REIGNED: assuming effective power in 1330 after imprisoning his mother and executing her lover Roger de Mortimer who had murdered his father. Involved by his mother, Isabella of France, in her intrigues against his father, he was proclaimed king after the latter was forced to abdicate in 1327. During Edward's minority, England was nominally ruled by a council of regency, but the actual power was in the hands of Isabella and her paramour, Roger de Mortimer. In 1330, however, the young king staged a palace coup and took the power into his own hands. He had Mortimer hanged and confined his mother to her home.
Thereafter his reign was dominated by military adventures. His victory in Scotland, especially at Haildon Hill 1333 encouraged him to plan the union of England and Scotland. Through his mother he claimed the French throne thus initiated the long, drawn-out struggle with France called the Hundred Years' War.
Edward began a series of wars almost directly after he had control of England. Taking advantage of civil war in Scotland in 1333, he invaded the country, defeated the Scots at Halidon Hill, England, and restored Edward de Baliol to the throne of Scotland. Baliol, however, was soon deposed, and later attempts by Edward to establish him permanently as king of Scotland were unsuccessful. In 1337 France came to the aid of Scotland. This action was the culminating point in a series of disagreements between France and England, and Edward declared war on Philip VI of France. In 1340 the English fleet destroyed a larger French fleet off Sluis, the Netherlands. The action resulted in a truce that, although occasionally disturbed, lasted for six years.
War broke out again in 1346. Edward, accompanied by his eldest son, Edward the Black Prince, invaded Normandy and won a great victory over France in the Battle of Crécy. He captured Calais in 1347, and a truce was reestablished. Edward returned to England, where he maintained one of the most magnificent courts in Europe. The war with France was renewed in 1355, and again the English armies were successful. The Peace of Calais, in 1360, gave England all of Aquitaine, and Edward in return renounced his claim, first made in 1328, to the French throne.
Edward continued to assert his will both domestically and abroad. In 1363 he concluded an agreement with his brother-in-law, David II of Scotland, uniting the two kingdoms in the event of David's death without male issue. Three years later Edward repudiated the papacy's feudal supremacy over England, held in fief since 1213. He renewed his war with France, disavowing the Peace of Calais. This time, however, the English armies were unsuccessful. After the truce of 1375, Edward retained few of his previously vast possessions in France.
The king had, by this time, become senile. He was completely in the power of an avaricious mistress, Alice Perrers (flourished 1366-1400), who, along with his fourth son, John of Gaunt, dominated England. Perrers was banished by Parliament in 1376, and Edward himself died at Sheen. He was succeeded by his grandson, Richard II.
OCCUPATION: through right of his mother, Isabella Princess of France, known as "the She-Wolf"; her father was Philippe IV, King of France, and her mother was Joan, Queen of Navarre. This began what came to be known as the "Hundred Years War".
EVENT: killed about 25 million people, half of Europe's population. It first reached England in 1348 and spread rapidly. In the aftermath of the Black Death there was inevitable social upheaval -- survivors found there was no longer a surplus of labour, enabling them to demand higher wages.
OCCUPATION: . These institutions, which were essentially communities of priests, were charged with celebrating divine service within the two political nerve centres of his realm. The first of these was the College of St Stephen at Westminster Palace, the home of royal administration and justice. And the second was the College of St George at Windsor Castle, the seat of his authority in England's greatest royal castle.
Edward III's new colleges were founded in relation to existing chapels. At Westminster this was the chapel of St Stephen, a vastly elaborate building directly modelled on the Sainte Chapelle in Paris. But at Windsor the college was attached to the Chapel of St Edward the Confessor. This building, constructed by Henry III in the early 13th century, now underwent a radical overhaul and was rededicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, St George, England's patron saint, to whom the king had personal devotion, and St Edward the Confessor.
The rededication of the chapel to include the soldier saint George is to be explained in terms of the king’s particular circumstances. At this time Edward III was actively pressing his title to the French throne and had recently demonstrated his remarkable military capabilities against the French at the Battle of Crécy. St George was not only an appropriate patron saint for the successful prosecution of his political ambitions in France but also for the values of knightly virtue that the king so admired.
