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Edward III of England

Edward III of England

Overview
Edward III was King of England from 1327 until his death and is noted for his military success. Restoring royal authority after the disastrous reign of his father, Edward II
Edward II of England
Edward II , called Edward of Caernarfon, was King of England from 1307 until he was deposed by his wife Isabella in January 1327. He was the sixth Plantagenet king, in a line that began with the reign of Henry II...

, Edward III went on to transform the Kingdom of England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe. His reign saw vital developments in legislation and government – in particular the evolution of the English parliament – as well as the ravages of the Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

.
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Timeline

1327   Edward III becomes King of England.

1327   Teenaged Edward III is crowned King of England, but the country is ruled by his mother Queen Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer.

1328   Edward III of England marries Philippa of Hainault, daughter of the Count of Hainault.

1340   King Edward III of England is declared King of France.

1346   Battle of Neville's Cross: King David II of Scotland is captured by Edward III of England near Durham, and imprisoned in the Tower of London for eleven years.

1348   The founding of the Order of the Garter by King Edward III is announced on St George's Day.

1350   Battle of Winchelsea (or Les Espagnols sur Mer): The English naval fleet under King Edward III defeats a Castilian fleet of 40 ships.

 
Encyclopedia
Edward III was King of England from 1327 until his death and is noted for his military success. Restoring royal authority after the disastrous reign of his father, Edward II
Edward II of England
Edward II , called Edward of Caernarfon, was King of England from 1307 until he was deposed by his wife Isabella in January 1327. He was the sixth Plantagenet king, in a line that began with the reign of Henry II...

, Edward III went on to transform the Kingdom of England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe. His reign saw vital developments in legislation and government – in particular the evolution of the English parliament – as well as the ravages of the Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

. He remains one of only six monarchs to have ruled England or its successor kingdoms
Succession of states
Succession of states is a theory and practice in international relations regarding the recognition and acceptance of a newly created sovereign state by other states, based on a perceived historical relationship the new state has with a prior state...

 for more than fifty years.

Edward was crowned at the age of fourteen, following the deposition
Deposition (politics)
Deposition by political means concerns the removal of a politician or monarch. It may be done by coup, impeachment, invasion or forced abdication...

 of his father. When he was only seventeen years old, he led a coup against the de facto ruler of the country, his mother's consort Roger Mortimer, and began his personal reign. After a successful campaign in Scotland
Kingdom of Scotland
The Kingdom of Scotland was a Sovereign state in North-West Europe that existed from 843 until 1707. It occupied the northern third of the island of Great Britain and shared a land border to the south with the Kingdom of England...

 in 1333, he declared himself rightful heir to the French throne in 1337, starting what would become known as the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

. Following some initial setbacks, the war went exceptionally well for England; the victories of Crécy
Battle of Crécy
The Battle of Crécy took place on 26 August 1346 near Crécy in northern France, and was one of the most important battles of the Hundred Years' War...

 and Poitiers
Battle of Poitiers (1356)
The Battle of Poitiers was fought between the Kingdoms of England and France on 19 September 1356 near Poitiers, resulting in the second of the three great English victories of the Hundred Years' War: Crécy, Poitiers, and Agincourt....

 led to the highly favourable Treaty of Brétigny
Treaty of Brétigny
The Treaty of Brétigny was a treaty signed on May 9, 1360, between King Edward III of England and King John II of France. In retrospect it is seen as having marked the end of the first phase of the Hundred Years' War —as well as the height of English hegemony on the Continent.It was signed...

. Edward's later years, however, were marked by international failure and domestic strife, largely as a result of his inactivity and bad health.

Edward III was a temperamental man, but also capable of unusual clemency. He was in many ways a conventional king, whose main interest was warfare. Admired in his own time and for centuries after, Edward was denounced as an irresponsible adventurer by later Whig historians
Whig history
Whig history is the approach to historiography which presents the past as an inevitable progression towards ever greater liberty and enlightenment, culminating in modern forms of liberal democracy and constitutional monarchy. In general, Whig historians stress the rise of constitutional government,...

 such as William Stubbs
William Stubbs
William Stubbs was an English historian and Bishop of Oxford.The son of William Morley Stubbs, a solicitor, he was born at Knaresborough, Yorkshire, and was educated at Ripon Grammar School and Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated in 1848, obtaining a first-class in classics and a third in...

. This view has been challenged recently, and modern historiography
Historiography
Historiography refers either to the study of the history and methodology of history as a discipline, or to a body of historical work on a specialized topic...

 credits him with some significant achievements.

Early life


Edward was born at Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is a medieval castle and royal residence in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, notable for its long association with the British royal family and its architecture. The original castle was built after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I it...

 on 13 November 1312, and was often referred to as Edward of Windsor in his early years. The reign of his father, Edward II
Edward II of England
Edward II , called Edward of Caernarfon, was King of England from 1307 until he was deposed by his wife Isabella in January 1327. He was the sixth Plantagenet king, in a line that began with the reign of Henry II...

, was a particularly problematic period of English history. One source of contention was the king's inactivity, and repeated failure, in the ongoing war with Scotland
First War of Scottish Independence
The First War of Scottish Independence lasted from the invasion by England in 1296 until the de jure restoration of Scottish independence with the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton in 1328...

. Another controversial issue was the king's exclusive patronage
Patronage
Patronage is the support, encouragement, privilege, or financial aid that an organization or individual bestows to another. In the history of art, arts patronage refers to the support that kings or popes have provided to musicians, painters, and sculptors...

 of a small group of royal favourite
Favourite
A favourite , or favorite , was the intimate companion of a ruler or other important person. In medieval and Early Modern Europe, among other times and places, the term is used of individuals delegated significant political power by a ruler...

s. The birth of a male heir in 1312 temporarily improved Edward II's position in relation to the baronial opposition. To further bolster the independent prestige of the young prince, the king had him created Earl of Chester
Earl of Chester
The Earldom of Chester was one of the most powerful earldoms in medieval England. Since 1301 the title has generally been granted to heirs-apparent to the English throne, and from the late 14th century it has been given only in conjunction with that of Prince of Wales.- Honour of Chester :The...

 at only twelve days of age.

In 1325, Edward II was faced with a demand from the French king, Charles IV
Charles IV of France
Charles IV, known as the Fair , was the King of France and of Navarre and Count of Champagne from 1322 to his death: he was the last French king of the senior Capetian lineage....

, to perform homage for the English Duchy of Aquitaine. Edward was reluctant to leave the country, as discontent was once again brewing domestically, particularly over his relationship with the favourite Hugh Despenser the Younger. Instead, he had his son Edward created Earl of Aquitaine in his place and sent him to France to perform the homage. The young Edward was accompanied by his mother Isabella
Isabella of France
Isabella of France , sometimes described as the She-wolf of France, was Queen consort of England as the wife of Edward II of England. She was the youngest surviving child and only surviving daughter of Philip IV of France and Joan I of Navarre...

