1902 Encyclopedia > Edward the Black Prince

Edward the Black Prince
Military leader during the Hundred Years War
(1330-76)




EDWARD THE BLACK PRINCE (1330-1376), son of Edward III. of England, and of Philippa, was born at Woodstock, June 15, 1330. In 1337 he was created duke of Cornwall. He was appointed guardian of the kingdom during the king's absences in France in 1338, 1340, and 1342, and on his return in 1343 was created prince of Wales. In 1346 he accompanied his father's fourth expedition against France, when the division led by him bore the chief brunt in the battle of Crécy. In 1350 ho shared with his father the glory of defeating the Spanish fleet at the battle of " L'Espagnols-sur-Mer." In 1355 he commanded the principal of the three armies raised by the English for the invasion of France, and landing at Bordeaux captured and plundered the chief of its southern towns and fortresses. In the year following he gained the great victory of Poitiers, and took King John prisoner ; and returning to England in 1357, he entered London in triumphant procession, accompanied by his illustrious captive. During the pause of arms which followed the treaty of Bretigny he was married to his cousin Joan, commonly called the Fair Maid of Kent, of whom he was the third husband. This event took place in 1361. Shortly after, he was created duke of Aquitaine, and he set sail for his new dominions in February 1363. Here his life was spent in comparative quietude until Pedro, the deposed monarch of Castile, sought his assistance to remount the Spanish throne. Trusting to Pedro's promises to defray the cost of the expedition, the Black Prince agreed to his request. He marched across the Pyrenees, defeated Don Henry with great slaughter at the battle of Navarette, and two days afterwards, along with Don Pedro, entered Bourges in triumph. Don Pedro, however, speedily forgot the promise of payment which his distresses had induced him to make, and after the Black Prince had waited some months in vain for its fulfilment, he was compelled to return to his duchy, having lost four-fifths of his army by sickness alone. To defray his expenses he found it necessary to impose on Aquitaine a hearth tax, and the Gascon lords having complained to the king of France, he was summoned in 1369 to Paris to answer the complaint. He replied that he was willing and ready to come, but it would be with " helm on head, and with 60,000 men." War was consequently again declared between England and France. Two simultaneous invasions of English territory were planned by the French—the one under the duke of Anjou, the other under the duke of Berri. The latter laid siege to Limoges, which by the treachery of its bishop basely surrendered. Enraged almost to madness, the prince swore by the "soul of his father" that he would recover the city, and after a month's siege fulfilled his oath. Surprising the garrison by the springing of a mine, he carried the city by assault, and massacred without mercy every man, woman, and child found within its walls. This terrible act of cruelty, attributable, it is only charitable to suppose, partly to the irritation of ill health, and possibly to chagrin arising from the presentiment that the English power in France was now ou the wane, is the one blot on his fair fame. It closed also his military career, for he was compelled in 1371, by the advice of his physicians, to return to England. From this time his constitution was utterly broken, but he lingered on to witness the loss of his duchy to England, and also to originate the measures of the " Good Parliament," although his death prevented their completion. He died at Westminster, 8th June 1376. He was buried at Canterbury Cathedral, where his mailed effigy may still be seen.

See Longman's Life and Times of Edward III.; Edward III. by Rev. W. Warburton, M.A.; Pauli's Aufsätze zur Englischen Geschichte (Edward, Der Schwarze Prinz), Leipsic, 1869 ; and Creighton's Edward the Black Prince.







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