A Constitutional and Legal History of England

By Goldwin Smith | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Barons, Courts, and Parliament


THREE kings ruled in England in the fourteenth century: Edward II ( 1307-1327), Edward III ( 1327-1377), and Richard II ( 1377- 1399). Their reigns were disturbed by domestic broils and foreign battles. The period under review in this chapter was the century when the Hundred Years' War with France brought a harvest of victory to England at Sluys, Crécy and Poitiers. This was the century that also brought defeat in the darkness of the desperate years when Edward III was old and dying and, later, when Richard II was king and England's energy and exchequer were low. This was the century of the Black Death of 1349, of the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, of new quarrels with the church, of rising trade and commerce, of John Wycliffe and Geoffrey Chaucer, of the Revolution of 1399.

Edward II was thoroughly weak, manifestly unable to grasp and hold the reins of power. The restless baronage, remembering their golden hours when Henry III was king, were anxious to extend their strength once more. To baronial ambition was added annoyance as Edward II dismissed several of his father's ministers and replaced them by personal favorites, men whom the barons regarded as objectionable upstarts devoid of political knowledge or skill. After many quarrels with the king the barons came to Parliament in 1310 with armed retainers and compelled Edward II to submit to their control. This event, this decline once more into conflict, marks the first phase of the constant agitation for the reform of the royal administration characteristic of the fourteenth century.

A reform commission of twenty-one lay and ecclesiastical magnates, the "Lords Ordainers," forced Edward to accept their rules for the


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
A Constitutional and Legal History of England


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 566

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?