Edward III King of England
Aged: 64.6 years
Edward III (1312-77), king of England (1327-77), Earl of Chester, Duke of Aquitaine, who initiated the long, drawn-out struggle with France called the Hundred Years' War. Edward was born at Windsor on November 13, 1312, the elder son of King Edward II, of the house of Plantagenet. Involved by his mother, Isabella of France (1292-1358), in her intrigues against his father, he was proclaimed king after the latter was forced to abdicate in 1327. During Edward's minority, England was nominally ruled by a council of regency, but the actual power was in the hands of Isabella and her paramour, Roger de Mortimer (1287?-1330). In 1330, however, the young king staged a palace coup and took the power into his own hands. He had Mortimer hanged and confined his mother to her home. Edward began a series of wars almost directly after he had control of England. Taking advantage of civil war in Scotland in 1333, he invaded the country, defeated the Scots at Halidon Hill, England, and restored Edward de Baliol to the throne of Scotland. Baliol, however, was soon deposed, and later attempts by Edward to establish him permanently as king of Scotland were unsuccessful. In 1337 France came to the aid of Scotland. This action was the culminating point in a series of disagreements between France and England, and Edward declared war on Philip VI of France. In 1340 the English fleet destroyed a larger French fleet off Sluis, the Netherlands. The action resulted in a truce that, although occasionally disturbed, lasted for six years. War broke out again in 1346. Edward, accompanied by his eldest son, Edward the Black Prince, invaded Normandy and won a great victory over France in the Battle of CrTcy. He captured Calais in 1347, and a truce was reestablished. Edward returned to England, where he maintained one of the most magnificent courts in Europe. The war with France was renewed in 1355, and again the English armies were successful. The Peace of Calais, in 1360, gave England all of Aquitaine, and Edward in return renounced his claim, first made in 1328, to the French throne. Edward continued to assert his will both domestically and abroad. In 1363 he concluded an agreement with his brother-in-law, David II of Scotland, uniting the two kingdoms in the event of David's death without male issue. Three years later Edward repudiated the papacy's feudal supremacy over England, held in fief since 1213. He renewed his war with France, disavowing the Peace of Calais. This time, however, the English armies were unsuccessful. After the truce of 1375, Edward retained few of his previously vast possessions in France. The king had, by this time, become senile. He was completely in the power of an avaricious mistress, Alice Perrers (flourished 1366-1400), who, along with his fourth son, John of Gaunt, dominated England. Perrers was banished by Parliament in 1376, and Edward himself died at Sheen (now Richmond) on June 21, 1377. He was succeeded by his grandson, Richard II.