Edward the Black Prince

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Edward the Black Prince
Prince of Wales and of Aquitaine
Illustration from the 15th-century Bruges Garter Book
Born15 June 1330
Woodstock Palace, Oxfordshire
Died8 June 1376 (aged 45)
Westminster Palace, London
Burial29 September 1376
Joan of Kent (m. 1361)
Edward of Angoulême
Richard II of England
House Plantagenet
Father Edward III of England
Mother Philippa of Hainault

Edward of Woodstock, known to history as the Black Prince (15 June 1330 – 8 June 1376), [1] [lower-alpha 1] was the eldest son of King Edward III of England, and thus the heir to the English throne. He died before his father and so his son, Richard II, succeeded to the throne instead. Edward nevertheless still earned distinction as one of the most successful English commanders during the Hundred Years' War, being regarded by his contemporaries as a model of chivalry and one of the greatest knights of his age. [2]

Edward III of England 14th-century King of England and Duke of Aquitaine

Edward III was King of England and Lord of Ireland from January 1327 until his death; he is 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 long reign of 50 years was the second longest in medieval England 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.

Richard II of England 14th-century King of England and Duke of Aquitaine

Richard II, also known as Richard of Bordeaux, was King of England from 1377 until he was deposed in 1399. Richard's father, Edward the Black Prince, died in 1376, leaving Richard as heir apparent to King Edward III. Upon the death of his grandfather Edward III, the 10-year-old Richard succeeded to the throne.

Succession to the British throne Law governing who can become British monarch

Succession to the British throne is determined by descent, sex, legitimacy, and religion. Under common law, the Crown is inherited by a sovereign's children or by a childless sovereign's nearest collateral line. The Bill of Rights 1689 and the Act of Settlement 1701 restrict succession to the throne to the legitimate Protestant descendants of Sophia of Hanover who are in "communion with the Church of England". Spouses of Roman Catholics were disqualified from 1689 until the law was amended in 2015. Protestant descendants of those excluded for being Roman Catholics are eligible.


Edward was created Duke of Cornwall 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 Hogne in 1346.

Duke of Cornwall title in the Peerage of England

Duke of Cornwall is a title in the Peerage of England, traditionally held by the eldest son of the reigning British monarch, previously the English monarch. The Duchy of Cornwall was the first duchy created in England and was established by royal charter in 1337. The present duke is the Prince of Wales, the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II. His wife, Camilla, is the current Duchess.

Prince of Wales British Royal Family Title

Prince of Wales was a title granted to princes born in Wales from the 12th century onwards; the term replaced the use of the word king. One of the last Welsh princes, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, was killed in battle in 1282 by Edward I, King of England, whose son Edward was invested as the first English Prince of Wales in 1301.

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 John 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 John prisoner.

Battle of Crécy An English victory during the Hundred Years War

The Battle of Crécy, also spelled Cressy, took place in north east France between a French army commanded by King Philip VI and an English army led by King Edward III. The French attacked the English army while it was traversing northern France during the Hundred Years' War. It resulted in an English victory and heavy loss of life among the French.

The Lieutenant of the Duchy of Aquitaine was an officer charged with governing the Duchy of Aquitaine on behalf of the King of England. Unlike the seneschalcy of Gascony, the lieutenancy was not a permanent office. Lieutenants were appointed in times of emergency, due either to an external threat or internal unrest. The lieutenant had quasi-viceregal authority and so was usually a man of high rank, usually English and often of the royal family.

Aquitaine Region of France

Aquitaine, archaic Guyenne/Guienne, is a historical region of France and a former administrative region of the country. Since 1 January 2016 it has been part of the region Nouvelle-Aquitaine. It is situated in the south-western part of Metropolitan France, along the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees mountain range on the border with Spain. It is composed of the five departments of Dordogne, Lot-et-Garonne, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Landes and Gironde. In the Middle Ages, Aquitaine was a kingdom and a duchy, whose boundaries fluctuated considerably.

The year after Poitiers, the Black Prince returned to England. In 1360 he negotiated the treaty of Bretigny. 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 don Pedro of Castile and Charles II of Navarre, by which Pedro covenanted to mortgage Castro de Urdiales and the province of Biscay to him as security for a loan; in 1366 a passage was thus secured through Navarre. In 1367 he received a letter of defiance from Henry of Trastámara, Don 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. Drawn into open war with Charles V of France in 1369, he took Limoges, where in 1370 he gave orders for an indiscriminate massacre in revenge for the voluntary surrender of that town to the French by its bishop, who had been his private friend.

Suzerainty is any relationship in which one region or nation controls the foreign policy and relations of a tributary state, while allowing the tributary nation to have internal autonomy.

Albret royal family of Navarre

The lordship (seigneurie) of Albret (Labrit), situated in the Landes, gave its name to one of the most powerful feudal families of France in the Middle Ages.

Free company late medieval army of mercenaries acting independently of any government

A free company was an army of mercenaries between the 12th and 14th centuries recruited by private employers during wars. They acted independently of any government, and were thus "free". They regularly made a living by plunder when they were not employed; in France they were the routiers and écorcheurs who operated outside the highly structured law of arms. The term "free company" is most applied to those companies of soldiers which formed after the Peace of Brétigny during the Hundred Years' War and were active mainly in France, but it has been applied to other companies, such as the Catalan Company and companies that operated elsewhere, such as in Italy and the Holy Roman Empire.

The Black Prince 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. He died in 1376 of dysentery and was buried in Canterbury Cathedral, [lower-alpha 2] where his surcoat, helmet, shield, and gauntlets are still preserved.

Dysentery inflammation of the intestine causing diarrhea with blood

Dysentery is an inflammatory disease of the intestine, especially of the colon, which always results in severe diarrhea and abdominal pains. Other symptoms may include fever and a feeling of incomplete defecation. The disease is caused by several types of infectious pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and parasites.

Early life

Edward, the eldest son of Edward III and Queen Philippa, was born at Woodstock on 15 June 1330. His father on 10 September allowed five hundred marks a year from the profits of the county of Chester for his maintenance; and on 25 February 1331, the whole of these profits were assigned to the queen for maintaining him and the king's sister Eleanor. [3] In the July of that year the king proposed to marry him to a daughter of Philip VI of France. [4]

Philip VI of France King of France

Philip VI, called the Fortunate and of Valois, was the first King of France from the House of Valois. He reigned from 1328 until his death.

On 18 March 1333, Edward was invested with the earldom and county of Chester, and in the parliament of 9 February 1337 he was created Duke of Cornwall and received the duchy by charter dated 17 March. This is the earliest instance of the creation of a duke in England. By the terms of the charter the duchy was to be held by him and the eldest sons of kings of England. [5] His tutor was Dr. Walter Burley of Merton College, Oxford. His revenues were placed at the disposal of his mother in March 1334 for the expenses she incurred in bringing up him and his two sisters, Isabella and Joan. [6] Rumours of an impending French invasion led the king in August 1335 to order that he and his household should remove to Nottingham Castle as a place of safety. [7]

When two cardinals came to England at the end of 1337 to make peace between Edward III and Philip VI, the Duke of Cornwall is said to have met the cardinals outside the City of London, and in company with many nobles to have conducted them to the King Edward. [8] On 11 July 1338 his father, who was on the point of leaving England for Flanders, appointed him guardian of the kingdom during his absence, and he was appointed to the same office on 27 May 1340 and 6 October 1342; [9] he was of course too young to take any save a nominal part in the administration, which was carried on by the council. In order to attach John, Duke of Brabant, to his cause, the king in 1339 proposed a marriage between the young Duke of Cornwall and John's daughter Margaret, and in the spring of 1345 wrote urgently to Pope Clement VI for a dispensation for this marriage. [10]

Prince of Wales and first French campaigns

A painted carving on the main gate of Oriel College, Oxford, depicting the badge of the Prince of Wales Oriel College Feathers.jpg
A painted carving on the main gate of Oriel College, Oxford, depicting the badge of the Prince of Wales

On 12 May 1343, Edward III created the duke Prince of Wales, in a parliament held at Westminster, investing him with a circlet, gold ring, and silver rod. The prince accompanied his father to Sluys on 3 July 1345, and the king tried to persuade the burgomasters of Ghent, Bruges, and Ypres to accept his son as their lord, but the murder of Jacob van Artevelde put an end to this project. Both in September and in the following April the prince was called on to furnish troops from his principality and earldom for the impending campaign in France, and as he incurred heavy debts in the king's service his father authorised him to make his will, and provided that in case he fell in the war his executors should have all his revenue for a year. [11]

