Famous Men of the Middle Ages HTML version
Edward the Black Prince
Lived from 1330-1376
One of the most famous warriors of the Middle Ages was Edward the Black Prince. He
was so called because he wore black armor in battle.
The Black Prince was the son of Edward III who reigned over England from 1327 to
1377. He won his fame as a soldier in the wars which his father carried on against France.
You remember that the early kings of England, from the time of William the Conqueror,
had possessions in France. Henry II, William's grandson, was the duke of Normandy and
lord of Brittany and other provinces, and when he married Eleanor of Aquitaine she
brought him that province also.
Henry's son John lost all the French possessions of the English crown except a part of
Aquitaine, and Edward III inherited this. So when Philip of Valois (val-wah') became
king of France, about a year after Edward had become king of England, Edward had to do
homage to Philip.
To be king of England and yet to do homage to the king of France--to bend the knee
before Philip and kiss his foot--was something Edward did not like. He thought it was
quite beneath his dignity, as his ancestor Rollo had thought when told that he must kiss
the foot of King Charles.
So Edward tried to persuade the nobles of France that he himself ought by right to be the
king of France instead of being only a vassal. Philip of Valois was only a cousin of the
late French King Charles IV. Edward was the son of his sister. But there was a curious
old law in France, called the Salic Law, which forbade that daughters should inherit
lands. This law barred the claim of Edward, because his claim came through his mother.
Still he determined to win the French throne by force of arms.
A chance came to quarrel with Philip. Another of Philip's vassals rebelled against him,
and Edward helped the rebel. He hoped by doing so to weaken Philip and more easily
Philip at once declared that Edward's possessions in France were forfeited.
Then Edward raised an army of thirty thousand men, and with it invaded France.
The Black Prince was now only about sixteen years of age, but he had already shown
himself brave in battle, and his father put him in command of one of the divisions of the