What would the Black Prince make of self-imposed Brexit isolation? - YEP letters

Will the recently announced review of the statues of historical figures in public places in Leeds, to be led by Alison Lowe, examine whether the Black Prince should remain in City Square?

Thursday, 23rd July 2020, 6:00 am

Although he had no connection with Leeds it was thought fitting in the early years of the last century that such a prominent and apparently heroic figure in England’s military history should be honoured with a statue in the centre of a major metropolis.

Edward of Woodstock, aka the Black Prince, was the eldest son of Edward III and lived from 1330 to 1376.

His death at 46 came a year before his father and robbed him of the kingship. Aged just 16 he excelled as joint leader of the English forces at Crécy (1346) and at 26 commanded the victorious English forces at Poitiers in 1356.

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What would the Black Prince make of self-imposed Brexit isolation? - YEP letters

Later he fought in Spain where he picked up an illness which plagued him until his death.

In France of course he is well known for the massacre of thousands of inhabitants of Limoges in autumn 1370, some 650 years ago. At the very least as commander he did nothing to stop the massacre, at worst he was reported as directing the slaughter, pious Christian that he claimed to be.

Of course murder and mayhem ran in the Plantagenet family as Edward I (Hammer of the Scots) butchered thousands of innocents in Berwick.

By our standards all these Edwards were war criminals as was their Lancastrian descendent Henry V, the victor of Agincourt (1415), who had a couple of thousand captured French prisoners killed.

Of course there was no international tribunal in 1370 and doubtlessly the Kings of France and Scotland were just as capable of war crimes as their English bretheren. Pious Catholics all of them.

So should the Black Prince be removed? I think not. However there are two points worth making. These Edwards spoke French at their English court and were determined to win the coveted crown of France in wars paid for by hard-working English peasants. Their wars aimed to unite England and France, not isolate the English from the European mainland.

How much better that today our young people meet in social, cultural and sports exchanges and learn to master other languages while working abroad. Whoops. I’d forgotten. That’s gone now as, thanks to Brexit, England retreats into a nasty and ultimately self-centred and friendless xenophobia that our leaders have created casually and callously depriving us of the life-enhancing opportunities brought by freedom of movement.

Next time I walk across City Square I must remember to ask Edward of Woodstock what he makes of this self-imposed isolation?