Crécy campaign

The Black Prince at Crecy paying respects to fallen John of Bohemia The Black Prince of Crecy.jpg
The Black Prince at Crécy paying respects to fallen John of Bohemia

Edward, Prince of Wales sailed with King Edward III on 11 July 1346, and as soon as he landed at La Hogue received knighthood from his father. [12] Then he "made a right good beginning", for he rode through the Cotentin, burning and ravaging as he went, and distinguished himself at the taking of Caen and in the engagement with the force under Sir Godemar du Faÿ, which endeavoured to prevent the English army from crossing the Somme by the ford of Blanquetaque. [13]

Early on Saturday, 26 August, before the start of the battle of Crécy, Edward, Prince of Wales received the sacrament with his father at Crécy, and took the command of the right, or van, of the army with the Earls of Warwick and Oxford, Sir Geoffrey de Harcourt  [ fr ], Sir John Chandos, and other leaders, and at the head, it is said, though the numbers are by no means trustworthy, of eight hundred men-at-arms, two thousand archers, and a thousand Welsh foot. When the Genoese bowmen were discomfited and the front line of the French was in some disorder, the prince appears to have left his position in order to attack their second line. At this moment, however, the Count of Alençon charged his division with such fury that he was in great danger, and the leaders who commanded with him sent a messenger to tell his father that he was in great straits and to beg for assistance. [14]

The Black Prince meets King Edward after the battle of Crecy. Pictures of English History Plate XXX - The Black Prince at Crecy.jpg
The Black Prince meets King Edward after the battle of Crécy.

When Edward learned that his son was unwounded, he responded that he would send no help, for he wished to give the prince the opportunity to "win his spurs" (he was in fact already a knight), and to allow him and those who had charge of him the honour of the victory. The prince was thrown to the ground and was rescued by Sir Richard FitzSimon, his standard bearer, who threw down the banner, stood over his body, and beat back his assailants while he regained his feet. [15] Harcourt now sent to Earl of Arundel for help, and he forced back the French, who had probably by this time advanced to the rising ground of the English position. [13]

A flank attack on the side of Wadicourt was next made by the Counts of Alençon and Ponthieu, but the English were strongly entrenched there, and the French were unable to penetrate the defences and lost the Duke of Lorraine and the Counts of Alençon and Blois. [13]

The Black Prince being made a Knight of the Garter Theblackprincebeingmadeknightofthegarter.tif
The Black Prince being made a Knight of the Garter

The two front lines of their army were utterly broken before King Philip's division engaged. Then Edward appears to have advanced at the head of the reserve, and the rout soon became complete. When Edward met his son after the battle was over, he embraced him and declared that he had acquitted himself loyally, and the prince bowed low and did reverence to his father. The next day he joined the king in paying funeral honours to King John of Bohemia. [13] [lower-alpha 4]

The prince was present at the Siege of Calais (1346–1347), and after the surrender of the town harried and burned the country for 30 miles (48 km) around, and brought much booty back with him. [27] He returned to England with his father on 12 October 1347, took part in the jousts and other festivities of the court, and was invested by the king with the new order of the Garter (1348). [28]

Calais campaign and the naval Battle of Winchelsea

The Black Prince shared in the king's expedition to Calais in the last days of 1349, came to the rescue of his father, and when the combat was over and the king and his prisoners sat down to feast, he and the other English knights served the king and his guests at the first course and then sat down to meat at another table. [29] When the king embarked at Winchelsea on 28 August 1350 to intercept the fleet of La Cerda, the Prince sailed with him, though in another ship, and in company with his brother, the young John of Gaunt, Earl of Richmond. During the Battle of Winchelsea his ship was grappled by a large Spanish ship and was so full of leaks that it was likely to sink, and though he and his knights attacked the enemy manfully, they were unable to take her. Henry of Grosmont, Earl of Lancaster came to his rescue and attacked the Spaniard on the other side; she was soon taken, her crew were thrown into the sea, and as the Prince and his men got on board her their own ship foundered. [30]

Cheshire expedition

In 1353 some disturbances seem to have broken out in Cheshire, for the Prince as Earl of Chester marched with Henry of Grosmont, now Duke of Lancaster to the neighbourhood of Chester to protect the justices, who were holding an assize there. The men of the earldom offered to pay him a heavy fine to bring the assize to an end, but when they thought they had arranged matters the justices opened an inquisition of trailbaston, took a large sum of money from them, and seized many houses and much land into the prince's, their earl's, hands. On his return from Chester the prince is said to have passed by the Abbey of Dieulacres in Staffordshire, to have seen a fine church which his great-grandfather, Edward I, had built there, and to have granted five hundred marks, a tenth of the sum he had taken from his earldom, towards its completion; the abbey was almost certainly not Dieulacres but Vale Royal. [31]

Aquitaine campaign

When Edward III determined to renew the war with France in 1355, he ordered the Black Prince to lead an army into Aquitaine while he, as his plan was, acted with the king of Navarre in Normandy, and the Duke of Lancaster upheld the cause of John of Montfort in Brittany. The prince's expedition was made in accordance with the request of some of the Gascon lords who were anxious for plunder. On 10 July the king appointed him his lieutenant in Gascony, and gave him powers to act in his stead, and, on 4 August, to receive homages. [32] He left London for Plymouth on 30 June, was detained there by contrary winds, and set sail on 8 September with about three hundred ships, in company with four earls (Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, William Ufford, Earl of Suffolk, William Montagu, Earl of Salisbury, and John Vere, Earl of Oxford), and in command of a thousand men-at-arms, two thousand archers, and a large body of Welsh foot. [33] At Bordeaux the Gascon lords received him with much rejoicing. It was decided to make a short campaign before the winter, and on 10 October he set out with fifteen hundred lances, two thousand archers, and three thousand light foot. Whatever scheme of operations the King may have formed during the summer, this expedition of the Prince was purely a piece of marauding. After grievously harrying the counties of Juliac, Armagnac, Astarac, and part of Comminges, he crossed the Garonne at Sainte-Marie a little above Toulouse, which was occupied by John I, Count of Armagnac and a considerable force. The count refused to allow the garrison to make a sally, and the prince passed on, stormed and burnt Mont Giscar, where many men, women, and children were ill-treated and slain, [34] and took and pillaged Avignonet and Castelnaudary. All the country was rich, and the people "good, simple, and ignorant of war", so the prince took great spoil, especially of carpets, draperies, and jewels, for "the robbers" spared nothing, and the Gascons who marched with him were especially greedy. [35]

Carcassonne was taken and sacked, but he did not take the citadel, which was strongly situated and fortified. Ourmes (or Homps, near Narbonne) and Trèbes bought off his army. He plundered Narbonne and thought of attacking the citadel, for he heard that there was much booty there, but gave up the idea on finding that it was well defended. While he was there a messenger came to him from the papal court, urging him to allow negotiations for peace. He replied that he could do nothing without knowing his father's will. [36] From Narbonne he turned to march back to Bordeaux. The Count of Armagnac tried to intercept him, but a small body of French having been defeated in a skirmish near Toulouse the rest of the army retreated into the city, and the prince returned in peace to Bordeaux, bringing back with him enormous spoils. The expedition lasted eight weeks, during which the prince only rested eleven days in all the places he visited, and without performing any feat of arms did the French king much mischief. [37] During the next month, before 21 January 1356, the leaders under his command reduced five towns and seventeen castles. [38]

Poitiers campaign

Battle of Poitiers, from the Grandes Chroniques de France Poitiers 1356.jpg
Battle of Poitiers, from the Grandes Chroniques de France

On 6 July 1356 the Black Prince set out on another expedition, undertaken with the intention of passing through France to Normandy, and there giving aid to his father's Norman allies, the party headed by the king of Navarre and Geoffrey Harcourt. In Normandy he expected, he says, to be met by his father, [39] He crossed the Dordogne at Bergerac on 4 August, [40] and rode through Auvergne, Limousin, and Berry, plundering and burning as he went until he came to Bourges, where he burnt the suburbs but failed to take the city. He then turned westward and made an unsuccessful attack on Issoudun on 25–27 August. Meanwhile, King John II was gathering a large force at Chartres, from which he was able to defend the passages of the Loire, and was sending troops to the fortresses that seemed in danger of attack. From Issoudun the prince returned to his former line of march and took Vierzon. There he learnt that it would be impossible for him to cross the Loire or to form a junction with Lancaster, who was then in Brittany. Accordingly he determined to return to Bordeaux by way of Poitiers, and after putting to death most of the garrison of the castle of Vierzon set out on 29 August towards Romorantin. [41]

