Edward III of England Timeline

Edward III of England Timeline


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  • 13 Nov 1312

    Prince Edward, future Edward III of England, is born.

  • 1327 - 1377

  • 24 Jan 1327

    Edward II of England is obliged to abdicate by his wife Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer.

  • 1 Feb 1327

    Edward III of England is crowned in Westminster Abbey.

  • 21 Sep 1327

    Edward II of England is murdered at Berkeley Castle.

  • 1328

    The English Crown recognises the independence of Scotland in the Treaty of Edinburgh/Northampton.

  • 24 Jan 1328

    Edward III of England marries Philippa of Hainault.

  • 15 Jun 1330

    Edward the Black Prince, eldest son of Edward III of England, is born.

  • 29 Nov 1330

    Edward III of England executes his former regent Roger Mortimer.

  • 19 Jul 1333

    Edward III of England wins a victory against the Scots loyal to David II of Scotland at the Battle of Halidon Hill.

  • 1335

    The English regain control of Stirling Castle.

  • 1337 - 1453

    The Hundred Years' War between England and France.

  • Mar 1337

    Edward the Black Prince is made the Duke of Cornwall giving him significant revenues from the duchy.

  • Jun 1340

    An English fleet of Edward III of England destroys or captures a French fleet at Sluys.

  • 1342

    The Scots regain control of Stirling Castle after a six-month siege.

  • 1343

    Edward of Woodstock, aka Edward the Black Prince, is made the Prince of Wales by his father Edward III of England.

  • 1344

    Windsor Castle hosts a great medieval tournament involving 200 knights.

  • 1345

    An army led by the Earl of Derby recaptures Gascony for the English Crown.

  • Jul 1346

    Edward III of England invades Normandy.

  • 12 Jul 1346

    Edward the Black Prince is knighted by his father Edward III of England.

  • 26 Aug 1346

    Edward III of England and his son Edward the Black Prince win a great battle against Philip VI of France at Crécy in France.

  • Oct 1346

    David II of Scotland, ally of Philip VI of France, invades northern England.

  • 17 Oct 1346

    An English army defeats the Scots at the Battle of Neville’s Cross near Durham and captures David II of Scotland.

  • Jul 1347

    Edward III of England and his son Edward the Black Prince capture the Fench city of Calais after a long siege.

  • c. 1348

    Edward III of England creates the Order of the Garter, a chivalric order for knights with its headquarters at Windsor Castle

  • 1348

    The Black Death plague arrives in England.

  • 19 Sep 1356

    Edward the Black Prince wins a great victory at the Battle of Poitiers against the French. John II of France is captured.

  • Oct 1357 - Nov 1357

    The Treaty of Berwick between England and Scotland releases David II of Scotland from his captivity under Edward III of England.

  • 1359

    Edward III of England and Edward the Black Prince march on Rheims but the French city holds out.

  • May 1360

    The Treaty of Brétigny between England and France recognises Edward III of England's claims to French lands as he renounces his claim to the French throne.

  • 1362

    Edward the Black Prince is made the Prince of Aquitaine by his father Edward III of England.

  • 1367 - 1370

    King Edward III of England begins a massive rebuilding project at Rochester Castle.

  • 3 Apr 1367

    Edward the Black Prince famously wins the Battle of Najera in Castile.

  • 15 Aug 1369

    Queen Philippa, wife of Edward III of England dies.

  • 1372 - 1375

    Charles V of France recaptures most of the territory previously gained by Edward III of England leaving the English only Gascony and Calais.

  • Apr 1376

    The 'Good Parliament' is convened to reduce the corruption in Edward III of England's court.

  • 8 Jun 1376

  • 21 Jun 1377

    Death, likely from a stroke, of Edward III of England.

  • 16 Jul 1377

    Coronation of Richard II of England in Westminster Abbey.


Edward II and Edward III

Edward II (1307-27) was a poor king, bored by the responsibilities of his position and easily swayed by a succession of male favourites. The first of these was Piers Gaveston. He was seized in Edward's absence by rebellious nobles and summarily tried and executed. The barons forced Edward to agree to reforms in their favour. In 1314 Edward lost the Battle of Bannockburn to Robert the Bruce and Scotland gained its independence.

Edward's End
Hugh le DeSpenser was Edward's next favourite and he, along with his father, also named Hugh, were virtual rulers of England from 1322-26. Edward's queen, Isabella, finally had enough and raised a rebellion with French aid. She and her lover, Roger Mortimer, defeated and hanged the DeSpensers and forced Edward to abdicate in favour of his son. The ex-king was kept at Berkeley Castle(Gloucestershire) until brutally put to death in 1327.

Edward III (1327-77) was only 15 when he came to the throne. Isabella and Roger Mortimer ruled as regents for three years until Edward rebelled and had Mortimer hanged. Edward proved to be a popular, approachable king.

In 1337 he began the conflict with France known as The Hundred Years War. Actually, it lasted, on and off, for 116 years, and despite early successes at Crecy and Poitiers, it was to end with the loss of virtually all English possessions on the mainland.

