Edward III was monarch of England during the early years of the Hundred Years War. He changed his coat of arms from the three lions of King Richard I to the lions quartered with the fleurs-de-lis of France. He did this because he was declaring himself king of France as well as king of England.
The royal lines of Europe have often become tangled over the centuries due to conquest, intermarriage and alliances. In this case the kings of England believed they still held lands in France descended way back from William the Conqueror. There were certainly ties to France and it’s possible they had a real legal claim, but obviously the English monarchs were not French and since the French had a king of their own with a much better and certainly legitimate claim, what it comes down to was greed and lust for power, and perhaps boredom and a desire for honor on the battlefield.
Edward and his son were very successful in battle and completely defeated the French in several great battles, but the war dragged on, with long periods of peace and recuperation in the midst of pitched battles. Eventually the English were completely driven from France, beginning with the courage of a young French girl named Joan.
We colored the shield coat of arms of Edward III as we learned about the beginnings of the Hundred Years War.
The fleur-de-lis should be yellow on a blue background and the lions are yellow on a red background. Click here to print Edward III’s Coat of Arms or click on the image of the printable below.
- Back in the middle ages the king went to battle and fought side by side with his knights and directed the actions of the troops in person. He also was literally the defender of the realm. In most cases if there was an invasion or rebellion he personally took the field in defense. How would we choose our leaders differently if we still practiced that?
- Edward III and his son, known as the Black Prince, were disdainful of the peasants of both England and France. As they traveled through the land their troops murdered and raped and pillaged and burned wherever they went. They are still known for the destruction of Limoges in 1370 during which more than three thousand peasants were slaughtered including women and children. The reasons were not all just pure cruelty however. They also recognized that the peasants provided all the work and without them and the food they produced, France was crippled. How does this compare with modern warfare? How do we fight battles today and what are the practical results of our methods compared to theirs?
- Take a look at the evolution of English heraldry over the years. What is the coat of arms of the monarch today and what does it mean? If you were to design a coat of arms to represent you, what would it look like? Draw one.
- The battles fought by Edward in France were the end of the great charge of knights into battle. The English longbow decided the fate of this form of battle. Besides this, new tactics such as a flanking movement were being tried out successfully for the first time, a movement which knights could not respond to adequately.
- This activity is part of Unit 2-7 of the Layers of Learning Curriculum. Get the whole unit.