Birthday: June 15, 1330
Died At Age: 45
Sun Sign: Gemini
Born in: Woodstock
Famous as: Duke of Cornwall
Spouse/Ex-: Joan of Kent
father: Edward III of England
mother: Philippa of Hainault
siblings: 1st Duke of Clarence, 1st Duke of Gloucester, 1st Duke of Lancaster, 1st Duke of York, Countess of Bedford, Countess of Pembroke, Edmund of Langley, Isabella, Joan of England, John of Gaunt, Lionel of Antwerp, Margaret, Mary of Waltham, Thomas of Woodstock
children: Edward of Angoulême, Richard II of England
Died on: June 8, 1376
place of death: Palace of Westminster
Who was Edward, the Black Prince?
Edward, the Black Prince, also known as Edward of Woodstock/ Prince of Wales/ Duke of Cornwall/ Earl of Chester was the eldest son of King Edward III and Queen Philippa. Born in the Royal Palace in Oxfordshire, he was created Earl of Chester before his third birthday, the Duke of Cornwall at the age of seven, and the Prince of Wales when he was 13. Later on he was knighted by his father and he became the first Knight of the Garter. As a 16 year old he helped his father win the Battle of Crecy and so emphatic was the victory that the ecstatic king was assured that his first born would only enhance his reputation and that of the kingdom. He made his father even prouder when he won the Battle of Poitiers against King John II, then King of France. He captured the king, his youngest son and plenty of other nobles. From here on he constantly kept trying to achieve his father’s dream of completely vanquishing France and so the battles of Winchelsea, Aquitaine, and Najera took place. It is believed that while trying to restore Don Pedro as the King of Castille he contracted an illness which eventually led to his demise.
Childhood & Early Life
Edward was born on June 15, 1330 at the Royal Palace of Woodstock in Oxfordshire as the eldest son to King Edward III and Queen Philippa.
He was created Earl of Chester in 1333 and the Duke of Cornwall in 1337. For the next few years he became the guardian of the kingdom when his father was away for war. He became the Prince of Wales in 1343.
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Edward was knighted by King Edward III in 1345 at La Hogue. Edward actively aided his father at the Battle of Crecy the next year and possibly earned the title ‘The Black Prince’ for his black armor.
At the Crecy battle, an army of English, Welsh and allied troops led by Edward III defeated the combined army of French, Genoese and Majorcan troops led by Philip VI.
In spite of being heavily outnumbered Edward III won convincingly due to the introduction of weapons such as the longbow and cannons. In order to further their expeditions in France the army needed supplies and reinforcements.
Edward III needed a port where his army could be resupplied and the most fitting place to do so was the English Channel port at Calais. The town had a double moat coupled with strong and high walls and so did the citadel located inside. The town could serve as a perfect place for the king’s purpose with the added incentive of being defendable by sea.
Edward III’s army reached Calais in September 1346. Nothing was achieved by both the sides for the next two months as neither could cut off the supplies of the other. Edward III received them from England and Flanders, while Philip VI of France received them from loyal French sailors.
From November to February various attempts were made but the walls couldn’t be breached and Edward III ordered siege. Both the sides received additional reinforcements though were finally able to block further supplies to the French.
By August the city’s food and fresh water supplies had exhausted and they lit fires to signal their surrender. The citizens submitted the keys of the city gates to Edward III and left with some provisions.
The Battle of Winchelsea took place in 1350 and was a victory for an English fleet of 50 ships commanded by Edward III, with the Black Prince, over a Castillian fleet of 40 ships commanded by Don Carlos de la Cerda.
By 1355, Edward the Black Prince had become the King’s Lieutenant for Gascony and the army’s leader at Aquitaine, which was invading Southeastern France. During this great raid they made several important allies and crippled France economically. The successful conquest of Aquitaine ensured Edward III got more land, resources and armies.
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The Battle of Poitiers started in September 1356 between the Black Prince and John II, King of France. The English won solely on the basis of their battle-acumen and the French King and his youngest son were captured.
The Treaty of Bretigny was signed between the Black Prince and the prisoner of war - John II in 1360. The treaty gave the former many new provinces with complete control and no interference from the French king.
The second term dictated a ransom of three million gold crowns and when the payment of one million was made, John II was released. But as a guarantee for the payment of the rest of the ransom, John gave several hostages (including his own two sons) to the Black Prince.
The Battle of Najera was fought in April 1367 between the Anglo-Gascon army and the Franco-Castilian Army. The English were led by the Black Prince with allies in John of Gaunt and Peter of Castile
The war became a lost-cause for the Black Prince when Peter was murdered and the money Edward had invested in the war efforts became pointless. As a result, the Black Prince became bankrupt.
Out of all the achievements of the Black Prince, the ones that stood out were the roles he played in the battles of Crecy and Poitiers. At the Crecy battle, an army of English, Welsh and allied forces led by Edward III defeated the combined army of French, Genoese and Majorcan troops led by Philip VI. At the battle of Poitiers he fought and won against King John II of France.
Personal Life & Legacy
Edward, the Black Prince married his cousin, Joan who was the Countess of Kent, in 1361 and they had two sons, Edward and Richard. He also became the step-father to Joan’s children from a previous marriage including Thomas and John Holland.
He had several illegitimate children including Sir Roger Clarendon with Edith de Willesford and three other sons named Edward, Sir John Sounder and Sir Charles FitzEdward.
Edward, the Black Prince died on June 8, 1376 at the Westminster Palace. His death was the culmination of illness he contracted during his 1366 campaign to Spain in order to restore Don Pedro the Cruel to the throne of Castille.