With his father deposed in 1327 and Roger Mortimer all-powerful, things did not look too promising for the young Edward III, but this turned out to be one of the most remarkable reigns of the medieval period. Encompassing the start of the Hundred Years War and the Black Death, this was a pivotal period in English history. For Edward, there are triumphs with the Battles of Crecy and Poitiers and the Order of the Garter, but also personal tragedies which beset his later years. When it's all put together, will he make for a great king?
The reign of Edward I was always going to be hard to follow, but even so Edward II makes rather a meal of it. His devotion to his favourites Piers Gaveston (a foppish arrogant knight) and Hugh Despenser (a brutal baron) cause resentment and rebellion among the rest of the nobility, particularly Thomas Lancaster and Roger Mortimer. Even Edward's wife, the beautiful Isabella of France, has her patience tried once too often. This dark period of English history stands in stark contrast to the legendary Scottish king Robert the Bruce, who inflicts one of the most infamous defeats on the English army in the Battle of Bannockburn. Is there anything good to say about Edward?
England enters its medieval Edwardian period in 1272 with the accession of Edward I and after two difficult reigns we have another powerful king. Edward was every bit the medieval warrior king, going on Crusade, conquering Wales and building some of the most magnificent castles in Britain. Learning the lessons of his father's troubled reign, he also strives to make his kingdom more just and well ordered. Every bit the great king, but he bites off more than he can chew when he takes on Scotland and has some rather unpleasant personality traits which make him somewhat less sympathetic to modern sensibilities. One half of the team has been waiting the whole series to bask in Edward's triumphs, but will he do enough to please us both and win the coveted Rex Factor?
John dies in 1216 with the country in civil war and in danger of being conquered by France. Worse still, the new king, Henry III, is only 9 years old and in his minority. Thankfully, he has a medieval hero in William Marshal to fight his battles, but when he comes to rule by himself he finds ruling the country a tricky business, not least because his nobles are still insisting on having more of a say in the sharing of power. The conflict with Simon de Montfort sees the birth of Parliament and threatens to make England a republic. Can Henry hold on to power and will this be enough for him to win the Rex Factor?