Parliament's Power
As is usual in times of war, Parliament grew in power, forcing royal concessions in return for grants of money. During Edward's reign, the custom evolved of separate sittings for the Commons (burgesses and knights) and a Great Council of prelates and magnates. The system of Justices of the Peace, chosen from among the local nobility, also dates from this time. They became a sort of amateur body carrying on local administration and government for the next 500 years.

"Achoo, Achoo, All Fall Down. "
In 1348 the Black Death reached England. So named for the black tumours which appeared in a victim's armpits and groin, this flea-borne disease was carried to an unprepared Europe by rats on ships arriving from the Far East. The effect of the Black Death on England and the rest of Europe cannot be overstated. In some places up to one-half of the population died. This accelerated tremendous social change.

Social Changes
There was a drastic shortage of labour on the land. Many landowners began to enclose their lands, turning to sheep raising rather than labour-intensive traditional farming. Increased sheep farming meant that fewer farm labourers were needed, so lords often allowed villeins to purchase their freedom from feudal obligation. The villeins became free labourers, and many gravitated to towns.

Langland and Chaucer
The first great literary work in the English language appeared in 1362, William Langland's Piers Plowman, which was an indictment of social inequality and injustice. Langland was followed a few years later by Geoffrey Chaucer, whose Canterbury Tales remain a vivid and insightful look at medieval English society.

Wycliffe and the Lollards
In a more serious vein, it was about 1376 that John Wycliff began to preach church reform, espousing the radical notion of an individual connection with God, without the necessary intermediary of church ritual. Wycliffe's followers, called Lollards, were constant agitators for social and religious reform for the next 50 years.

Medieval Britain - from 'A History of the British Nation' (1912)
Medieval attractions in Britain (places to see tagged with 'medieval')


Early Life

Edward III was born at Windsor on November 13, 1312 and was the grandson of the great warrior Edward I. The son of ineffective Edward II and his wife Isabella, the young prince was quickly made Earl of Chester to aid in shoring up his father's weak position on the throne. On January 20, 1327, Edward II was deposed by Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer and replaced by the fourteen-year old Edward III on February 1. Installing themselves as regents for the young king, Isabella and Mortimer effectively controlled England. During this time, Edward was routinely disrespected and treated poorly by Mortimer.


Edward III of England Timeline - History

Born1312 Born AtWindsor Castle
Died21 June 1377 Buried AtWestminster Abbey
FatherEdward (II, King of England 1307-1327) Mother
Preceded byEdward (II, King of England 1307-1327)Succeeded by Richard (II, King of England 1377-1399)
Royal House Plantagenet Titles include King of England from 1327 to 1377 King of France from 1340 Duke of Aquitaine from 1325 Earl of Chester from 1320
fter the poor reign of his father Edward III's reign lasted fifty years and restored the confidence of the English nation as a whole in the monarchy. Edward was declared Keeper of the Realm in 1326 when his father abdicated. The abdication was forced on the old king by Queen Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer. Isabella had held Edward in France in 1325 when he had travelled there to pay homage to Charles IV, the King of France. When Isabella, Mortimer and Edward landed in England Edward II fled to Wales. The King was captured and later murdered, by Mortimer's order, in September of 1327. Edward III was crowned at Westminster Abbey early in 1327 but was only fourteen years old and too young to rule unaided. The country was run by a regency led by Henry of Lancaster. Although still in his youth the young king led an army to intercept the Scots who had invaded the north of England in the same year. Edward failed to find the Scottish and had to retreat but the next year he signed the treaty of Northampton which agreed that Scotland should be independent and Robert the Bruce should be King. To strengthen the ties between England and Scotland Edward's sister Joan was married to the David (II) of Scotland, the young son of Robert the Bruce. Edward himself married Philippa of Hainault in early 1328.

Claim to the French throne

I n February of 1328 Charles IV, the king of France, died. He died without a male heir and there was confusion as to who should become the next king. Edward's mother was Charles' sister and this meant that Edward was the nephew of the old French king and a strong contender to the French throne. Unfortunately the French system did not allow the line of succession to pass via a female member of the family and so Philippe of Valois, Charles' cousin, was chosen instead. Edward accepted this but would later contest the decision and fight for the French throne.

E dward had probably not forgotten or forgiven Mortimer for the murder of his father, Edward II. In 1330 Mortimer arrested and executed Edmund the Earl of Kent a supporter of Edward and son of Edward I. This appears to be the final straw for now that Edward was eighteen and old enough to rule unaided he arrested Mortimer at Nottingham Castle and after he was tried by Parliament Mortimer was executed. Even though Isabella played a big part in the overthrowing of Edward II she was allowed to retire to Castle Rising in Norfolk.

A t the battle of Dupplin Moor in 1332 Edward Balliol overthrew David II, King of Scotland. Balliol had a claim to the Scottish throne and the King of England supported that claim. In the same year David fought back and in turn overthrew Balliol. In 1333 at the battle of Halidon Hill Edward III defeated David's army and Balliol was put back on the Scottish throne. Balliol's reign was never secure and when he was overthrown again in 1336, David II became King of the Scots and remained so until 1337.

