The Black Prince, or Edward, Prince of Wales, (1330-76), is thought to have gained his nickname due to the color of his armor -- jet black. However, this claim cannot be verified. Contrary to popular conceptions, period illustrations typically depict him in silver or gilt armor, not black. He may have gained this moniker because he wore a black surcoat with a silver plume. Yet a more fantastic notion also circulates. Many hold the opinion that he was labeled black because of his skill as a knight or because he was often merciless towards the vanquished. His sacking of the town of Limoges in 1370 gives some credence to the latter notion. After taking the town, all its inhabitants were slaughtered, with no consideration to age or gender.
Whatever his disposition, his skill as a leader and a combatant are well recorded in history. At the age of 16, he helped secure a victory at Crechy (1346). He later emerged victorious at Potiers in France (1356) and at the Battle of Najera in Spain (1367). His chivalric tradition would later be upheld by his son Richard II.
- ^ Swyrich, Archive materials