One of the most charismatic and enigmatic personalities of the High Middle Ages, Edward the "Black Prince" commanded an English division at the battle of Crécy at just 16 years old. But despite his battlefield exploits, romantic reputation, and popularity among the people, Edward has become notorious as a proponent of "scorched earth" campaigns, or chevauchée. These expeditions amounted to little more than the licensed plunder of undefended towns and the murder of non-combatants. The premature death of Edward saw his infant son ascend to the throne and led, eventually, to the fratricidal chaos of the Wars of the Roses and the emergence of the Tudor dynasty. In this startling reappraisal of the prince’s life, David Green assesses his actions in their historical context and examines what might have been had Edward the Black Prince become King Edward IV.
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This is much more than a fine biography. It is a wide-ranging and deeply imaginative portrait of fourteenth-century aristocratic society, based on intimate knowledge of both the primary and secondary sources: a fitting culmination to years of research into one of the most controversial and flamboyant characters in English history.
Chris Given-Wilson, Professor of Late Mediaeval History, University of St Andrews
Author of two recent books which deftly reconsider the Black Prince’s military reputation, David Green’s fascinating new study of how this most iconic but enigmatic figure exercised his power acutely analyses the cultural and social as well as political factors that shaped his turbulent century.
Michael Jones, Emeritus Professor of Medieval French History, University of Nottingham
In this thoroughly readable book, David Green provides a vivid picture of England in the late fourteenth century, centred on the career of the Black Prince. The nature of aristocratic power provides a central theme, while war, plague and religion receive full attention. The book also throws many fascinating sidelights on the period, from the scandalously low-cut dresses of the Princess of Wales and the military finery of the Black Prince, to the increasingly macabre tombs of the period, with their images of decaying skeletons contrasting with worldly splendour.
Michael Prestwich, Professor of History, University of Durham
Fourteenth-century England witnessed intense political, social, economic and religious change: the start of the Hundred Years War, the impact of repeated outbreaks of the Black Death, the notable growth of Parliament's importance and the rise of England’s first major heresy, Lollardy. The consequences of these events were integral to the transition from the medieval to the early modern world.
Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales, participated in the most important events of this tumultuous age. His influence and career were continental both in importance and outlook. He played a pivotal role in English, Welsh, Spanish and French political life, fought crucial campaigns in the Hundred Years War in France and Castile and ruled Aquitaine with all-but sovereign power from 1362-71. As heir to the English throne, his wealth and involvement in courtly society and politics gave him exceptional influence and power.
Edward the Black Prince: Power in Medieval Europe is much more than a biography of this iconic but controversial figure. Green uses the Black Prince’s career as a platform for a broad and fascinating discussion of late medieval European culture, encompassing chivalry, warfare, religion and aristocracy. This perceptive and original account offers insight into the life of an enigmatic man, as well as the society around him.
Dr David Green is a lecturer at Trinity College, Dublin. He is the author of many books, articles and encyclopedia entries including The Battle of Poitiers, 1356 (2002), The Black Prince (2001) and History at Nottingham (1995).
About the Author:
David Green's other books include The Battle of Poitiers, 1356 and Edward the Black Prince: Power in Medieval Europe.
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