, who was the sister of King Charles, and was meant to negotiate a peace treaty with the French. While in France, however, Isabella conspired with the exiled Roger Mortimer to have the king deposed. To build up diplomatic and military support for the venture, Isabella had Prince Edward engaged to the twelve-year-old Philippa of Hainault
Philippa of Hainault
Philippa of Hainault, or, Philippe de Hainaut was the Queen consort of King Edward III of England. Edward, Duke of Guyenne, her future husband, promised in 1326 to marry her within the following two years...

. An invasion of England was launched and Edward II's forces deserted him completely. The king was forced to relinquish the throne to his son, who was crowned as Edward III on 1 February 1327.

It was not long before the new reign also met with other problems caused by the central position at court of Roger Mortimer, who was now the de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

ruler of England. Mortimer used his power to acquire noble estates and titles, and his unpopularity grew with the humiliation at Stanhope Park
Battle of Stanhope Park
The Battle of Stanhope Park, part of the First War of Scottish Independence, took place during the night of 3-4 August 1327. The Scots under James Douglas led a raid into Weardale, and Roger Mortimer, accompanied by the newly crowned Edward III on his first campaign, led an army to drive them back...

 and the ensuing Treaty of Edinburgh–Northampton, signed with the Scots in 1328. Also the young king came into conflict with his guardian. Mortimer knew his position in relation to the king was precarious and subjected Edward to disrespect and humiliation. The tension increased after Edward and Philippa, who had married on 24 January 1328, had a son
Edward, the Black Prince
Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, Prince of Aquitaine, KG was the eldest son of King Edward III of England and his wife Philippa of Hainault as well as father to King Richard II of England....

 on 15 June 1330. Eventually, Edward decided to take direct action against Mortimer. Aided by his close companion William Montagu and a small number of other trusted men, Edward took Mortimer by surprise at Nottingham Castle
Nottingham Castle
Nottingham Castle is a castle in Nottingham, England. It is located in a commanding position on a natural promontory known as "'Castle Rock'", with cliffs high to the south and west. In the Middle Ages it was a major royal fortress and occasional royal residence...

 on 19 October 1330. Mortimer was executed and Edward III’s personal reign began.

Early reign


Edward III was not content with the peace agreement made in his name, but the renewal of the war with Scotland originated in private, rather than royal initiative. A group of English magnate
Magnate
Magnate, from the Late Latin magnas, a great man, itself from Latin magnus 'great', designates a noble or other man in a high social position, by birth, wealth or other qualities...

s known as The Disinherited, who had lost land in Scotland by the peace accord, staged an invasion of Scotland and won a great victory at the Battle of Dupplin Moor
Battle of Dupplin Moor
The Battle of Dupplin Moor was fought between supporters of the infant David II, the son of Robert the Bruce, and rebels supporting the Balliol claim in 1332. It was a significant battle of the Second War of Scottish Independence.-Background:...

 in 1332. They attempted to install Edward Balliol
Edward Balliol
Edward Balliol was a claimant to the Scottish throne . With English help, he briefly ruled the country from 1332 to 1336.-Life:...

 as king of Scotland in David II
David II of Scotland
David II was King of Scots from 7 June 1329 until his death.-Early life:...

's place, but Balliol was soon expelled and was forced to seek the help of Edward III. The English king responded by laying siege to the important border town of Berwick
Berwick-upon-Tweed
Berwick-upon-Tweed or simply Berwick is a town in the county of Northumberland and is the northernmost town in England, on the east coast at the mouth of the River Tweed. It is situated 2.5 miles south of the Scottish border....

 and defeated a large relieving army at the Battle of Halidon Hill
Battle of Halidon Hill
The Battle of Halidon Hill was fought during the Second War of Scottish Independence. Scottish forces under Sir Archibald Douglas were heavily defeated on unfavourable terrain while trying to relieve Berwick-upon-Tweed.-The Disinherited:...

. Edward reinstated Balliol on the throne and received a substantial amount of land in southern Scotland. These victories proved hard to sustain, however, as forces loyal to David II gradually regained control of the country. In 1338, Edward was forced to agree to a truce with the Scots.
One reason for the change of strategy towards Scotland was a growing concern for the relationship between England and France. As long as Scotland and France were in an alliance
Auld Alliance
The Auld Alliance was an alliance between the kingdoms of Scotland and France. It played a significant role in the relations between Scotland, France and England from its beginning in 1295 until the 1560 Treaty of Edinburgh. The alliance was renewed by all the French and Scottish monarchs of that...

, the English were faced with the prospect of fighting a war on two fronts. The French carried out raids on English coastal towns, leading to rumours in England of a full-scale French invasion. In 1337, Philip VI
Philip VI of France
Philip VI , known as the Fortunate and of Valois, was the King of France from 1328 to his death. He was also Count of Anjou, Maine, and Valois from 1325 to 1328...

 confiscated the English king's duchy of Aquitaine
Aquitaine
Aquitaine , archaic Guyenne/Guienne , is one of the 27 regions of France, in the south-western part of metropolitan France, along the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees mountain range on the border with Spain. It comprises the 5 departments of Dordogne, :Lot et Garonne, :Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Landes...

 and the county of Ponthieu
Ponthieu
Ponthieu was one of six feudal counties that eventually merged together to become part of the Province of Picardy, in northern France. Its chief town is Abbeville.- History :...

. Instead of seeking a peaceful resolution to the conflict by paying homage to the French king, the way his father had done, Edward responded by laying claim to
English claims to the French throne
The English claims to the French throne have a long and complex history between the 1340s and the 19th century.From 1340 to 1801, with only brief intervals in 1360-1369 and 1420–1422, the kings and queens of England, and after the Acts of Union in 1707 the kings and queens of Great Britain, also...

 the French crown as the only living male heir of his maternal grandfather, Philip IV
Philip IV of France
Philip the Fair was, as Philip IV, King of France from 1285 until his death. He was the husband of Joan I of Navarre, by virtue of which he was, as Philip I, King of Navarre and Count of Champagne from 1284 to 1305.-Youth:A member of the House of Capet, Philip was born at the Palace of...

. The French, however, invoked the Salic law
Salic law
Salic law was a body of traditional law codified for governing the Salian Franks in the early Middle Ages during the reign of King Clovis I in the 6th century...

 of succession and rejected the claim. Instead, they pronounced Philip IV's nephew, Philip VI, the true heir, thereby setting the stage for the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

 (see family tree below). In the early stages of the war, Edward's strategy was to build alliances with other Continental princes. In 1338, Louis IV
Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor
Louis IV , called the Bavarian, of the house of Wittelsbach, was the King of Germany from 1314, the King of Italy from 1327 and the Holy Roman Emperor from 1328....

 named Edward vicar-general of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 and promised his support. These measures, however, produced few results; the only major military victory in this phase of the war was the English naval victory at Sluys
Battle of Sluys
The decisive naval Battle of Sluys , also called Battle of l'Ecluse was fought on 24 June 1340 as one of the opening conflicts of the Hundred Years' War...

 on 24 June 1340, which secured English control of the Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

.

