Book Review: The Black Prince

Black Prince CoverMichael Jones’s most recent book retells the story of Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales, who is better known today as the Black Prince. Raised to be a warrior in the mould of his father, King Edward III, the Prince ‘won his spurs’ in battle at the tender age of sixteen. At Crécy he commanded a hard-pressed division of the English army, and thereafter his life was dominated by conflict with France. By the age of twenty-six, when he won a spectacular victory at the Battle of Poitiers, he had established himself as one of the greatest soldiers of his time. The Prince also caused a stir when he appears to have married for love, choosing as his bride the beautiful Joan of Kent. (Evidently he was willing to overlook Joan’s controversial past.) Continue reading Book Review: The Black Prince

The Lacock Cup

During a recent trip to London I visited the Medieval Europe gallery at the British Museum – I thoroughly recommend it. I was particularly glad to see the Fishpool Hoard at last (even though a couple of items are currently on loan elsewhere). I was also very taken with the Tring Tiles and a striking morse from Warden Abbey. Another object that caught my eye was the Lacock Cup: a rare and precious survival with a long and intriguing story. Continue reading The Lacock Cup

James IV of Scotland, the Pilgrim King

James IV was one of Scotland’s most colourful kings, who lived life to the full. He sought glory through the pursuit of warfare, although this ultimately led to disaster; he was killed by the English at the Battle of Flodden, in 1513, when he was still only forty. In spite of the awful end to his reign, several modern historians have presented him as an effective ruler – not least because he offered more than military leadership. He was assiduous in the exercise of justice; he lived up to late-medieval ideals of kingship through his interest in learning and patronage of the arts; he excelled in the management of his fractious nobility, many of whom eventually followed him to the death. James also conformed to contemporary expectations in his personal brand of piety, which he expressed most notably through pilgrimage. Continue reading James IV of Scotland, the Pilgrim King