The Hundred Years War

I n October 1337 Edward resumed his claim to the French throne starting over a hundred years of conflict with France. Edward invaded France in 1338 but the help he was expecting from the Count of Hainault did not materialise. The English had some success when they won a major sea battle against the French in June 1340 off the French coast near Sluys. Three quarters of the French fleet of almost 200 ships were destroyed and thousands of lives were lost. In France the French king Philippe refused to fight. Edward even challenged him to a one-to-one fight. Little could be gained and so at the end of 1340 Edward returned to England. The next few years saw little change. Edward tried to make gains in France but failed and due to harsh weather and a shortage of funds signed a new peace treaty and returned to England. In the summer of 1346 Edward amassed an invasion army at Portsmouth and invaded Normandy. The English and French armies met at Crecy where 12,000 English faced a force of 36,000 French. The French archers were no match for the English longbows and the French were slaughtered. Large numbers of French nobility were captured or killed. Back in Britain the Scots under David II invaded northern England. An English army, led by the Archbishop of York, fought and defeated the Scots at Neville's Cross where David II was captured. In France Edward had captured the important town of Calais and signed a peace treaty before returning home.

At Windsor Castle on June 23 of 1348 a series of tournaments were held and Edward created the Order of the Garter. Several important knights and members of the royal family were given membership to the order which was based on the legend of King Arthur and the Round Table.

I n the summer of 1348 the Black Death or Bubonic Plague reached the south of England and by the summer of the next year the outbreak was at its peak. Some estimates put the death toll at a third of the country's population but determining an accurate number is difficult.


Edward III’s sons – starting to sort the Plantagenets out.

An article by Mark Ormrod published in 2011 in the BBC History Magazine has always stuck in my mind. Essentially Edward was an indulgent father who made big plans for his dynasty that involved crowns for his children through adoption, marriage and conquest. His sons grew up believing that they might be kings of various countries if the odds were sufficiently stacked in their favour – and having created a series of royal dukes (Edward’s two younger sons were raised to dukedoms by their nephew Richard II) it is perhaps not surprising that there was disaffection within the family. Edward’s dynastic policy required a large family. He and his wife Philippa of Hainhault were fortunate in their love for one another – England was less fortunate in the size of the Plantagenet family all of whom thought themselves worthy of a crown at a time when the occupant of the throne, Richard II (Edward’s grandson) was unable to control his ambitious, conniving relations.

It seems as good a place to start as any. It also helps that popular history gives a degree of familiarity to Edward III’s sons.

Edward, the Black Prince, from the Bruges Garter Book

Thomas of Woodstock: London, British Library Cotton MS Nero D.VIII, f. 0

Nor for that matter is sorting out their titles a linear progression. Thomas of Langley’s dukedom of Aumale was given to him by Richard II in 1385 but was then passed on by Richard to Edmund of Langley’s son Edward of Norwich in 1397 when Thomas was marched off to Calais and murdered. However, Edward of Norwich was himself stripped of the title in 1399 when his cousin became Henry IV having usurped Richard II. It’s something of a relief to report that there were no more dukes of Aumale. Henry IV recreated the title as an earldom and gave it to his son Thomas at the same time as creating him Duke of Clarence and as a duke trumps an ear, Thomas is usually known as Duke of Clarence rather than Earl of Aumale. Thomas died without children and the title became dormant (though rather like indigestion an Aumale title does return at a later date.)

The Black Prince died from dysentery and is buried in Canterbury Cathedral where his effigy and shield can still be seen. Lionel of Antwerp was murdered by his Italian in-laws in 1368. I should add that it was never proven that he was poisoned. He was buried in Milan but eventually disinterred and transported home for burial in Clare Priory, Suffolk alongside his first wife. John of Gaunt died of old age at Leicester Castle on 3rd February 1399 and was buried beside Blanche of Lancaster in St Paul’s Cathedral. Edmund of Langley died in 1402 and was buried at King’s Langley in Hertfordshire. Thomas of Woodstock was arrested on the orders of his nephew Richard II and placed in the custody of Thomas Mowbray (Duke of Norfolk), transported to Calais where he was murdered in 1397. He was eventually buried in Westminster Abbey.


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About Edward III, king of England

"Edward III (13 November 1312 – 21 June 1377) was King of England from 1327 until his death he is noted for his military success and for restoring royal authority after the disastrous reign of his father, Edward II. Edward III transformed the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe his reign also saw vital developments in legislation and government—in particular the evolution of the English parliament𠅊s well as the ravages of the Black Death. He is one of only five British monarchs to have ruled England or its successor kingdoms for more than fifty years."

[S4] C.F.J. Hankinson, editor, DeBretts Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Companionage, 147th year (London, U.K.: Odhams Press, 1949), page 20 . Hereinafter cited as DeBretts Peerage, 1949.

