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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 51

Edward III. (1327—1377)

Edward III. (1327—1377).

Edward II. was succeeded by his son, Edward III., a lad of fourteen, and who so fit to rule in the boy-king's name as the murderers of his father—his mother, Isabella, and Mortimer? In time, however, Edward was able to seclude the one and execute the other, and then devote himself energetically to the pastime of kings and the ruin of nations—war. page 35 His life was spent in fighting and pillaging Scotland and France. His quarrel with both countries, particularly the latter, was absolutely unjust. He claimed the crown of France, though notoriously cut off from the succession by the Salic law. He and his son, the Black Prince, won many battles—nay, surprising victories; but neither Neville's Cross, Sluys, Cressy, nor Poictiers secured England a single permanent advantage. Thousands on thousands of lives he sacrificed in the pursuit of a phantom. Whoever wishes to realise the the wickedness and absurdity of military ambition should study this reign. He succeeded in throwing France and Scotland into complete chaos, while England was taxed almost to the limit of endurance at a time when the Black Death had carried off from a third to a half of the entire population. He was a merciless marauder, without a single perceptible notion of statesmanship, and the Black Prince was, if possible, worse.

Among the achievements of the latter was to reseat on the throne of Castile the double-dyed murderer, Pedro the Cruel. In a single expedition in the South of France this Black Prince, this darling of romance, at the head of his "Free Companies," burned to the ground five hundred towns and villages. On one occasion he caused three thousand men, women, and children to be massacred in cold blood in the town of Limoges. Lucky it was for England that she escaped the rule of such a miscreant.

In his old age the victor of Cressy—all his victories come to nought—became the slave of an impudent courtesan, Alice Perrers. She countermanded royal decrees, and dictated to the judges on the bench. When the king lay dying she waited till his eyes were glazing, then stripped the rings from his fingers and decamped. The other attendants imitated so good an example, and like Marmion, the king was left, but for a single poor priest, "alone to die."