Some French knights who skirmished with the English advanced guard retreated into Romorantin, and when the Black Prince heard of this he said: "Let us go there; I should like to see them a little nearer". [41] He inspected the fortress in person and sent his friend Chandos to summon the garrison to surrender. The place was defended by Boucicault and other leaders, and on their refusing his summons he assaulted it on 31 August. The siege lasted three days, and the prince, who was enraged at the death of one of his friends, declared that he would not leave the place untaken. Finally he set fire to the roofs of the fortress by using Greek fire, reduced it on 3 September. [41]

On 5 September the English proceeded to march through Berry. On 9 September King John II, who had now gathered a large force, crossed the Loire at Blois and went in pursuit of them. When the king was at Loches on 12 September he had as many as twenty thousand men-at-arms, and with these and his other forces he advanced to Chauvigny. On 16 and 17 September his army crossed the Vienne. [41]

Meanwhile the prince was marching almost parallel to the French and at only a few miles distance from them. It is impossible to believe Froissart's statement that he was ignorant of the movements of the French. From 14 to 16 September he was at Châtellerault, and on the next day, Saturday, as he was marching towards Poitiers, some French men-at-arms skirmished with his advance guard, pursued them up to the main body of his army, and were all slain or taken prisoners. The French king had outstripped him, and his retreat was cut off by an army at least fifty thousand strong, while he had not, it is said, more than about two thousand men-at-arms, four thousand archers, and fifteen hundred light foot. Lancaster had endeavoured to come to his relief, but had been stopped by the French at Pont-de-Cé. [42]

When the Black Prince knew that the French army lay between him and Poitiers, he took up his position on some rising ground to the south-east of the city, between the right bank of the Miausson and the old Roman road, probably on a spot now called La Cardinerie, a farm in the commune of Beauvoir, for the name Maupertuis has long gone out of use, and remained there that night. The next day, Sunday, 18 September, the cardinal, Hélie Talleyrand, called "of Périgord", obtained leave from King John II to endeavour to make peace. The prince was willing enough to come to terms, and offered to give up all the towns and castles he had conquered, to set free all his prisoners, and not to serve against the king of France for seven years, besides, it is said, offering a payment of a hundred thousand francs. King John, however, was persuaded to demand that the prince and a hundred of his knights should surrender themselves up as prisoners, and to this he would not consent. The cardinal's negotiations lasted the whole day, and were protracted in the interest of the French, for John II was anxious to give time for further reinforcements to join his army. Considering the position in which the prince then was, it seems probable that the French might have destroyed his little army simply by hemming it in with a portion of their host, and so either starving it or forcing it to leave its strong station and fight in the open with the certainty of defeat. Anyway John II made a fatal mistake in allowing the prince the respite of Sunday; for while the negotiations were going forward he employed his army in strengthening its position. The English front was well covered by vines and hedges; on its left and rear was the ravine of the Miausson and a good deal of broken ground, and its right was flanked by the wood and abbey of Nouaillé. All through the day the army was busily engaged in digging trenches and making fences, so that it stood, as at Crécy, in a kind of entrenched camp. [43]

The Black Prince drew up his men in three divisions, the first being commanded by the earls of Warwick and Suffolk, the second by himself, and the rear by Salisbury and Oxford. The French were drawn up in four divisions, one behind the other, and so lost much of the advantage of their superior numbers. In front of his first line and on either side of the narrow lane that led to his position the prince stationed his archers, who were well protected by hedges, and posted a kind of ambush of three hundred men-at-arms and three hundred mounted archers, who were to fall on the flank of the second battle of the enemy, commanded by the Charles, Duke of Normandy. [44]

The Black Prince accepting the surrender of King John II Pictures of English History Plate XXXII - Battle at Poitiers.jpg
The Black Prince accepting the surrender of King John II

At daybreak on 19 September the Black Prince addressed his little army, and the fight began. An attempt was made by three hundred picked men-at-arms to ride through the narrow lane and force the English position, but they were shot down by the archers. A body of Germans and the first division of the army which followed were thrown into disorder; then the English force in ambush charged the second division on the flank, and as it began to waver the English men-at-arms mounted their horses, which they had kept near them, and charged down the hill. The prince kept Chandos by his side, and his friend did him good service in the fray. As they prepared to charge he cried: "John, get forward; you shall not see me turn my back this day, but I will be ever with the foremost", and then he shouted to his banner-bearer, "Banner, advance, in the name of God and St. George!". [45] All the French except the advance guard fought on foot, and the division of the Duke of Normandy, already wavering, could not stand against the English charge and fled in disorder. The next division, under the Philip, Duke of Orléans, also fled, though not so shamefully, but the rear, under the King John II in person, fought with much gallantry. The prince, "who had the courage of a lion, took great delight that day in the fight". [45] The combat lasted until a little after 3 pm, and the French, who were utterly defeated, left eleven thousand dead on the field, of whom 2,426 were men of gentle birth. Nearly a hundred counts, barons, and bannerets and two thousand men-at-arms, besides many others, were made prisoners, and the king and his youngest son, Philip were among those who were taken. The English losses were not large. [45]

The Black Prince serving a meal to the recently captured King John II. A Chronicle of England - Page 309 - The Prince Serves King John at Table.jpg
The Black Prince serving a meal to the recently captured King John II.

When King John II was brought to him, the prince received him with respect, helped him to take off his armour, and entertained him and the greater part of the princes and barons who had been made prisoners at supper. He served at the king's table and would not sit down with him, declaring that "he was not worthy to sit at table with so great a king or so valiant a man", [45] and speaking many comfortable words to him, for which the French praised him highly. [46] The next day the Black Prince continued his retreat on Bordeaux; he marched warily, but no one ventured to attack him. [45]

At Bordeaux, which the Black Prince reached on 2 October, he was received with much rejoicing, and he and his men tarried there through the winter and wasted in festivities the immense spoil they had gathered. On 23 March 1357 the prince concluded a two years' truce, for he wished to return home. The Gascon lords were unwilling that King John II should be carried off to England, and the prince gave them a hundred thousand crowns to silence their murmurs. He left the country under the government of four Gascon lords and arrived in England on 4 May, after a voyage of eleven days, landing at Plymouth. [47] When he entered London in triumph on 24 May, King John II, his prisoner, rode a fine white charger, while he was mounted on a little black hackney. Judged by modern ideas the prince's show of humility appears affected, and the Florentine chronicler remarks that the honour done to King John II must have increased the misery of the captive and magnified the glory of King Edward; but this comment argues a refinement of feeling which neither Englishmen nor Frenchmen of that day had probably attained. [48]

England, tournaments and debts

After his return to England the Black Prince took part in the many festivals and tournaments of his father's court, and in May 1359 he and the king and other challengers held the lists at a joust proclaimed at London by the mayor and sheriff's, and, to the great delight of the citizens, the king appeared as the mayor and the prince as the senior sheriff. [49] Festivities of this sort and the lavish gifts he bestowed on his friends brought him into debt, and on 27 August, when a new expedition into France was being prepared, the king granted that if he fell his executors should have his whole estate for four years for the payment of his debts. [50]

Reims campaign

In October 1359 the Black Prince sailed with his father to Calais, and led a division of the army during the Reims Campaign (1359–1360). At its close he took the principal part on the English side in negotiating the treaty of Bretigny, and the preliminary truce arranged at Chartres on 7 May 1360 was drawn up by proctors acting in his name and the name of Charles, Duke of Normandy, the regent of France. [51] He probably did not return to England until after his father, [52] who landed at Rye on 18 May. On 9 July he and Henry, duke of Lancaster, landed at Calais in attendance on the French king. As, however, the stipulated instalment of the king's ransom was not ready, he returned to England, leaving John in charge of Sir Walter Manny and three other knights. [53] He accompanied his father to Calais on 9 October to assist at the liberation of King John and the ratification of the treaty. He rode with John to Boulogne, where he made his offering in the Church of the Virgin. He returned with King Edward to England at the beginning of November. [54]

Marriage to Joan

On 10 October 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 Margaret, daughter of Philip 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. [55] The marriage was performed at Windsor, in the presence of King Edward III, by Simon Langham, archbishop of Canterbury. According to Jean Froissart the contract of marriage (the engagement) was entered into without the knowledge of the king. [56] The prince and his wife resided at Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire. [57]

Lord of Aquitaine and Gascony

Edward, the Black Prince, is granted Aquitaine by his father King Edward III. Initial letter "E" of miniature, 1390; British Library, shelfmark: Cotton MS Nero D VI, f.31. Edward III Black Prince 14thc.jpg
Edward, the Black Prince, is granted Aquitaine by his father King Edward III. Initial letter "E" of miniature, 1390; British Library, shelfmark: Cotton MS Nero D VI, f.31.