[S5] #552 Europaische Stammtafeln: Stammtafeln zur Geschichte der europaischen Staaten. Neue Folge (1978), Schwennicke, Detlev, (Marburg: Verlag von J. A. Stargardt, c1978-1995 (v. 1-16) -- Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, c1998- Medieval Families bibliography #552.), FHL book Q 940 D5es new series., Band 7 Tafel 82.

[S7] #44 Histoire de la maison royale de France anciens barons du royaume: et des grands officiers de la couronne (1726, reprint 1967-1968), Saint-Marie, Anselme de, (3rd edition. 9 volumes. 1726. Reprint Paris: Editions du Palais Royal, 1967-1968), FHL book 944 D5a FHL microfilms 532,231-532,239., vol. 2 p. 476 vol. 8 p. 545.

[S11] Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy (London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999), pages 91-92, 113,115. Hereinafter cited as Britain's Royal Families.

[S13] #379 [7th edition, 1992] Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists, Who Came to America Before 1700: the Lineage of Alfred the Great, Charlemagne, Malcolm of Scotland, Robert the Strong, and Some of Their Descendants (7th edition, 1992), Weis, Frederick Lewis, (7th edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, c1992), FHL book 974 D2w 1992., p. 98.

[S16] #894 Cahiers de Saint-Louis (1976), Louis IX, Roi de France, (Angers: J. Saillot, 1976), FHL book 944 D22ds., vol. 1 p. 3, 7, vol. 30 p. 9, 20.

[S22] #374 The Lineage and Ancestry of H. R. H. Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (1977), Paget, Gerald, (2 volumes. Baltimore: Geneal. Pub., 1977), FHL book Q 942 D22pg., vol. 1 p. 20.

[S23] #849 Burke's Guide to the Royal Family (1973), (London: Burke's Peerage, c1973), FHl book 942 D22bgr., p. 198.

[S37] #93 [Book version] The Dictionary of National Biography: from the Earliest Times to 1900 (1885-1900, reprint 1993), Stephen, Leslie, (22 volumes. 1885-1900. Reprint, Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1993), FHL book 920.042 D561n., vol. 25 p. 131.

[S40] Handbook of British Chronology (1986), Fryde, E. B., editor, (Royal Historical Society guides and handbooks, no. 2. London: Offices of the Royal Historical Society, 1986), FHL book 942 C4rg no. 2., p. 39.

[S41] #1325 Ogle and Bothal or, A history of the baronies of Ogle, Bothal, and Hepple, and of the families of Ogle and Bertram, Ogle, Henry A., (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England : Reid, 1902), 929.242 Og5o., p. 298a.

[S42] Plantagenet Ancestry of Seventeenth-century Colonists: the Descent from the Later Plantagenet Kings of England, Henry III, Edward I, Edward II, and Edward III, of Emigrants from England and Wales to the North American Colonies Before 1701 (2nd ed., 1999), Faris, David, (1st edition. Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Co, 1996), FHL book 973 D2fp., p. 229-230.

[S44] #242 [1846 edition] A genealogical and heraldic dictionary of the peerages of England, Ireland & Scotland, extinct, dormant, & abeyance, Burke, John, (London : Henry Colburn, 1846), 942 D22bua 1846., p. 38.

[S45] Journal of British Studies, (The University of Chicago Press), FHL Book 942 H25j., "Edward III and His Family", vol. 26 no. 4 p. 398.

[S54] #21 The complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, extant, extinct, or dormant, Cokayne, George Edward, (Gloucester [England] : Alan Sutton Pub. Ltd., 1987), 942 D22cok..

[S77] #33 An Official Genealogical and Heraldic Baronage of England (filmed 1957), Paget, Gerald, (Typescript, filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1957), FHL microfilm 170,063-170,067., vol. 1 #106. Burgh, Earls of Ulster.

[S108] #233 Dictionnaire de la noblesse, contenant les génບlogies, l'histoire et la chronologie des familles nobles de la France . . ., La Chesnaye-Desbois, François Alexandre Aubert de, (3rd edition. 19 volumes. Paris: Schlessinger frères, 1863-1877), FHL microfilms 661873-661882., Band 6-p. 306.

[S124] #240 Collins's Peerage of England, Genealogical, Biographical, and Historical, Greatly Augmented, and Continued to the Present Time (1812), Brydges, Sir Egerton,, (9 volumes. London: [T. Bensley], 1812), FHL book 942 D22be., vol. 1 p. 222.

[S673] #1079 A History of Monmouthshire from the Coming of the Normans into Wales down to the Present Time (1904-1993), Bradney, Sir Joseph Alfred, (Publications of the South Wales Record Society, number 8. Five volumes in 13. London: Mitchell, Hughes and Clarke, 1904-1993), FHL book 942.43 H2b., vol. 1 p. 5*, 70 vol. 3 p. 8.

[S712] #1039 Pedigrees of Anglesey and Carnarvonshire Families: with Their Collateral Branches in Denbighshire, Merionethshire (1914), Griffith, John Edwards, (Horncastle, England: W.K. Morton, 1914), FHL book Folio 942.9 D2gr FHL microfilm 468,334., p. I, 305.

