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

The Normans had conquered England and now the English were eager to go out and themselves become conquerors, and to further that ambition King Edward and his army set out and ravaged Normandy, pillaging and plundering their way almost to the gates of Paris, and their march was perfectly consistent with the feudal manner of waging war, which was to desolate the country through which they passed, to burn any town that resisted invasion, and to plunder its inhabitants even though they peacefully submitted to the invaders. In this way, King Edward and his army, which included the young Prince Edward and many other noblemen, passed through Normandy, burning and devastating land and property as they went, and they advanced up the left bank of the Seine–their object being, to cross the river at Rouen and then march on to Calais, where they were to be joined by an army of Flemish archers. But their plans received a sudden checkmate.

Philip, the King of France, was at Rouen before them, and had not only encamped on the right bank of the river, but had destroyed the bridges and set guards over all the fords of which the English might make use in crossing.

The English were in a very dangerous position, whether they retreated or went forward. They were separated from the Flemish allies by not only the Seine, but the Somme River, and Philip with his army, which was daily increasing in numbers, was marching towards Calais on the right bank of the Seine, as were Edward and his army on the left bank.

Edward was as firm in his purpose to meet and defeat the enemy, as was Philip in his, and Edward determined to press on at all odds and face and conquer the French forces, and fortune favoured him.

With extreme difficulty, finally, at low tide, he was able to cross the Somme whither Philip was eager to follow, but before Philip’s forces were ready to cross the river, the tide had turned, and he was obliged to wait till morning, while Edward now already on the other side of the river, was pressing forward into the country of Ponthieu, which had been part of the marriage portion of his mother, Isabella of France. It was for this special reason, some historians say, that King Edward encamped there, in the forest of Crecy, fifteen miles from Abbeville, saying:

“Let us take here some plot of ground, for we will go no further till we have seen our enemies.”

He also added:

“I am on the right heritage of Madam, my mother, which was given her in dowry. I will defend it against my adversary, Philip of Valois.”

We do not, of course, know his motives positively, but we may be pretty sure that he would not have been so eager to defend his mother’s possessions, had he not felt sure that it would be to his advantage to do so. Accordingly he and his forces encamped in the little village of Crecy, behind which the ground rises into a broad ridge and from here could be seen the surrounding country through which the French army must advance, and the young prince eagerly strained his eyes in search of the advancing enemy, so eager was he to take part in a real battle.

At midnight, when all the army had been cared for and suitably arranged in their tents, King Edward lay down for a much needed rest, but was up again at dawn, when he and the young prince, not only heard mass but also received the sacrament, and we can fancy how that solemn preface to a day which proved so momentous to the Black Prince, must have lingered long in his memory as a sacred recollection.

It was Saturday, the 26th of August, 1346 when King Edward drew his men up in three divisions–one commanded by the prince, assisted by the Earls of Warwick and Oxford, which division consisted of eight hundred men at arms, two thousand archers and one thousand Welsh-men. The second division under Lords Arundel and Northampton had only eight hundred men at arms, twelve hundred archers, while the third division, under the king’s own command, had seven hundred men at arms and two thousand archers. This division occupied the summit of the hill, from which the king watched the entire battle, never engaging in it–and for this reason.