LIC Blog

Footsteps to War: Part 2 - Marriage and Money

2. Marriage and Money

Young Edward's household expanded as he grew. The initial grants from the exchequer had to be replaced with more permanent sources of income. In 1244, at the age of 5, his father gave him the Honour of Tickhill in Yorkshire, confiscated from the Countess of Eu. The income from this estate was augmented by the revenues of the vacant bishopric of Chichester.

In 1249 a far richer prize was bestowed on him, the entire Duchy of Gascony. This region of south west France had come to the English crown via the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to Henry III in the twelfth century. The only problem was that the country was up in arms against Edward's father. To make matters worse Alphonso X King of Castile also claimed Gascony as his own.

Henry managed to avoid war between England and Castile by arranging a marriage between Edward and the sister of Alphonso, Eleanor. That way both crowns maintained an "interest" in the Duchy. Alphonso negotiated hard for his half-sister, insisting that Edward should have estates earning him an income of 15,000 marks per year.

In early June 1254 Edward, his mother, brother Edmund and the Archbishop of Canterbury set sail for Bordeaux. From there they travelled to Burgos where the marriage took place on 1st November. Three weeks later the young couple were back in Gascony and Edward's fortunes were seemingly made.

As part of the marriage settlement Henry gave him extensive lands: in addition to Gascony he now received virtually all of Ireland; in England he received the earldom of Chester, together with the town and castle of Bristol. But by far the most politically important donation was that of the King's conquests in north Wales, which embraced all the land from the River Dee to the River Conwy. It was this last possession that provided the tinder for successive Welsh wars.