Meanwhile, the fiscal pressure on the kingdom caused by Edward's expensive alliances led to discontent at home. The regency council at home was frustrated by the mounting national debt, while the king and his commanders on the Continent were angered by the government in England's failure to provide sufficient funds. To deal with the situation, Edward himself returned to England, arriving in London unannounced on 30 November 1340. Finding the affairs of the realm in disorder, he purged the royal administration of a great number of ministers and judges. These measures did not bring domestic stability, however, and a stand-off ensued between the king and John de Stratford
John de Stratford
John de Stratford was Archbishop of Canterbury and Treasurer and Chancellor of England.-Life:John was born at Stratford-on-Avon and educated at Merton College, Oxford, afterwards entering the service of Edward II....

, Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

. Stratford claimed that Edward had violated the laws of the land by arresting royal officers. A certain level of conciliation was reached at the parliament of April 1341. Here Edward was forced to accept severe limitations to his financial and administrative freedom, in return for a grant of taxation. Yet in October the same year, the king repudiated this statute and Archbishop Stratford was politically ostracised. The extraordinary circumstances of the April parliament had forced the king into submission, but under normal circumstances the powers of the king in medieval England were virtually unlimited, a fact that Edward was able to exploit.

Fortunes of war


By the early 1340s, it was clear that Edward's policy of alliances was too costly, and yielded too few results, to be continued. The following years saw more direct involvement by English armies, including in the Breton War of Succession
Breton War of Succession
The Breton War of Succession was a conflict between the Houses of Blois and Montfort for control of the Duchy of Brittany. It was fought between 1341 and 1364. It formed an integral part of the early Hundred Years War due to the involvement of the French and English governments in the conflict; the...

, but these interventions also proved fruitless at first. A major change came in July 1346, when Edward staged a major offensive, sailing for Normandy
Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

 with a force of 15,000 men. His army sacked
Battle of Caen (1346)
The Battle of Caen in 1346 was a running battle through the streets of the Norman city during the English invasion of Normandy under King Edward III in July of that year...

 the city of Caen
Caen
Caen is a commune in northwestern France. It is the prefecture of the Calvados department and the capital of the Basse-Normandie region. It is located inland from the English Channel....

, and marched across northern France, to meet up with English forces in Flanders
County of Flanders
The County of Flanders was one of the territories constituting the Low Countries. The county existed from 862 to 1795. It was one of the original secular fiefs of France and for centuries was one of the most affluent regions in Europe....

. It was not Edward's initial intention to engage the French army, but at Crécy
Crécy-en-Ponthieu
Crécy-en-Ponthieu is a commune in the Somme department in Picardie in northern France, located south of Calais. It gives its name to Crécy Forest, which starts about two kilometres to the south-west of the town and which is one of the largest forests in the north of France...

, just north of the Somme, he found favourable terrain and decided to fight an army led by Philip VI. On 26 August, the English army defeated a far larger French army in the Battle of Crécy
Battle of Crécy
The Battle of Crécy took place on 26 August 1346 near Crécy in northern France, and was one of the most important battles of the Hundred Years' War...

. Shortly after this, on 17 October, an English army defeated and captured King David II of Scotland at the Battle of Neville's Cross
Battle of Neville's Cross
The Battle of Neville's Cross took place to the west of Durham, England on 17 October 1346.-Background:In 1346, England was embroiled in the Hundred Years' War with France. In order to divert his enemy Philip VI of France appealed to David II of Scotland to attack the English from the north in...

. With his northern borders secured, Edward felt free to continue his major offensive against France, laying siege to the town of Calais
Calais
Calais is a town in Northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's capital is its third-largest city of Arras....

. The operation was the greatest English venture of the Hundred Years' War, involving an army of 35,000 men. The siege started on 4 September 1346, and lasted until the town surrendered on 3 August 1347.


After the fall of Calais, factors outside of Edward's control forced him to wind down the war effort. In 1348, the Black Death
Black Death in England
The pandemic known to history as the Black Death entered England in 1348, and killed between a third and more than half of the nation's inhabitants. The Black Death was the first and most severe manifestation of the Second Pandemic, probably caused by the Yersinia pestis bacteria. Originating in...

 struck England with full force, killing a third or more of the country's population. This loss of manpower led to a shortage of farm labour, and a corresponding rise in wages. The great landowners struggled with the shortage of manpower and the resulting inflation in labour cost. To curb the rise in wages, the king and parliament responded with the Ordinance of Labourers
Ordinance of Labourers
The Ordinance of Labourers 1349 is often considered to be the start of English labour law. Along with the Statute of Labourers , it made the employment contract different from other contracts and made illegal any attempt on the part of workers to bargain collectively...

 in 1349, followed by the Statute of Labourers
Statute of Labourers of 1351
The Statute of Labourers was a law enacted by the English parliament under King Edward III in 1351 in response to a labour shortage, designed to stabilize the labor force by prohibiting increases in wages and prohibiting the movement of workers from their home areas in search of improved conditions...

 in 1351. These attempts to regulate wages could not succeed in the long run, but in the short term they were enforced with great vigour. All in all, the plague did not lead to a full-scale breakdown of government and society, and recovery was remarkably swift. This was to a large extent thanks to the competent leadership of royal administrators such as Treasurer
Lord High Treasurer
The post of Lord High Treasurer or Lord Treasurer was an English government position and has been a British government position since the Act of Union of 1707. A holder of the post would be the third highest ranked Great Officer of State, below the Lord High Chancellor and above the Lord President...

 William de Shareshull
William de Shareshull
Sir William de Shareshull was an English lawyer, and Chief Justice of the King's Bench from 26 October 1350 to 5 July 1361.Shareshull came from relatively humble Staffordshire origins, rising to great prominence under the administration of Edward III of England; he was responsible for the 1351...

 and Chief Justice
Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales
The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales is the head of the judiciary and President of the Courts of England and Wales. Historically, he was the second-highest judge of the Courts of England and Wales, after the Lord Chancellor, but that changed as a result of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005,...

 William Edington.

It was not until the mid-1350s that military operations on the Continent were resumed on a large scale. In 1356, Edward's oldest son, Edward, the Black Prince
Edward, the Black Prince
Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, Prince of Aquitaine, KG was the eldest son of King Edward III of England and his wife Philippa of Hainault as well as father to King Richard II of England....

, won an important victory in the Battle of Poitiers
Battle of Poitiers (1356)
The Battle of Poitiers was fought between the Kingdoms of England and France on 19 September 1356 near Poitiers, resulting in the second of the three great English victories of the Hundred Years' War: Crécy, Poitiers, and Agincourt....

