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EDWARD III

Edward III

b. 13 Nov 1312, Windsor Castle, Berkshire
d. 21 Jun 1377, Sheen Palace, Surrey

Title: Dei Gracia Rex Anglie Dominus Hibernie (By the Grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland) [24 Jan 1327 - 25 Jan 1340]
  Dei Gracia Rex Anglie et Francie Dominus Hibernie (By the Grace of God, King of England and France and Lord of Ireland) [25 Jan 1340 - 21 Jun 1377] (see note on royal styles)
Term: 24 Jan 1327 - 21 Jun 1377
Chronology: 24 Jan 1327, following the abdication of Edward II, proclamation of the king's peace made at London by Order and Consent of Parliament (Edward III's regnal years counted from 25 Jan 1327)
  1 Feb 1327, crowned, Westminster Abbey [1]
  21 Jun 1377, died
Names/titles: Earl of Chester [from 24 Nov 1312]; Count of Ponthieu and Montreuil [from 2 Sep 1325]; Duke of Aquitaine [from 10 Sep 1325]
Biography:
The eldest son of Edward II and Isabella of France, Edward was the grandson of the French King Philippe IV the Fair. He was taken to France by his mother, who went to the French court to procure peace between England and France in September 1325. During the revolt of Isabella against Edward II, young Edward was brought back to England and declared Guardian of the Realm (custos regni) by the State Council in Bristol (26 Oct 1326) on the pretext that his father "disappeared". At last, Edward II was captured (20 Nov 1326) by one of the barons' leaders, Henry Lancaster, and was forced to abdicate on 20 Jan 1327. The abdication was reported to Parliament and on 24 Jan 1327 Edward duke of Aquitaine was proclaimed Edward III. A standing council was appointed to carry on the administration during the king's minority, but Queen Isabella and her favorite, Roger Mortimer baron of Wigmore, governed in his name. After three years of degrading dependence, Edward III had Mortimer arrested and proclaimed (20 Oct 1330) his intention to govern himself. In 1333 Edward invaded Scotland and defeated the Scots at Halidon Hill (19 Jul 1333), but the interference of France (1337) ruined the English success and provided Edward III with a chance to lay claim to the throne of France. As a descendant of Philippe IV of France through his mother, Edward denounced the right of Philippe VI of Valois to the French throne. The English army invaded France in 1339 beginning a series of armed conflicts [2] between the two countries known as the Hundred Years' War. In the course of the Edwardian war (1340-1360), the English destroyed the French navy off the Flemish city of Sluis (June 1340). Edward overran Brittany in 1342 and in 1346 he landed in Normandy. The Battle of Crécy (26 Aug 1346), in which Edward III scattered the army of Philippe VI, was followed by another decisive battle at Poitiers (19 Sep 1356) won by the Edward's son, Edward of Woodstock (the Black Prince of later chronicles). King Jean II of France was taken prisoner and taken to London. Over a quarter of France fell to the English power. By the treaties of Brétigny (8 May 1360) and of Calais (24 Oct 1360) Edward renounced his claim to the French crown in return for Aquitaine and Poitou. When Jean's successor, Charles V, repudiated the Treaty of Calais, Edward III resumed the title of king of France and declared a new war (1369), but the French troops under Bertrand du Guesclin reconquered western France and Aquitaine was gradually lost. A terminal illness of the Black Prince and the lack of money forced him to return home early in 1371. France made an alliance with Castile and a largely Castilian fleet defeated the English navy off La Rochelle (23 Jun 1372). In late 1372 Edward III's final attempt to lead an army himself was frustrated when contrary winds prevented his landing his troops in France. After Charles V conquered Brittany (1373), Edward conceded to a truce with France signed at Bruges (27 Jun 1375), which was further extended until June 1377. The old king was unable to control government and his sons, Prince Edward and John of Gaunt, formed their own parties. John's party took the lead, but the Good Parliament (April 1376 - July 1376), supported by Prince Edward, attacked the high taxes and criticized the king's advisers. It was separated after Prince Edward's death (8 Jun 1376) and the next Parliament, summoned in early 1377, was purified of most active critics of the court. Edward III, abandoned by his courtiers on his deathbed at Sheen Palace, died in the age of 64. [3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8]

[1] A number of sources, including the Dictionary of National Biography, asserts that the date of Edward's coronation was 29 Feb 1327, but the Julian calendar year 1327 had only 28 days in February. The actual date, 1 Feb 1327, is confirmed by an account of the coronation in "Fœdera" [9].
[2] During Edward's absences from England his young sons nominally performed the duties of Guardian of the Realm (custos): Edward duke of Cornwall (appointed 11 Jul 1338; 16 Jul 1338 - the king departed from England; 21 Feb 1340 - the king landed in England; appointed 27 May 1340; 22 Jun 1340 - the king departed from England; 30 Nov 1340 the king arrived to London), Lionel (appointed 25 Jun 1346; 11 Jul 1346 - the king was on the Isle of Wight; 12 Oct 1347 - the king landed in England); Thomas (appointed 13 Oct 1359; 28 Oct 1359 - the king departed from England; 18 May 1360 - the king landed). On 31 Aug 1372 Richard (future King Richard II), grandson of Edward III, was appointed Guardian of the Realm, but Edward III was not able to land in France and returned. [9]
[3] "King Edward III", by Michael Packe (Routledge and Kegan Paul, London 1983).
[4] "The History of the Life and Times of Edward the Third", by William Longman (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1869).
[5] "The Reign of Edward III", by W.M. Ormrod (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990).
[6] "The Age of Edward III", J.S. Bothwell, ed. (York: University of York, 2001).
[7] Handbook of British Chronology (1986)
[8] "The tyranny and fall of Edward II 1321-1326", by Natalie Fryde (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979).
[9] "Fœdera, conventiones, litterae et cujuscunque generis acta publica, etc. etc. etc.", ed. by Thomas Rymer (London, 1704).
  Image: wooden effigy for the funeral of Edward III, probably carved from a death mask.

This page was last updated on: 14 Mar 2010 03:56:38

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