On 19 July 1362 his father, Edward III granted the Black Prince all his dominions in Aquitaine and Gascony, to be held as a principality by liege homage on payment of an ounce of gold each year, together with the title of Prince of Aquitaine and Gascony. [58] During the rest of the year he was occupied in preparing for his departure to his new principality, and after Christmas he received the king and his court at Berkhamsted, took leave of his father and mother, and in the following February sailed with his wife, Joan, and all his household for Gascony, landing at La Rochelle. [57]

At La Rochelle the prince was met by John Chandos, the king's lieutenant, and proceeded with him to Poitiers, where he received the homage of the lords of Poitou and Saintonge; he then rode to various cities and at last came to Bordeaux, where from 9 to 30 July he received the homage of the lords of Gascony. He received all graciously, and kept a splendid court, residing sometimes at Bordeaux and sometimes at Angoulême. [57]

The prince appointed Chandos constable of Guyenne, and provided the knights of his household with profitable offices. They kept much state, and their extravagance displeased the people. [59] Many of the Gascon lords were dissatisfied at being handed over to the dominion of the English, and the favour the prince showed to his own countrymen, and the ostentatious magnificence they exhibited, increased this feeling of dissatisfaction. Arnaud Amanieu, Lord of Albret and many more were always ready to give what help they could to the French cause, and the Gaston, Count of Foix, though he visited the prince on his first arrival, was thoroughly French at heart, and gave some trouble in 1365 by refusing to do homage for Bearn. [60] Charles V, who succeeded to the throne of France in April 1364, was careful to encourage the malcontents, and the prince's position was by no means easy. [57]

In April 1363 the prince mediated between the Counts of Foix and Armagnac, who had for a long time been at war with each other. He also attempted in the following February to mediate between Charles of Blois and John of Montfort, the rival competitors for the Duchy of Brittany. Both appeared before him at Poitiers, but his mediation was unsuccessful. [57]

The next month, May 1363, the prince entertained the Peter, King of Cyprus at Angoulême, and held a tournament there. At the same time he and his lords excused themselves from assuming the cross. During the summer the lord of Albret was at Paris, and his forces and several other Gascon lords held the French cause in Normandy against the party of Navarre. Meanwhile war was renewed in Brittany; the prince allowed Chandos to raise and lead a force to succour the party of Montfort, and Chandos won the Battle of Auray (29 September 1364) against the French. [57]

As the leaders of the free companies which desolated France were for the most part Englishmen or Gascons, they did not ravage Aquitaine, and the prince was suspected, probably not without cause, of encouraging, or at least of taking no pains to discourage, their proceedings. [61] Accordingly on 14 November 1364 Edward III called upon him to restrain their ravages. [62]

Spanish campaign

In 1365 the free companies, under Sir Hugh Calveley and other leaders, took service with Bertrand du Guesclin, who employed them in 1366 in compelling Peter of Castile to flee from his kingdom, and in setting up his bastard brother, Henry of Trastámara, as king in his stead. Peter, who was in alliance with Edward III, sent messengers to the Black Prince asking his help, and on receiving a gracious answer at Corunna, set out at once, and arrived at Bayonne with his son and his three daughters. The prince met him at Capbreton, and rode with him to Bordeaux. [57]

Many of the prince's lords, both English and Gascon, were unwilling that he should espouse Peter's cause, but he declared that it was not fitting that a bastard should inherit a kingdom, or drive out his lawfully born brother, and that no king or king's son ought to suffer such disrespect to royalty; nor could any turn him from his determination to restore the king. [63]

Peter won friends by declaring that he would make Edward's son king of Galicia, and would divide his riches among those who helped him. A parliament was held at Bordeaux, in which it was decided to ask the wishes of the English king. Edward replied that it was right that his son should help Peter, and the prince held another parliament at which the king's letter was read. Then the lords agreed to give their help, provided that their pay was secured to them. In order to give them the required security, the prince agreed to lend Peter whatever money was necessary. [64]

The prince and Peter then held a conference with Charles of Navarre at Bayonne, and agreed with him to allow their troops to pass through his dominions. In order to persuade him to do this, Peter had, besides other grants, to pay him 56,000 florins, and this sum was lent him by the prince. On 23 September a series of agreements were entered into between the prince, Peter, and Charles of Navarre, at Libourne, on the Dordogne, by which Peter covenanted to put the prince in possession of the province of Biscay and the territory and fortress of Castro de Urdialès as pledges for the repayment of this debt, to pay 550,000 florins for six months' wages at specified dates, 250,000 florins being the prince's wages, and 800,000 florins the wages of the lords who were to serve in the expedition. He consented to leave his three daughters in the prince's hands as hostages for the fulfilment of these terms, and further agreed that whenever the king, the prince, or their heirs, the king of England, should march in person against the Moors, they should have the command of the van before all other Christian kings, and that if they were not present the banner of the king of England should be carried in the van side by side with the banner of Castile. [65]

The prince received a hundred thousand francs from his father out of the ransom of John II, the late king of France, [66] and broke up his plate to help to pay the soldiers he was taking into his pay. While his army was assembling he remained at Angoulême, and was there visited by Peter. [67] He then stayed over Christmas at Bordeaux, where his wife, Joan, gave birth to their second son Richard (the next king of England). [64]

The Black Prince left Bordeaux early in February 1367, and joined his army at Dax, where he remained three days, and received a reinforcement of four hundred men-at-arms and four hundred archers sent out by his father under his brother John, duke of Lancaster. From Dax the prince advanced via Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port through Roncesvalles (in the Pyrenees) to Pamplona (the capital of Kingdom of Navarre). [64]

When Calveley and other English and Gascon leaders of free companies found that the Black Prince was about to fight for Peter, they withdrew from the service of Henry of Trastámara, and joined the Black Prince "because he was their natural lord". [68] While the prince was at Pamplona he received a letter of defiance from Henry. [69]

From Pamplona the prince marched by Arruiz to Salvatierra, which opened its gates to his army, and thence advanced to Vitoria, intending to march on Burgos by this direct route. A body of his knights, which he had sent out to reconnoitre under Sir William Felton, was defeated by a skirmishing party, and he found that Henry had occupied some strong positions, and especially Santo Domingo de la Calzada on the right of the river Ebro, and Zaldiaran mountain on the left, which made it impossible for him to reach Burgos through Álava. Accordingly he crossed the Ebro, and encamped under the walls of Logroño. During these movements the prince's army had suffered from want of provisions both for men and horses, and from wet and windy weather. At Logroño, however, though provisions were still scarce, they were somewhat better off. [64]

On 30 March 1367 the prince wrote an answer to Henry's letter. On 2 April he left Logroño and moved to Navarrete, La Rioja. Meanwhile Henry and his French allies had encamped at Nájera, so that the two armies were now near each other. Letters passed between Henry and the prince, for Henry seems to have been anxious to make terms. He declared that Peter was a tyrant, and had shed much innocent blood, to which the prince replied that the king had told him that all the persons he had slain were traitors. [64]

On the morning of the 3 April the prince's army marched from Navarrete, and all dismounted while they were yet some distance from Henry's army. The vanguard, in which were three thousand men-at-arms, both English and Bretons, was led by Lancaster, Chandos, Calveley, and Clisson; the right division was commanded by Armagnac and other Gascon lords; the left, in which some German mercenaries marched with the Gascons, by the Jean, Captal de Buch and the Count of Foix; and the rear or main battle by the prince, with three thousand lances, and with the prince was Peter and, a little on his right, the dethroned James of Majorca and his company; the numbers, however, are scarcely to be depended on. [70]

