Jones (Bosworth 1485: The Battle that Transformed England, 2015, etc.) brings the Middle Ages—and one of England’s greatest knights—to life.
Leaving the final battle of the War of the Roses, the author thrillingly dives into the 100 Years’ War and its shining star, Edward the Black Prince (1330-1376), the eldest of Edward III’s sons. Edward was the epitome of a hero; he was pure of heart and soul and guided by the code of chivalry. He was a warrior, trained by his father in the tournaments and strong enough to lead his men at the Battle of Crécy at age 16. He watched as his father fought Scotland, carefully planning every battle and using the longbow to significant advantage. However, the prince showed his cruel streak as he rampaged from Bordeaux to the Mediterranean, devastating towns in a wide swath. He destroyed Carcassonne to impress his father rather than accept their monetary offer to spare it. With the prince’s help restoring Gascony and winning Aquitaine, Edward III regained almost the entire Angevin empire once held by Henry II. Unfortunately, the prince’s political acumen was lacking, and he treated the defeated Count of Armagnac poorly, a move that would bring him down in the end. An ill-advised raid into Spain—against all better judgment but on his father’s orders—produced a hollow victory and the beginnings of the disease that would debilitate him during much of the last decade of his life. The author discusses the evil legend fostered by Jean Froissart’s writings of the Black Prince at the Siege of Limoges, but the reality was that he was a man of courage, generous to a fault (always in debt), and loyal to his followers. Jones provides a refreshingly even portrait. Even the prince’s greatest enemy, the French king, honored him as no other foe with a solemn memorial Mass.
A strong biography of a man who has inspired great love across the ages—a must for shelves and collections devoted to medieval times.