Playing with History – Edward, The Black Prince

I did a blog post for the Naughty Literati on how I used (and abused) historical facts in the last of my Passions series of Medieval Historical Romances, Healing Passion.  You can read it here.

I talked about some of the liberties I’d taken with the history and personages of the times. Mostly with a real, historical character, Edward of Woodstock (1330-1376), son of Edward III, also known as the Black Prince.

I said I’d share a few interesting facts about The Black Prince in this post, so here goes.

  1. I had a chance to visit his tomb in Canterbury Cathedral.  It’s an impressive sarcophagus, and unusual in that most members of the royal family are buried in either Westminster Cathedral or on the grounds of Windsor Castle. But it was the prince’s own choice to be interred at Canterbury.  It made some sense since his wife was of Kentish origin.
  2. Although he was the oldest son and heir of Edward III, he never became king. He died about a year before his father did, probably of dysentery, likely contracted during one of his many campaigns on the continent. His son ruled later as Richard II.
  3. He was an exceptionally tall man for his time, standing about six foot four.
  4. His wife Joan, known as “the Fair Maid of Kent” had an incredibly tangled marital history. She’d been married twice before her marriage to the prince, although it’s questionable whether the second one was valid since her first husband was still living at the time.
  5. The traditional view of The Black Prince was that he was pretty vicious and tyrannical, but documents have recently come to light that call that judgement into question. He was certainly a good general with considerable aptitude for leadership and tactics.
  6. He actually spent most of his adult life on the continent, in what is now France, leading troops in battle and part of the time as the Prince of Aquitaine.
  7. No contemporary references refer to Edward as “The Black Prince.” That name doesn’t appear in the historical record until a couple of hundred years after his death and no one knows why he might have been so called.
  8. If you’ve seen the movie “A Knight’s Tale,” the prince that the hero jousts with when no one else will and who later saves him, is supposed to be Edward, the Black Prince.  (Note that he is shown in black clothing.)

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