Edward II (Dictionary of World Biography: Middle Ages)
Article abstract: Edward’s ineffectual leadership and weakness of character furthered the growth of representative government in England.
Edward II of Caernarvon was born at Caernarvon Castle on April 25, 1284, the fourth son of Edward I by his first wife, Eleanor of Castile. He was only a few months old when the last of his brothers died in August and he became his father’s heir to the throne. His father did not neglect Edward’s royal education. He was given a palatial residence of his own at an early age and efforts were made to find a queen for him. In 1301, he became the first Prince of Wales as a concession to a conquered people, and in 1302, he attended his first parliament.
As he approached twenty years of age, Edward physically resembled his father—tall, handsome, and very strong. On the other hand, there were significant differences between the two. Although the younger Edward regularly accompanied his father into battle against the Scots, he was not a warrior. In years to come, he would go out of his way to avoid battle. Instead, to the old king’s great disappointment, Edward had already begun to exhibit certain irresponsible traits. He frequently lost large sums of money gambling and preferred pedestrian amusements such as amateur theatricals, rowing, digging, and thatching houses. His greatest fault, however, the one which would prove his undoing, was his blind dependence on...
(The entire section is 1695 words.)
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