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Edward, Prince of Wales and Aquitaine: A Biography of the Black Prince (1978)

af Richard Barber

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1142184,717 (3.97)5
Edward, Prince of Wales and Aquitaine, known as the Black Prince, is one of the legendary figures of English history-the victor of three great battles and a model pf chivalry and courtesy. Based on official records, particularly of Edward's own household and of those who campaigned with him, this work aims to get behind the familiar splendid vision of chivalry to reveal the realities of his character and of the life that he led. Special attention has been paid not only to the confusing and confused accounts of the great battles, but also to the prince's early years, the close companions who contributed so greatly to his success, and his government of Aquitane-an obscure but important part of his career. The author also seeks to correct a number of minor but persistent errors in earlier histories, deriving from Froissart, and examines how the legend of the Black Prince - including his curious nickname-came into being. Richard Barber's biography of this leading figure of the medieval period, has dominated the field since it was first published, covering all aspects of the Black Prince's life and military career. Son of Edward III, and father of Richard II, Edward the Black Prince was one of the most successful English commanders in the Hundred Years War who won victories on the battlefields of Crecy and Poitiers.… (mere)
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A concise well written history that would appeal to the general reader and the student.

Many people will have heard of "The Black Prince" and Barber sets himself the task of writing a biography, while admitting that we know very little about him from official records. It is to Barber's credit that he does not stray too far from what is known and concentrates on building the history of the 100 years war around Edward as a central figure. While Edward was alive and well the English were winning the war against France. Edward was the stuff of legend for his prowess as a warrior and leader of men and his involvement in the battles of Crecy 1346, Poitiers 1356, Najera 1367, and Limoges 1370, have been justly celebrated ever since. He was expected to take over the kingship from his father Edward III, but unfortunately died before his father.

There are few words wasted here and Barber tell his narrative history in 240 pages.(notes references and an index take up another 50 pages). His final sentence sums up what I think is an interesting leitmotif in the book.

"And when we have sought out the dry facts and dull realities, it is to that legend that we return in the end, more enduring than any mere history."

Barber himself has done an excellent job in sorting out the dry facts and dull realities and it is with some honesty that he says that this is almost in vain. The final chapter titled "The Legend" compares the writings of the chroniclers of the time (particularly Froissart) with each other and those dry facts. It does an excellent job in pointing out how those legends come into being and leads the reader to consider which is the most valuable the legend or the history.

This is worth reading if only for that final short chapter. ( )
1 stem baswood | Mar 21, 2011 |
Barber steps outside the romantic mythology that casts our image of the Black Prince. While the narrative is sometimes difficult, the author tells the story of Edward's successes, chiefly as a soldier. He also paints of picture of the prince as practical statesman, perhaps undone by his luxurious lifestyle and a misunderstanding of Gascon statecraft. In the end we see him as tragically helpless, undone by terrible wasting disease.

As I said, the book is not an easy read. Barber doesn't embellish his story with digression or anecdote. However, if you wish to skip past Froissart and develop a truer picture of this important 14th century figure, this is a valuable addition to your library. ( )
  ksmyth | Aug 8, 2008 |
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Preface -- To attempt to write a biography of Edward 'the Black Prince', a legendary paragon of chivalry, without turning first to the chronicler of chivalry par excellence, Jean Froissart, may seem self-defeating, particularly as there is so little light to be shed on the prince's character from other sources.
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Edward, Prince of Wales and Aquitaine, known as the Black Prince, is one of the legendary figures of English history-the victor of three great battles and a model pf chivalry and courtesy. Based on official records, particularly of Edward's own household and of those who campaigned with him, this work aims to get behind the familiar splendid vision of chivalry to reveal the realities of his character and of the life that he led. Special attention has been paid not only to the confusing and confused accounts of the great battles, but also to the prince's early years, the close companions who contributed so greatly to his success, and his government of Aquitane-an obscure but important part of his career. The author also seeks to correct a number of minor but persistent errors in earlier histories, deriving from Froissart, and examines how the legend of the Black Prince - including his curious nickname-came into being. Richard Barber's biography of this leading figure of the medieval period, has dominated the field since it was first published, covering all aspects of the Black Prince's life and military career. Son of Edward III, and father of Richard II, Edward the Black Prince was one of the most successful English commanders in the Hundred Years War who won victories on the battlefields of Crecy and Poitiers.

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