[S730] Edward III and His Wars, Ashley, W. J., ed., (London: 1887), p. 19.

[S1850] Medieval Lands: A Prosopography of Medieval European Noble and Royal Families, Charles Cawley, (http://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/), England, Kings 1066-1603 [accessed 28 Jun 2006].

[S1886] #89 A Genealogical History of the Kings of England, and Monarchs of Great Britain, & C. From the Conquest, Anno 1066 to the Year, 1677, Sandford, Francis Esq., (London: Thomas Newcomb, 1677), FHL microfilm 599,670 item 3., p. 157-179, 181-221, 243-248.

[S1891] Calendar of Documents Relating to Scotland, 1357-1509, Editor: Joseph Bain, (Published by the Akuthority of the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treaskury, Under the Direction of the Deputy Clerk Register of Scotland H. M. General Register House Edinburgh 1888), FILM: 918593., vol. 4 p. 1-p. 7.

[S2054] #2058 The American Genealogist (1932-1965), Jacobus, Donald Lines, (32 volumes in 11. New Haven: D. L. Jacobus, 1932-1965), FHL book 973 B2aga, D25aga., vol. 32 p. 9.

[S2060] The New England Historical and Genealogical Register (1984), 974 B2ne., vol. 138 p. 39.

[S2061] The Family of Griffth of Garn & Plasnewydd in the Co. of Denbigh, Edited by the Request of The Right Hon. The Lady Daresbury of Walton in the Co. of Chester, (London Harriso and Sons, Limited 1934), FILM: 994040 BOOK: 929.2429 G875 g., p. 221.

[S2318] #1210 The Family of Griffith of Garn and Plasnewydd in the County of Denbigh, as Registered in the College of Arms from the Beginning of the XIth Century (1934), Glenn, Thomas Allen, (London: Harrison, 1934), FHL book 929.2429 G875g FHL microfilm 994,040 ite., p. 221 fn..

[S2411] #11915 British Genealogy (filmed 1950), Evans, Alcwyn Caryni, (Books A to H. National Library of Wales MSS 12359-12360D. Manuscript filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1950), FHL microfilms 104,355 and 104,390 item 2., book 6 p. F3*, 9*.

[S2434] #2105 Heraldic Visitations of Wales and Part of the Marches Between the Years 1586 and 1613 by Lewys Dwnn (1846), Dwnn, Lewys transcribed and edited with notes by Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick, (2 volumes. Llandovery: William Rees, 1846), FHL book 942.9 D23d FHL microfilm 176,668., vol. 2 p. 108.


The Black Death

Edward IIIDisaster struck England in Edward III's reign, in the form of bubonic plague, or the Black Death, which cut a scythe across Europe in the fourteenth century, killing a third of it's population. It first reached England in 1348 and spread rapidly. In most cases the plague was lethal. Infected persons developed black swellings in the armpit and groin, these were followed by black blotches on the skin, caused by internal bleeding. These symptoms were accompanied by fever and spitting of blood. Contemporary medicine was useless in the face of bubonic plague, it's remorseless advance struck terror into the hearts of the medieval population of Europe, many in that superstitious age saw it as the vengeance of God. The population of England was decimated.

Three of Edward's children, his daughter Joan and young sons, Thomas and William, who had been born in 1347 and 1348, were to die during the outbreak of bubonic plague in 1348. Joan was betrothed to Peter of Castile, son of Alfonso XI of Castile in 1345, and left England to journey to Castile in the summer of 1348. She stayed at the city of Bordeaux, in southern France, en-route, where there was a severe outbreak of the plague. Members of her entourage began to fall sick and die and Joan was moved, probably to the small village of Loremo, where she succumbed to the Black Death, suffering a violent attack she died on September 2, 1348. Edward wrote mournfully to Alphonso XI of Castille:-

"We are sure that your Magnificence knows how, after much complicated negotiation about the intended marriage of the renowned Prince Pedro, your eldest son, and our most beloved daughter Joan, which was designed to nurture perpetual peace and create an indissoluble union between our Royal Houses, we sent our said daughter to Bordeaux, en route for your territories in Spain. But see, with what intense bitterness of heart we have to tell you this, destructive Death (who seizes young and old alike, sparing no one and reducing rich and poor to the same level) has lamentably snatched from both of us our dearest daughter, whom we loved best of all, as her virtues demanded. No fellow human being could be surprised if we were inwardly desolated by the sting of this bitter grief, for we are humans too. But we, who have placed our trust in God and our Life between his hands, where he has held it closely through many great dangers, we give thanks to him that one of our own family, free of all stain, whom we have loved with our life, has been sent ahead to Heaven to reign among the choirs of virgins, where she can gladly intercede for our offenses before God Himself"

In the aftermath of the Black Death, there was inevitable social upheaval. Parliament attempted to legislate on the problem by introducing the Statute of Laborers in 1351, which attempted to fix prices and wages.


