Battle of Crecy, Battle of Poitiers, Edward III of England, Edward of Woodstock, Hundred Years War, Imperial State Crown., Jean II of France, Joan of Kent, Peter of Castile, Philippa of Hainault, Philippe III of France, Prince of Wales, Richard of Bordeaux, The Black Prince
From the Emperor’s Desk: I will address Prince Edward’s appellation “The Black Prince” in its own post later today.
Edward of Woodstock, known to history as the Black Prince (June 5, 1330 – June 8, 1376), was the eldest son and heir apparent of King Edward III of England.
Early life (1330–1343)
Edward of Woodstock, was the eldest son of King Edward III of England, Lord of Ireland and ruler of Gascony, and Philippa of Hainault, daughter of Count Willem II of Hainault and French princess Joan of Valois second eldest daughter of the French prince Charles, Count of Valois, and Margaret, Countess of Anjou and Maine. As the sister of King Philippe VI of France and the mother-in-law of King Edward III of England, Joan was ideally placed to act as mediator between them.
Edward of Woodstock was born at Woodstock in the County of Oxfordshire, on June 15, 1330. His father, Edward III, had been at loggerheads with the French over English lands in France and also the kingship of France; Edward III’s mother and the Prince’s grandmother, Queen Isabella of France was a daughter of the French king Philippe IV of France, thus placing her son Edward, in line for the throne of France.
England and France’s relations quickly deteriorated when the French king threatened to confiscate his lands in France, beginning the Hundred Years War.
His father, Edward III of England, became king at the young age of fourteen years in 1327, when his father (and the Black Prince’s grandfather) Edward II of England was deposed by his wife Isabella of France, daughter of Philippe IV of France, and by the English nobility due to his ineffectiveness and weakness to assert his control over the government and his failed wars against Scotland.
The marriage between his mother and father was arranged by his grandmother, Isabella of France, to get financial and military aid from the Count of Hainault for her own benefit to depose her husband, Edward II. The marriage of Edward III and Phillippa of Hainault produced thirteen children; Edward was the eldest child and eldest son.
Edward was made Duke of Cornwall, the first English dukedom, in 1337. He was guardian of the kingdom in his father’s absence in 1338, 1340, and 1342. He was created Prince of Wales in 1343 and knighted by his father at La Hougue in 1346.
In 1346, Prince Edward commanded the vanguard at the Battle of Crécy, his father intentionally leaving him to win the battle. He took part in Edward III’s 1349 Calais expedition. In 1355, he was appointed the king’s lieutenant in Gascony, and ordered to lead an army into Aquitaine on a chevauchée, during which he pillaged Avignonet and Castelnaudary, sacked Carcassonne, and plundered Narbonne.
The next year (1356) on another chevauchée, he ravaged Auvergne, Limousin, and Berry but failed to take Bourges. He offered terms of peace to King Jean II of France, who had outflanked him near Poitiers, but refused to surrender himself as the price of their acceptance. This led to the Battle of Poitiers, where his army routed the French and took King Jean II prisoner.
The year after Poitiers, Edward returned to England. In 1360, he negotiated the Treaty of Brétigny. He was created Prince of Aquitaine and Gascony in 1362, but his suzerainty was not recognised by the lord of Albret or other Gascon nobles. He was directed by his father to forbid the marauding raids of the English and Gascon free companies in 1364. He entered into an agreement with Kings Pedro of Castile and Charles II of Navarre, by which Pedro covenanted to mortgage Castro Urdiales and the province of Biscay to him as security for a loan; in 1366 a passage was secured through Navarre.
This the time in which Prince Edward came into possession of what is known as the
Black Prince’s Ruby, which he forced Pedro of Castile to give to him after the Castilian campaign. It is actually a large red spinel, now set at the front of the British Imperial State Crown.
On October 10, 1361 the prince, now in his 31st year, married his cousin Joan, Countess of Kent, daughter of Edmund of Woodstock, Earl of Kent, younger son of Edward I, and Margurite daughter of Philippe III of France, and widow of Thomas Lord Holland, and in right of his wife Earl of Kent, then in her thirty-third year, and the mother of three children.
As the prince and the countess were related in the third degree, and also by the spiritual tie of sponsorship, the prince being godfather to Joan’s elder son Thomas, a dispensation was obtained for their marriage from Pope Innocent VI, though they appear to have been contracted before it was applied for. The marriage was performed at Windsor, in the presence of King Edward III, by Simon Islip Archbishop of Canterbury.
According to Jean Froissart the contract of marriage (the engagement) was entered into without the knowledge of the king. The prince and his wife resided at Berkhamsted Castle in Hertfordshire and held the manor of Princes Risborough from 1343; though local history describes the estate as “his palace”, many sources suggest it was used more as a hunting lodge.
They had two sons, both born in Aquitaine:
Edward of Angoulême, born at Angoulême on July 27, 1364 and Richard of Bordeaux, born January 6, 1367.
In 1367 he received a letter of defiance from Enrique of Trastámara, Pedro’s half-brother and rival. The same year, after an obstinate conflict, he defeated Henry at the Battle of Nájera. However, after a wait of several months, during which he failed to obtain either the province of Biscay or liquidation of the debt from Don Pedro, he returned to Aquitaine. Prince Edward persuaded the estates of Aquitaine to allow him a hearth tax of ten sous for five years in 1368, thereby alienating the lord of Albret and other nobles.
The death of Prince Edward’s eldest son, Edward of Angoulême, in 1371, caused Edward a great deal of grief. His health continued to deteriorate and the prince’s personal doctor advised him to return to England. Edward left Aquitaine with the Duke of Lancaster, and landed at Southampton early in January 1371. Edward met his father at Windsor. At this meeting, Prince Edward interceded to stop a treaty Edward III had made the previous month with Charles of Navarre because he did not agree to the ceding of lands King Charles demanded in it. After this, the Black Prince returned to his manor in Berkhamsted.
Prince Edward returned to England in 1371, and the next year resigned the principality of Aquitaine and Gascony. He led the Commons in their attack upon the Lancastrian administration in 1376.
From the period of the Good Parliament, Edward knew that he was dying. His dysentery had become so violent on occasion, causing him to faint from weakness, that his household believed he had died. He left gifts for his servants in his will and said goodbye to his father, Edward III, whom he asked to confirm his gifts, pay his debts quickly out of his estate, and protect his son Richard.
His death was announced at the Palace of Westminster on 8 June 1376. In his last moments, he was attended by the Bishop of Bangor, who urged him to ask forgiveness of God and of all those he had injured. He “made a very noble end, remembering God his Creator in his heart”, and asked people to pray for him.
Edward was buried with great state in Canterbury Cathedral on 29 September. His funeral and the design of his tomb were conducted in accordance to the directions contained in his will. It has a bronze effigy beneath a tester depicting the Holy Trinity with his heraldic achievements – his surcoat, helmet, shield and gauntlets – hung over the tester; they have been replaced with replicas, and the originals now reside in a glass-fronted cabinet within the Cathedral.
Since the Black Prince died before his father his second surviving son, Richard of Bordeaux, succeeded to the throne upon the death of Edward III instead, becoming King Richard II of England and Lord of Ireland. Edward nevertheless earned distinction as one of the most successful English commanders during the Hundred Years’ War, being regarded by his English contemporaries as a model of chivalry and one of the greatest knights of his age. His reputation in France, on the other hand, was one of brutality.