Unlike his father, who's remembered as a great king, Edward II made questionable choices. His 20 year reign isn't remembered quite so fondly.
Born on the 25th of April 1284, Edward was the fourth son of Edward I and Eleanor of Castille. After the death of his older brothers, Edward became the heir to the throne. In fact, he was bestowed with the title of Prince of Wales in 1301, after his father conquered Wales.
The King's Lover
When Edward became king in 1307 at the age of 23, one of his first moves was to welcome back Piers Gaveston from exile. This man was to define Edward II's controversial reign.
Gaveston had been the young Edward's lover. Concerned about his son's affections for the man, Edward I had sent Gaveston to exile. Now in charge and his father dead, Edward I brought his lover straight back, granting him the earldom of Cornwall.
A Scorned Wife
Just a year after he took to the throne, Edward married Isabella of France, daughter of King Phillip IV of France.
It's fair to say the marriage didn't get off to a good start. Isabella was well-aware of her new husband's fondness for Gaveston. She was neglected by Edward, whilst he continued showering his true love with affection and gifts. It was no secret that the king adorned Gaveston with the rings and jewels that Isabella's father had given Edward as a wedding gift.
Despite this, for years Isabella was a loyal wife. She was a good consort, aiding Edward in his military campaigns and bearing four of his children: Edward, John, Eleanor and Joan.
The barons couldn't stand Gaveston – they exiled him to Ireland for a while, but he returned to England again soon enough. In 1312, however, they captured him, killing him by decapitating him and leaving Edward distraught.
The Battle of Bannockburn
In 1314 came one of the lowlights of Edward II's reign, when Scotland secured its independence from England. While Edward was more interested in his lover, Robert the Bruce was working to regain Scotland. Edward and his army headed north, hoping to stop him in his tracks, but it didn't go down as Edward had hoped. On the contrary, the Battle of Bannockburn, where the two parties met, went down in history as a huge defeat for England.
Edward II's New Favourites
The death of his lover hadn't sent Edward into his wife's arms. Instead, he found himself some new favourites. This time, it was a father and son duo, Hugh Despenser the Elder and Hugh Despenser the Younger. The barons despised Edward's two new favourites and banished them in 1321. In retaliation, Edward fought back. In the spring of 1322, Edward took his cousin – and enemy – Thomas of Lancaster prisoner at the Batlle of Boroughbridge and later sentenced him to death.
The Rebellion of Isabella of France
Throughout Edward's marriage to Isabella of France, he continually insulted his queen. Not only was he an ineffectual king who's affections laid with his male favourites over Isabella, he confiscated her lands and took her youngest children from her when she refused to take an oath of loyalty to the two Despensers.
Once a loyal consort, by 1329 she'd had enough.
Isabella was sent to France on a diplomatic mission with her eldest son, Edward. She also took with her Roger Mortimer, who'd opposed King Edward II and been exiled but now became the queen's lover. Together, they hatched a plot to overthrow her husband. This was to be the start of King Edward II's undoing.
Isabella's brother, King Charles IV of France, refused them military aid. Instead, they found support elsewhere – Prince Edward was betrothed to Count William of Hainault's daughter, Phillipa of Hainault and the Count granted them the aid of an army in return.
On the 24th of September 1326, they returned and invaded England alongside their army. There was widespread support waiting for them; they were joined by many nobles, whose loyalties had long since been with the king.
Edward II had little choice but to flee.
Isabella and Mortimer besieged Bristol, the Despensers were both killed and Isabella got her two daughters back.
The Fall of King Edward II
After his defeat, Edward was captured and made to abdicate the throne, leaving the country in the hands of Isabella and Mortimer. In 1327, it's thought that the former king was killed by a red-hot poker being thrust up his backside.
An ever-ineffectual king, Edward II was tactless and self-centred. He did, however, leave behind his son, who was soon to become King Edward III.