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Diplomacy and war on the Continent

Edward never again went on crusade after his return to England in 1274, but he maintained an intention to do so, and took the cross again in 1287.[107] This intention guided much of his foreign policy, until at least 1291. To stage a European-wide crusade, it was essential to prevent conflict between the greater princes on the continent. A major obstacle to this was represented by the conflict between the French House of Anjou ruling southern Italy, and the kingdom of Aragon in Spain. In 1282, the citizens of Palermo rose up against Charles of Anjou and turned for help to Peter of Aragon, in what has become known as the Sicilian Vespers. In the war that followed, Charles of Anjou's son, Charles of Salerno, was taken prisoner by the Aragonese.[108] The French began planning an attack on Aragon, raising the prospect of a large-scale European war. To Edward, it was imperative that such a war be avoided, and in Paris in 1286 he brokered a truce between France and Aragon that helped secure Charles' release.[109] As far as the crusades were concerned, however, Edward's efforts proved ineffective. A devastating blow to his plans came in 1291, when the Mamluks captured Acre, the last Christian stronghold in the Holy Land.[110] After the fall of Acre, Edward's international role changed from that of a diplomat to an antagonist. He had long been deeply involved in the affairs of his own Duchy of Gascony. In 1278 he assigned an investigating commission to his trusted associates Ott de Grandson and the chancellor Robert Burnell, which caused the replacement of the seneschal Luke de Tany.[111] In 1286, Edward visited the region himself and stayed for almost three years.[112] The perennial problem, however, was the status of Gascony within the kingdom of France, and Edward's role as the French king's vassal. On his diplomatic mission in 1286, Edward had paid homage to the new king, Philip IV, but in 1294 Philip declared Gascony forfeit when Edward refused to appear before him in Paris to discuss the recent conflict between English, Gascon, and French sailors (that had resulted in several French ships being captured, along with the sacking of the French port of La Rochelle).[113] In the war that followed, Edward planned for a two-pronged attack. While the English forces focused on Gascony, alliances were made with the princes of the Low Countries, Germany, and Burgundy, who would attack France from the north.[3] The alliances proved volatile, however, and Edward was facing trouble at home at the time, both in Wales and Scotland. It was not until August 1297 that he was finally able to sail for Flanders, at which time his allies there had already suffered defeat.[114] The support from Germany never materialised, and Edward was forced to seek peace. His marriage to the French princess Margaret, Philip IV's half-sister and his own first cousin once removed, in 1299 ended the war, but the whole affair had proven both costly and fruitless for the English.