Edward III ~ vernacular revival; round table/order of garter

Edward III was King of England from 1327 until his death and is noted for his military success.
Restoring royal authority after the disastrous reign of his father, Edward II, Edward III went on to transform the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe. His reign saw vital developments in legislation and government—in particular the evolution of the English parliament—as well as the ravages of the Black Death. He remains one of only five monarchs to have ruled England or its successor kingdoms for more than fifty years.
Edward was crowned at the age of fifteen, following the deposition of his father. When he was only seventeen years old, he led a coup against the de facto ruler of the country, his mother’s consort Roger Mortimer, and began his personal reign. After a successful campaign in Scotland in 1333, he declared himself rightful heir to the French throne in 1337, starting what would become known as the Hundred Years’ War
Edward bolstered a sense of community by the creation of the Order of the Garter, probably in 1348. A plan from 1344 to revive the Round Table of King Arthur never came to fruition, but the new order carried connotations from this legend by the circular shape of the garter. Polydore Vergil tells of how the young Joan of Kent, Countess of Salisbury – allegedly the king’s favourite at the time – accidentally dropped her garter at a ball at Calais. King Edward responded to the ensuing ridicule of the crowd by tying the garter around his own knee with the words honi soit qui mal y pense – shame on him who thinks ill of it.
This reinforcement of the aristocracy must be seen in conjunction with the war in France, as must the emerging sense of national identity. Just as the war with Scotland had done, the fear of a French invasion helped strengthen a sense of national unity, and nationalise the aristocracy that had been largely Anglo-French since the Norman conquest. Since the time of Edward I, popular myth suggested that the French planned to extinguish the English language, and as his grandfather had done, Edward III made the most of this scare. As a result, the English language experienced a strong revival; in 1362, a Statute of Pleading ordered the English language to be used in law courts, and the year after, Parliament was for the first time opened in English. At the same time, the vernacular saw a revival as a literary language, through the works of William Langland, John Gower and especially The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. Yet the extent of this Anglicisation must not be exaggerated. The statute of 1362 was in fact written in the French language and had little immediate effect, and parliament was opened in that language as late as 1377. The Order of the Garter, though a distinctly English institution, included also foreign members such as John V, Duke of Brittany and Sir Robert of Namur. Edward III – himself bilingual – viewed himself as legitimate king of both England and France, and could not show preferential treatment for one part of his domains over another.
(wikipedia)

 

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