Before the battle of Nájera began the prince prayed aloud to God that as he had come that day to uphold the right and reinstate a disinherited king, God would grant him success. Then, after telling Peter that he should know that day whether he should have his kingdom or not, he cried: "Advance, banner, in the name of God and St. George; and God defend our right". [71] The knights of Castile pressed his van sorely, but the wings of Henry's army behaved ill, and would not move, so that the Gascon lords were able to attack the main body on the flanks. Then the prince brought the main body of his army into action, and the fight became hot, for he had under him "the flower of chivalry, and the most famous warriors in the whole world". [71] At length Henry's van gave way, and he fled from the field. [72]

When the battle was over the prince asked Peter to spare the lives of those who had offended him. Peter assented, with the exception of one notorious traitor, whom he at once put to death; and he also had two others slain the next day. [71]

Among the prisoners was the French marshal Arnoul d'Audrehem, whom the prince had formerly taken prisoner at Poitiers, and whom he had released on d'Audrehem giving his word that he would not bear arms against the prince until his ransom was paid. When the prince saw him he reproached him bitterly, and called him "liar and traitor". [71] D'Audrehem denied that he was either, and the prince asked him whether he would submit to the judgment of a body of knights. To this d'Audrehem agreed, and after he had dined the prince chose twelve knights, four English, four Gascons, and four Bretons, to judge between himself and the marshal. After he had stated his case, d'Audrehem replied that he had not broken his word, for the army the prince led was not his own; he was merely in the pay of Peter. The knights considered that this view of the prince's position was sound, and gave their verdict for d'Audrehem. [73]

On 5 April 1367 the prince and Peter marched to Burgos, where they celebrated Easter. The prince, however, did not take up his quarters in the city, but camped outside the walls at the Monastery of Las Huelgas. Peter did not pay him any of the money he owed him, and the prince could get nothing from him except a solemn renewal of his bond of the previous 23 Sept, which he made on 2 May 1367 before the high altar of the Cathedral of Burgos. [74] By this time the prince began to suspect his ally of treachery. Peter had no intention of paying his debts, and when the prince demanded possession of Biscay told him that the Biscayans would not consent to be handed over to him. In order to get rid of his creditor Peter told him that he could not get money at Burgos, and persuaded the prince to take up his quarters at Valladolid while he went to Seville, whence he declared he would send the money he owed. [71]

The Black Prince remained at Valladolid during some very hot weather, waiting in vain for his money. His army suffered so terribly from dysentery and other diseases that it is said that scarcely one Englishman out of five ever saw England again. [75] He was himself seized with a sickness from which he never thoroughly recovered, and which some said was caused by poison. [76] Food and drink were scarce, and the free companies in his pay did much mischief to the surrounding country. [77]

Meanwhile Henry of Trastámara made war upon Aquitaine, took Bagnères and wasted the country. Fearing that Charles of Navarre would not allow him to return through his dominions, the prince negotiated with the King Peter IV of Aragon for a passage for his troops. Peter IV made a treaty with him, and when Charles of Navarre heard of it he agreed to allow the prince, the Duke of Lancaster, and some of their lords to pass through his country; so they returned through Roncesvalles, and reached Bordeaux early in September 1367. [71]

War in Aquitaine

Some time after he had returned to Aquitaine the free companies, some six thousand strong, also reached Aquitaine, having passed through Kingdom of Aragon. As they had not received the whole of the money the prince had agreed to pay them, they took up their quarters in his country and began to do much mischief. He persuaded the captains to leave Aquitaine, and the companies under their command crossed the Loire and did much damage to France. This greatly angered Charles V, who about this time did the prince serious mischief by encouraging disaffection among the Gascon lords. [71]

When the prince had been gathering his army for his Spanish expedition, the lord of Albret had agreed to serve with a thousand lances. Considering, however, that he had at least as many men as he could find provisions for, the prince on 8 December 1366 had written to him requesting that he would bring only two hundred lances. The lord of Albret was much incensed at this, and, though peace was made by his uncle the Count of Armagnac, did not forget the offence, and Froissart speaks of it as the "first cause of hatred between him and the prince". [71] A more powerful cause of this lord's discontent was the non-payment of an annual pension which had been granted him by Edward. About this time he agreed to marry Margaret of Bourbon, sister of the queen of France. The Black Prince was annoyed at this betrothal, and, his temper probably being soured by sickness and disappointment, behaved with rudeness to both D'Albret and his intended bride. On the other hand, Charles offered the lord the pension which he had lost, and thus drew him and his uncle, the Count of Armagnac, altogether over to the French side. [78]

The immense cost of the late campaign and his constant extravagance had brought the prince into financial difficulties, and as soon as he returned to Bordeaux he called an assembly of the estates of Aquitaine (Parliament) to meet at Saint-Émilion in order to obtain a grant from them. It seems as though no business was done then, for in January 1368 he held a meeting of the estates at Angoulême, and there persuaded them to allow him a fouage, or hearth tax, of ten sous for five years. An edict for this tax was published on 25 January 1368. [79]

The chancellor, Bishop John Harewell, held a conference at Niort, at which he persuaded the barons of Poitou, Saintonge, Limousin, and Rouergue to agree to this tax, but the great vassals of the high marches refused, and on 20 June and again on 25 October the Counts of Armagnac, Périgord, and Comminges, and the lord of Albret laid their complaints before the king of France, declaring that he was their lord paramount. [80] Meanwhile the prince's friend Chandos, who strongly urged him against imposing this tax, had retired to his Norman estate. [79]

Charles took advantage of these appeals, and on 25 January 1369 sent messengers to the Black Prince, who was then residing at Bordeaux, summoning him to appear in person before him in Paris and there receive judgment. He replied: "We will willingly attend at Paris on the day appointed since the king of France sends for us, out it shall be with our helmet on our head and sixty thousand men in our company". [79]

The Black Prince caused the messengers to be imprisoned, and in revenge for this the Counts of Périgord and Comminges and other lords set on Sir Thomas Wake [81] [lower-alpha 5] the high-steward of Rouergue, slew many of his men, and put him to flight. The prince sent for Chandos, who came to his help, and some fighting took place, though war was not yet declared. His health was now so feeble that he could not take part in active operations, for he was swollen with dropsy and could not ride. By 18 March 1367 more than nine hundred towns, castles, and other places signified in one way or another their adherence to the French cause. [82]

The Black Prince had already warned his father of the intentions of the French king, but there was evidently a party at Edward's court that was jealous of his power, and his warnings were slighted. In April 1369, however, war was declared. Edward sent the Earls of Cambridge and Pembroke to his assistance, and Sir Robert Knolles, who now again took service with, him, added much to his strength. The war in Aquitaine was desultory, and, though the English maintained their ground fairly in the field, every day that it was prolonged weakened their hold on the country. [79]

On 1 January 1370 the Black Prince sustained a heavy loss in the death of his friend Chandos. Several efforts were made by Edward to conciliate the Gascon lords, [83] but they were fruitless and can only have served to weaken the prince's authority. It is probable that John of Gaunt was working against him at the English court, and when he was sent out in the summer to help his elder brother, he came with such extensive powers that he almost seemed as though he had come to supersede him. [79]

In the spring Charles raised two large armies for the invasion of Aquitaine; one, under the Louis I, Duke of Anjou, was to enter Guyenne by La Reole and Bergerac, the other, under the John, Duke of Berry, was to march towards Limousin and Quercy, and both were to unite and besiege the prince in Angoulême. Ill as he was, the prince left his bed of sickness, [84] and gathered an army at Cognac, where he was joined by the Barons of Poitou and Saintonge, and the Earls of Cambridge, Lancaster, and Pembroke. The two French armies gained many cities, united and laid siege to Limoges, which was treacherously surrendered to them by the bishop, who had been one of the prince's trusted friends. [85]

The storming of Limoges Siege of Limoges.jpg
The storming of Limoges

When the Black Prince heard of the surrender of Limoges to the French, he swore "by the soul of his father" that he would have the place again and would make the inhabitants pay dearly for their treachery. [85] He set out from Cognac with an army of about 4,000 men. Due to his sickness he was unable to mount his horse, and was carried in a litter. During the siege of Limoges, the prince was determined to take the town and ordered the undermining of its walls. On 19 September, his miners succeeded in demolishing a large piece of wall which filled the ditches with its ruins. The town was then stormed, with the inevitable destruction and loss of life. [86]

