W. M. Ormrod describes the career of the king whose fifty years on the throne are best remembered for his wars with France and Scotland, and his foundation of the Order of the Garter.
Edward III (1327-77) has a claim to being the earliest English ruler to celebrate his golden jubilee publicly. Born in 1312, and succeeding to the throne at the age of fourteen in January 1327, Edward ruled for fifty years and six months. He did not break the record of longevity established in the previous century by Henry III, but in the late Middle Ages his sheer endurance, as well as his many substantive achievements, made him, in the eyes of many, England’s greatest monarch.
That reputation was rendered all the greater by the contrast between Edward and his immediate predecessor and successor, both of whom lost the throne, and their lives, through the wilful abuse of royal authority. For all the difficulties of his early regime and the dissensions of the last years of his life, Edward kept England free from baronial rebellion for over forty years – one of the longest periods of domestic peace experienced in the Middle Ages.