Young Folks' History of England HTML version

17. Edward III, A.D. 1327—1377
For about three years, the cruel Queen Isabel and her friends managed all the
country; but as soon as her son—Edward III., who had been crowned instead
of his father—understood how wicked she had been, and was strong enough
to deal with her party, he made them prisoners, put the worst of them to
death, and kept the queen shut up in a castle as long as she lived. He had a
very good queen of his own, named Phillipa, who brought cloth-workers over
from he own country Hainault (now part of Belgium), to teach the English
their trade, and thus began to render England the chief country in the world
for wool and cloth.
Queen Isabel, Edward's mother, had, you remember, been daughter of the
King of France. All her three brothers died without leaving a son, and their
cousin, whose name was Philip, began to reign in their stead. Edward,
however, fancied that the crown of France properly belonged to him, in right
of his mother; but he did not stir about it at once, and, perhaps, never would
have done so at all, but for two things. One was, that the King of France,
Philip VI., had been so foolish as to fancy that one of his lords, named Robert
of Artois, had been bewitching him—by sticking pins into a wax figure and
roasting it before the fire. So this Robert was driven out of France and,
coming to England, stirred Edward up to go and overthrow Philip. The other
was, that the English barons had grown so restless and troublesome, that
they would not stay peacefully at home and mind their own estate;—but if
they had not wars abroad, they always gave the king trouble at home; and
Edward liked better that they should fight for him than against him. So he
called himself King of France and England, and began a war which lasted—
with short space of quiet— for full one hundred years, and only ended in the
time of the great grandchildren of the men who entered upon it. There was
one great sea-fight off Sluys, when the king sat in his ship, in a black velvet
dress, and gained a great victory; but it was a good while before there was
any great battle by land—so long, that the king's eldest son, Edward Prince of
Wales, was sixteen years old. He is generally called the Black Prince—no one
quite knows why, for his hair, like that of all these old English kings, was
quite light and his eyes were blue. He was such a spirited young soldier, that
when the French army under King Philip came in sight of the English one,
near the village of Crecy, King Edward said he should have the honor of the
day, and stood under a windmill on a his watching the fight, while the prince
led the English army. He gained a very great victory, and in the evening came
and knelt before his father, saying the praise was not his own but the king's,
who had ordered all so wisely. Afterwards, while Philip had fled away, Edward
besieged Calais, the town just opposite to Dover. The inhabitants were very
brave, and held out for a long time; and while Edward was absent, the Scots
under David, the son of Robert Bruce, came over the Border, and began to
burn and plunder in Northumberland. However, Phillipa could be brave in time
of need. She did not send for her husband, but called an army together, and