. The greatly outnumbered English forces not only routed the French, but captured the French king, John II
John II of France
John II , called John the Good , was the King of France from 1350 until his death. He was the second sovereign of the House of Valois and is perhaps best remembered as the king who was vanquished at the Battle of Poitiers and taken as a captive to England.The son of Philip VI and Joan the Lame,...

. After a succession of victories, the English held great possessions in France, the French king was in English custody, and the French central government had almost totally collapsed. There has been a historical debate as to whether Edward's claim to the French crown originally was genuine, or if it was simply a political ploy meant to put pressure on the French government. Regardless of the original intent, the stated claim now seemed to be within reach. Yet a campaign in 1359, meant to complete the undertaking, was inconclusive. In 1360, therefore, Edward accepted the Treaty of Brétigny
Treaty of Brétigny
The Treaty of Brétigny was a treaty signed on May 9, 1360, between King Edward III of England and King John II of France. In retrospect it is seen as having marked the end of the first phase of the Hundred Years' War —as well as the height of English hegemony on the Continent.It was signed...

, whereby he renounced his claims to the French throne, but secured his extended French possessions in full sovereignty.

Later reign


While Edward's early reign had been energetic and successful, his later years were marked by inertia, military failure and political strife. The day-to-day affairs of the state had less appeal to Edward than military campaigning, so during the 1360s Edward increasingly relied on the help of his subordinates, in particular William Wykeham
William of Wykeham
William of Wykeham was Bishop of Winchester, Chancellor of England, founder of Winchester College, New College, Oxford, New College School, Oxford, and builder of a large part of Windsor Castle.-Life:...

. A relative upstart, Wykeham was made Keeper of the Privy Seal
Lord Privy Seal
The Lord Privy Seal is the fifth of the Great Officers of State in the United Kingdom, ranking beneath the Lord President of the Council and above the Lord Great Chamberlain. The office is one of the traditional sinecure offices of state...

 in 1363 and Chancellor
Lord Chancellor
The Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, or Lord Chancellor, is a senior and important functionary in the government of the United Kingdom. He is the second highest ranking of the Great Officers of State, ranking only after the Lord High Steward. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign...

 in 1367, though due to political difficulties connected with his inexperience, the Parliament forced him to resign the chancellorship in 1371. Compounding Edward's difficulties were the deaths of his most trusted men, some from the 1361–62 recurrence of the plague. William Montague, Earl of Salisbury, Edward's companion in the 1330 coup, died as early as 1344. William de Clinton
William de Clinton, 1st Earl of Huntingdon
William de Clinton, 1st Earl of Huntingdon and Lord High Admiral, was the younger son of Baron John Clinton of Maxstoke and Ida De Odingsells, who was a great-great-granddaughter of Henry II. The Clintons were a great Norman family who had arrived with William the Conqueror in 1066...

, who had also been with the king at Nottingham, died in 1354. One of the earls created in 1337, William de Bohun, Earl of Northampton
William de Bohun, 1st Earl of Northampton
William de Bohun, 1st Earl of Northampton, KG was an English nobleman and military commander.-Lineage:He was the fifth son of Humphrey de Bohun, 4th Earl of Hereford and Elizabeth of Rhuddlan. He had a twin brother, Edward...

, died in 1360, and the next year Henry of Grosmont
Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster
Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster, 4th Earl of Leicester and Lancaster, KG , also Earl of Derby, was a member of the English nobility in the 14th century, and a prominent English diplomat, politician, and soldier...

, perhaps the greatest of Edward's captains, succumbed to what was probably plague. Their deaths left the majority of the magnates younger and more naturally aligned to the princes than to the king himself.


Increasingly, Edward began to rely on his sons for the leadership of military operations. The king's second son, Lionel of Antwerp
Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence
Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, jure uxoris 4th Earl of Ulster and 5th Baron of Connaught, KG was the third son, but the second son to survive infancy, of Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault...

, attempted to subdue by force the largely autonomous Anglo-Irish
Hiberno-Norman
The Hiberno-Normans are those Norman lords who settled in Ireland who admitted little if any real fealty to the Anglo-Norman settlers in England, and who soon began to interact and intermarry with the Gaelic nobility of Ireland. The term embraces both their origins as a distinct community with...

 lords in Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

. The venture failed, and the only lasting mark he left were the suppressive Statutes of Kilkenny
Statutes of Kilkenny
The Statutes of Kilkenny were a series of thirty-five acts passed at Kilkenny in 1366, aiming to curb the decline of the Hiberno-Norman Lordship of Ireland.-Background to the Statutes:...

 in 1366. In France, meanwhile, the decade following the Treaty of Brétigny was one of relative tranquillity, but on 8 April 1364 John II
John II of France
John II , called John the Good , was the King of France from 1350 until his death. He was the second sovereign of the House of Valois and is perhaps best remembered as the king who was vanquished at the Battle of Poitiers and taken as a captive to England.The son of Philip VI and Joan the Lame,...

 died in captivity in England, after unsuccessfully trying to raise his own ransom at home. He was followed by the vigorous Charles V
Charles V of France
Charles V , called the Wise, was King of France from 1364 to his death in 1380 and a member of the House of Valois...

, who enlisted the help of the capable Constable
Constable of France
The Constable of France , as the First Officer of the Crown, was one of the original five Great Officers of the Crown of France and Commander in Chief of the army. He, theoretically, as Lieutenant-general of the King, outranked all the nobles and was second-in-command only to the King...

 Bertrand du Guesclin
Bertrand du Guesclin
Bertrand du Guesclin , known as the Eagle of Brittany or the Black Dog of Brocéliande, was a Breton knight and French military commander during the Hundred Years' War. He was Constable of France from 1370 to his death...

. In 1369, the French war started anew, and Edward's younger son John of Gaunt
John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster
John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster , KG was a member of the House of Plantagenet, the third surviving son of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault...

 was given the responsibility of a military campaign. The effort failed, and with the Treaty of Bruges in 1375, the great English possessions in France were reduced to only the coastal towns of Calais
Calais
Calais is a town in Northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's capital is its third-largest city of Arras....

, Bordeaux
Bordeaux
Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in the Gironde department in southwestern France.The Bordeaux-Arcachon-Libourne metropolitan area, has a population of 1,010,000 and constitutes the sixth-largest urban area in France. It is the capital of the Aquitaine region, as well as the prefecture...

, and Bayonne
Bayonne
Bayonne is a city and commune in south-western France at the confluence of the Nive and Adour rivers, in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department, of which it is a sub-prefecture...

.

Military failure abroad, and the associated fiscal pressure of constant campaigns, led to political discontent at home. The problems came to a head in the parliament of 1376, the so-called Good Parliament
Good Parliament
The Good Parliament is the name traditionally given to the English Parliament of 1376. Sitting in London from April 28 to July 10, it was the longest Parliament up until that time....

