About a week ago, I finished reading Edward: the Prince of Wales and Aquitaine by Richard Barber. In researching its author, I discovered that he differs from newer medievalists in having fallen in love with the period through Arthurian romances rather than The Lord of the Rings. (Yours truly has a children’s book of Erik the Red’s adventures as the cause.) His vast bibliography reflected this as one can find numerous books on chivalry and King Arthur therein. The way he brought Edward the Black Prince and the personages of his times to life within the pages of this work is the happy product of his enthusiasm. At any rate, I am pleased that this enjoyable and accessible volume also happens to be the seminal biography of this English hero of the Hundred Years’ War.
Fans of Braveheart will be intrigued to learn that this book relates the events following the death of King Edward the Longshanks, who, despite the portrayal in the film, was actually a good king. The wife of Edward II, Isabella of France, and her lover, Roger Mortimer, deposed the king and cruelly assassinated him. As for how cruelly, in imitation of his supposed sin of sodomy and trying to hide the unnatural cause of his death, they had a red hot iron thrust into his rectum. (Now, you know the most horrible death ever to have been inflicted on an English king. Quiz your friends!) This led to a brief period when Isabella and Mortimer held sway in England, though Edward III, son of Edward II, had been crowned in 1327. Two years later, Mortimer had angered enough noblemen with his corrupt favoritism that he himself and the queen were deposed by band of angry knights, Edward III among their party. And England could boast of a real king once more.