The English king, known as the Hammer of the Scots or Longshanks, who defeated the Welsh rebellion under Llywelyn the Last
The son of Henry III, Edward is remembered as one of the greatest English kings; he strengthened the authority of parliament and enforced the law. He was also the ‘wrong’ monarch to pick a fight with, as Llywelyn ap Gruffydd and his brother Dafydd were to discover. Both were defeated, Llywelyn in 1282 and Dafydd in 1283, following the Welsh wars for Independence with England.
With the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd at Cilmeri near Builth Wells in December 1282 and the capture of his brother later in the spring of 1283, Edward had finally defeated the princes of Gwynedd. He proceeded to build a ring of castles around the mountains of Snowdonia to consolidate his authority in Wales.
These castles, Harlech, Caernarfon, Conwy and Beaumaris, are the masterpieces of architect and mason James of St George. They stand as majestic buildings to this day, still symbols of Edward I’s power and his defeat of the Welsh.
Edward I was to have another lasting effect on Wales. On his birth in 1284, the king presented his son, later to become Edward II, as the new prince of Wales ‘that was borne in Wales and could speake never a word of English’. It is suggested that Edward may have deliberately chosen Caernarfon for the child’s birthplace, to appease the Welsh after their defeat under Llywelyn ap Gruffudd.
In the 20th century both Edward VIII and Prince Charles were invested as Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle, continuing Edward I’s tradition.