Near, however, as Llewelyn seemed to the final realization of his aims, he was still a vassal of the English crown, and the accession of a new sovereign to the throne was at once followed by the demand of his homage. The youth of Edward the First had already given promise of the high qualities which distinguished him as an English ruler. The passion for law, the instinct of good government, which were to make his reign, so memorable in our history, had declared themselves from the first. He had sided with the barons at the outset of their struggle with Henry; he had striven to keep his father true to the Provisions of Oxford. It was only when the Crown seemed falling into bondage that Edward passed to the royal side; and when the danger he dreaded was over he returned to his older attitude. In the first flush of victory, while the doom of Simon was yet unknown, Edward stood alone in desiring his captivity against the cry of the Marcher lords for his death. When all was over he wept over the corpse of his cousin, Henry de Montfort, and followed the Earl's body to the tomb. It was from Earl Simon, as the Earl owned with a proud bitterness ere his death, that Edward had learned the skill in warfare which distinguished him among the princes of his time.
But he had learned the far nobler lesson of a self-government which lifted him high above them as a ruler among men. Severing himself from the brutal triumph of the royalist party, he secured fair terms to the conquered, and after crushing the last traces of resistance, he won the adoption by the Crown of the constitutional system of government for which the barons had fought. So utterly was the land at rest that he felt free to join a crusade in Palestine. His father's death recalled him home to meet at once the difficulty of Wales. During two years Llewelyn rejected the King's repeated summons to him to perform his homage, till Edward's patience was exhausted, and the royal army marched into North Wales. The fabric of Welsh greatness fell at a single blow; the chieftains of the south and centre who had so lately sworn fealty to Llewelyn deserted him to join his English enemies; an English fleet reduced Anglesea, and the Prince, cooped up in his fastnesses, was forced to throw himself on the royal mercy. With characteristic moderation his conqueror contented himself with adding to the English dominions the coast-district as far as Conway, and providing that the title of Prince of Wales should cease at Llewelyn's death.
A heavy fine which he had incurred was remitted, and Eleanor the daughter of Simon of Montfort, who had been arrested on her way to join him as his wife, was wedded to him at the English court. For four years all was quiet, but the persuasions of his brother David, who had deserted him in the previous war, and whose desertion had been rewarded with an English lordship, roused Llewelyn to a fresh revolt. A prophecy of Merlin had announced that when English money became round the Prince of Wales should be crowned at London; and a new coinage of copper money, coupled with the prohibition to break the silver penny into halves and quarters, as had been usual, was supposed to have fulfilled the prediction. In the campaign which followed the Prince held out in Snowdon with the stubbornness of despair, and the rout of an English detachment which had thrown a bridge across the Menai Straits into Anglesea prolonged the contest into the winter. Terrible however as were the sufferings of the English army, Edward's firmness remained unbroken, and rejecting all proposals of retreat he issued orders for the formation of a new army at Caermarthen to complete the circle of investment round Llewelyn. The Prince sallied from his mountain-hold for a raid upon Radnorshire, and fell in a petty skirmish on the banks of the Wye. With him died the independence of his race.
After six months of flight his brother David was arrested and sentenced in full Parliament to a traitor's death. The submission of the lesser chieftains was followed by the building of strong castles at Conway and Caernarvon, and the settlement of English barons on the confiscated soil. A wiser instinct of government led Edward to introduce by the "Statute of Wales" English law and the English administration of justice into Wales. But little came of the attempt; and it was not till the time of Henry the Eighth that the country was actually incorporated in England. What Edward had really done was to break the Welsh resistance. His policy of justice (for the "massacre of the bards" is a mere fable) accomplished its end, and in spite of two later rebellions Wales ceased to be any serious danger to England for a hundred years.