England During The Reign Of Edward II
Edward II of England, son of Edward I, was born in April 1284. As the fourth son of Longshanks, he had not been expected to become king. This changed on his becoming heir to the throne after only a few months due to the previous heir’s death. During Edward’s youth, the king took every opportunity possible to prepare the prince for kingship. He was present on many of Longshanks’ Scottish campaigns, and trained in war and statecraft.
Despite this, Edward II was never cut out to be a king. His preference was for entertainment and frivolity. According to the historian William Stubbs, Edward was the first king of England since the conquest who was ‘not a man of business’. Many historians place the blame on his favourite, Piers Gaveston, who Longshanks put in exile. One of Edward II’s first acts on his accession was to recall Gaveston and appoint him as an adviser. The barons grew increasingly concerned by the king’s actions, leading to reform. In 1311 he was forced to stand aside and allow a baronial committee of 21 lords ordainers be appointed for the purpose of governing the realm. For the first time in English history, there was something of a separation between the person of the monarch and the institution of the crown.
During the reign of Edward II England was a haven for outlaws. It is estimated that there were more in England at that time than at any other. During his reign the forest of Sherwood still spanned some 100,000 acres, crossing six counties. Barnsdale was also described as a sizeable wooded forest. The role of the sheriff had changed with each sheriff now confined to his geographical area of jurisdiction. During Edward II’s reign, the sheriff of Nottingham owned the castle at Tickhill, on the verge of Barnsdale, and would have been responsible for that area.