Edward the Black Prince (June 15, 1330--June 8, 1376)

The eldest son of Edward III of England. Edward was created Earl of Chester (1333), Duke of Cornwall (1337)--the first appearance of this rank in England--and Prince of Wales (1343); he was Prince of Aquitaine from 1362 to 1372. He joined his father in the campaigns of the Hundred Years War, establishing his reputation for valor at the battle of Crécy (1346). Apparently it was the French who called him the Black Prince, perhaps because he wore black armor; the name was not recorded in England until the 16th century--Shakespeare refers to him as The Black Prince in Henry V.

The prince led an expedition into Aquitaine in 1355 and defeated John II of France in the battle of Poitiers in 1356. In 1367 he temporarily restored Peter the Cruel of Castile to his throne by the victory of Nájera, Spain. Due to war and private living expenses Edward levied a tax in Aquitaine that was protested by his nobles and by Charles V of France on their behalf. The protest led to war, and the prince, despite failing health, captured, burned Limoges, massacring its citizens. His poor health forced him to resign his principalities in 1372, which left his brother, John of Gaunt, the impossible task of holding them for England.The Black Prince, aware that he would not be alive to succeed his father, then used his clerical influence against John of Gaunt to assure the accession of his and Joan of Kent's son. Because of this, he favored, and may even have directed, the Good Parliament of 1376. The Good Parliament removed the king's mistress, Alice Perrers, from court and impeached two followers of John of Gaunt. Edward passed away soon afterwards.

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