The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain

England in the fourteenth century experienced population and economic fluctuations that increased political tension and uncertainty.

The result was a series of crises which underlined how delicately balanced was the relationship between the king and his subjects (especially his magnates, who regarded themselves as representing the entire “community of the realm”) and how crucial to a personal monarchy was the king himself. Able and determined – even far – sighted – Edward I and his advisers may have been, but the king’s obstinate and autocratic nature seriously strained relations with his influential subjects. Between 1290 and 1297, the propertied classes, the merchants and especially the clergy were subjected to extraordinarily heavy demands for taxes for the king’s enterprises in France and the British Isles. There was resistance and a property tax of 1297 produced only a fraction of what had been expected. Further, armies had been summoned by the king for prolonged service outside the realm. Edward’s attempts to silence resistance shocked the clergy and embittered the merchants. When Edward died in the arms of his attendants at Burgh-by-Sands on 7 July 1307, just as he was about to cross the Solway Firth on his sixth expedition to Scotland, the problems of wartime remained. He bequeathed to his son and successor, Edward II an expensive war in the north that was nowhere near a victorious conclusion, and political struggles compounded by a dwindling of trust between monarch and subject.


1. In England, the fourteenth century was marked by
A. effective government and domestic peace.
B. economic instability and political unrest.
C. civil war and political confusion.
D. dramatic increase in the population.

2. Which of the following statements is true of Edward I
A. He failed to establish a long-lasting relationship with his subjects.
B. He was determined to carry out a number of tax reforms for all of his subjects.
C. He was intent on exerting his lordship only over Scotland.
D. He was highly respected by the clergy and the merchants.

3. According to the text, Edward I
A. did not want to emphasis his position as sovereign.
B. consulted his advisers before taking important decisions.
C. summoned his troops to suppress the resistance of the propertied classes
D. died before completing his sixth expeditions to Scotland.

4. In the last sentence, the word “compounded” is closet in meaning to
A. complicated, intensified.
B. reduced, diminished.
C. settled, arranged.
D. evoked, caused.

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