chapter  7
2 EDWARD III AND GOVERNMENT
Pages 4

But a dangerous precedent had already been set, by which an ‘unworthy’ king could be deposed by his subjects. More dangerous still, it was for those subjects to define unworthiness. Edward III’s reign was a period in which, literally, the seeds of future crisis were sewn, by the fertility of the king and his queen, the king’s favour to his younger sons and the failure of the direct line of the dynasty by the successive deaths of the Black Prince and Richard II. After Edward’s death, the long war for the Crown of France which he began,3 the decline of royal power in relation to that of the greatest subjects and uncertainty over the right to the succession created a vicious circle of instability in government, with intermittent warfare between the great magnates for control of king and government, if not for the throne itself. This caused further instability, and greater accretion of power to the magnates, the circle tightening until it was finally broken by the deaths by battle, execution and murder of virtually all the leading protagonists.