The Black Prince

The Black Prince

Edward III’s eldest son, also named Edward, was known to many as the Black Prince. Born on 15 June 1330 in Oxfordshire, he was made Prince of Wales at Westminster in 1343 at the age 12. Although he never found himself on the throne,  passing away before his father, Edward is remembered as a great medieval military leader thanks to the huge number of victories he celebrated on the battlefield.

From an early age, Edward shown signs of being particularly well suited to a military life, 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, helping his father in his mission to acquire the throne of France. In 1355, he was even appointed lieutenant for his father in Gascony, and just one year later he led another victory against the French at Poitiers, succeeding in taking the French king prisoner.

The Black Prince married his cousin, Joan of Kent, in 1362 at Windsor Castle and was made prince of Aquitaine and Gascony by his father. He then took Joan - daughter 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 part of France.

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

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

Following success in Spain, Edward returned to Aquitaine but the nobility of the area turned on him due to his decision to levy taxes to pay for his Spanish exploits. In 1370, Edward besieged the city of Limoges, killing 3,000 residents and gaining more of a stronghold in the area. However, 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 also quickly deteriorated and he died at Westminster on 8 June 1376 aged just 45. He was buried in Canterbury Cathedral, where a bronze effigy now marks his tomb. Richard succeeded his grandfather, Edward III one year later, while Edward’s wife Joan died nine years later, on 7 August 1385. She was buried in Stamford, Lincolnshire, beside her first husband Sir Thomas Holland, as she requested in her will.

During his lifetime, Edward was commonly known was Edward of Woodstock, but his title of the Black Prince came into use after his death and many believe it refers to the trademark black body armour he chose to wear during many of his greatest military victories.

See also: Edward the Confessor

MLA Citation/Reference

"The Black Prince". HistoryLearning.com. 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