Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Edward, the Black Prince

Edward, the Black Prince (June 15, 1330 - June 8, 1376) was the eldest son of King Edward III of England. Born at Woodstock Palace in Oxfordshire, he was created Duke of Cornwall in 1337 and Prince of Wales in 1343, and proved to have a prodigious military talent, as shown by his bravery at the Battle of Crecy when he was only sixteen. He followed this up a few years later with victory at the Battle of Poitiers. Edward did not, however, gain the nickname of "Black Prince" until much later in history, and it is believed to derive either from the colour of his armour or his foul temper. It was largely thanks to him that Welsh archers were imported into the English army, and the English owed much of their subsequent military success to the supremacy of the longbow over the continental crossbow. He was also one of the first military leaders to introduce a uniform; he did so for his Welsh contingent, because, speaking a different language, they might have been mistaken for the enemy by the English forces.

The emblem of the Prince of Wales's feathers and its accompanying motto, "Ich dien", are said to have been inherited by the prince from King John of Bohemia, with whom he served at Crecy. However, this emblem and motto were not exclusively used by the Black Prince, but also by his brothers.

Edward had been brought up with his cousin, Joan "The Fair Maid of Kent. After marrying her in October, 1361 (a controversial match), Edward was sent to rule the province of Aquitaine on behalf of his father. In this period, he had two sons, Edward (who died in infancy) and Richard, who would later rule as Richard II of England.

Further military campaigning on behalf of Pedro the Cruel, King of Castile ruined Edward's health as well as his finances, and he was forced to give up the administration of Aquitaine and return to England. Whilst making an attempt to involve himself in the government of England, he soon had to give up any hope of resuming military activity, and he died on June 8, 1376, leaving his young son as heir to the throne. He is buried at Canterbury Cathedral.

Further reading