Edward III and his son Edward, the Black PrinceEdward of Windsor was the eldest of two sons born to Edward II and Isabella of France.  Due to the political machinations necessary to keep his father on the throne, Edward was made Earl of Aquitaine in 1325, taking over his father's title and holdings, so that the King did not have to perform homage to King Charles IV of France.  Accompanied by his mother, Edward was sent to France, but for Edward II this turned out to be a fatal error when his Queen deserted him and became the mistress of Roger Mortimer, an English exile.  Isabella then arranged the betrothal of her son with Philippa of Hainault.

An invasion force landed in England, and met with little resistance.  Edward was crowned king on 1st February 1327, at the age of fifteen.  He was married to Philippa in 1328, and the couple produced a son in June 1330, also called Edward (later known as the Black Prince).

Now secure in his position due to his heir and the unpopularity of Mortimer with the rest of the nobility as a result of his arrogance and self-aggrandisement, Edward moved to gain full control of the throne.  Mortimer was captured at Nottingham in October 1330, and executed at Tyburn.

Almost immediately, Scotland became the target of the King's interest.  Those Scots nobles who were disinherited by Bruce saw an opportunity with his death in 1329, although it took them until 1332 to raise an army and sail northwards against his six year old son David II.  The guardian of the young King, Thomas Randolph of Moray, had recently died, and the Scottish forces proved to be in disarray when they met the Disinherited at Dupplin Moor.  Having won a victory, the Disinherited crowned Edward Baliol as King, but within two months he had fled over the border to safety.

Edward III was now approached to support a second attempt on the throne, and in 1333 he laid siege to Berwick with a large force.  When the new Guardian of King David II, Archibald Douglas, led a substantial army to relieve the town they met in battle at Halidon Hill.

The English force had a large number of archers, and it was this which handed them the victory as they decimated the Scots forces as they advanced across a marsh and up the hill.  As a result, Berwick fell and Edward Baliol was restored to the throne.

However, Edward III was preoccupied over the next few years by problems in his French territories where Philip VI confiscated Ponthieu and Aquitaine, and as a result the forces of David II regained much of his kingdom and forced a truce on Edward in 1338 which allowed him to turn to France. 

Facing financial and administrative difficulties at home, and a lack of success in both his political manouevering and military campaigns in France, in July 1346 Edward raised an army of over 15000 men and set sail for Normandy, burning Caen and marching north to join up with a force from Flanders.  On 26th August they met the forces of Philip VI at Crécy, and again the large number of English archers was a decisive factor in their victory.  Meanwhile, David II had been busy, marching south in accordance with his treaty commitment to support France, but on 17th October his army was routed at the Battle of Neville's Cross and the King was captured and held in England for ransom - a sum of 100,000 marks (a King's Ransom indeed) was paid eleven years later.

Back in France, having laid siege to Calais for over a year, it fell in August 1347 and it seemed that Edward was on the verge of a major breakthrough.

However, in June 1348 a ship from Gascony arrived in Dorset with a sick seaman on board.  He was the first to die of the Black Death in England, but he certainly was not the last - the plague reached London by the end of the year, and by the summer of 1349 the whole country had been badly affected, with some estimates putting the mortality rate at 50%.  Any thought of campaigning was abandoned for some time.

The Black Prince took up the struggle on his father's behalf in the 1350s, winning a great victory at Poitiers which resulted in the confirmation of all of Edward's territories in France in return for his surrender of any claim to the French throne.  

Edward died in 1377, barely a year after his eldest son.  He was succeeded by his grandson, the 10 year old Richard II.

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