Edward III

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Edward III was the son of Edward II, who was deposed from the throne of England in 1327, by his Queen, Isabella (the "She-Wolf of France", as she became known), and Isabella's treasonous lover, Roger Mortimer.

To secure their rule, Isabella and Mortimer had Edward crowned forthwith and then, since he was only 14 years old, they set themselves up as regents for him. However Mortimer did little to secure his position with the young king, treating him with contempt, and continuing to use the power he and Isabella had amassed to secure for himself several noble estates.

Shortly before his 18th birthday, Edward, with the help of a small group of trusted companions, executed a coup d'etat, and seized power. Mortimer was arrested, imprisoned in the Tower of London, and later executed, for his treasons. Isabella was also arrested, but was then simply committed to custody at Castle Rising in Norfolk. She would never regain power, but little by little her imprisonment was eased and her son listened to her counsel.

Edward sought to establish English control over Scotland by imposing a puppet-king, in the shape of Edward Balliol, son of the John whom Edward I had sought to introduce as king. In the event, Balliol's weakness, and the rise of the House of Bruce, meant that Scotland re-established its own monarchical line over the 1330s and 1340s.

At the same time, in the aftermath of the collapse of the line of Capetian kings of France, Edward claimed the French throne, as last male descendant of Philip IV. The French, however, invoked salic law, and made Philip VI their king. Thus began the Hundred Years War and in 1347 English forces captured Calais, the toe-hold on the Continent which they were not to lose until Tudor times.

In 1348 the Black Death struck Europe.


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