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Early years

Childhood and marriage Early fourteenth-century manuscript initial showing Edward and his wife Eleanor. The artist has perhaps tried to depict Edward's blepharoptosis, a trait he inherited from his father.[1] Edward was born at the Palace of Westminster on the night of 17–18 June 1239, to King Henry III and Eleanor of Provence.[2] Although the young prince was seriously ill on several occasions, in 1246, 1247, and 1251, he grew up to be strong and healthy.[3] Edward was in the care of Hugh Giffard—father of the future Chancellor Godfrey Giffard—until Bartholomew Pecche took over at Giffard's death in 1246.[4] Among his childhood friends was his cousin Henry of Almain, son of King Henry's brother Richard of Cornwall.[3] Henry of Almain would remain a close companion of the prince, both through the civil war that followed, and later during the crusade.[5] In 1254, English fears of a Castilian invasion of the English province of Gascony induced Edward's father to arrange a politically expedient marriage between his fourteen-year-old son and Eleanor, the half-sister of King Alfonso X of Castile.[6] Eleanor and Edward were married on 1 November 1254 in the Abbey of Santa Maria la Real de Las Huelgas in Castile.[7] As part of the marriage agreement, the young prince received grants of land worth 15,000 marks a year.[8] Though the endowments King Henry made were sizeable, they offered Edward little independence. He had already received Gascony as early as 1249, but Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, had been appointed as royal lieutenant the year before and, consequently, drew its income, so in practice Edward derived neither authority nor revenue from this province.[9] The grant he received in 1254 included most of Ireland, and much land in Wales and England, including the earldom of Chester, but the king retained much control over the land in question, particularly in Ireland, so Edward's power was limited there as well, and the king derived most of the income from those lands.[10] From 1254 to 1257, Edward was under the influence of his mother's relatives, known as the Savoyards,[11] the most notable of whom was Peter of Savoy, the queen's uncle.[12] After 1257, Edward increasingly fell in with the Poitevin or Lusignan faction—the half-brothers of his father Henry III—led by such men as William de Valence.[13] This association was significant, because the two groups of privileged foreigners were resented by the established English aristocracy, and they would be at the centre of the ensuing years' baronial reform movement.[14] There were tales of unruly and violent conduct by Edward and his Lusignan kinsmen, which raised questions about the royal heir's personal qualities. The next years would be formative on Edward's character.