. The parliament was called to grant taxation, but the House of Commons
House of Commons of England
The House of Commons of England was the lower house of the Parliament of England from its development in the 14th century to the union of England and Scotland in 1707, when it was replaced by the House of Commons of Great Britain...

 took the opportunity to address specific grievances. In particular, criticism was directed at some of the king's closest advisors. Chamberlain
Lord Chamberlain
The Lord Chamberlain or Lord Chamberlain of the Household is one of the chief officers of the Royal Household in the United Kingdom and is to be distinguished from the Lord Great Chamberlain, one of the Great Officers of State....

 William Latimer
William Latimer
William Latimer was an English clergyman and scholar of Ancient Greek.Latimer studied at Oxford University, attaining the degree of Bachelor of Arts before being admitted as a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford in 1489...

 and Steward of the Household
Lord Steward
The Lord Steward or Lord Steward of the Household, in England, is an important official of the Royal Household. He is always a peer. Until 1924, he was always a member of the Government...

 John Neville
John Neville, 3rd Baron Neville de Raby
John Neville, 3rd Baron Neville de Raby, KG was born at Castle Raby, County Durham, England to Ralph Neville, 2nd Baron Neville de Raby and Alice de Audley. He fought in the Battle of Neville's Cross on 17 October 1346 as a Captain in his father's division...

 were dismissed from their positions. Edward's mistress, Alice Perrers
Alice Perrers
Alice Perrers was a royal mistress whose lover and patron was King Edward III of England. She acquired significant land holdings. She served as a lady-in-waiting to Edward's consort, Philippa of Hainault.-Life and Family:...

, who was seen to hold far too much power over the aging king, was banished from court. Yet the real adversary of the Commons, supported by powerful men such as Wykeham and Edmund de Mortimer, Earl of March
Edmund de Mortimer, 3rd Earl of March
Edmund de Mortimer, 3rd Earl of March and jure uxoris Earl of Ulster was son of Roger Mortimer, 2nd Earl of March, by his wife Philippa, daughter of William Montacute, 1st Earl of Salisbury and Catherine Grandison.-Early life:An infant at the death of his father, Edmund, as a ward of the crown,...

, was John of Gaunt. Both the king and the Black Prince were by this time incapacitated by illness, leaving Gaunt in virtual control of government. Gaunt was forced to give in to the demands of parliament, but at its next convocation
Bad Parliament
The Bad Parliament sat in England between 27 January and 2 March 1377. Influenced by Prince John of Gaunt, it undid the work done by the Good Parliament to reduce corruption in the Royal Council. It also introduced a poll tax which was a contributing factor to the Peasants' Revolt in 1381....

, in 1377, most of the achievements of the Good Parliament were reversed.

Edward himself, however, did not have much to do with any of this; after around 1375 he played a limited role in the government of the realm. Around 29 September 1376 he fell ill with a large abscess
Abscess
An abscess is a collection of pus that has accumulated in a cavity formed by the tissue in which the pus resides due to an infectious process or other foreign materials...

. After a brief period of recovery in February 1377, the king died of a stroke at Sheen on 21 June. He was succeeded by his ten-year-old grandson, King Richard II
Richard II of England
Richard II was King of England, a member of the House of Plantagenet and the last of its main-line kings. He ruled from 1377 until he was deposed in 1399. Richard was a son of Edward, the Black Prince, and was born during the reign of his grandfather, Edward III...

, son of the Black Prince, since the Black Prince himself had died on 8 June 1376.

Legislation


The middle years of Edward's reign were a period of significant legislative activity. Perhaps the best-known piece of legislation was the Statute of Labourers of 1351
Statute of Labourers of 1351
The Statute of Labourers was a law enacted by the English parliament under King Edward III in 1351 in response to a labour shortage, designed to stabilize the labor force by prohibiting increases in wages and prohibiting the movement of workers from their home areas in search of improved conditions...

, which addressed the labour shortage problem caused by the Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

. The statute fixed wages at their pre-plague level and checked peasant mobility by asserting that lords had first claim on their men's services. In spite of concerted efforts to uphold the statute, it eventually failed due to competition among landowners for labour. The law has been described as an attempt "to legislate against the law of supply and demand
Supply and demand
Supply and demand is an economic model of price determination in a market. It concludes that in a competitive market, the unit price for a particular good will vary until it settles at a point where the quantity demanded by consumers will equal the quantity supplied by producers , resulting in an...

", which made it doomed to fail. Nevertheless, the labour shortage had created a community of interest between the smaller landowners of the House of Commons and the greater landowners of the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

. The resulting measures angered the peasants, leading to the Peasants' Revolt of 1381.

The reign of Edward III coincided with the so-called Babylonian Captivity
Avignon Papacy
The Avignon Papacy was the period from 1309 to 1376 during which seven Popes resided in Avignon, in modern-day France. This arose from the conflict between the Papacy and the French crown....

 of the papacy at Avignon
Avignon
Avignon is a French commune in southeastern France in the départment of the Vaucluse bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river. Of the 94,787 inhabitants of the city on 1 January 2010, 12 000 live in the ancient town centre surrounded by its medieval ramparts.Often referred to as the...

. During the wars with France, opposition emerged in England against perceived injustices by a papacy largely controlled by the French crown. Papal taxation of the English Church was suspected to be financing the nation's enemies, while the practice of provisions – the Pope providing benefices for clerics – caused resentment in the English population. The statutes of Provisors
Statute of Provisors
The English statute usually called Statute of Provisors is the 25th of Edward III, St. 4 , otherwise termed "The Statute of Provisors of Benefices", or anciently De provisoribus...

 and Praemunire
Praemunire
In English history, Praemunire or Praemunire facias was a law that prohibited the assertion or maintenance of papal jurisdiction, imperial or foreign, or some other alien jurisdiction or claim of supremacy in England, against the supremacy of the Monarch...

, of 1350 and 1353 respectively, aimed to amend this by banning papal benefices, as well as limiting the power of the papal court over English subjects. The statutes did not, however, sever the ties between the king and the Pope, who were equally dependent upon each other.

Other legislation of importance includes the Treason Act of 1351
Treason Act 1351
The Treason Act 1351 is an Act of the Parliament of England which codified and curtailed the common law offence of treason. No new offences were created by the statute. It is one of the earliest English statutes still in force, although it has been very significantly amended. It was extended to...

. It was precisely the harmony of the reign that allowed a consensus on the definition of this controversial crime. Yet the most significant legal reform was probably that concerning the Justices of the Peace
Justice of the Peace
A justice of the peace is a puisne judicial officer elected or appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. Depending on the jurisdiction, they might dispense summary justice or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law jurisdictions...

. This institution began before the reign of Edward III but, by 1350, the justices had been given the power not only to investigate crimes and make arrests, but also to try cases, including those of felony
Felony
A felony is a serious crime in the common law countries. The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods; other crimes were called misdemeanors...

. With this, an enduring fixture in the administration of local English justice had been created.

