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Edward III (November 13, 1312 – June 21, 1377) was King of England and Lord of Ireland from January 1327 until his death in 1377.

Edward was born at Windsor Castle on November 13, 1312, and was often called Edward of Windsor in his early years, before his accession.

Edward was the son of Edward II, King of England and Lord of Ireland and his wife Isabella of France (c. 1295 – August 22, 1358), sometimes described as the She-Wolf of France, was the youngest surviving child and only surviving daughter of King Philippe IV of France and Queen Joan I of Navarre.

The reign of his father, Edward II, was a particularly problematic period of English history. One source of contention was the king’s inactivity, and repeated failure, in the ongoing war with Scotland. Another controversial issue was the king’s exclusive patronage of a small group of royal favourites. The birth of a male heir in 1312 temporarily improved Edward II’s position in relation to the baronial opposition. To bolster further the independent prestige of the young prince, the king had him created Earl of Chester at only twelve days of age.

In 1325, Edward II was faced with a demand from his brother-in-law, Charles IV of France, to perform homage for the English Duchy of Aquitaine. Edward was reluctant to leave the country, as discontent was once again brewing domestically, particularly over his relationship with the favourite Hugh Despenser the Younger. Instead, he had his son Edward created Duke of Aquitaine in his place and sent him to France to perform the homage. The young Edward was accompanied by his mother Isabella, who was the sister of King Charles, and was meant to negotiate a peace treaty with the French.

Edward was crowned at age fourteen after his father was deposed by his mother, and her lover Roger Mortimer. At age seventeen he led a successful coup d’état against Mortimer, the de facto ruler of the country, and began his personal reign.

Edward and Philippa of Hainault became engaged in 1326.

Philippa of Hainault was the daughter of Count William of Hainaut and French princess Joan of Valois, the second eldest daughter of the French prince Charles, Count of Valois, and Margaret, Countess of Anjou and Maine. Joan of Valois ws the sister of King Philippe VI of France

Their marriage was celebrated in York Minster on 24 January 24, 1328, some months after Edward’s accession to the throne of England and Isabella of France’s infamous invasion.

After her husband reclaimed the throne, Philippa influenced King Edward to take interest in the nation’s commercial expansion, was part of the successful Battle of Neville’s Cross, and often went on expeditions to Scotland and France.

After a successful campaign in Scotland he declared himself rightful heir to the French throne in 1337. This started what became known as the Hundred Years’ War.

Following some initial setbacks, this first phase of the war went exceptionally well for England; victories at Crécy and Poitiers led to the highly favourable Treaty of Brétigny, in which England made territorial gains, and Edward renounced his claim to the French throne. This phase would become known as the Edwardian War. Edward’s later years were marked by international failure and domestic strife, largely as a result of his inactivity and poor health.

Edward III Iis noted for his military success and for restoring royal authority after the disastrous and unorthodox reign of his father, Edward II. Edward III transformed the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe.

His fifty-year reign was one of the longest in English history, and saw vital developments in legislation and government, in particular the evolution of the English Parliament, as well as the ravages of the Black Death. He outlived his eldest son, Edward the Black Prince.

Around September 29, 1376 he fell ill with a large abscess. After a brief period of recovery in February 1377, the king died of a stroke at Sheen on June 21 and the throne passed to his grandson, Richard II.

Succession

In 1376, Edward III signed letters patent on the order of succession to the crown, citing in second position John of Gaunt, born in 1340, but ignoring Philippa, daughter of Lionel, born in 1338. Philippa’s exclusion contrasted with a decision by Edward I in 1290, which had recognized the right of women to inherit the crown and to pass it on to their descendants.

The order of succession determined in 1376 led to the throne the House of Lancaster in 1399 (John of Gaunt was Duke of Lancaster), whereas the rule decided by Edward I would have favoured Philippa’s descendants, among them the House of York, beginning with Richard of York, her great-grandson.

Edward was a temperamental man but capable of unusual clemency. He was in many ways a conventional king whose main interest was warfare. Admired in his own time and for centuries after, he was denounced as an irresponsible adventurer by later Whig historians such as Bishop William Stubbs, but modern historians credit him with some significant achievements.

As mentioned above, Edward III reigned for 50 years and from his death to the end of the reign of George III, who reigned for 59 years, Edward III was England’s longest reigning monarch. Although I must add James VI of Scotland reigned for 57 years in that realm.