Edward III of England

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Edward III

Edward III (13 November 1312 – 21 June 1377), also known as Edward of Windsor before his accession, was King of England and Lord of Ireland from January 1327 until his death in 1377. He is noted for his military success and for restoring royal authority after the disastrous and unorthodox reign of his father, Edward II. He transformed the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe. His fifty-year reign was the second-longest in medieval English history, and saw vital developments in legislation and government, in particular the evolution of the English Parliament, as well as the ravages of the Black Death. He outlived his eldest son, Edward the Black Prince, and the throne passed to his grandson, Richard II.


  • We will and concede for us and all our heirs and successors, by the common counsel, assent and consent of the prelates, magnates, earls and barons and communities of our realm in our parliament that the Kingdom of Scotland, shall remain for ever separate in all respects from the Kingdom of England, in its entirety, free and in peace, without any kind of subjection, servitude, claim or demand.
    • Letters-patent (1 March 1328), quoted in G. W. S. Barrow, Robert Bruce and the Community of the Realm of Scotland (Edinburgh University Press, 2005), pp. 333–334
  • ...our progenitors, the kings of England, have before these times been lords of the English sea on every side...and it would very much grieve us if in this kind of defence our royal honour should be lost.
    • Letter to his admirals (18 August 1336), quoted in Ian Mortimer, The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III, Father of the English Nation (Vintage, 2008), p. 130
  • ...we benignly wish that all and each of the natives of the kingdom who will subject themselves willingly to us, as the true King of France according to wise counsel, before next Easter, offering due fidelity etc. to us, as King of France, performing their duties...should be admitted to our peace and grace and to our special protection and defence.
    • Assuming the title King of France (8 February 1340), quoted in A. R. Myers (ed.), English Historical Documents, 1327–1485 (Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1969), p. 65

Quotes about Edward III[edit]

  • Here lies the glory of the English, the flower of kings past, the pattern for kings to come, a merciful king, the bringer of peace to his people. Edward III, who attained his jubilee. The undefeated warrior, a second Maccabeus, who prospered while he lived, revived sound rule, and reigned valiantly, now may attain his heavenly crown.
    • Epitaph on his monument in Westminster Abbey, quoted in D. A. L. Morgan, 'The Political After-Life of Edward III: The Apotheosis of a Warmonger', The English Historical Review, Vol. 112, No. 448 (Sep., 1997), p. 861
  • ...an English ship we had, noble it was and high of tower, it was held in dread throughout Christendom: the rudder was neither oak nor elm but Edward the Third, the noble knight.
    • The Vernon Manuscript (c. 1400), quoted in Ian Mortimer, The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III, Father of the English Nation (Vintage, 2008), p. 394
  • He was the flower of earthly warriors, under whom to fight was to rule, to go forth was to prosper, to contend was to triumph ... Against his foes he was grim as a leopard, toward his subjects mild as a lamb.
    • 'Cronica bona et compendiosa de regibus Noe usque in hunc diem' (c. late 1300s), quoted in D. A. L. Morgan, 'The Political After-Life of Edward III: The Apotheosis of a Warmonger', The English Historical Review, Vol. 112, No. 448 (Sep., 1997), p. 866
  • Few were the blemishes which may be thought to tarnish the lustre of this reign of Edward the Third. Few and short were the struggles between him and his people; for as he was fierce and terrible to his enemies, he was amiable and indulgent to his subjects. He not only observed the laws, but he made the sense of the nation, in some measure, a law to him. On this principle, in which, to a considering mind, there will appear as much wisdom as goodness, he removed a son, nay a favorite mistress from court.
    • Lord Bolingbroke, Remarks on the History of England (1730–1731), quoted in Lord Bolingbroke, Historical Writings, ed. Isaac Kramnick (1972), p. 183
  • Edward the third, your King of rich renowne,
    Against the French did use his conquering sworde:
    Mauger their beardes, he did possesse their Crowne,
    The French were faine, to serve him as their Lord.
    Take courage then, maintaine your Countries right,
    Gainst Rabsica, in Gods name enter fight.
    • John Phillips, A Commemoration of the Life and Death of Sir Christopher Hatton, knight, Lord Chancellor of England (1591), pp. 6-7
  • The greatest of all the Plantagenet kings was Edward III. Edward inherited the throne as a teenage puppet king under his mother and her lover Roger Mortimer, who were responsible for the removal of Edward II. He soon shook off their influence, and the next three, triumphant decades of his reign are described in Part VI, 'Age of Glory.' In these years, the Plantagenets expanded in every sense. Under the accomplished generalship of Edward, his son the Black Prince, and his cousin Henry Grosmont, England pulverized France, and Scotland (as well as other enemies, including Castile), in the opening phases of the Hundred Years' War. Victories on land at Halidon Hill (1333), Crécy (1346), Calais (1347), Poitiers (1356) and Najera (1367) established the English war machine – built around the power of the deadly longbow – as Europe's fiercest. Success at sea at Sluys (1340) and Winchelsea (1350) also gave the Plantagenets confidence in the uncertain arena of warfare on the water. Besides restoring the military power of the English kings, Edward and his sons deliberately encouraged a national mythology that interwove Arthurian legend, a new cult of St George and a revival of the code of knighly chivalry in the Order of the Garter. They created a culture that bonded England's aristocracy together in the common purpose of war. By 1360, Plantagenet kingship had reached its apotheosis. Political harmony at home was matched by dominance abroad. A new period of greatness beckoned.
    • Dan Jones, The Plantagenets: The Kings Who Made England (2012), p. xxxvi-xxxvii

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