The Victorian historian, William Hunt and author of the Black Prince's biography in the Dictionary of National Biography (1889) relying on Froissart as a source [lower-alpha 6] wrote that when the bishop (who was the most responsible for the surrender) was brought before the Prince, the Prince told him that his head should be cut off (Lancaster persuaded him not to carry out the deed), but that the city was nevertheless pillaged and burnt, and that 3,000 persons of all ranks and ages were massacred. [86] However modern scholarship, including the historian Richard Barber writing in 2008 in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography , and drawing on a wider range of evidence, places casualties much lower than Froissart did—around 300 garrison soldiers and civilians in total. [87]

The prince returned to Cognac; his sickness increased, and he was forced to give up all hope of being able to direct any further operations and to proceed first to Angoulème and then to Bordeaux. [88]


The death of his eldest son Edward, which happened at this time, grieved him greatly; he became worse, and his surgeon advised him to return to England. He left Aquitaine in charge of Lancaster, landed at Southampton early in January 1371, met his father at Windsor, and put a stop to a treaty the king had made the previous month with Charles of Navarre, for he would not consent to the cession of territory that Charles demanded, [89] and then went to his manor of Berkhamsted, ruined alike in health and in fortune. [88]

On his return to England the prince was probably at once recognised as the natural opponent of the influence exercised by the anti-clerical and Lancastrian party, and it is evident that the clergy trusted him; for on 2 May he met the convocation of Canterbury at the Savoy, and persuaded them to make an exceptionally large grant. [90] His health now began to improve, and in August 1372 he sailed with his father to the relief of Thouars; but contrary winds meant that the fleet never reached the French coast. On 6 October he resigned the principality of Aquitaine and Gascony, giving as his reason that its revenues were no longer sufficient to cover expenses, and acknowledging his resignation in Parliament of the next month. At the conclusion of this parliament, after the knights had been dismissed, he met the citizens and burgesses "in a room near the white chamber", and prevailed on them to extend the customs granted the year before for the protection of merchant shipping for another year. [91]

It is said that after Whitsunday, 20 May 1374, the prince presided at a council of prelates and nobles held at Westminster to answer a demand from Pope Gregory XI for a subsidy to help him against the Florentines. The bishops, after hearing the pope's letter, which asserted his right as lord spiritual, and, by the grant of John, lord in chief, of the kingdom, declared that "he was lord of all". The cause of the crown, however, was vigorously maintained, and the prince, provoked at the hesitation of Archbishop Wittlesey, spoke sharply to him, and at last told him that he was an ass. The bishops gave way, and it was declared that John had no power to bring the realm into subjection. [88] [lower-alpha 7]

The prince's sickness again became very heavy, though when the "Good Parliament" met on 28 April 1376 he was looked upon as the chief support of the commons in their attack on the abuses of the administration, and evidently acted in concert with William of Wykeham in opposing the influence of Lancaster and the disreputable clique of courtiers who upheld it, and he had good cause to fear that his brother's power would prove dangerous to the prospects of his son Richard. [92] Richard Lyons, the king's financial agent, who was impeached for gigantic frauds, sent him a bribe of £1,000. and other gifts, but he refused to receive it, though he afterwards said that it was a pity he had not kept it, and sent it to pay the soldiers who were fighting for the kingdom. [93]


Tomb in Canterbury Cathedral
Bronze effigy TombaPrincepNegre.JPG
Bronze effigy

From the period of the Good Parliament Edward knew that he was dying. His dysentery became violent, and he often fainted from weakness, so that his household believed that he had already died. [lower-alpha 2] He left gifts for his servants in his will and took leave of the King his father, asking him that he would confirm his gifts, pay his debts quickly out of his estate, and protect his son Richard. 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. [94]

His death took place in the Palace of Westminster. [95] [lower-alpha 8] He was buried with great state in Canterbury Cathedral on 29 September, and the directions contained in his will were followed at his funeral and in the details of his tomb. [96] It has a bronze effigy beneath a tester depicting the Holy Trinity with his heraldic achievements  his surcoat, helmet, shield and gauntlets [96]  hung over the tester; they have been replaced with replicas, and the originals now reside in a glass fronted cabinet within the Cathedral. The epitaph [96] inscribed around his effigy reads:

The original heraldic achievements of the Black Prince, on display in Canterbury Cathedral Black Prince Heraldic Achievements.JPG
The original heraldic achievements of the Black Prince, on display in Canterbury Cathedral

Such as thou art, sometime was I.
Such as I am, such shalt thou be.
I thought little on th'our of Death
So long as I enjoyed breath.
On earth I had great riches
Land, houses, great treasure, horses, money and gold.
But now a wretched captive am I,
Deep in the ground, lo here I lie.
My beauty great, is all quite gone,
My flesh is wasted to the bone. [97]

Arms and heraldic badge

Coat of Arms of the Prince of Wales (France ancient).svg
The Black Prince's coat of arms. [lower-alpha 9]
Arms of the Prince of Wales (Ancient).svg
The Black Prince's shield. [lower-alpha 10]
Arms of the Prince of Wales (Shield of Peace).svg
The "shield for peace", with the ich dien motto. [lower-alpha 11]

Arms: Quarterly, 1st and 4th azure semée of fleur-de-lys or (France Ancient); 2nd and 3rd gules, three lions passant guardant or (England); overall a label of three points argent. Crest: On a chapeau gules turned up ermine, a lion statant or gorged with a label of three points argent. Mantling: gules lined ermine. Edward's coat of arms as Prince of Wales were those of the kingdom, differenced by a label of three points argent. [98]

Edward also used an alternative coat of Sable, three ostrich feathers argent, described as his "shield for peace" (probably meaning the shield he used for jousting). [lower-alpha 4] This shield can be seen several times on his tomb chest, alternating with the differenced royal arms. His younger brother, John of Gaunt, used a similar shield on which the ostrich feathers were ermine.

Edward's "shield for peace" is believed to have inspired the badge of three ostrich feathers used by later Princes of Wales.


Signet ring of the Black Prince in the Louvre Signet-ring Black Prince Louvre OA9597.jpg
Signet ring of the Black Prince in the Louvre

Edward married his cousin, Joan, Countess of Kent (1328–1385), on 10 October 1361. She was the daughter and heiress of Edmund, Earl of Kent, the younger son of King Edward I by his second wife Margaret of France.

They had two sons, both born in Aquitaine: [96]

From his marriage to Joan, he also became stepfather to her children by Thomas Holland:

Edward had several natural sons before his marriage. [96]

With Edith de Willesford (died after 1385):

With unknown mother:

Appellation "Black Prince"

Edward is often referred to as the "Black Prince". [14] The first known source to use the sobriquet "Black Prince" was the antiquary John Leland in the 1530s or early 1540s (about 165 years after the death of the Black Prince). Leland mentions the sobriquet in two manuscript notes in the 1530s or early 1540s, with the implication that it was by that date in relatively widespread use. In one place, Leland refers in Latin to "Edwardi Principis cog: Nigri" (i.e., "Edward the Prince, cognomen: The Black"); in the other, in English to "the Blake Prince". [103] In both instances, Leland is summarising earlier works – respectively, the 14th-century Eulogium Historiarum and the late 15th-century chronicle attributed to John Warkworth – but in neither case does the name appear in his source texts. In print, Roger Ascham in his Toxophilus (1545) refers to "ye noble black prince Edward beside Poeters"; [104] while Richard Grafton, in his Chronicle at Large (1569), uses the name on three occasions, saying that "some writers name him the black prince", and elsewhere that he was "commonly called the black Prince". [105] Raphael Holinshed uses it several times in his Chronicles (1577); [106] and it is also used by William Shakespeare, in his plays Richard II (written c.1595; Act 2, scene 3) and Henry V (c.1599; Act 2, scene 4). In 1688 it appears prominently in the title of Joshua Barnes's The History of that Most Victorious Monarch, Edward IIId, King of England and France, and Lord of Ireland, and First Founder of the Most Noble Order of the Garter: Being a Full and Exact Account Of the Life and Death of the said King: Together with That of his Most Renowned Son, Edward, Prince of Wales and of Aquitain, Sirnamed the Black-Prince.

