From 1327 to 1377, Edward III was the King of England. He came to power during a terrible period in England, with an inert King who was more concerned with conferring favors on his exclusive patronage than with improving the country’s condition. King Edward III had a powerful and commanding presence. He turned the Kingdom of England around from his father’s disastrous reign into one of the world’s most formidable military forces. He was praised for his military savvy and battle prowess. The Hundred Years’ War began under his reign, when his claim to be the true heir to the French crown was refused. The Battle of Crecy was the pinnacle of his career, when his tactical maneuvers and military prowess assisted the badly outmanned English army achieve a stunning victory over the massive French army. The victory at Crecy led to another one at Poitiers by his son, Edward, which finally culminated into the signing of the highly favourable Treaty of Brétigny, which secured English possession of French sovereignty in return for relinquishing his claim to the French throne. In addition to military victories, King Edward III’s reign saw significant changes in legislation and government. He also assisted England in surviving the bubonic plague, often known as the Black Death.
Childhood and Adolescence
On November 13, 1312, at Windsor Castle, Edward III was born to King Edward II and Queen Isabella of France. Edward of Windsor was his popular nickname.
Edward III was given the title Earl of Chester by his father, King Edward II, when he was just 12 days old. The appointment was mostly meant to bolster the young prince’s prestige.
Reign & Accession
In 1325, Edward III escorted his mother to the English Duchy of Aquitaine to pay tribute. During this journey, his mother made friends with exiled Roger Mortimer. She and Mortimer plotted to depose King Edward II and replace him with her son.
Prince Edward was engaged to Philippa of Hainault, a twelve-year-old French girl. The partnership was formed solely to strengthen diplomatic and military ties. On February 1, 1327, he was anointed King of England following the invasion of England and the dethronement of his father.
Because Edward III was too young to rule as King of England, Roger Mortimer acted as the country’s de facto ruler. During the latter’s reign, England not only suffered a devastating defeat at the Battle of Stanhope Park at the hands of the Scots, but also had to sign the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton, granting Scotland independence.
Mortimer’s relationship with Edward III was strained. Following Edward III’s marriage to Philippa and the birth of their son, things only became worse. Edward III planned Mortimer’s execution because he despised Mortimer’s political position and meddling with the administration.
Edward III came to rule and reign in real life after Mortimer’s death. His main goal was to restore England to the mighty nation it had been under his grandfather Edward I. He renounced the Treaty of Northampton and waged war on Scotland as a result.
The English-French relationship deteriorated in the early 1330s, owing chiefly to the protracted conflict over the English administration of Gascony. The assistance of the Scots by the French monarch, Philip VI, the alliance of Edward III with the Flemish, and the resurrection of Edward’s claim to the French throne as the maternal grandson of King Philip IV all added fuel to the fire.
According to the Salic law of succession, Philip VI, King of France, earned the nation’s backing, effectively rejecting Edward III’s claim to the throne. This refusal was the catalyst for England’s Hundred Years’ War with France.
King Edward III attempted to invade France from the north twice between 1339 and 1340, but both attempts failed, resulting in bankruptcy. The English naval victory at Sluys, which gave them control of the English Channel, was the only win of this period of the conflict.
When King Edward III and his son Prince Edward landed in Normandy in 1346, a new chapter of the conflict began (popularly called Black Prince). At the Battle of Crecy, he defeated King Philip VI of France. Crecy’s crushing victory dispersed the French force. His son, Black Prince, famously won his spurs in this battle.
He celebrated victory in Gascony and Brittany in 1346. King David of Scots was also defeated and imprisoned at Nevilles Cross, near Durham, reinforcing King Edward III’s leadership and campaigning abilities.
He pushed forth after his triumph at Crecy and lay siege to the French town of Calais. In August 1347, an English army took control of Calais, a year later. Edward III colonized Calais with Englishmen, driving out nearly all of the French residents and establishing it as the English basis for future conquests of France.
For King Edward III, monetary constraints were a persistent stumbling block. In September 1347, he made a fresh truce as a result of it. Following that, he went to England and launched the Order of the Garter system. He turned down the Holy Empire’s offer of the imperial throne in 1348.
In 1348, England was ravaged by the awful bubonic epidemic known as the Black Death. The epidemic raged until 1349, killing a large number of people, although it was stopped before a full-scale breakdown could occur.
In 1355, the war continued on a bigger scale. His son, Black Prince, won a resounding victory at the Battle of Poitiers the following year, capturing the new French king, John II. King John II surrendered to English prison after failing to pay the ransom required.
At the end of the first phase of the Hundred Years’ War, England had the upper hand over France. The Treaty of Bretigny negotiated peace, in which King Edward III relinquished his claim to the French throne in exchange for England’s retention of Aquitaine, Poitiers, and Calais.
Following the end of the first phase of the conflict, King Edward III’s reign was marked by political instability and military ineffectiveness. Things were also in upheaval on the administrative front, with inexperienced subordinates making the majority of the decisions.
When the French waged war on the English in 1369, King Edward III lacked the zeal, enthusiasm, and emotion he had shown during his previous military campaign. He assumed the title of King of France, although his sons, Edward and John of Gaunt, were in charge of military and administrative operations.
The English failed terribly in their attempt to reclaim France in 1375. The Treaty of Bruges was concluded, limiting English control of France to the coastline areas of Calais, Bordeaux, and Bayonne.
During King Edward III’s final years in power, Black Prince and John of Gaunt rose to prominence as leaders of the court’s split parties and the king’s council. With the help of the King’s mistress, Alice Perrers, John of Gaunt gained control of the kingdom’s government and gained power over his father.
Following King Edward III’s illness and Prince Edward’s death, John of Gaunt assumed complete control of the government.
Battles of Importance
While King Edward III participated in several battles during the Hundred Years’ War, the Battle of Crecy was the pinnacle of his military career. Despite being outmanned, the English army won a stunning victory against the vast French army under his capable leadership, tactical measures, and efficient military and warfare talents.
The triumph of King Edward III at Crecy was quickly followed by his son’s win at the Battle of Poitiers. The Treaty of Brétigny was eventually concluded, giving King Edward III control of French sovereignty in exchange for renouncing his claim to the French monarchy.
Personal History and Legacy
Prince Edward was engaged to Philippa of Hainault, a twelve-year-old girl. On the 24th of January, 1348, they married. Seven sons and five daughters were among their twelve offspring.
Following Queen Philippa’s death in 1369, King Edward III was swayed by his lover Alice Perrers, a dishonest and immoral woman.
His son Edward was seized with illness in June 1376, and died as a result. Later that year, King Edward III was diagnosed with an abscess. He was never totally recovered from his illness. On June 21, 1377, he died of a stroke.
He was laid to rest in Westminster Abbey. Richard II, Edward’s ten-year-old grandson, succeeded him.
Estimated Net Worth
The net worth of Edward III of England is unknown.