The Black Prince

The Black Prince

Edward III’s eldest son, also named Edward and known as the Black Prince was born on 15 June 1330 in Oxfordshire, and made Prince of Wales at Westminster in 1343 aged 12. Although he never reigned as King of England as he died before his father, Edward is remembered as a great medieval military leader for his many victories on the battlefield.

From an early age it was clear he was suited to a life on the military battlefield, displaying strength, bravery and nobility. Aged just 16, he played a major role in the defeat of the French army at the Battle of Crecy during his father's campaign to acquire the throne of France and, in the years that followed, was appointed his father's lieutenant in Gascony in 1355. In 1356, he led yet another victory against the French at Poitiers, even taking the French king prisoner.

Edward married his cousin, Joan of Kent, in 1362 at Windsor Castle and was made prince of Aquitaine and Gascony by his father. Edward took Joan (daughter and heiress of the Earl of Kent, Edmund Plantagenet and grand-daughter of Edward I and his second wife Margaret of France) to live in his new French lands.

Tomb of Edward the Black Prince at Canterbury Cathedral
Tomb of Edward the Black Prince at Canterbury Cathedral

Joan and Edward had two children together: Edward of Angouleme, who was born in 1365 and Richard of Bordeaux (Richard II) born in 1367.

Edward returned to Aquitaine following his success in Spain, but was revolted against by the nobility of the province as a result of levying taxes to pay for his Spanish exploits. In 1370, Edward besieged the city of Limoges, where 3,000 of its residents were killed. Soon after this massacre, Edward returned to England on the advice of his personal doctor. Sadly, his eldest son Edward of Angouleme died aged six in 1372, leaving Richard to become his father’s future heir.

Edward’s health quickly got worse and he died at Westminster on 8 June 1376 aged 45. He was buried in Canterbury Cathedral, where a bronze effigy now marks his tomb. Richard succeeded his grandfather, Edward III, a year later. Edward’s wife Joan died nine years after her husband, on 7 August 1385. She was buried in Stamford, Lincolnshire, beside her first husband Sir Thomas Holland, as her will stated.

During his lifetime he was in fact known as Edward of Woodstock. Edward’s title of ‘Black Prince’ appeared after his death and many believe it refers to the trademark black body armour that he often wore.

See also: Edward the Confessor

MLA Citation/Reference

"The Black Prince". 2015. Web.

Key facts

Name: Edward of Woodstock/Edward ‘The Black Prince’
Birth Date: 15 June 1330, Woodstock
Death: 8 June 1376 Palace of Westminster
Burial: Canterbury Cathedral
Key role: Son of King Edward III and military leader
Achievements: Victories over the French at the Battles of Crécy and Poitiers