The History of England from the Accession of Henry III. To the Death of Edward III. (1216-1377)

By T. F. Tout | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII.

THE CONQUEST OF NORTH WALES.

THE treaty of Shrewsbury of 1267 had not brought enduring peace to Wales and the march. The pacification was in essentials a simple recognition of accomplished facts, but, so far as it involved promises of restitution and future good behaviour, its provisions were barely carried out, even in the scanty measure in which any medieval treaty was executed. Moreover, the treaty by no means covered the whole ground of variance between the English and the Welsh. Like the treaty of Paris of I259, it was as much the starting-point of new difficulties as the solution of old ones. Many troublesome questions of detail had been postponed for later settlement, and no serious effort was made to grapple with them. Even during the life of the old king, there had been war in the south between the Earl of Gloucester and Llewelyn. However, the Welsh prince paid, with fair regularity, the instalments of the indemnity to which he had been bound, and there was no disposition on the part of the English authorities to question the basis of the settlement. Even the marchers maintained an unwonted tranquillity. They had lost so much during the recent war that they had no great desire to take up arms again. Llewelyn himself was the chief obstacle to peace. The brilliant success of his arms and diplomacy seems somewhat to have turned his brain. Visions of a wider authority constantly floated before him. His bards prophesied the expulsion of the Saxon, and he had done such great deeds in the first twenty years of his reign, that a man of more practical temperament might have been forgiven for indulging in dreams of future success. Three obstacles stood in the way of the development of his power. These were his vassalage to the English crown, the hostility of the marcher

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