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Edward The Black Prince: The Boy Warrior
by [?]

Many of you who have visited Queens College, Oxford, will have seen there, hanging in the gallery above the hall, an old engraving of a quaint vaulted room, where it is said the greatest soldier of his age lived while a student in the college.

This afterwards famous student, who was then about twelve years old was Edward Plantagenet, Prince of Wales, later called the Black Prince. He was also sometimes called the Prince of Woodstock, doubtless, from the fact that he was born in the old palace at Woodstock, in 1330.

He was the son of Edward Third and Queen Philippa, and was one of those rare persons who combine in their characters qualities of both his father and mother. Everyone knows the story of the siege of Calais, when the sternness of King Edward and the gentleness of Queen Philippa were so strikingly shown, and it was the union of those two qualities which gave their son, Edward, that high place which he justly occupies, not only among our English princes, but in the history of all Europe.

He was undoubtedly sent to Queens College, not only because it was the most famous college of that day, but also because it took its name from his mother, Queen Philippa, having been founded by her chaplain.

There, at Queens College, we first see the young prince, and although six hundred years have gone by since then, many of the customs of to-day were those of young Edward’s time as well. The students then were called to dinner by the blast of a trumpet as they are to-day, and then, as now, the Fellows (or post graduates) all sat on one side of the table, with the Head of the college in their midst, in imitation of the pictures of the Last Supper.

The prince must have seen, too, some customs which we know prevailed in his day, but do not see in ours. Thirteen lame, deaf, blind and maimed beggars came each morning into the college hall to receive their portion of food for the day. The porter of the college made his rounds early every morning, to shave the beards and wash the heads of the Fellows, but these and many other quaint customs have perished long ago and still the picture of the Black Prince hangs on the college wall. Tradition tells us that while the proud young prince was receiving such education as befitted his rank in life, a poor boy in the shabbiest of clothes and forgetful of everything except the books and study he loved, was at Queens College too. The characters and lives of John Wycliff, the great reformer, and Edward the Black Prince, were indeed opposite, but it is interesting to feel that they were educated in the same place, that possibly once in youth, their lives touched, although in later days, one was great in the making of peace and one in the making of war.

The young prince may have been studious, but he also doubtless took advantage of all such diversions as Oxford life offered, and it is natural to picture him in drill and hunt and sports such as were best fitted to his manly vigour, and foreshadowed his enthusiasm in later days for the strenuous game of war.

A mere lad at Queens, we see him first–then a youth, out in the great world watching with keenest interest the doings of courtiers and king, and then we find him a young knight, following the king, his father, in his first great campaign, and a fine young warrior he was both in looks and character, fearless and strong in his black armour which threw into sharp contrast the fairness of his complexion. A brave, handsome young knight was he, Edward Plantagenet, at the time when the English people under King Edward became inspired with a passion for continental dominion.