Dawn of XIII Century
The beginning of the thirteenth century was hard for England. Glorious King Richard the Lionheart had died
a hundred years before, and it seemed that the glories of England had vanished with him. Nearly all of the land
in France, which English kings, owned by the right of inheritance, had been lost due to the failures of King John,
a pale imitation of his brother Richard. When the coalition army that John had assembled against France was defeated
at the Battle of Bouvines, it was the final straw. Unwilling to tolerate such a king any longer, a group of English
noblemen offered Louis, heir to the French crown, to take the English crown as well.
Prince Louis landed in England in 1216. After a solemn entry into London, the French prince successfully launched
military operations against the few who remained loyal to England (if not to King John). These loyalists were led
by William Marshal, the best tournament fighter of his time and an English marshal. In the summer of 1217, hoping
to hand over the English crown to Prince Henry, its legitimate heir, Marshal brought his small army to Lincoln Castle,
which was besieged by supporters of Prince Louis. The fate of the Royal House of Plantagenet was to be decided within
those walls. And the dynasty was not interrupted.
Prince Henry had become King Henry III. However, his rule did not live up to the expectations of those who had
carved his path to the throne with their swords. English noblemen and knights, led by Simon de Montfort, Earl of
Leicester, insisted that they should take part in ruling the country. King Henry, whose mind always wandered from
state affairs, could hardly oppose a formidable warrior like de Montfort. Prince Edward, son of Henry III, rose up
to defend the crown and the monarchy. They exchanged hard words, and then resorted to arms. This was the beginning
of the famous Barons’ Wars, a civil war to the death.
De Montfort gained an advantage early on. In May 1264, he secured a brilliant victory in the battle of Lewes by defeating
the Royal Army and capturing both King Henry III and Prince Edward. However, it was this war that forged the leadership
skills of Edward, the sole heir to the throne and future King of England. He managed to escape captivity, and gathered
beneath his banner all those who were dissatisfied with de Montfort's rule. In August of 1265, the decisive Battle of
Evesham laid the foundation of Edward's many victories to come, paving his way to the crown.
Red Dragon's Arrow
King Edward I seeks to rule over the British Isles, but some object to his goals. The people of Wales, a land ruled
by ancient Celtic laws, where cattle theft is considered noble, reject Edward's claims to dominion. The king decides to
establish control himself, with the help of his warriors.
The Welsh campaign was further proof of Edward's military skills. He abandoned heavy knight cavalry almost entirely, and
put his focus on the infantry and riflemen, who were able to cross snow-covered passes and thickly forested mountain slopes.
There were no major battles in this war. Instead, the English forces pursued the elusive Welsh, and eventually caught up
to them in narrow gorges, mountain valleys, and forested hills. The Battle of Conwy, fought through the winter of 1295,
was one of the last and most characteristic engagements of that war.
By conquering Wales, Edward not only expanded his lands, but also gained control over Welsh archers, who were vital in
mountain and forest battles. They would be of great use to him very soon.
Edward had intended to subdue Scotland, a fractious and self-determined northern neighbor, for a long time. In 1296,
it appeared that he had succeeded, when after a series of political and military actions, the king of Scotland swore
allegiance to Edward. The king was subdued, but the country was not, and William Wallace lead an uprising just a year later.
The attempt to suppress the uprising resulted in England's crushing defeat by Sterling. The whole country rose up after
Wallace, and English garrisons were destroyed. Edward quickly gathered a new army and personally led the campaign. In
July 1298, two great warriors, the King of England and the bravest of Scotland's sons, faced each other on a field by
Falkirk. The outcome of the battle determined the fate of the Land of Lakes for many years to come.
"Good Old England"
At the end of the century, Edward felt like a sovereign ruler of the British Isles. A popular ballad of that time
said that there were no more kings but Edward, and that even King Arthur did not control such vast territories. England
entered a new century, guided by the iron hand of the warrior king.