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Today I am featuring Edward the Black Prince a man who never lived to be King of England.

Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, Prince of Aquitaine, KG was the eldest son of King Edward III of England and his wife Philippa of Hainault as well as father to King Richard II of England. All the reading I have done through the years indicate that Edward would have been an excellent king. In the history of England, and most monarchies in Europe, rarely was a strong and powerful ruler followed by a ruler that was equally capable, powerful and strong.

Edward was born on June 15, 1330 and he was created Duke of Cornwall in 1337 which was the first dukedom created in England and at the age of 13 he was invested with the title Prince of Wales. He was raised with his cousin Joan “the Fair” of Kent who would become his wife. They had two children, Edward of Angoulême who died in 1372 at the age of 7 and Richard who became King Richard II of England in 1377.

What was it that historians see in this prince that makes them conclude he would have been a good if not a great king? Well, for one thing I think it is that he demonstrated great intelligence. Also, Edward was born in the age of chivalry and his chivalrous behavior toward all, especially his captured enemies King Jean II of France and Duke Philippe II of Burgundy, has created a very positive image of him. The main reason that I think he was judged as having the potential of being a good king was the fact that he excelled at something that many medieval monarchs and princes engaged in…the art of War. Edward the Black Prince was a warrior prince.

There are a couple of theories to how Prince Edward earned his sobriquet “The Black Prince.” One reason is due to either black plated armor he wore during battle or a black shield he also used. Some historians theorize that his cruel behavior was also a reason for this sobriquet. Despite his chivalrous behavior Edward had a darker side. Edward was exceptionally harsh toward and contemptuous of members of the lower classes in society.

There are too many campaigns I could list that he was involved in so for the sake of brevity I will talk about two of them.

The Crécy Campaign which Edward lead crippled the French army for ten years and this victory brought back Normandy under English control which had been lost by King John in 1204.

The other campaign I find interesting is the one where Edward came into possession of what is now called the Black Prince’s Ruby, a spinel which now features prominently in the Imperial State Crown. The Ruby came into the possession of King Pedro the Cruel of Castile who had gotten it from Abu Said, the Moorish Prince of Granada. Pedro was envious of Abu Said’s wealth and Pedro had Said’s servants kill him and the Ruby was found on his body. In 1366 Pedro’s illegitimate brother, Enrique of Trastamara, lead a revolt against Pedro. Needing assistance in defeating his brother Pedro hired The Black Prince to suppress the revolt. Edward was successful and demanded the Ruby as payment for his efforts.

Edward died from dysentery at the age of 45 in 1376 one year before the death of his father, King Edward III.