And it was in reaffirmation of Edward III’s interest in these that he associated a group of knights with the college, the a so-called Order of the Garter. There were twenty-five Knights of the Garter with the king at their head, a number intended to mirror that of the Dean, canons and vicars of the college. Moreover, just as each canon of the college had a deputy, so each knight was to have his. A so-called Poor Knight who was intended to stand in as a deputy for daily religious observance.
The two colleges founded by Edward III were amongst the most important and prestigious in medieval England but their subsequent histories have been very different. The combined circumstances of the Reformation and the abandonment of Westminster as a royal palace led to the dissolution of St Stephen's in 1548. Its chapel survived, however, and served as the House of Commons until it was largely destroyed in the fire of 1834. But the Royal College of St George at Windsor continues to serve as home for the sovereign's principal order of chivalry, the Order of the Garter.
BIOGRAPHICAL: The last years of Edwards reign saw him become a pale shadow of the ostentatious and debonair young man who had first set foot in France to claim its throne. He was never quite the same after the death of Phillipa in 1369.
Edward of Windsor, King Edward III. (1327-1377), Earl of Chester and Duke of Aquitaine, was born at Windsor November 13, 1312 and succeeded to the throne of England January 13, 1327, while his father was still alive. The Queen Mother and Roger de Mortimer governed in his name for a time, until he rejected their assistance and had Mortimer executed.
The reign of King Edward III. was filled with great domestic achievements and foreign wars. He renounced his right to Scotland in 1328, but to make good his claim to France in right of his mother, he invaded that country in 1339. He defeated the French at Crecy (Cressy) August 24, 1346. During his absence in France, the Scots invaded England. At the battle of Neville's Cross on October 17, 1346, Edward took King David of Scotland prisoner. He took Calais on August 3, of the following year. In 1350 he defeated the Spaniards at sea, and in 1356, winning the battle of Poitiers, he took King John of France captive.
("The Genealogy of Homer Beers James", V1, JANDA Consultants, c 1993 Homer James)
Edward assumed effective power in 1330 after imprisoning his mother and executing her lover Roger de Mortimer who had murdered his father; therafter his reign was dominated by military adventures. His victory in Scotland, especially at Haildon Hill 1333 encouraged him to plan (1363) the union of England and Scotland. Through his mother he claimed the French throne thus starting (1337) the Hundred years war. His son John of Gaunt dominated the government during his last years. Died of a Stroke.
By name Edward Of Windsor; king of England from 1327 to 1377, who led England into the Hundred Years' War with France. The descendants of his seven sons and five daughters contested the throne for generations, climaxing in the Wars of the Roses (1455-85).
The eldest son of Edward II and Isabella of France, Edward III was summoned to Parliament as earl of Chester (1320) and was made duke of Aquitaine (1325), but, contrary to tradition, he never received the title of prince of Wales.
Edward III grew up amid struggles between his father and a number of barons who were attempting to limit the king's power and to strengthen their own role in governing England. His mother, repelled by her husband's treatment of the nobles and disaffected by the confiscation of her English estates by his supporters, played an important role in this conflict. In 1325 she left England to return to France to intervene in the dispute between her brother, Charles IV of France, and her husband over the latter's French possessions, Guyenne, Gascony, and Ponthieu. She was successful; the land was secured for England on condition that the English king pay homage to Charles. This was performed on the King's behalf by his young son.
The heir apparent was secure at his mother's side. With Roger Mortimer, an influential baron who had escaped to France in 1323 and had become her lover, Isabella now began preparations to invade England to depose her husband. To raise funds for this enterprise, Edward III was betrothed to Philippa, daughter of William, count of Hainaut and Holland.
Within five months of their invasion of England, the Queen and the nobles, who had much popular support, overpowered the King's forces. Edward II, charged with incompetence and breaking his coronation oath, was forced to resign, and on Jan. 29, 1327, Edward III, aged 15, was crowned king of England.