Achievements of the reign

Legislation

The middle years of Edward's reign was a period of significant legislative activity. Perhaps the best known piece of legislation was the Statute of Labourers of 1351, which addressed the labour shortage problem caused by the Black Death. The statute fixed wages at their pre-plague level and checked peasant mobility by asserting that lords had first claim on their men's services. In spite of concerted efforts to uphold the statute, it eventually failed due to competition among landowners for labour. The law has been described as an attempt "to legislate against the law of supply and demand", making it doomed to failure. Nevertheless, the labour shortage had created a community of interest between the smaller landowners of the House of Commons and the greater landowners of the House of Lords. The resulting attempts at suppression of the labour force angered the peasants, leading to the Peasants' Revolt of 1381.

The reign of Edward III coincided with the so-called Babylonian Captivity of the papacy at Avignon. During the wars with France, opposition emerged in England against perceived injustices by a papacy largely controlled by the French crown. Heavy papal taxation of the English Church was suspected to be financing the nation's enemies, while the practice of provisions&mdashthe Pope providing benefices for clerics, often non-resident aliens&mdashcaused resentment in an increasingly xenophobic English population. The statutes of Provisors and Praemunire, of 1350 and 1353 respectively, aimed to amend this by banning papal benefices, as well as limiting the power of the papal court over English subjects. The statutes did not, however, sever the ties between the king and the Pope, who were equally dependent upon each other. It was not until the Great Schism in 1378 that the English crown was able to free itself completely from the influence of Avignon.

Other legislation of importance includes the Treason Act of 1351. It was precisely the harmony of the reign that allowed a consensus on the definition of this controversial crime. Yet the most significant legal reform was probably that concerning the Justices of the Peace. This institution began before the reign of Edward III, but by 1350, the justices had been given the power not only to investigate crimes and make arrests, but also to try cases, including those of felony. With this, an enduring fixture in the administration of local English justice had been created.

Parliament and taxation

Parliament as a representative institution was already well established by the time of Edward III, but the reign was nevertheless central to its development. During this period membership in the English baronage, formerly a somewhat indistinct group, became restricted to those who received a personal summons to parliament. This happened as parliament gradually developed into a bicameral institution. Yet it was not in the House of Lords, but in the House of Commons that the greatest changes took place. The widening of political power can be seen in the crisis of the Good Parliament, where the Commons for the first time&mdashalbeit with noble support&mdashwas responsible for precipitating a political crisis. In the process, both the procedure of impeachment and the office of the Speaker were created. Even though the political gains were of only temporary duration, this parliament represented a watershed in English political history.

The political influence of the Commons originally lay in its right to grant taxes. The financial demands of the Hundred Years' War were enormous, and the king and his ministers tried different methods of covering the expenses. The king had a steady income from crown lands, and could also take up substantial loans from Italian and domestic financiers. To finance warfare on Edward III's scale, however, the king had to resort to taxation of his subjects. Taxation took two primary forms: levy and customs. The levy was a grant of a proportion of all moveable property, normally a tenth for towns and a fifteenth for farmland. This could produce large sums of money, but each such levy had to be approved by parliament, and the king had to prove the necessity. The customs therefore provided a welcome supplement, as a steady and reliable source of income. An 'ancient duty' on the export of wool had existed since 1275. Edward I had tried to introduce an additional duty on wool, but this unpopular maltolt, or 'unjust exaction', was soon abandoned. Then, from 1336 onwards, a series of schemes aimed at increasing royal revenues from wool export were introduced. After some initial problems and discontent, it was agreed through the Ordinance of the Staple of 1353 that the new customs should be approved by parliament, though in reality they became permanent.

Through the steady taxation of Edward III's reign, parliament&mdashand in particular the Commons&mdashgained political influence. A consensus emerged that in order for a tax to be just, the king had to prove its necessity, it had to be granted by the community of the realm, and it had to be to the benefit of that community. In addition to imposing taxes, parliament would also present petitions for redress of grievances to the king, most often concerning misgovernment by royal officials. This way the system was beneficial for both parties. Through this process the commons, and the community they represented, became increasingly politically aware, and the foundation was laid for the particular English brand of constitutional monarchy.

Chivalry and national identity

Central to Edward III's policy was reliance on the higher nobility for purposes of war and administration. While his father had regularly been in conflict with a great portion of his peerage, Edward III successfully created a spirit of camaraderie between himself and his greatest subjects.

  • Henry of Grosmont, 1st Earl of Derby. Inherited the titles of Earl of Leicester and Earl of Lancaster in 1345. Created Duke of Lancaster in 1351.
  • Hugh Audley, 1st Earl of Gloucester.
  • William de Clinton, 1st Earl of Huntingdon.
  • William de Bohun, 1st Earl of Northampton.
  • William Montacute, 1st Earl of Salisbury.
  • Robert de Ufford, 1st Earl of Suffolk.
  • Lawrence Hastings was created Earl of Pembroke in 1339.
  • William of Juliers was created Earl of Cambridge in 1340.
  • Ralph Stafford was created Earl of Stafford in 1351.
  • Thomas Holland was created Earl of Kent in 1360. He was actually married to Joan of Kent who was heiress to the previous Earls.
  • Edmund of Langley was created Earl of Cambridge in 1362.
  • Edward, the Black Prince. His first son. He was created Duke of Cornwall in 1337.
  • Henry of Grosmont. His paternal second cousin. He was created Duke of Lancaster in 1351.
  • Lionel of Antwerp. His second son. He was created Duke of Clarence in 1362.
  • John of Gaunt. His third son. He was created Duke of Lancaster in 1362. He was actually married to Blanche of Lancaster who was the daughter and heiress of Henry of Grosmont.

