|In 1310 a collection of English barons put forward ideas
for reforms to be made by Edward II and the monarchy, these were later
were finalized and drafted and became the Ordinances in 1311. The main
barons who opposed Edward II were the one who created the Ordinances and
were called the Ordainers and included the great and most powerful baronages
of England. Two of whom who were the only one to take a strong open stand
against the influence of Gaveston were the Earl of Lincoln, who died before
they were finalized, and the earl of Gloucester. The Ordainers also included
the most powerful of Edward's barons, the earl of Lincoln and also involved
there were the earls of Hereford, warwick and to a lesser extent Pembroke.
The main ideas of reforms put forward by the Ordainers are as follows:
The themes which seem present throughout these reforms appear to be that
the need was to increase the authority and power of the barons as the king's
natural advisors, creating a new government system they could control and
in the process lessening the independence of the king. These reforms never
really came into success and there are many reasons put forward why they
did fail, mainly by the historian J. C Davis,
The Banishment of Gaveston and other royal favourites who were seen to
hold great influence over the king.
To establish a complete baronial oligarchy as the king's natural advisors
Barons have to power to control all appointments of chief officials in
the government and royal household.
king should not go to war or leave the country without baronial consent.
The 'new' custom, an tax placed upon foreign merchants, should be abolished
It seems the failure of the reforms stems from the authority and the respect
held by the monarchy and the uncoordination of the barons to uphold the
The relative strength of the king's position. Despite the reforms imposed
Edward still held the ultimate authority over the governance of the country.
The royal household, from which Edward ran as an alternative form of government,
was very strong and he still held the royal seal, which was the only method
by which to legitimize the laws created. Due to the households strength
and the king's authority, Edward was able to keep relative control, as
he could use it to counteract any of the barons decisions. For example,
an order from the king was more likely to be obeyed, than the governments
order which it went against. Therefore, it can be said Edward was still
in control even with the restrictions placed upon him by the barons.
The size of the barons group and its diversity of interest led to an uncoordinated
policy of reform. Personal interest to gain power and the jealously against
royal favourites often narrowed their view and divided the baronage. The
murder of Gaveston led to a split in the barons who wanted reform and also
the pacification of the less radical barons, who began to fail to take
an interest in reforms. Due to this reason the reform became inconsistent,
varied and led to great differences in the baronage.
3) Though the ordinances called for what type of reforms should be made,
it gave no indication of how they would be actually carried out. This led
to problems, as though the reforms were defined there was little possible
way of carrying them out, therefore in the long term were a failure.
4) At the time of the ordinances, Edward does not appear to have been communally
disliked. This can be seen in the lack of rebellions and civil strife at
this time, indicating the Ordinances were more for baronial interests than
the community of the realm. J. C Davis says about this "He was not a tyrant,
but merely inefficient, hence he did not rouse any deep hostility in the
people", therefore as Edward was no disliked, at this time, by his people
the barons had little backing for the ordinances to be imposed which not
everyone agreed with at the time. It was not until 1322 that this situation
began to change and edward became more disliked.