During the next four years Isabella and Mortimer governed in his name, though nominally his guardian was Henry, earl of Lancaster. In the summer of 1327 he took part in an abortive campaign against the Scots, which resulted in the Treaty of Northampton (1328), making Scotland an independent realm. Edward was deeply troubled by the settlement and signed it only after much persuasion by Isabella and Mortimer. He married Philippa at York on Jan. 24, 1328. Soon afterward, Edward made a successful effort to throw off his degrading dependence on his mother and Mortimer. While a council was being held at Nottingham, he entered the castle by night, through a subterranean passage, took Mortimer prisoner, and had him executed (November 1330). Edward had discreetly ignored his mother's liaison with Mortimer and treated her with every respect, but her political influence was at an end.
Edward III now began to rule as well as to reign. Young, ardent, and active, he sought to remake England into the powerful nation it had been under Edward I. He still resented the concession of independence made to Scotland by the Treaty of Northampton; and the death of Robert I, the Bruce, king of Scotland, in 1329 gave him a chance of retrieving his position. The new king of Scots, his brother-in-law, David II, was a mere boy, and Edward took advantage of his weakness to aid the Scottish barons who had been exiled by Bruce to place their leader, Edward Balliol, on the Scottish throne. David II fled to France, but Balliol was despised as a puppet of the English king, and David returned in 1341.
Hundred Years' War
During the 1330s England gradually drifted into a state of hostility with France, for which the most obvious reason was the dispute over English rule in Gascony. Contributory causes were France's new king Philip VI's support of the Scots, Edward's alliance with the Flemish cities—then on bad terms with their French overlord—and the revival, in 1337, of Edward's claim, first made in 1328, to the French crown. Edward twice attempted to invade France from the north (1339, 1340), but the only result of his campaigns was to reduce him to bankruptcy. In January 1340 he assumed the title of king of France. At first he may have done this to gratify the Flemings, whose scruples in fighting the French king disappeared when they persuaded themselves that Edward was the rightful king of France. But his pretensions to the French crown gradually became more important, and the persistence with which he and his successors urged them made stable peace impossible for more than a century. This was the struggle famous in history as the Hundred Years' War. Until 1801 every English king also called himself king of France.
Edward was present in person at the great naval battle off the Flemish city of Sluis in June 1340, in which he all but destroyed the French navy. Despite this victory his resources were exhausted by his land campaign, and he was forced to make a truce (which was broken two years later) and return to England. During the years after 1342 he spent much time and money in rebuilding Windsor Castle and instituting the Order of the Garter, which became Britain's highest order of knighthood. A new phase of the French war began when Edward landed in Normandy in July 1346, accompanied by his eldest son, Prince Edward, later known as the Black Prince (born 1330). At first the King showed some lack of strategic purpose, engaging in little more than a large-scale plundering raid to the gates of Paris. The campaign was made memorable by his decisive victory over the French at Crécy in Ponthieu (August 26), where he scattered the army with which Philip VI sought to cut off his retreat to the northeast. Edward laid siege to the French port of Calais in September 1346 and received its surrender in August 1347. Other victories in Gascony and Brittany, and the defeat and capture of David II at Neville's Cross near Durham (October 1346), gave further proof of Edward's power, but Calais was to be his only lasting conquest. He ejected most of its French inhabitants, colonizing the town with Englishmen and establishing there a base from which to conduct further invasions of France. Nevertheless, in the midst of his successes, want of money forced him to make a new truce in September 1347.
