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Edward of Angoulême

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Edward of Angoulême
Edward of Angouleme.jpg
Edward of Angoulême, depicted on the Wilton Diptych in the arms of his mother.[1]
Born (1365-01-27)27 January 1365
Château d'Angoulême, France
Died c. 20 September 1370 (aged 5)
Bordeaux, France
Burial Austin Friars, London
Kings Langley (1388/9–bef. 1607)
Bordeaux (1370–1388/9)
House House of Plantagenet
Father Edward, the Black Prince
Mother Joan of Kent

Edward of Angoulême (27 January 1365 – c. 20 September 1370) was second in line to the throne of the Kingdom of England and heir to the Earldom of Kent and the elder brother of Richard of Bordeaux (later King Richard II). Born in Angoulême, he was the eldest child of Edward, Prince of Wales, commonly called "the Black Prince", and Joan, Countess of Kent, and thus was a member of the House of Plantagenet. Edward's birth, during the Hundred Years' War, was celebrated luxuriously by his father and by other monarchs, such as Charles V of France.

Edward died at the age of five, leaving his three-year-old brother, Richard of Bordeaux, as the new second in line. After the Black Prince's death in 1376, Richard became heir apparent to Edward III and succeeded the following year. Richard later ordered a monument to be made for his brother's tomb, which he had re-located; he also depicted his brother on the Wilton Diptych. In 1399, after twenty-two years of what has been described as a "turbulent reign",[2] Richard was overthrown by his cousin, Henry of Bolingbroke, and subsequently imprisoned in the [Pontefract Castle]], where he died in 1400.



The Château d'Angoulême, c. 1800s.

Edward was born at the Château d'Angoulême, in Angoulême, then part of the Duchy of Aquitaine.[3] His name, Edward of Angoulême, is a territorial designation referring to his birthplace; this was a common naming practice in 14th-century England.[4] Through his father, Edward, the Black Prince, he was a member of the House of Plantagenet and the second, but eldest surviving grandson[note 1] of the reigning English monarch, Edward III. Edward was related to the reigning French royal House of Valois through his paternal grandmother, Philippa of Hainault.[5] His mother, Joan, was his father's first cousin once removed, and was suo jure Countess of Kent.

Edward's date of birth has been a matter of debate. In the Dictionary of National Biography article for his father, Edward's birth year is given as 1363, 1364 or 1365, based on three contemporary chronicles, including that of Jean Froissart.[6] A letter sent by Joan of Kent to Edward III on 4 February 1365 announces Edward's birth on 27 January; therefore, this is the date of birth most used.[7][note 2] News of Edward's birth was "so acceptable to his royal grandfather, that the king conferred upon the messenger, John Delves, an annuity of forty pounds per annum for life."[8]

Edward was baptized at the Château d'Angoulême,[9] in March 1365. The Black Prince enjoyed luxury and Edward's baptism was meant to show the natives of Aquitaine that they had a sovereign in the Black Prince: present were 154 lords and 706 knights and, supposedly, 18000 horses; over £400 were spent on candles alone.[10] Edward's baptism was also celebrated with "splendid tournaments."[11] One of his godparents was Bishop Jean de Crois.[12] The name the Black Prince chose for his eldest son had been borne by three English kings and had already become a popular name with political implications by the time Edward and his brother, Richard (b. 1367), were born.[13] In Yorkist times, these were the most popular names.[14]


After a prolonged suffering,[15] Edward died of the bubonic plague;[16] although the exact time of his death is not precisely known, the date of January 1371 is commonly used.[17][18][19] The Wigmore Chronicle of 1370 states that Edward died "around the feast of Saint Michael [29 September]";[20] this is probably the correct date.[21][22][23]

The Black Prince found out about Edward's death after he returned from the Siege of Limoges;[22] "he was very grieved in his heart, but none can escape death."[8] Edward's loss "was a bitter grief to [the Black Prince and Joan of Kent]" and only increased the severity of the Black Prince's illness.[24] Edward had "already won a reputation for a Christ-like character,"[25] and in his infancy, "historians have been willing to see the seeds of those high qualities which distinguished his father and his grandfather, which were denied to his brother Richard II."[26] The Black Prince returned to England with Joan and Richard in 1371,[27] and died there in 1376 of dysentery.[28]

Before the Black Prince and his family left for England, he left his brother, John of Gaunt, in charge of arranging Edward's funeral,[29] which took place in Bordeaux[18] and was attended by all of the barons of Gascony and Poitou.[30] Edward's body was exhumed in 1388/9 and transported back to England by Robert Waldby, Bishop of Aire, who was acting under Richard II's orders.[31] It was at this time that Edward was buried at "Chilterne Langley," also known as Children's Langley,[32] a priory on the estate of Kings Langley.[33] Between 1540 and 1607, the church at Kings Langley was ruined;[34] and Edward had already been re-buried at the Church of the Austin Friars by 1631.[note 3]

While Richard could not have remembered Edward well, he still "recalled [his brother] with pious affection."[35] Thus, Edward is featured on the Wilton Diptych, a small diptych which depicts Richard kneeling before the Virgin (represented by Joan of Kent) and Child (represented by Edward).[1] The Diptych is held at the National Gallery of London.[36]


A coin from the reign of Richard II.

