This Day in History: 1376-10-01

In October 1376, very soon after his son’s (Edward of Woodstock) funeral on the 29th September, Edward III made an entail declaring Woodstock’s son, Richard of Bordeaux (the future Richard II) his heir, excluding his granddaughter Philippa of Clarence, only child of his late second/third son, Lionel of Antwerp, from the succession. In doing this, Edward also declared that his third/fourth son, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, and his male heirs came after Richard in succession, then Edmund of Langley and his male heirs, then Thomas of Woodstock and his male heirs. This declaration effectively excluded Gaunt from the throne, contradicting King John’s means of succession nearly two hundred years before when he had taken precedence over his nephew, Arthur of Brittany. It also heralded a child king (as Edward III was by then old and feeble) with all the likely problems of a minor’s rule; and can, by some, be seen as the beginnings of dynastic turbulence leading to the Wars of the Roses.