Furthermore, Edward bolstered the sense of community within this group by the creation of the Order of the Garter, probably in 1348. A plan from 1344 to revive the Round Table of King Arthur never came to fruition, but the new order carried connotations from this legend by the circular shape of the garter. Polydore Vergil tells of how the young Joan of Kent, Countess of Salisbury &mdashthe king's favourite at the time&mdashaccidentally dropped her garter at a ball at Calais. King Edward responded to the ridicule of the crowd by tying the garter around his own knee with the words honi soit qui mal y pense&mdashshame on him who thinks ill of it.

This reinforcement of the aristocracy must be seen in conjunction with the war in France, as must the emerging sense of national identity. Just like the war with Scotland had done, the fear of a French invasion helped strengthen a sense of national unity, and nationalise the aristocracy that had been largely Anglo-French since the Norman conquest. Since the time of Edward I, popular myth suggested that the French planned to extinguish the English language, and like his grandfather had done, Edward III made the most of this scare. As a result, the English language experienced a strong revival in 1362, a statute ordered the English language to be used in law courts and, the year after, Parliament was for the first time opened in English. At the same time, the vernacular saw a revival as a literary language, through the works of William Langland, John Gower and especially Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Yet the extent of this Anglicisation must not be exaggerated. The statute of 1362 was in fact written in the French language and had little immediate effect, and parliament was opened in that language as late as 1377. The Order of the Garter, though a distinctly English institution, included also foreign members such as the John V, Duke of Brittany and Sir Robert of Namur. Edward III&mdashhimself bilingual&mdashviewed himself as legitimate king of both England and France, and could not show preferential treatment for one part of his domains over another.


Edward III

Edward III (1312�), king of England (1327�), claimant to the French throne (1340� and 1369�). Edward came to the throne in 1327 in unpropitious circumstances, with the government in the hands of his unscrupulous mother Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer. His reign witnessed demographic disaster with the Black Death. It did not see major measures of legal reform, such as featured under Henry II or Edward I concessions to Parliament on a range of issues weakened the theoretical position of the monarchy. Yet Edward must rank as one of the most successful English kings. His war with France saw the great victories of Crຜy and Poitiers. The king of France and the king of Scots were both captured and held for huge ransoms. The Order of the Garter epitomized the glittering chivalric glamour of courtly and military circles. Political stability of a type unknown since the 1280s was achieved in the middle years of the reign.

Edward's first independent political action was in 1330, when he led the coup against his mother and Roger Mortimer at Nottingham. In 1333 he took a major gamble, supporting Edward Balliol's cause in Scotland, and reopening a war which had appeared concluded with the ‘shameful peace’ in 1328. No doubt Edward in part wished revenge after a disastrously unsuccessful campaign against the Scots in 1327. The battle of Halidon Hill in 1333 was a triumph, but succeeding campaigns achieved little, partly because of French support for the Scots. War with France began in 1337. In part this was similar to previous conflicts, with dispute over the English-held lands in Gascony and commercial rivalry in the Low Countries, but a new element was provided by Edward's claim, through his mother, to the French throne.

The French war dominated Edward's reign. It saw the great triumphs at Crຜy in 1346 and Poitiers ten years later, but also the disappointment of the 1359 campaign, which Edward had hoped would culminate in his coronation at Rheims. Instead, it brought an unsatisfactory truce until 1369. The reopening of the war saw the advantage largely gained by the French. The gains may have been mixed with losses, but Edward showed himself to be a great commander. He took great care in the detailed planning of his campaigns, and clearly had the capacity of inspiring his men. He was also an opportunist the war went through several phases of very different character as chance made new strategies possible. Realization that the initial policy of attacking from the north with the aid of a massive coalition of allies was expensive and ineffective led to intervention in the 1340s in Brittany, followed by the unexpected invasion of Normandy in 1346. How far Edward carefully planned the strategy which led to the great success at Crຜy is a matter for debate, but it is clear that arrangements were made for additional supplies to be brought from England, and that a march northwards was always intended.

