We see him throwing himself into tournaments from his mid-teens and he becomes very good at it.
Q: What was Edward’s role in the 9th Crusade?
A: He goes on a crusade in his mid-20’s which was seen at the time as being the most noble thing you can do as a Christian warrior prince. He is one of only two English kings who makes it as far as the Holy Land. In the 13th century there is a constant kind of guilt about having to get Jerusalem back.
Q: What were Edward’s main accomplishments as king?
A: Previous reign, Henry the 3rd’s reign, had been unstable; collapsed into a civil war; a very destructive and bitter civil war. And Edward’s great accomplishment from the point of view of his English subjects was that he brought them peace. So from the start of his reign right thru for the next twenty-five years there is nothing in the way of civil unrest. So he is regarded as a masterful king who kept his great subjects in check, who enabled peace to flourish and who legislated a lot.
Q: What were the causes of the Edict of Expulsion against England’s Jews in 1290?
A: In terms of what are the long term causes, the root of it is kind of an anti-Semitism that goes back a couple of centuries. You have Jews living in English towns and cities from the late 11th century onwards. Because they were able to lend money at interest, they were extremely useful to the crown.
When the king needed money he could tap the Jewish subjects. He protected the Jewish community but he also abused it when he wanted. In the 13th century the expressions from the Christian clergy are increasingly anti-Semitic and virulent. That permeates down and becomes not just the acceptable thing to do but the right thing to do in the minds of the elite and by extension the rest of the population.