You only reign twice?


Edward of Caernarvon, who was born in 1284, was king of England for nearly twenty years from 1307 as Edward II. What of his childhood?


In about October 1289, he was contracted to Margaret, known as the Maid of Norway and Queen of Scotland since 1286 when her grandfather Alexander III died. She was a year older than Edward and then travelled towards her own realm but died of seasickness in the Orkneys during September 1290 and was buried in Bergen. Negotiations took place under the Treaty of Salisbury, signed by Edward I, Robert Bruce and some other Guardians of the Realm for Scotland. A dispensation was issued by Nicholas IV, because Margaret’s grandmother was Henry III’s daughter, Henry also being Prince Edward’s grandfather.


Let us examine some of the circumstances:
i) Edward and Margaret were both under fourteen, but so were Richard of Shrewsbury and Anne Mowbray, Duchess of Norfolk and “The Princess in the Police Station”, when they married. She also died under that age of majority. Such a marriage was valid, however, although it could not yet be consummated.
ii) Edward and Margaret never actually met, but Mary I and Phillip II married by proxy before he moved to England.
iii) As late as the sixteenth century in England or Scotland, a male consort was styled as “King”. Phillip II was such, as was Henry Lord Darnley, as the contemporary coinage attests. After this, William III was a joint monarch, as James VII/II’s nephew, but George of Denmark was not.

So, if the Treaty of Salisbury included an actual contract of marriage, Edward of Caernarvon had already been King of Scotland for a year before he succeeded his father in England. Between summer 1284 and 1300, he was Edward I’s only surviving legitimate son, so the treaty would have united the two kingdoms three centuries earlier than actually happened.

This post explains a little more about the Maid, among others, emphasising that Alexander saw Edward as a future grandson-in-law almost from birth.


By super blue

Grandson of a Town player.


  1. How interesting the things that might have been/should have been throughout history. Edward of Caernarvon certainly didn’t do too well where wives were concerned. But how utterly awful for Mary to die of seasickness, which is bad enough to endure mildly, let alone when it’s severe enough to lead to death.


  2. I thought Philip of Spain was created King of Naples by his father so that he would have a similar rank to his wife, Mary I. I thought the English Council would not allow him to be ‘king’ of England nor have the Crown Matrimonial.


    1. Quite possibly. Under the 1554 “Act for the Marriage of Queen Mary to Philip of Spain”, Phillip was to be King in jure uxoris so long as their marriage lasted. He was King of Naples from then, also because his father had partially abdicated. He was King of Spain from January 1555/6 anyway, when Charles V died.
      Coinage, the Great Seal and Parliamentary authority seems to have flowed from the couple on a joint basis. Thomas Stafford’s proclamation should be of interest.


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