Edward of Woodstock

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Edward of Woodstock , Prince of Wales , known as The Black Prince ( English The Black Prince ), but actually Eduard Plantagenet ; KG (born June 15, 1330 in Woodstock , Oxfordshire , † June 8, 1376 in the Palace of Westminster , Middlesex ) was the eldest of the seven sons of King Edward III. with his wife Philippa , and father of King Richard II.


The Black Prince (representation from 1390)
Edwards of Woodstock's grave in Canterbury Cathedral
Edward's signet ring from the Louvre

Raised Earl of Chester at the age of three, Duke of Cornwall in 1337 and second Prince of Wales in 1343 , Edward's life was closely linked to the early stages of England's Hundred Years War against France; Combat and warfare should always play the main role.

In 1345 he accompanied his father to support Jakobs van Artevelde . At 1346 Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue to beat Knight , Edward excelled soon in the siege battle of Caen from. He achieved his first military success in the battle of Crécy , which brought the sixteen-year-old lifelong fame as an exemplary knight and troop leader. The English used long archers against the crossbowmen and heavily armed horsemen , which were common at the time , which contributed decisively to the victory in the battle, which many consider to be the symbol of the decline of medieval knighthood and the beginning of modern warfare. During the battle, Edward commanded a wing of the army and was able to hold his own despite dogged French attacks. After the battle, the young prince is said to have roamed the battlefield and stumbled upon the corpse of the blind King John of Bohemia , who, despite his handicap, threw himself into the fray on the side of the French. Impressed by the bravery of his opponent, Edward should say "There lies the Prince of Chivalry, but he does not die" ("Here lies the Prince of Chivalry, but he does not die") Johann's helmet gem, which, among other things, consists of two wings existed, taken in and made his own. However, this episode is not historically secure. The helmet jewel in the form of three ostrich feathers - which could, however, also have other origins - and Johann's German motto “Ich Dien” have been found in the coat of arms (“ badge ”) of the Princes of Wales, the English heir to the throne.

Edward's further war successes followed in 1347 with the capture of Calais , the defense of this town two years later and the Battle of Winchelsea in 1350. Because of these successes Edward became one of the first to wear the Order of the Garter , which his father had donated in 1348.

As governor of the Guyenne and conqueror of Bordeaux (1355) he led a surprise campaign as far as Narbonne . In the spectacular victory in the Battle of Maupertuis in 1356, Prince Edward not only succeeded in defeating a far superior enemy force, but also in the capture of the French King John II and his son.

In 1361 he secretly married his second aunt (his great-grandfather and her grandfather was Edward I ) Joan of Kent , heir to the Earl of Kent , known as The Fair Maid of Kent , and had a happy marriage with her. He was her third husband. In 1362 his father appointed him Duke of Aquitaine , where he and his wife settled in the Guyenne in 1363. They held a magnificent court in Bordeaux, which attracted many artists and scientists and had two children, Edward (1365-1371) and the future King Richard II (1367-1400).

With Peter I of Castile and León allied, led Edward 1367 an army to Nájera , where he his half-brother Henry of Trastámara , pretender to the throne of Castile and Leon, devastatingly defeated . As a reward, he received an oversized Afghan spinel as a gift, which is still attached to the British state crown today.

His last major military action was the retaliatory looting of the breakaway city of Limoges in 1370, in which over 3,000 residents were massacred. In January 1371 he returned to England from Aquitaine sick. In 1372 he renounced the Principality of Aquitaine and withdrew completely from political life.

Edward died of dysentery on June 8, 1376 while his father was still alive ( vitae patre ) . He was buried in Canterbury Cathedral, where his monumental tomb and armor can still be seen today. Since the eldest son Edwards had died as a child, his second, also still underage son Richard after the death of Edward III. a year later as Richard II King of England.

Nickname Black Prince

Edward of Woodstock is best known today by his nickname Black Prince . It cannot be proven whether he already wore it during his lifetime. In written sources, the name Black Prince is only mentioned about 160 years after his death in the records of the librarian John Leland from the 1530s to the early 1540s. The origin of the name is also unclear, which is the subject of many theories. The name probably goes back to his coat of arms and his armor, which are said to have been black and parts of which can still be seen in Canterbury Cathedral today, but it is also not certain that Edward wore black armor during his lifetime. According to other opinions, the name goes back to Edward's reputation as a brutal military leader, especially in parts of French Aquitaine.


  • Richard Barber: Edward, Prince of Wales and Aquitaine. A biography of the black prince. Boydell, Woodbridge 1996, ISBN 0-85115-686-X .
  • David Green: Edward the Black Prince. Power in Medieval Europe. Pearson Longman, Harlow 2007, ISBN 978-0-582-78481-9 .
  • Henry D. Sedgwick: The life of Edward the Black Prince (1330-1376). The flower of knighthood out of all the world. Barnes & Noble, New York 1993, ISBN 1-56619-156-4 .
  • Johann Baier: The Black Prince and the Battle of Poitiers . Verlag Angelika Hörnig, Ludwigshafen 2013, ISBN 978-3-938921-29-6 .
  • Michael Jones: The Black Prince. England's Greatest Medieval Warrior , New York: Pegasus 2018.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ John Harvey: The Black Prince and his Age . Batsford, London 1976, ISBN 0-7134-3148-2 , pp. 15 (English).
  2. ^ Richard Barber: Edward, Prince of Wales and Aquitaine. A biography of the black prince . Boydell, Woodbridge 1996, ISBN 0-85115-686-X , pp. 242 (English).

Web links

Commons : Edward of Woodstock  - collection of images, videos and audio files
predecessor Office successor
Edward of Windsor
(until 1327)
Earl of Chester
Richard of Bordeaux
New title created Duke of Cornwall
Richard of Bordeaux
Edward of Carnarvon
(until 1307)
Prince of Wales
Richard of Bordeaux
Edward III. Duke of Guyenne
Edward III.