Parliament and taxation


Parliament
Parliament of England
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. In 1066, William of Normandy introduced a feudal system, by which he sought the advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws...

 as a representative institution was already well established by the time of Edward III, but the reign was nevertheless central to its development. During this period, membership in the English baron
Baron
Baron is a title of nobility. The word baron comes from Old French baron, itself from Old High German and Latin baro meaning " man, warrior"; it merged with cognate Old English beorn meaning "nobleman"...

age, formerly a somewhat indistinct group, became restricted to those who received a personal summons to parliament. This happened as parliament gradually developed into a bicameral
Bicameralism
In the government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. Thus, a bicameral parliament or bicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of two chambers or houses....

 institution, composed of a House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

 and a House of Commons
House of Commons of England
The House of Commons of England was the lower house of the Parliament of England from its development in the 14th century to the union of England and Scotland in 1707, when it was replaced by the House of Commons of Great Britain...

. Yet it was not in the upper, but in the lower house that the greatest changes took place, with the expanding political role of the Commons. Informative is the Good Parliament
Good Parliament
The Good Parliament is the name traditionally given to the English Parliament of 1376. Sitting in London from April 28 to July 10, it was the longest Parliament up until that time....

, where the Commons for the first time – albeit with noble support – were responsible for precipitating a political crisis. In the process, both the procedure of impeachment
Impeachment
Impeachment is a formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity, the outcome of which, depending on the country, may include the removal of that official from office as well as other punishment....

 and the office of the Speaker were created. Even though the political gains were of only temporary duration, this parliament represented a watershed in English political history.

The political influence of the Commons originally lay in their right to grant taxes. The financial demands of the Hundred Years' War were enormous, and the king and his ministers tried different methods of covering the expenses. The king had a steady income from crown lands
Crown Estate
In the United Kingdom, the Crown Estate is a property portfolio owned by the Crown. Although still belonging to the monarch and inherent with the accession of the throne, it is no longer the private property of the reigning monarch and cannot be sold by him/her, nor do the revenues from it belong...

, and could also take up substantial loans from Italian and domestic financiers. To finance warfare on Edward III's scale, however, the king had to resort to taxation of his subjects. Taxation took two primary forms: levy
Tax
To tax is to impose a financial charge or other levy upon a taxpayer by a state or the functional equivalent of a state such that failure to pay is punishable by law. Taxes are also imposed by many subnational entities...

 and customs
Customs
Customs is an authority or agency in a country responsible for collecting and safeguarding customs duties and for controlling the flow of goods including animals, transports, personal effects and hazardous items in and out of a country...

. The levy was a grant of a proportion of all moveable property, normally a tenth for towns and a fifteenth for farmland. This could produce large sums of money, but each such levy had to be approved by parliament, and the king had to prove the necessity. The customs therefore provided a welcome supplement, as a steady and reliable source of income. An "ancient duty" on the export of wool had existed since 1275. Edward I
Edward I of England
Edward I , also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England from 1272 to 1307. The first son of Henry III, Edward was involved early in the political intrigues of his father's reign, which included an outright rebellion by the English barons...

 had tried to introduce an additional duty on wool, but this unpopular maltolt, or "unjust exaction", was soon abandoned. Then, from 1336 onwards, a series of schemes aimed at increasing royal revenues from wool export were introduced. After some initial problems and discontent, it was agreed through the Ordinance of the Staple
Statute of the Staple
The Statute of the Staple was a statute passed in 1353 by the Parliament of England. It aimed to regularise the status of staple ports in England, Wales, and Ireland. In particular, it designated particular ports where specific goods could be exported or imported...

 of 1353 that the new customs should be approved by parliament, though in reality they became permanent.

Through the steady taxation of Edward III's reign, parliament – and in particular the Commons – gained political influence. A consensus emerged that in order for a tax to be just, the king had to prove its necessity, it had to be granted by the community of the realm, and it had to be to the benefit of that community. In addition to imposing taxes, parliament would also present petition
Petition
A petition is a request to do something, most commonly addressed to a government official or public entity. Petitions to a deity are a form of prayer....

s for redress of grievances to the king, most often concerning misgovernment by royal officials. This way the system was beneficial for both parties. Through this process the commons, and the community they represented, became increasingly politically aware, and the foundation was laid for the particular English brand of constitutional monarchy.

Chivalry and national identity



Central to Edward III's policy was reliance on the higher nobility for purposes of war and administration. While his father had regularly been in conflict with a great portion of his peerage, Edward III successfully created a spirit of camaraderie between himself and his greatest subjects. Both Edward I and Edward II had been limited in their policy towards the nobility, allowing the creation of few new peerages during the sixty years preceding Edward III's reign. The young king reversed this trend when, in 1337, as a preparation for the imminent war, he created six new earl
Earl
An earl is a member of the nobility. The title is Anglo-Saxon, akin to the Scandinavian form jarl, and meant "chieftain", particularly a chieftain set to rule a territory in a king's stead. In Scandinavia, it became obsolete in the Middle Ages and was replaced with duke...

s on the same day. At the same time, Edward expanded the ranks of the peerage upwards, by introducing the new title of duke
Duke
A duke or duchess is a member of the nobility, historically of highest rank below the monarch, and historically controlling a duchy...

 for close relatives of the king. Furthermore, Edward bolstered the sense of community within this group by the creation of the Order of the Garter
Order of the Garter
The Most Noble Order of the Garter, founded in 1348, is the highest order of chivalry, or knighthood, existing in England. The order is dedicated to the image and arms of St...

, probably in 1348. A plan from 1344 to revive the Round Table
Round Table (Camelot)
The Round Table is King Arthur's famed table in the Arthurian legend, around which he and his Knights congregate. As its name suggests, it has no head, implying that everyone who sits there has equal status. The table was first described in 1155 by Wace, who relied on previous depictions of...

 of King Arthur
King Arthur
King Arthur is a legendary British leader of the late 5th and early 6th centuries, who, according to Medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the early 6th century. The details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and...

 never came to fruition, but the new order carried connotations from this legend by the circular shape of the garter. Polydore Vergil
Polydore Vergil
Polydore Vergil was an Italian historian, otherwise known as PV Castellensis. He is better known as the contemporary historian during the early Tudor dynasty. He was hired by King Henry VIII of England, who wanted to distance himself from his father Henry VII as much as possible, to document...

 tells of how the young Joan of Kent
Joan of Kent
Joan, Countess of Kent , known to history as The Fair Maid of Kent, was the first English Princess of Wales...

, Countess of Salisbury – allegedly the king's favourite at the time – accidentally dropped her garter
Garter (stockings)
Garters are articles of clothing: narrow bands of fabric fastened about the leg, used to keep up stockings, and sometimes socks. Normally just a few inches in width, they are usually made of leather or heavy cloth, and adorned with small bells and/or ribbons...

 at a ball at Calais. King Edward responded to the ensuing ridicule of the crowd by tying the garter around his own knee with the words honi soit qui mal y pense – shame on him who thinks ill of it.

