Edward, the Black Prince

Renowned Military Commander

Edward, the Black Prince
Image of Edward, the Black Prince from the Bruges Garter Book, c. 1340. Public Domain; courtesy of Wikimedia

Edward, the Black Prince was also known as:

Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales, Prince d'Aquitaine, Duke of Cornwall, Earl of Chester

Edward, the Black Prince was known for:

Scoring several notable victories during the Hundred Years' War. He was the eldest son and heir apparent of King Edward III, but he did not live to become king. 

Occupations:

Prince
Military Leader

Places of Residence and Influence:

England
France

Important Dates:

Born: June 15, 1330
Victorious at Battle of Crécy: Aug. 26, 1346
Victorious at Battle of Poitiers: Sept. 19, 1356
Married Joan Plantagenet: Oct. 10, 1361
Victorious at Battle of Nájera: April 3, 1367
Died: , 1376

About Edward, the Black Prince:

In 1337, Edward became the first Duke to be created in England when he was given the title Duke of Cornwall. In his first campaign, at the age of 16, he "won his spurs" at the Battle of Crécy in 1346. It was at this time that he acquired the mottoes homout; ich dene ("Courage; I serve"), which have been used by the Princes of Wales ever since. Edward became one of the original Knights of the Garter, and was given an independent command of forces in France in 1355.

Edward won his most famous victory at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356, where King John II of France was taken captive. He treated his prisoner with undeniable courtesy, but the king still had to pay a ransom of 3 million gold crowns and negotiate the treaties of Brétigny and Calais, through which Aquitaine became English territory.

In 1361 Edward married Joan Plantagenet, "The Fair Maid of Kent," his divorced and widowed cousin. In 1362 he was created Prince of Aquitaine, and in 1363 he left England to take up his duties there. His rule in Aquitaine was a failure for several reasons: as a foreign conqueror, he was too extravagant, and he allowed French loyalties to strengthen; his relationships with the bishops of the area were not good, while some of the nobles of the region were downright hostile; and he levied too many taxes.

Edward attempted to restore Peter the Cruel of Castile to his throne, and he won a notable victory at the Battle of Nájera. However, the campaign adversely affected his health, he used up a great deal of his treasury, and he suffered setbacks in Aquitaine as a result. In 1368, the nobles of Aquitaine appealed against him to King Charles V of France, who informed Edward that he must answer to the appellants before the parlement of Paris. Edward replied that he would appear with 60,000 men at his back. But, in addition to alienating the French nobility, he had also fared poorly with the townspeople and peasantry in Aquitaine, and a revolt ensued that he was unable to put down.

He returned to England and in January, 1371, formally surrendered the principality to his father.

At home in England, Edward enjoyed a reputation for chivalry and valor, and he spent some time jousting, falconing, and hunting. He was literate, conventionally religious, generous to his friends, and possessed of artistic sensibilities and an appreciation for fine jewels. In the last year of his life, when he knew he was dying, he may have supported the commons in the Good Parliament of April, 1376 in an attempt to secure the succession for his eldest surviving son, Richard.

Edward died that June, and was buried in Canterbury Cathedral.

There are no known contemporary records for Edward's sobriquet "Black Prince." It is believed to refer to black armor he may have worn, although another theory attributes it to his dark temper. The first recorded use of the nickname is in the 1568 publication, The Chronicle of England by Richard Grafton.

More Edward, the Black Prince Resources:

Edward, the Black Prince on the Web

Edward, the Black Prince in Print

The links below will take you to an online bookstore, where you can find more information about the book to help you get it from your local library. This is provided as a convenience to you; neither Melissa Snell nor About is responsible for any purchases you make through these links.

Edward, Prince of Wales and Aquitaine
by Richard Barber

The Life and Campaigns of the Black Prince 
by Richard Barber

Edward the Black Prince: Power in Medieval Europe
by David Green

A History of the Life of Edward the Black Prince: And of Various Events Connected Therwith, Which Occurred During the Reign of Edward III, King of England, Volume 1
by George Payne Rainsford James
 

The Hundred Years' War
Medieval Britain
Medieval & Renaissance Monarchs of England


Who's Who Directories:

Chronological Index

Geographical Index

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