Thursday, June 7, 2007

Lords Ordainer

Lords Ordainer

Simply, a Baronial Committee of 21 Lords who governed England via a series of Ordinances (decrees) during a period in the reign of King Edward II of England (1311 – 1312). The Lords sought to restrict the King’s power with regards to appointments and prerogatives (privileges), and to regulate his household. The war with Scotland proved to be a failure both financially and militarily. The huge debts incurred by the Crown and the loss to Bruce at Bannockburn (1314) increased Edward’s unpopularity.

The Lords Ordainer came into being during the reign of King Edward II of England (r.1307 – 1327), when the King found himself under the influence of his favourite, Piers Gaveston, a young man who was not of noble birth. This young man had been a firm favourite of Edward’s since he was a youth, and Edward awarded Gaveston with titles and offices (Regent of England, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Earl of Conrwall).

The nobles resented the power and influence over the King that Gaveston came to wield, and repeatedly (Parliaments of 1310, 1311) asked that the King banish Gaveston, and so bring about peace in government. The Lords and Nobles, who would have been the receipients of these favours were jealous and felt that they were being excluded from a position of influence and power over the King that their predecessors had enjoyed in the past.

With the threat of civil war looming, Edward conceded, banished Gaveston (1311) and accepted the Ordinances. But the concession barely lasted one year. Gaveston returned (1312) and his wealth, possessions, and offices were reinstated by Edward. His arrogance had not abated and he made even more enemies.

The Lords and Barons, lead by the King’s cousin, Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, rebelled against Edward II, and in the ensuing war, Gaveston was captured and executed as a traitor (19/6/1312).

Power was removed from Edward II and England was ruled by the Lords Ordainer under the leadership of Thomas of Lancaster (1312 – 1322). Thomas of Lancaster was replaced by the more moderate Aymer de Valance, Earl of Pembroke, who tried to facilitate a more conciliatory approach to stabilising the government.

Eventually, the Lords and Nobles lost impetus – Gaveston being removed. Edward, now under the influence of the Despensers (father and son), became focused on the destruction of those Lords and Nobles responsible for the death of Gaveston. Edward went to war against his barons – and won. Thomas of Lancaster was executed in the same manner as Gaveston had been (22/3/1322) – this (the manner of his execution) caused outrage amongst all nobles as being a most vile act perpetrated upon the highest ranking (and royal) peer in the country. Edward revoked the Ordinances at a Parliament at York (1322) – in all 28 knights and barons were executed for rebelling and many exiled.

History of the Monarchy > The Plantagenets > Edward II
Britannia: Monarchs of Britain
“Baronial Opposition to Edward II” by J.C. Davies (1918, repr. 1967);
“The Place of the Reign of Edward II in English History” by T.F. Tout (2d ed. rev. by H. Johnstone, 1937);
“Edward of Carnarvon, 1284–1307” by H. Johnstone (1947).

~~~ Melisende (first pub: 26/3/2007)

1 comment:

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