This reinforcement of the aristocracy must be seen in conjunction with the war in France, as must the emerging sense of national identity. Just as the war with Scotland had done, the fear of a French invasion helped strengthen a sense of national unity, and nationalise the aristocracy that had been largely Anglo-French since the Norman conquest
Norman conquest of England
The Norman conquest of England began on 28 September 1066 with the invasion of England by William, Duke of Normandy. William became known as William the Conqueror after his victory at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066, defeating King Harold II of England...

. Since the time of Edward I, popular myth suggested that the French planned to extinguish the English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, and as his grandfather had done, Edward III made the most of this scare. As a result, the English language experienced a strong revival; in 1362, a Statute of Pleading ordered the English language to be used in law courts, and the year after, Parliament was for the first time opened in English. At the same time, the vernacular saw a revival as a literary language, through the works of William Langland
William Langland
William Langland is the conjectured author of the 14th-century English dream-vision Piers Plowman.- Life :The attribution of Piers to Langland rests principally on the evidence of a manuscript held at Trinity College, Dublin...

, John Gower
John Gower
John Gower was an English poet, a contemporary of William Langland and a personal friend of Geoffrey Chaucer. He is remembered primarily for three major works, the Mirroir de l'Omme, Vox Clamantis, and Confessio Amantis, three long poems written in French, Latin, and English respectively, which...

 and especially The Canterbury Tales
The Canterbury Tales
The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer at the end of the 14th century. The tales are told as part of a story-telling contest by a group of pilgrims as they travel together on a journey from Southwark to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at...

by Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer , known as the Father of English literature, is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages and was the first poet to have been buried in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey...

. Yet the extent of this Anglicisation
Anglicisation
Anglicisation, or anglicization , is the process of converting verbal or written elements of any other language into a form that is more comprehensible to an English speaker, or, more generally, of altering something such that it becomes English in form or character.The term most often refers to...

 must not be exaggerated. The statute of 1362 was in fact written in the French language
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 and had little immediate effect, and parliament was opened in that language as late as 1377. The Order of the Garter, though a distinctly English institution, included also foreign members such as John V, Duke of Brittany
John V, Duke of Brittany
John V the Conqueror KG was Duke of Brittany and Count of Montfort, from 1345 until his death.-Numbering:...

 and Sir Robert of Namur
Robert de Namur
Robert of Namur, KG was a noble from the Low Countries close to King Edward III of England. He was made Knight of the Garter in 1369.His was the son of John I, Count of Namur, and Marie, Lady of Merode....

. Edward III – himself bilingual – viewed himself as legitimate king of both England and France, and could not show preferential treatment for one part of his domains over another.

Assessment and character



Edward III enjoyed unprecedented popularity in his own lifetime, and even the troubles of his later reign were never blamed directly on the king himself. Edward's contemporary Jean Froissart
Jean Froissart
Jean Froissart , often referred to in English as John Froissart, was one of the most important chroniclers of medieval France. For centuries, Froissart's Chronicles have been recognized as the chief expression of the chivalric revival of the 14th century Kingdom of England and France...

 wrote in his Chronicles
Froissart's Chronicles
Froissart's Chronicles was written in French by Jean Froissart. It covers the years 1322 until 1400 and describes the conditions that created the Hundred Years' War and the first fifty years of the conflict...

 that "His like had not been seen since the days of King Arthur". This view persisted for a while but, with time, the image of the king changed. The Whig
Whig history
Whig history is the approach to historiography which presents the past as an inevitable progression towards ever greater liberty and enlightenment, culminating in modern forms of liberal democracy and constitutional monarchy. In general, Whig historians stress the rise of constitutional government,...

 historians of a later age preferred constitutional reform to foreign conquest and discredited Edward for ignoring his responsibilities to his own nation. In the words of Bishop Stubbs
William Stubbs
William Stubbs was an English historian and Bishop of Oxford.The son of William Morley Stubbs, a solicitor, he was born at Knaresborough, Yorkshire, and was educated at Ripon Grammar School and Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated in 1848, obtaining a first-class in classics and a third in...

:


Influential as Stubbs was, it was long before this view was challenged. In a 1960 article, titled "Edward III and the Historians", May McKisack
May McKisack
May McKisack was a British medieval historian. She was professor of history at Westfield College in London and later professor of historiography at the University of Oxford and an honorary fellow of Somerville College Oxford. She is today chiefly remembered for writing The Fourteenth Century in...

 pointed out the teleological
Teleology
A teleology is any philosophical account which holds that final causes exist in nature, meaning that design and purpose analogous to that found in human actions are inherent also in the rest of nature. The word comes from the Greek τέλος, telos; root: τελε-, "end, purpose...

 nature of Stubbs' judgement. A medieval king could not be expected to work towards the future ideal of a parliamentary monarchy; rather his role was a pragmatic one—to maintain order and solve problems as they arose. At this, Edward III excelled. Edward had also been accused of endowing his younger sons too liberally and thereby promoting dynastic strife culminating in the Wars of the Roses
Wars of the Roses
The Wars of the Roses were a series of dynastic civil wars for the throne of England fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the houses of Lancaster and York...

. This claim was rejected by K.B. McFarlane, who argued that this was not only the common policy of the age, but also the best. Later biographers of the king such as Mark Ormrod and Ian Mortimer
Ian Mortimer (historian)
Ian Mortimer is a British historian. He was educated at Eastbourne College, the University of Exeter and University College London . Between 1993 and 2003 he worked for several major research institutions, including the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, and the universities of Exeter...

 have followed this historiographical trend. However, the older negative view has not completely disappeared; as recently as 2001, Norman Cantor
Norman Cantor
Norman Frank Cantor was a historian who specialized in the medieval period. Known for his accessible writing and engaging narrative style, Cantor's books were among the most widely-read treatments of medieval history in English...

 described Edward III as an "avaricious and sadistic thug" and a "destructive and merciless force."

From what is known of Edward's character, he could be impulsive and temperamental, as was seen by his actions against Stratford and the ministers in 1340/41. At the same time, he was well known for his clemency; Mortimer's grandson
Roger de Mortimer, 2nd Earl of March
Sir Roger de Mortimer, 2nd Earl of March, 4th Baron Mortimer, KG was an English nobleman and military commander during the Hundred Years' War....

 was not only absolved, but came to play an important part in the French wars, and was eventually made a Knight of the Garter. Both in his religious views and his interests, Edward was a conventional man. His favourite pursuit was the art of war and, in this, he conformed to the medieval notion of good kingship. As a warrior he was so successful that one modern military historian has described him as the greatest general in English history. He seems to have been unusually devoted to his wife, Queen Philippa
Philippa of Hainault
Philippa of Hainault, or, Philippe de Hainaut was the Queen consort of King Edward III of England. Edward, Duke of Guyenne, her future husband, promised in 1326 to marry her within the following two years...