Edward's early demise caused great pain to both Richard and his parents: historian Alison Weir states that, from the time the Black Prince returned to England after Edward's death, "he was a broken man."[29] Edward's death also had a substantial impact on English history. Even during Edward's lifetime, fears that John of Gaunt would claim the throne existed; Parliament passed the Act of 1368, which permitted children born in the English domains in France to inherit the Kingdom of England, perhaps fearing that the Act of 1351, which established Edward and Richard's citizenship as English, would not be enough to ensure their succession.[37] After Edward III's death and Richard's ascension, a regency led by John of Gaunt was avoided.[38] Nonetheless, Gaunt maintained his influential position in the years that followed, and acted as de facto regent until January 1380.[39]

Although Richard was only ten years old when he began his reign, towards the end of the 1390s, he began what historians consider to be a period of "tyranny."[40] By the time of Edward's death, England was in the midst of fighting during the Hundred Years' War, which had been started by Edward III. Richard made efforts to end the war, but was unsuccessful due to opposition from his magnates and the French refusing to formally acknowledge their territorial losses by transferring land to the English.[41] In 1399, Richard was imprisoned in the Tower of London and abdicated in favour of his cousin, the Earl of Derby.[42] With Richard's death on 14 February 1400,[43] the direct line of the House of Plantagenet was brought to an end.[44]



  1. ^ Edward's eldest grandson was John (c. 1362/64–died young), the eldest son of John of Gaunt (Weir 2008a, pp. 93–117).
  2. ^ Records attest that on 14 March 1364, Charles V of France rewarded the Black Prince's squire who informed him of young Edward's birth (Moisant 1894, p. 149). Thus, a birth date of 27 January 1364/5 may be employed (Richardson 2011, p. 492).
  3. ^ Antiquarian John Weever states in his book, "Antient Funerall Monuments" (first published in 1631), that Edward's grave is located at the Church of the Austin Friars in London (Weever 1767, p. 204).


  1. ^ a b Galway 1950, p. 12.
  2. ^ Ormond 2012, p. 53.
  3. ^ Haydon 2012, p. 236.
  4. ^ Freeman 2001, p. 88.
  5. ^ Weir 2008a, p. 93.
  6. ^ Hunt 1889, p. 101.
  7. ^ "'Folios clxi - cxci', Calendar of Letter-books of the City of London: D: 1309–1314 (1902), pp. 301-311". British History Online. Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Richardson 2011, p. 493.
  9. ^ Haydon 2012, p. xlv.
  10. ^ Barber, Richard (2004). "Edward [Edward of Woodstock; known as the Black Prince], prince of Wales and of Aquitaine (1330–1376)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/8523. Retrieved 4 October 2013.  (subscription required)
  11. ^ "Joan of Kent". University of London. 2007. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  12. ^ Wagner 2006, p. 194.
  13. ^ Prestwich 1988, p. 4.
  14. ^ Saul 2005, p. 4.
  15. ^ Galway 1950, p. 11.
  16. ^ Chronicle Books 1993, p. 85.
  17. ^ Hamilton 2010, p. 175.
  18. ^ a b Weir 2008a, pp. 94–5.
  19. ^ Saul 1997, p. 12.
  20. ^ Taylor 1987, p. 296.
  21. ^ Richardson 2011, p. 492.
  22. ^ a b Mortimer 2006, p. 371.
  23. ^ Dodd 2000, p. 40.
  24. ^ Finch 1883, p. 36.
  25. ^ Galway 1950, p. 10.
  26. ^ James 1836, p. 474.
  27. ^ Fraioli 2005, p. 133.
  28. ^ McNalty 1955, p. 411.
  29. ^ a b Weir 2008b, p. 96.
  30. ^ Froissart 1901, p. 367.
  31. ^ List of Foreign Accounts 1900, p. 76.
  32. ^ Hermentrude 1878, p. 252.
  33. ^ Phillips 2010, p. 62; Phillips 2010, pp. 67–8.
  34. ^ Page 1912, pp. 235–43.
  35. ^ Bennett 1999, p. 14.
  36. ^ "The Wilton Diptych". National Gallery. Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  37. ^ Levine 1966, p. 118.
  38. ^ McKisack 1959, pp. 399–400.
  39. ^ Walker, Simon (2004). "John [John of Gaunt], duke of Aquitaine and duke of Lancaster, styled king of Castile and León (1340–1399)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/14843. Retrieved 4 October 2013.  (subscription required)
  40. ^ Saul 1997, p. 203.
  41. ^ Wagner 2006, p. 269.
  42. ^ Given-Wilson 1993, pp. 365–70.
  43. ^ Tuck, Anthony (2004). "Richard II (1367–1400)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/23499. Retrieved 4 October 2013.  (subscription required)
  44. ^ Jones 2012, p. 601.


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