Edward II and Wales
The fact that this first English "Prince of Wales" was born in Wales would not automatically qualify him for the allegiance of his fellow Welsh. Yet it seems that the troubled king was held in genuine affection by the Welsh.
When Edward was named "Prince of Wales" at Lincoln in 1301, he was a youth of seventeen. He was given control over the territory held by Llewelyn The Last in Gwynedd. Just as importantly, he was given the allegiance of all those lords who owed their titles to Llewelyn.
Aside from Llewelyn's Principality - and its income of £4000 per year - Edward became Earl of Chester and Duke of Aquitaine.
While still a prince, Edward earned the gratitude of his adopted people by responding positively to petitions presented to him.
After Edward took the throne in 1307 he was in almost constant conflict with the Marcher Lords. Edward's troubles elsewhere also impacted strongly upon Wales. The powerful Gilbert de Clare, Lord of Glamorgan, was killed in Edward's disastrous defeat at the hands of the Scots at Bannockburn in 1314.
De Clare was succeeded by his brother-in-law, Hugh DeSpenser, who gained enormous influence over Edward. DeSpenser was so acquisitive in southern Wales that he succeeded in arousing the irate Welsh to revolt in 1320.
At the same time, Roger Mortimer of Chirk, justiciar in the Principality (i.e. Gwynedd) was providing the Welsh with cause for unrest in the north. Mortimer and his nephew, Roger Mortimer of Wigmore, allied with a reform party of lords aimed at breaking the influence of the DeSpensers and brought the king to battle.
The lord's party, which included almost every Lord of the March, were defeated by Edward, though the triumph would prove to be only temporary. Roger Mortimer of Chirk was put to death, and his nephew imprisoned.
The DeSpenser's appetite for land seemed limitless. Hugh DeSpenser the Younger accumulated lordships which included almost the entire southern coast of Wales. In 1323 Roger Mortimer escaped from prison and fled to France.
There he met Isabella, Edward's queen, who was leading a deputation to the french court on behalf of her husband. Perhaps drawn together by their mutual hatred for the DeSpensers, Mortimer and Isabela became lovers and planned to invade England. They may at first have been simply planning to oust the DeSpensers, but the invasion quickly focussed on overthrowing the king himself.
The overthrow of Edward II
When Isabella and Mortimer landed in England, Edward fled before them. He went where his support was strongest; deep into Wales, but even there he could not hold out for long. In December 1326 he was captured and taken to Berkeley Castle, in Gloucestershire.
A futile attempt was made to rescue Edward from Berkeley by Rhys ap Gruffudd, but when that failed the king's days were numbered. In September 1327 he was murdered, following the DeSpensers to a violent death.
Edward was buried at St Peter's monastery, in Gloucester. Surprisingly, perhaps, for a king who had not been popular in life (at least amongst the English), Edward's tomb became a noted place of pilgrimage. The number of Welsh pilgrims was particularly high.
One further legacy of Edward's reign; Roger Mortimer made himself lord of huge territories in Wales. He had himself named earl of March, in recognition of his power base in the Welsh Marches. The territories of March made the earldom the largest holding in Wales.