The war was extremely expensive. By 1339 the king was effectively bankrupt, as were his main creditors, Italian bankers and English merchants. Heavy taxation at home was extremely unpopular, particularly at a time of severe bullion shortage. Political crisis came in Parliament in 1340𠄱, with the king's former chief councillor and chancellor, John Stratford, leading opposition to the crown, opposition in which the Commons, unlike the lay nobility, were very active. Edward rolled with the punches he accepted the new statutes imposed on him in Parliament, only to repeal them once Parliament had been dissolved. He showed himself throughout more ready to compromise with his critics than any of his predecessors on the throne. He was even ready to concede on the question of military service in 1352, readily abandoning innovative concepts of military obligation in the knowledge that he would have little difficulty in recruiting troops by means of contracts with the main commanders. Parliament's demands were also accepted in 1352 over the question of treason. In an attempt to impose order on a lawless society justices had used charges of treason for offences which, though serious, hardly merited such a sledgehammer. Edward willingly accepted a considerable narrowing of the definition of treason in the interests of political peace. His reign saw the triumph of the Commons in Parliament in a wide range of areas their power to grant taxes meant that it was impossible to deny them a major voice in public affairs. The king had to abandon useful techniques of raising money by negotiating with merchants' assemblies as a result of the claim that the Commons alone should grant taxes and customs duties. By 1376 the power of the Commons was dramatically displayed in the Good Parliament, with the impeachment of Lord Latimer, the chamberlain, Richard Lyons, a rich London government financier, many royal officials, and even the king's own mistress, Alice Perrers. Yet, as in 1340𠄱, Edward knew that once Parliament was dissolved, it would be possible to regain the lost ground. He can be accused of making concessions on a scale that seriously weakened the crown in the long run at the same time, his concessions achieved many years of political stability and domestic peace, a remarkable achievement following the disastrous reign of Edward II.

Edward was extremely successful in his dealings with his own family, and with the magnates. He was able to provide adequately for his sons, while the war enabled him to provide them with sufficient independent scope, so that he never faced the internal family problems that had beset Henry II. The eldest, Edward the Black Prince, received the duchy of Cornwall in 1337, and was later given command in Aquitaine John of Gaunt received the major duchy of Lancaster in 1362 Ireland was intended to serve as Lionel of Clarence's sphere of activity. The two youngest sons, Edmund (York) and Thomas, were less well treated, but they were still young at the end of the reign, and did not present a political problem.

The creation of six new earldoms in 1337, four of them going to important members of the royal household, was a courageous move which could have aroused hostility from the established nobility. In practice, Edward's use of patronage was cleverly judged, and he was consistently able to rely on the support of the magnates in war and in politics. Edward skilfully manipulated the chivalrous feelings of his followers, patronizing tournaments and founding the Order of the Garter. He did not attempt to curb the authority of his nobles as Edward I had done, and though it can be argued that the crown's control over them was in theory diminished, in practice the results of royal policy prove the wisdom of the king's approach.

Ormrod, W. M. , The Reign of Edward III (1990)
Waugh, S. L. , England in the Reign of Edward III (Cambridge, 1991).


Edward III of England Timeline - History

The Hundred Years War was fought between England and France and lasted from 1337 to 1453. The war was a series of battles with long periods of peace in between.

Small disputes and battles had been going on between the French and the English for years. However, in 1337, King Edward III of England claimed that he was the rightful king of France. This began the long battle between the two countries.

Other disputes kept the fighting going for over one hundred years. These included the control of the valuable wool trade, disputes over certain areas of land, and the support for Scotland by the French.


Battle of Agincourt from Chroniques d'Enguerrand de Monstrelet

King Edward III believed that he was the rightful heir to the French crown through his mother Isabella. He first laid claim to the throne when he was fifteen years old and King Charles IV of France died without a male heir. Instead of Edward, the French chose Philip to be their king.

When King Philip VI of France took control of Aquitaine from the English in 1337, King Edward III decided to fight back. He decided to invade France and reassert his right to the French throne.

Edward did not attempt to conquer and control the land of the French. Instead he led raids into the land called chevauchées. He would strike deep into the land of the French burning crops, plundering cities, and causing havoc.

In the 1350s, the army of King Edward III was led by his son, the valiant Edward the "Black Prince". The Black Prince became a famous hero to the English and was known for his chivalry. The Black Prince led the English to major victories over the French. At the battle of Poitiers, the Black Prince captured King John II, the current King of France.

King Edward agreed to release King John II for a ransom of three million crowns and some additional land. When King Edward died, the son of the Black Prince, Richard II became King. He was only 10 years old. There was a period of relative peace between England and France.

When King Henry V became king of England in 1413, he once again laid claim to the throne of France. He invaded France and won a decisive battle at Agincourt where with only around 6,000 soldiers he defeated a much larger French force of around 25,000. Eventually, the French gave in and King Charles VI named Henry as the heir to the throne.

Many of the people in southern France did not accept English rule. In 1428 the English began to invade southern France. They began a siege of the city of Orleans. However, a young peasant girl by the name of Joan of Arc took leadership of the French army. She claimed to have seen a vision from God. She led the French to a victory at Orleans in 1429. She led the French to several more victories before she was captured by the English and burned at the stake.

The French were inspired by Joan of Arc's leadership and sacrifice. They continued to fight back. They pushed the English army out of France taking Bordeaux in 1453 signaling the end of the Hundred Years War.