‘To whom shall the noble Edward be compared? Perhaps he will be rightly called a leopard…’
Thus the Song of Lewes, composed by a hostile poet, described Edward I of England, remembered as the conqueror of Wales and Hammer of the Scots. By comparing him to a leopard, the poet praised Edward’s pride and fierceness, but criticised his alleged treachery and falsehood.
From his youth Edward divided opinion, and still does to this day.
Few princes had to serve such a tough or prolonged military apprenticeship. Edward’s early difficulties and failures, especially in Wales, forged him into one of the ablest Plantagenet warrior-kings. His alleged inconstancy as a youth saddled him with the reputation of an oath-breaker, and his capture at the Battle of Lewes was a signal humiliation. The spectacular reversal of fortune at Evesham, and swift rise thereafter to commander-in-chief of his father’s armies, proved the making of Edward’s reputation.
Edward owed much of his contemporary fame to his prowess as a general and fighting soldier. This book is the first of a three-part study of his military career, beginning with Edward’s first experience of war as a teenager in the duchy of Gascony, ending in his last doomed march to Scotland, aged sixty-seven. Book One deals with his formative military experiences in Gascony and Wales, the Second Barons’ War and the suppression of the Disinherited, and finally his role in the ill-fated Ninth Crusade.
This is the first non-fiction book by David Pilling, author of the Leader of Battles series, Soldier of Fortune, Caesar’s Sword, Reiver, and many other tales.