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

The sky, a few moments before blue and cloudless, became overcast, a tremendous storm gathered from the west, broke in all its fury of rain, hail and thunder and lightning–even a partial eclipse of the sun occurred. There was a terrible downpour, and to the horror of the moment was added the hoarse cries of crows and ravens which fluttered before the storm, and in the gathering darkness, circled around the heads of the army, terrifying the Italian bowmen who were superstitious, and not accustomed to the severity of Northern storms.

At last the sky cleared, the clouds lifted and the sun shone out again in dazzling brightness, shining directly in the eyes of the Italians, and not only were they blinded by it, but their bows had become so wet by the rain that when they attempted to draw them, they found it impossible.

The sun was shining at the back of the English archers, who could consequently see just where to aim, and as they had kept their bows in cases during the storm, they were perfectly dry, and now the English began to shoot–shot so well and so fast that their arrows poured down like rain on the Genoese, who had never before encountered such archers as these. Unable to stand the storm of shots, they turned and fled ignominiously and from the moment of their flight the panic of the French army was so great that the day was lost.

Seeing the uselessness of the fleeing archers, King Philip was enraged at them and ordered the soldiers to kill them, as they were simply barring the way of his other men to no purpose. So the poor archers were cut down by the swords of their own comrades, and the French horsemen waded through their blood and approached the English.

The confusion among the ranks of the French increased. The old King of Bohemia who was blind, but filled with zeal for the cause, being surrounded by his followers, asked how the battle was progressing. When told the truth he begged to be led forward that he might strike one blow with his sword for the deliverance of France. His followers consented to his wish, but fearing that they might lose him in the press of battle, they tied the reins of their bridles together, with him in their midst, but alas, all were killed together. The crest of the King of Bohemia which consisted of three white ostrich feathers, with the motto Ich dien (I serve) were taken by the Black Prince in memory of that day, and the crest and motto have ever since been used by the Prince of Wales.

During all the time that the battle was raging, King Edward was watching from his hill-top, his glance never for one moment straying from the panorama of the battlefield, as the combat deepened into a mortal one. The French cavalry was close upon the Black Prince. He and his men were in great danger. He was young and inexperienced. The Earl of Northampton hastily sent a messenger to the king, begging him to come down to his son’s aid.

King Edward, who had been watching the prince’s manoeuvres with breathless interest, and had determined on his course in regard to the lad, answered the messenger with a question.

“Is my son killed?”

“No sire, please God,” replied the messenger.

“Is he wounded?”

“No, sire.”

“Is he thrown to the ground?”

“No, my lord, not so, but he is in the thick of the fray and is in great need of your assistance.”

“Return to those who sent you,” answered the king, “and tell them not to send for me again while my son is still alive, but to let the youth win his spurs, for I intend if it please God that this day be his.”

Such a retort as this showed plainly that King Edward had the greatest confidence in his son’s courage and ability and the bold words being repeated to the prince and his men, so raised their spirits that they fought more valiantly than before. Again and again the French army charged on the enemy, but it was of no use. At one moment, the Black Prince was in mortal danger, having been wounded and thrown to the ground, and was only saved by a brave knight, Richard de Beaumont, who was carrying the huge banner of Wales, and who, seeing the prince fall, instantly threw the banner over him as he lay on the ground, and stood on it until he had driven back the enemy, after which the prince was raised up and revived, and took his place again in the battle.