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The Black Prince

Updated on March 12, 2015

The Black Prince

Born 15 June 1330 Edward was the eldest son of King Edward the 3rd of England and Queen Philippa. As he was born at Woodstock Palace in Oxfordshire, he was known for most of his life as Edward of Woodstock, and his title was Prince of Wales. Other honours he held were Earl of Chester and Duke of Cornwall. It was after his death that he was called 'The Black Prince,' after the black armour that he wore in battle. He was an exceptional officer and soldier and he became very popular during his lifetime. He led many campaigns against France in the continuation of the Hundred Years War. Edward never ruled over England as he unfortunately died before his father. When Edward 3rd died, a year after his son, the throne passed to the son of the Black Prince, Richard. He was crowned Richard the 2nd.

Prince of Wales Feathers


Edward of Woodstock married his first cousin Joan Countess of Kent, by a special dispensation from the Pope, in 1361. She was known as The Fair Maid of Kent and she was the first Princess of Wales.

Joan's father, Edmund, was a younger half-brother of King Edward the 2nd of England. Her father's support of Edward the 2nd was his downfall as he was executed after Edward 2nd was deposed, and Joan, her mother and the other children were placed under guard at Arundel Castle. Joan was a child of two at the time. Edward the 3rd came to the throne and looked after Joan and her family. Queen Philippa had Joan stay at the palace and she was brought up with Edward of Woodstock.

At twelve years of age Joan secretly married Thomas Holland without getting the Royal permission. That same winter, Thomas Holland was sent to fight in the crusades and Joan's family forced her into a marriage with William Montacute, son of the first Earl of Salisbury.

Some years later, Thomas Holland returned from the crusades and the full story of his marriage to Joan came out. Thomas appealed to the Pope to get his wife back and confessed the secret marriage to the king.

Pope Clement annulled Joan’s marriage to the Earl in 1349 and sent her back to Thomas Holland, with whom she lived happily for the next eleven years. Thomas died in 1360. Joan and the Black Prince were married in 1361.

A coin of the Black Prince

Battle honours

Edward fought at the battle of Crécy alongside his father in 1346 when he was only sixteen. His father Knighted him on the coast of France and he took a prominent part in the whole of the campaign, coming out with honours.The next year he took part in the siege of Calais, returning to England in October 1347.When Edward 3rd created the Order of the Knights of the Garter, his son was one of the first people honoured. Late in 1355 he he was sent to Gascony with his army as he had been appointed his father's lieutenant there. He led many skirmishes against the French and penetrated as far as the Loire, but he had to retire before the superior forces of King John of France. On the 19th of September they met in the battle of Poitiers,one of the longest and hardest battles of the Hundred Years War. Edward's victory was down to his better tactics and the superiority of his fighting men. Edward's winning manoeuvre, when he outflanked the French army, decided the outcome of the battle. King John was captured and the English sailed back home in triumph. On the 24th of May he led his prisoner through the streets of London. The last battle of the Hundred Years War was at Rheims, following which peace was finally achieved with the Treaty of Bretigny.

A year after his marriage to Joan, he was invested with the duchy of Aquitaine and in 1363 he took his family to Bordeaux. Their elder son, Edward, was born in 1365 but lived for only five years. Richard, the second son, was born at Bordeaux in 1367. Late in 1367, Edward led an army to Spain, to restore the deposed King Pedro, proving himself again with victory at the Battle of Najera in the Castile region. Returning to Aquitaine, he brought in new laws, taxing the nobility to pay for his Spanish expedition. They revolted against him and in 1370 Edward besieged the city of Limoges, killing 3,000 of its citizens. A year later, Edward returned to England as he had contacted a disease when in Spain. His illness ate away at his system, and on 8th June 1376 he died. He was buried in Canterbury Cathedral.


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    • scarytaff profile imageAUTHOR

      Derek James 

      11 years ago from South Wales

      Thank you James, your comments are greatly appreciated.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      11 years ago from Chicago

      This is a fascinating Hub! I loved it. I have a keen interest in history and was pleased to learn who was the Black Prince. Great writing!

    • scarytaff profile imageAUTHOR

      Derek James 

      11 years ago from South Wales

      Thank you, No.7

    • Paradise7 profile image


      11 years ago from Upstate New York

      Fascinating. I wondered why "The Black Prince" was his ARMOUR, not his coloring! These hubs are great, very readable and informative. Thank you.

    • scarytaff profile imageAUTHOR

      Derek James 

      11 years ago from South Wales

      You're welcome jayjay

    • jayjay40 profile image


      11 years ago from Bristol England

      A brilliant hub that's easy to read and understand. I find this era of British history quite confusing so it was good to have it explained so well. Thanks for an enjoyable read.


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