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King Edward II
Edward II reigned as King of England between 1307 and 1327, his 20 years on the throne were mired by failed wars, oppressive taxation, famine, and civil unrest.
Edward II was the fourth son of Edward I, however, his three older brothers all died young and so he succeeded to the throne on his father’s death in 1307. Edward II reign was plagued by baronial opposition, in particular due to his apparent indulgence of male favourites and burdensome taxes, raised to pay for unsuccessful military campaigns in Scotland.
In 1314, the powerful Marcher Lord of Glamorgan, Gilbert de Clare, was among those killed during a disastrous defeat at the battle at Bannockburn. With no male heir to inherit, the administration of Glamorgan passed temporarily in to Royal hands and Edward appointed Payne de Turberville as custos, or Sherriff, to oversee things.
Payne’s heavy-handed approach eventually led Llewelyn Bren, a local Welsh nobleman, to denounce his behaviour to the King. However, Edward II sided with his man, Llewelyn was accused of sedition and threatened with execution. Llewelyn felt he had no choice but to fight back and laid siege to Caerphilly Castle on 28 January 1316, sparking a short-lived Welsh revolt.
Edward ultimately settled the Lordship of Glamorgan on one of his favourites, Hugh Despenser the Younger, who was married to the King’s niece, Gilbert’s de Clare’s sister Eleanor. The Despenser family abused their influence to increase their lands and wealth, often at the expense of neighbours and rivals. Hatred of the Despensers led to civil wars in 1321 and again in 1326.
The story of local hero, Llywelyn Bren, during the turbulent reign of Edward II is the subject of Black Tower Tales, an immersive family attraction that brings history to life in a way you won’t soon forget! If you’d like to hear the full story of this exciting chapter in Welsh history, in the very place where it happened, add a Black Tower Tales tour to your Castle Ticket.
Find out more by looking at our Guided Tours, or enquire at the Castle’s ticket office for further infromation.