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Edward I and Wales, 1254-1307 (Hardback)

British History Medieval History P&S History Medieval Wales 14th Century Royal History 13th Century

By David Pilling
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 30 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526776419
Published: 18th June 2021

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£25.00


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Video review by Dr Alexander Clarke

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The late 13th century witnessed the conquest of Wales after two hundred years of conflict between Welsh princes and the English crown. In 1282 Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the only native Prince of Wales to be formally acknowledged by a King of England, was slain by English forces. His brother Dafydd continued the fight, but was eventually captured and executed. Further revolts followed under Rhys ap Maredudd, a former crown ally, and Madog ap Llywelyn, a kinsman of the defeated lords of Gwynedd.

The Welsh wars were a massive undertaking for the crown, and required the mobilisation of all resources. Edward’s willingness to direct the combined power of the English state and church against the Prince of Wales, to an unprecedented degree, resulted in a victory that had eluded all of his predecessors.

This latest study of the Welsh wars of Edward I will draw upon previously untranslated archive material, allowing a fresh insight into military and political events. Edward’s personal relationship with Welsh leaders is also reconsidered. Traditionally, the conquest is dated to the fall of Llywelyn in December 1282, but this book will argue that Edward was not truly the master of Wales until 1294. In the years between those two dates he broke the power of the great Marcher lords and crushed two further large-scale revolts against crown authority.

After 1294 he was able to exploit Welsh manpower on a massive scale. His successors followed the same policy during the Scottish wars and the Hundred Years War. Edward enjoyed considerable support among the ‘uchelwyr’ or Welsh gentry class, many of whom served him as diplomats and spies as well as military captains. This aspect of the king’s complex relationship with the Welsh will also feature.

David Pilling's second book may prove to be an essential guide to Edward I's campaigns in Wales during the late 13th century. Mr. Pilling has covered almost everything in this objective and fascinating study. Everything from political relations with Wales both before and after the campaigns, the background and context, to logistics, strategy and troop movements.

He also explores the legacy and aftermath of the conquest of Wales, and the building of the great castles which stand to this day. in the course of the narrative, he challenges some popular wisdom (James of St George did not "build" the castles. They weren't resented as much at the time). I found it fascinating that laws regarding female inheritance were more restrictive in some parts of Wales, when many people say Welsh law was "ahead of its time".

The other great thing about this book is that you actually want to keep reading. Its scholarly and packed full of information, but not dry or dull as proverbial dishwater. It is a worthy sucessor to Pilling's previous work on the Montofortian rebels of Henry III's reign. Maybe he will write a study of Edward's campaigns in Scotland next?

NetGalley, Joanna Arman

"It is an interesting read and is both well researched and written."

Clwyd FHS

Click here to watch

Video review by Dr Alexander Clarke

Fantastically detailed account of Edward I and his campaigns in Wales. Definitely a must-read for those with an interest in the people and places of that time.

NetGalley, Sarah Mueller

Well researched account of Edward I in Wales that is well written and interesting for a reader who likes historical accounts and battles.

NetGalley, Samantha Hehr

Featured in

Mortimer Matters, the magazine of the Mortimer History Society, July 2021

As seen in Inside Flintshire Magazine

Flintshire Magazine

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I got to know Edward I and Llewellyn through Sharon Kay Penman years ago, and I am a bit more sympathetic to Llewellyn in this book than the author was.
Overall, this was a fabulous read! I enjoyed the breakdown of the military maneuvers, as well as the dedication that Edward I took in subduing Wales. He was more determined than his predecessors, and it showed through the steps and efforts that he took.
The author did a great job with the materials, and breaks it down in an easy to read piece that readers will enjoy and connect with.

NetGalley, Rebecca Hill

A well written, informative historical account.

I enjoyed reading this book, it was very interesting and informative.

NetGalley, Rebecca Sims

I've never read a history specifically about how England took control of Wales. It's been something that I've known about for a while, but I never read a book just about it. It's a fascinating topic and makes me remember how Welsh people, to this day, hate the English and resent the colonization that took place in Wales. A language decimated, a people pushed down and forced to conform. But, this is a fascinating read that I would like on my shelf one day.

NetGalley, Caidyn Young

About David Pilling

David Pilling is a self-employed author and historian based in West Wales, where he was raised on a smallholding. As a child he acquired a love for the Welsh countryside and Welsh history, especially the medieval era. His particular interests lie in the Edwardian wars of the late 13th century. He is the author of Rebellion Against Henry III and Edward I and Wales, 1254-1307, this is his third book for Pen and Sword.

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