The origins of the name are uncertain, though many theories have been proposed. These fall under two main heads:

The black field of his "shield for peace" is well documented (see Arms and heraldic badge above). However, there is no sound evidence that Edward ever wore black armour, although John Harvey (without citing a source) refers to "some rather shadowy evidence that he was described in French as clad at the battle of Crécy ' en armure noire en fer bruni ' – in black armour of burnished steel". [107] Richard Barber suggests that the name's origins may have lain in pageantry, in that a tradition may have grown up in the 15th century of representing the prince in black armour. He points out that several chronicles refer to him as Edward the IV (the title he would have taken as King had he outlived his father): this name would obviously have become confusing when the actual Edward IV succeeded in 1461, and this may have been the period when an alternative had to be found. [108]

Edward's reputation for brutality in France is also well documented, and it is possible that this is where the title had its origins. The French soldier Philippe de Mézières refers to Edward as the greatest of the "black boars" – those aggressors who had done so much to disrupt relations within Christendom. [109] Other French writers made similar associations, and Peter Hoskins reports that an oral tradition of L'Homme Noir, who had passed by with an army, survived in southern France until recent years. [110] In Shakespeare's Henry V, the King of France alludes to "that black name, Edward, Black Prince of Wales". John Speed reported in 1611 that the Black Prince was so named "not of his colour, but of his dreaded Acts in battell"; [111] a comment echoed in 1642 by Thomas Fuller, who wrote that he was named "from his dreaded acts and not from his complexion". [112] Joshua Barnes claimed in 1688 that it was from the time of the Battle of Crécy that "the French began to call [him] Le Neoir, or the Black-Prince", appearing to cite a record of 2 Richard II (i.e. 1378–9); but his reference is insufficiently precise to be traceable. [113] [21] However, it is unclear how a French sobriquet might have crossed to England, and Barber finds this derivation of the name "unlikely". [114]