. Much has been made of Edward's sexual licentiousness, but there is no evidence of any infidelity on the king's part before Alice Perrers
Alice Perrers
Alice Perrers was a royal mistress whose lover and patron was King Edward III of England. She acquired significant land holdings. She served as a lady-in-waiting to Edward's consort, Philippa of Hainault.-Life and Family:...

 became his lover, and by that time the queen was already terminally ill. This devotion extended to the rest of the family as well; in contrast to so many of his predecessors, Edward never experienced opposition from any of his five adult sons.

Family tree


Edward's claim on the French throne was based on his descent from King Philip IV of France
Philip IV of France
Philip the Fair was, as Philip IV, King of France from 1285 until his death. He was the husband of Joan I of Navarre, by virtue of which he was, as Philip I, King of Navarre and Count of Champagne from 1284 to 1305.-Youth:A member of the House of Capet, Philip was born at the Palace of...

, through his mother Isabella
Isabella of France
Isabella of France , sometimes described as the She-wolf of France, was Queen consort of England as the wife of Edward II of England. She was the youngest surviving child and only surviving daughter of Philip IV of France and Joan I of Navarre...

. The following, simplified family tree shows the dynastic background for the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

:



Issue


NameBirthDeathNotes
Edward, the Black Prince
Edward, the Black Prince
Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, Prince of Aquitaine, KG was the eldest son of King Edward III of England and his wife Philippa of Hainault as well as father to King Richard II of England....

15 June 1330 8 June 1376 Married his cousin Joan, Countess of Kent on 10 October 1361; Had issue among which includes the future King Richard II of England.
Isabella
Isabella de Coucy
Isabella of England, also known as Dame Isabella de Coucy , was the eldest daughter of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault and the wife of Enguerrand VII, Lord of Coucy, by whom she had two daughters.She was made a Lady of the Garter in 1376.-Early years:Isabella was the royal...

16 June 1332 1379 Married Enguerrand VII de Coucy
Enguerrand VII de Coucy
Enguerrand VII de Coucy, KG , also known as Ingelram de Coucy, was a 14th century French nobleman, the last Sieur de Coucy, and the son-in-law of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault...

, 1st Earl of Bedford
Earl of Bedford
Earl of Bedford is a title that has been created three times in the Peerage of England. The first creation came in 1138 in favour Hugh de Beaumont. He appears to have been degraded from the title three or four years after its creation. However, the existence of the title altogether has been...

 on 27 July 1365; Had issue.
Joan
Joan of England (1335-1348)
Joan of England was a daughter of King Edward III of England and his Queen, Philippa of Hainault. Joan, also known as Joanna, was born perhaps in February 1333 in the Tower of London. As a child she was placed in the care of Marie de St Pol, wife of Aymer de Valence and foundress of Pembroke...

1333 2 September 1348 Was betrothed to Pedro of Castile
Pedro of Castile
Peter , sometimes called "the Cruel" or "the Lawful" , was the king of Castile and León from 1350 to 1369. He was the son of Alfonso XI of Castile and Maria of Portugal, daughter of Afonso IV of Portugal...

 but died of the plague
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

 before the marriage could take place.
William of Hatfield 16 February 1337 8 July 1337 Died in infancy. Was buried at York Minster
York Minster
York Minster is a Gothic cathedral in York, England and is one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe alongside Cologne Cathedral. The minster is the seat of the Archbishop of York, the second-highest office of the Church of England, and is the cathedral for the Diocese of York; it is run by...

.
Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence
Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence
Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, jure uxoris 4th Earl of Ulster and 5th Baron of Connaught, KG was the third son, but the second son to survive infancy, of Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault...

29 November 1338 7 October 1368 Married (1) Elizabeth de Burgh, 4th Countess of Ulster
Elizabeth de Burgh, 4th Countess of Ulster
Elizabeth de Burgh, Duchess of Clarence, suo jure 4th Countess of Ulster and 5th Baroness of Connaught was a Norman-Irish noblewoman who married Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence.- Family :...

 in 1352; Had issue. Married (2) Violante Visconti
Violante Visconti
Violante Visconti was the second of three children of Galeazzo II Visconti, Lord of Milan and Pavia, and Bianca of Savoy. Her father gave to her the provinces of Alba, Mondovì, Kenites, Cherasco and Demonte as an inheritance...

 on 28 May 1368; No issue.
John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster
John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster
John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster , KG was a member of the House of Plantagenet, the third surviving son of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault...

6 March 1340 3 February 1399 Married (1) Blanche of Lancaster
Blanche of Lancaster
Blanche of Lancaster, Duchess of Lancaster was an English noblewoman and heiress, daughter of England's wealthiest and most powerful peer, Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster...

 on 19 May 1359; Had issue among which includes the future Henry IV of England
Henry IV of England
Henry IV was King of England and Lord of Ireland . He was the ninth King of England of the House of Plantagenet and also asserted his grandfather's claim to the title King of France. He was born at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire, hence his other name, Henry Bolingbroke...

. Married (2) Infanta Constance of Castile in 1371; Had issue. Married (3) Katherine Swynford
Katherine Swynford
Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster , née Roet , was the daughter of Sir Payne Roet , originally a Flemish herald from County of Hainaut, later...

 in 1396; Had issue. The Dukes of Beaufort continue in the male line today.
Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York
Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York
Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, 1st Earl of Cambridge, KG was a younger son of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault, the fourth of the five sons who lived to adulthood, of this Royal couple. Like so many medieval princes, Edmund gained his identifying nickname from his...

5 June 1341 1 August 1402 Married Infanta Isabella of Castile sister of Gaunt's second wife; Had issue.
Blanche 1342 1342 Died shortly after birth.
Mary 10 October 1344 1362 Married John V, Duke of Brittany
John V, Duke of Brittany
John V the Conqueror KG was Duke of Brittany and Count of Montfort, from 1345 until his death.-Numbering:...

 on 3 July 1361; No issue.
Margaret 20 July 1346 1361 Married John Hastings, 2nd Earl of Pembroke
John Hastings, 2nd Earl of Pembroke
John Hastings, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, KG , was an English nobleman and soldier who also held the title Baron Abergavenny. He was the posthumous son of Laurence Hastings, 1st Earl of Pembroke and Agnes Mortimer.- Marriage :He was married on 19 May 1359 in Reading to Margaret , daughter of Edward III...

 on 13 May 1359; No issue.
William of Windsor 24 June 1348 5 September 1348 Died young, possibly of the plague.
Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester
Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester
Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester, 1st Earl of Buckingham, 1st Earl of Essex, Duke of Aumale, KG was the thirteenth and youngest child of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault...

7 January 1355 8/9 September 1397 Married Eleanor de Bohun
Eleanor de Bohun
Eleanor de Bohun was the elder daughter and co-heiress with her sister Mary de Bohun, of their father Humphrey de Bohun, 7th Earl of Hereford. Her mother was Lady Joan Fitzalan, daughter of Richard FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundel and his second wife Eleanor of Lancaster.-Marriage:In 1376 she...

 in 1376; Had issue.

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