During the fourteenth century, towards the end of the Middles Ages, there was a continous struggle between the king and his nolbles. The first crisis came in 1327 when Edward II was deposed and cruelly murdered. His eleven-year-old son, Edward III, became king, and as soon as he could, he punished those responsible. But the principle that kins were neither to be killed nor deposed was broken.
Towards the end of the fourteenth century Richard II was the second king to be killed by ambitious lords. He made himself extremely unpopular by his choice of advisers. This was alwais a difficult matter, because the king s aadvisers became powerful, and those not chosen lost influence and wealth. Some of Richard s strongest critics had been the most powerful men in the kingdom.
Richard was young and proud. He quarreled with these nobles in 1388, and used his authority to humble them. He imprisoned his uncle, John of Gaunt, the third son of Edward III, who was the most powerful and wealthy noble of his time. John of Gaunt died in prison. Other nobles, including John of Gaunt s son, Henry duke of Lancaster, did not forget or forgive. In 1399, when Richard II was busy trying to establish royal authority again in Ireland, they rebelled. Henry of Lancaster, who had left England, returned and raised an army. Richard was deposed. Unlike Edward III, however, Richard II had no children. There were two possible successors. One was the earl of March, the seven-year-old grandson of Edward III s son. The other was Henry of Lancaster, son of John of Gaunt. It was difficult to say which had the better claim to the throne. But Henry was stronger. He won the support of other powereful nobles and took the crown by force. Richard died in mysteriously soon after. Henry IV spent the rest of his reign establishing his royal authority. But although he passe the crown to his son peacefully, he had sown the seeds of civil war. Half a century later the nobility would be divided between those who supported his family, the Lancastrians, and those who supported the family of the earl of March, the Yorkists. Edward I had conquered Wales in the 1280s, and colonised it. He brought English people to enlarge small towns. Pembrokishire, in the far southwest, even became known as the little England beyond Wales. Edward s officers drove many of the Welsh into the hills, and gave their land to English farmers. Many Welsh were forced to join the English army, not because they wanted to serve the English but because they had lost their lands and needed to live. They fought in Scotland and in France, and taught the English their skill with the longbow. A century later the Welsh found a man who was ready to rebel against the English king and whome they were willing to follow. Owain Glyndwr was the first and only Welsh prince to have wide and popular support in every part of Wales. In fact it was he who created the idea of a Welsh nation. He was descended from two royal ...
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