See also


  1. Edward of Woodstock after the place of his birth, (Hunt 1889, p. 90 cites le Baker Chronicle) was Duke of Cornwall (from 1337), the Prince of Wales (from 1343) and the Prince of Aquitaine (1362–1372). Sometimes called Edward IV (Hunt 1889, p. 90 cites Walsingham Eulogium. For details of the origins of the sobriquet "Black Prince" see the section "Appellation 'Black Prince'".
  2. 1 2 It is widely believed that he contracted amoebic dysentery but some argue against the likelihood that he could sustain a ten-year battle with dysentery. Other possible diagnoses include nephritis, cirrhosis or a combination of these.(Green 2007, p. 73; MacNalty 1955, p. 411).
  3. badge of the Prince of Wales as it was in the early 17th century; the three feathers are believed to derive from the heraldic device used by Edward.
  4. 1 2 As regards the story that the prince took the crest of three ostrich feathers and the motto "Ich dien" from the King John of Bohemia, who was slain in the battle of Crécy, it may be noted, first, as to the ostrich feathers, that in the manuscript of John of Arderne's Medica, written by William Seton, [16] is an ostrich feather used as a mark of reference to a previous page, on which the same device occurs, "ubi depingitur penna principis Walliæ", with the remark: "Et nota quod talem pennam albam portabat Edwardus, primogenitus E. regis Angliæ, super cristam suam, et illam pennam conquisivit de Rege Boemiæ, quem interfecit apud Cresy in francia", [17] Although the reference and remark in Sloane MS. 56 may be by Seton and not by Arderne, the prince's physician, it is evident that probably before the prince's death the ostrich feather was recognised as his peculiar badge, assumed after the battle of Crécy. While the crest of John of Bohemia was the entire wings of a vulture "besprinkled with linden leaves of gold" [18] the ostrich seems to have been the badge of his house; it was borne by Queen Anne of Bohemia, as well as by her brother Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia, and is on her effigy on her tomb. [19] The feather badge occurs as two feathers on four seals of the prince , [20] and as three feathers on the alternate escutcheons placed on his tomb in accordance with the directions of his will The prince in his will says that the feathers were "for peace", [21] ie for jousts and tournaments, and calls them his badge, not his crest. Although the ostrich feather was his special badge, it was placed on some plate belonging to his mother, was used in the form of one or more feathers by various members of the royal house, and (by grant of Richard II), by Thomas de Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk. [22] The story of the prince's winning the feathers was printed, probably for the first time, by Camden in his Remaines In his first edition (1605) he states that it was "at the battle of Poictiers", [23] but corrects this in his next edition (1614), [24] Secondly, as to the motto, it appears that the prince used two mottoes, "Houmout" and "Ich dien", which are both appended as signature to a letter under his privy seal. [25] In his will he directed that "Houmout" should be written on each of the escutcheons round his tomb. But it actually occurs only over the escutcheons bearing his arms, while over the alternate escutcheons with his badge, and also on the escroll upon the quill of each feather, are the words ich diene[ sic ]. "Houmout" is interpreted as meaning high mood or courage. [26] No early tradition connects "Ich dien" with John of Bohemia. Like "Houmout", it is probably old Flemish or Low German. Camden in his 'Remaines' (in the passage cited above) says that it is old English, "Ic die", that is "I serve", and that the prince "adjoyned" the motto to the feathers, and he connects it, no doubt rightly, with the prince's position as heir, referring to Ep. to Galatians, iv. 1. [21]
  5. "Whiteval. Q. if not Whitwell. Barnes calls him sir Thomas Wake" (Johnes 1848, p. 411).
  6. Jean Froissart (1337 – c. 1405), a contemporary court historian and a major historical source of the Prince's campaigns
  7. "This story, told at length by the continuator of the 'Eulogium,' presents some difficulties, and the Pope's pretension to sovereignty and the answer that was decided on read like echoes of the similar incidents in 1366" (Hunt 1889, p. 100 cites Cont. Eulogiim, iii. 337).
  8. It is asserted by Caxton, in his continuation of the "Polychronicon", cap.8, that the Prince died at his manor of Kennington and that his body was brought to Westminster on 8 July, Trinity Sunday, a day he had always kept with special reverence (Hunt 1889, p. 101 cites Chandos, vol. 1. p. 4201)
  9. Coat of arms as heir-apparent to the English throne.
  10. The shield of Edward the Black Prince: Quarterly, 1 and 4 France (ancient); 2 and 3 England, and a label of three points argent
  11. The ich dien motto is attributed to Edward according to a long-standing but unhistorical tradition (Siddons 2009, pp. 178–190).
  1. Barber 2008.
  2. Wagner 2006, p. 116.
  3. Hunt 1889 , p. 90 cites Fœdera, ii. pp. 798, 811.
  4. Hunt 1889 , p. 90 cites Fœdera, ii. p. 822.
  5. Hunt 1889 , p. 90 cites Courthope, p. 9.
  6. Hunt 1889 , p. 90 cites Fœdera, ii. p. 880.
  7. Hunt 1889 , p. 90 cites Fœdera, ii. p. 919.
  8. Hunt 1889 , pp. 90–91 cites Holinshed.
  9. Hunt 1889 , p. 91 cites Fœdera, ii. pp. 1049, 1125, 1212.
  10. Hunt 1889 , p. 91 cites Fœdera, ii. p. 1083, iii. pp. 32, 35.
  11. Hunt 1889 , p. 91 cites Fœdera, iii. p. 84.
  12. Hunt 1889 , p. 91 cites Fœdera, iii. p. 90; letter of Edward III to Archbishop of York, Retrospective Review, i. 119; Rot. Parl. iii. 163; Chandos, l. 145.
  13. 1 2 3 4 Hunt 1889 , p. 91 cites Baron Seymour de Constant, Bataille de Crécy, ed, 1846; Louandre, Histoire d'Abbeville; Archæologia, xxviii. 171.
  14. 1 2 Hunt 1889, p. 91.
  15. Barber 1978, p. 67.
  16. Hunt 1889, p. 92 cites Sloane MS. 56, f. 74, 14th cent.
  17. Hunt 1889, p. 92 notes: see also John of Arderne's Miscellanea medica et chirurgica,' in Sloane MS. 335, f. 68, 14th cent.; but not, as asserted in Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. xi. 293, in Arderne's 'Practice,' Sloane MS. 76, f. 61, written in English 15th cent.
  18. Hunt 1889, p. 92 cites a poem in Baron Reiffenburg's Barante, Ducs de Bourgogne; Olivier de Vrée, Généalogie des Comtes de Flandre, pp. 65–7.
  19. Hunt 1889, p. 92 cites Archæologia, xxix, 32–59.
  20. Hunt 1889, p. 92 cites Archæologia, xxxi. 361.
  21. 1 2 3 Hunt 1889, p. 92.
  22. Hunt 1889, p. 92 cites Archæologia, xxxi. 354–379.
  23. Hunt 1889, p. 92 cites Camden p. 161.
  24. Hunt 1889, p. 92 cites Camden 1614, p. 214.
  25. Hunt 1889, p. 92 cites Archæologia, xxxi. 381.
  26. Hunt 1889, p. 92 cites Archæologia, xxxii. 69.
  27. Hunt 1889 , p. 92cites Knighton, c. 2595.
  28. Hunt 1889, pp. 92–93.
  29. Hunt 1889 , pp. 93 cites Froissart, iv. p. 82.
  30. Hunt 1889 , pp. 93 cites Froissart, iv. p. 95; Nicolas, Royal Navy, ii. 112.
  31. Hunt 1889 , p. 93 cites Knighton, c. 2606; Monasticon, v. 626, 704; Barnes 1688 , p. 468.
  32. Hunt 1889 , p. 93 cites Fœdera, iii. 302, 312.
  33. Hunt 1889 , p. 93 cites Avesbury, p. 201.
  34. Hunt 1889 , p. 93 cites Froissart, iv. 163, 373
  35. Hunt 1889 , p. 93 cites Jehan le Bel, ii. 188; Froissart, iv. 165).
  36. Hunt 1889 , p. 93 cites Avesbury, p. 215.
  37. Hunt 1889 , p. 93 cites a letter of Sir John Wingfield, in Avesbury, p. 222.
  38. Hunt 1889 , p. 94 cites another letter of Sir J. Wingfield, in Avesbury, p. 224).
  39. Hunt 1889 , p. 94 cites a letter of the prince dated 20 October, Archæologia, i. 212; Froissart, iv. 196.
  40. Hunt 1889 , p. 94 states for itinerary of this expedition see Eulogium, iii. 215 sq.
  41. 1 2 3 4 Hunt 1889, p. 94.
  42. Hunt 1889 , p. 94 cites Chronique de Bertrand du Guesclin, p. 7.
  43. Hunt 1889 , p. 94 cites Froissart, v. 29; MATT. VILLANI, vii. c. 16.
  44. Hunt 1889, pp. 94–95.
  45. 1 2 3 4 5 Hunt 1889, p. 95.
  46. Hunt 1889 , p. 95 Froissart, v. 64, 288.
  47. Hunt 1889 , p. 95 Knighton, c. 2615; Eulogium, iii. 227; Walsingham, i. 283; Fœdera, iii. 348, not at Sandwich as Froissart, v. 82 states.
  48. Hunt 1889 , p. 95 cites Matt. Villani, vii. c. 66.
  49. Hunt 1889 , p. 95 cites Barnes 1688 , p. 564.
  50. Hunt 1889 , p. 95 cites Fœdera, iii, 445.
  51. Hunt 1889 , p. 95 cites Fœdera, iii, 486; Chandos, l. 1539
  52. Hunt 1889 , pp. 95 cites James, ii. 223 n.
  53. Hunt 1889 , p. 95Froissart, vi. 24.
  54. Hunt 1889, pp. 95–96.
  55. Hunt 1889 , p. 96 cites Fœdera, iii. 626.
  56. Hunt 1889 , p. 96 cites Froissart, vi. 275, Amiens.
  57. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Hunt 1889, p. 96.
  58. Hunt 1889 , p. 96 cites Fœdera, iii. 667.
  59. Hunt 1889 , p. 96 cites Froissart, vi. 82.
  60. Hunt 1889 , p. 96 cites Fœdera, iii. 779.
  61. Hunt 1889 , p. 96 cites Froissart, vi. 183.
  62. Hunt 1889 , p. 96 cites Fœdera, iii. 754.
  63. Hunt 1889, pp. 96–97.
  64. 1 2 3 4 5 Hunt 1889, p. 97.
  65. Hunt 1889 , p. 97 cites Fœdera, iii. 799–807.
  66. Hunt 1889 , p. 97 cites Fœdera, iii. p. 787.
  67. Hunt 1889 , p. 97 cites Ayala; Chandos.
  68. Hunt 1889 , p. 97 cites Ayala, xviii. 2.
  69. Hunt 1889 , p. 97 cites Froissart, vii. 10.
  70. Hunt 1889, pp. 97–98.
  71. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Hunt 1889, p. 98.
  72. Hunt 1889 , p. 98 cites Ayala, xviii. c. 23; Friossart, vii. 37; Chandos, 1. 3107 sq.; Du Guesclin, p. 49.
  73. Hunt 1889 , p. 99 cites Ayala.
  74. Hunt 1889 , p. 98 cites Fœdera, iii. 825.
  75. Hunt 1889 , p. 98 cites Knighton, c. 2629.
  76. Hunt 1889 , p. 98 cites Walsingham, i. 305.
  77. Hunt 1889 , p. 98 cites Chandos, 1. 3670 sq.
  78. Hunt 1889, pp. 98–99.
  79. 1 2 3 4 5 Hunt 1889, p. 99.
  80. Hunt 1889 , p. 99 cites Froissart, i. 548 n., Buchon.
  81. Johnes 1848, p. 398.
  82. Hunt 1889 , p. 99 citesFroissart, vii. Pref. p. lviii.
  83. For more details of how Edward tried to conciliate the Gascon lords see "Edward III"  . Dictionary of National Biography . 17. 1889. p. 66..
  84. Hunt 1889 , p. 99 cite Chandos, 1. 4043.
  85. 1 2 Hunt 1889 , p. 99 cites Froissart, i. 620, Buchon; Cont. Murimuth, p. 209.
  86. 1 2 Hunt 1889 , p. 100 cites Froissart, i. 620, Buchon; Cont. Murimuth, p. 209.
  87. Barber 2008; and Jones 2017 , pp. 365–367
  88. 1 2 3 Hunt 1889, p. 100.
  89. Hunt 1889 , p. 100 cites Fœdera, iii. 967.
  90. Hunt 1889 , p. 100 cites Wilkins, Concilia, iii. 91.
  91. Hunt 1889 , p. 100 cites Rot. Parl. ii. 310; Hallam, Const Hist, iii. 47.
  92. Hunt 1889 , p. 100 cites Chron. Angliæ, Pref. xxix, pp. 74, 75, 393.
  93. Hunt 1889 , p. 100 cites Chron. Angliæ, Pref. xxix, p. 80).
  94. Hunt 1889, pp. 100–101.
  95. Hunt 1889 , p. 101 cites Walsingham, i, 321; Froissart, i, 706, Buchonl
  96. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Hunt 1889, p. 101.
  97. Jones 2014, p. 524.
  98. Velde 2013.
  99. Hunt 1889 , p. 101 cites Eulogia, 1365 Murimuth, or 1363 Froissart
  100. Hunt 1889 , p. 101cites Weive, Funeral Monuments, p, 419
  101. Weir 2008, p. 95.
  102. Costain 1962, p. 387.
  103. Barber 1978 , p. 242; and Leland 1774 , pp. 307, 479
  104. Ascham 1545, p. 40.
  105. Grafton 1569, pp. 223, 293, 324.
  106. Holinshed 1577, pp. 893, 997, 1001.
  107. Harvey 1976, p. 15.
  108. Barber 1978, pp. 242–3.
  109. Green 2007, pp. 184–5.
  110. Hoskins 2011, p. 57.
  111. Speed 1611, p. 567.
  112. Fuller, Thomas (1642). The Holy State. Cambridge. p. 342.
  113. Barnes 1688 , p. 363
  114. Barber 1978, p. 243.
  115. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Armitage-Smith 1905, p. 21.
  116. 1 2 3 4 Sainte-Marie 1726, pp. 87–88.
  117. 1 2 Sainte-Marie 1726, pp. 381–382.
  118. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Redlich 2009, p. 64.
  119. Weir 1999, pp. 75, 92.
  120. 1 2 3 Selby, Harwood & Murray 1895, p. 228.

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Further reading

Edward the Black Prince
Born: 15 June 1330 Died: 8 June 1376
English royalty
Title last held by
Edward of Carnarvon
Prince of Wales
Title next held by
Richard of Bordeaux
New title Duke of Cornwall