Edward returned to England in October 1347. He celebrated his triumph by a series of splendid tournaments. In 1348 he rejected an offer to become Holy Roman emperor. In the same year the bubonic plague known as the Black Death first appeared in England and raged until the end of 1349. Its horrors hardly checked the magnificent revels of Edward's court, and neither the plague nor the truce stayed the slow course of the French war, though the fighting was indecisive and on a small scale. Edward's martial exploits during the next years were those of a gallant knight rather than of a responsible general. Although the English House of Commons was now weary of the war, efforts to make peace came to nothing, and large-scale operations began again in 1355, when Edward led an unsuccessful raid out of Calais. He harried the Lothians, part of southeastern Scotland, in the expedition famous as the Burned Candlemas (January and February 1356), and in the same year he received a formal surrender of the Kingdom of Scotland from Balliol. His exploits were, however, eclipsed by those of his son Edward, whose victory at Poitiers (Sept. 19, 1356), resulting in the capture of the French king, John II (who had succeeded Philip VI in 1350), forced the French to accept a new truce. Edward entertained his captive magnificently but forced him by the Treaty of London (1359) to surrender so much territory that the agreement was repudiated in France. In an effort to compel acceptance, Edward landed at Calais (October 28) and besieged Reims, where he planned to be crowned king of France. The strenuous resistance of the citizens frustrated this scheme, and Edward marched into Burgundy, eventually returning toward Paris. After this unsuccessful campaign he was glad to conclude preliminaries of peace at Brittany (May 8, 1360). This treaty, less onerous to France than that of London, took its final form in the Treaty of Calais, ratified by both kings (October 1360). By it, Edward renounced his claim to the French crown in return for the whole of Aquitaine, a rich area in southwestern France.
The years of decline: 1360-77
The Treaty of Calais did not bring rest or prosperity to either England or France. Fresh visitations of the Black Death in England in 1361 and 1369 intensified social and economic disturbances, and desperate but not very successful efforts were made to enforce the Statute of Labourers (1351), which was intended to maintain prices and wages as they had been before the pestilence. Other famous laws enacted during the 1350s had been the Statutes of Provisors (1351) and Praemunire (1353), which reflected popular hostility against foreign clergy. These measures were frequently reenacted, and Edward formally repudiated (1366) the feudal supremacy over England still claimed by the papacy.
When the French king Charles V, son of John II, repudiated the Treaty of Calais, Edward resumed the title of king of France, but he showed little of his former vigour in meeting this new trouble, leaving most of the fighting and the administration of his foreign territories to his sons Edward and John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster. While they were struggling with little success against the rising tide of French national feeling, Edward's want of money made him a willing participant in the attack on the wealth and privileges of the church. Meanwhile, Aquitaine was gradually lost, Prince Edward returned to England in broken health (1371), and John of Gaunt's march through France from Calais to Bordeaux (1373) achieved nothing. Edward's final attempt to lead an army abroad himself (1372) was frustrated when contrary winds prevented his landing his troops in France. In 1375 he was glad to make a truce, which lasted until his death. By it, the only important possessions remaining in English hands were Calais, Bordeaux, Bayonne, and Brest.
Edward was now sinking into his dotage. After the death of Queen Philippa in 1369 he fell entirely under the influence of his greedy mistress, Alice Perrers, while Prince Edward and John of Gaunt became the leaders of sharply divided parties in the royal court and council. John of Gaunt returned to England in April 1374 and with the help of Alice Perrers obtained the chief influence with his father, but his administration was neither honourable nor successful. At the famous so-called Good Parliament of 1376 popular indignation against John of Gaunt's ruling party came at last to a head. Alice Perrers was removed and some of Gaunt's followers were impeached. Before the Parliament had concluded its business, however, the death of Prince Edward (June 8, 1376) robbed the Commons of its strongest support. John of Gaunt regained power, and the acts of the Good Parliament had been reversed when Edward III died.
Edward III possessed extraordinary vigour and energy of temperament; he was an admirable tactician and a consummate knight. His court was the most brilliant in contemporary Europe, and he was himself well fitted to be the head of the gallant knights who obtained fame in the French wars. Though his main ambition was military glory, he was not a bad ruler of England, being liberal, kindly, good-tempered, and easy of access. His need to obtain supplies for carrying on the French wars made him favourable to his subjects' petitions and contributed to the growing strength of Parliament. His weak points were his wanton breaches of good faith, his extravagance, his frivolity, and his self-indulgence. His ambition ultimately transcended his resources, and before he died even his subjects had sensed his failure.
Thomas Frederick Tout
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