Edward II of England

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Edward II (25 April 1284 – 21 September 1327(?)), called Edward of Caernarfon, was King of England from 1307 until he was deposed by his wife Isabella in January 1327. He was the seventh Plantagenet king, in a line that began with the reign of Henry II. Interspersed between the strong reigns of his father Edward I and son Edward III, the reign of Edward II was disastrous for England, marked by incompetence, political squabbling and military defeats.

Widely rumoured to have been either homosexual or bisexual, Edward fathered at least five children by two women. His inability to deny even the most grandiose favours to his male favourites (first a Gascon knight named Piers Gaveston, later a young English lord named Hugh Despenser) led to constant political unrest and his eventual deposition. Whether this warranted contemporary accusations of sodomy from Bishop Adam Orleton of Hereford, an ally of Roger Mortimer and Queen Isabella in their successful insurgency against Edward is a moot point. British historian Ian Mortimer has drawn attention to the use of 'anti-sodomite' smear campaigns in the late thirteen and early fourteenth centuries against Pope Boniface VIII and the Knights Templar. In the latter case, Orleton was a protagonist at the Papal Court at Avignon[1]

Edward I had pacified Gwynedd and some other parts of Wales and the Scottish lowlands, but never exerted a comprehensive conquest. However the army of Edward II was devastatingly defeated at Bannockburn, freeing Scotland from English control and allowing Scottish forces to raid unchecked throughout the north of England.

In addition to these disasters, Edward II is remembered for his probable death in Berkeley Castle, allegedly by murder, and for being the first monarch to establish colleges in the now widely-noted universities of Oxford and Cambridge, specifically Oriel College at Oxford and King's Hall, a predecessor of Trinity College, at Cambridge.


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