The Real Reason Edward III Was Crowned At Age 14

Some kids know almost immediately what they want to be when they grow up. Even some young teenagers are able to settle on their life's work. (As the MythBusters might say, "plausible.") Others grow into it. Change majors. Change goals. Change cities. Doesn't hurt to learn how to change your oil, either.

And then some kids are just kind of dropped into the family business from the get-go. As Shakespeare observed in Twelfth Night, "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. Your fate awaits you." Great Britain's present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, ascended to the throne at the tender age of 25. (At this writing, she's still going strong, well into her 90s.) But that ain't nothin' compared to one of her past (admittedly long-past) predecessors in the job, Edward III, who found himself not that large, but most assuredly in charge, at the age of 14. He was born November 13, 1312, the eldest son of King Edward II and Isabella of France. Contrary to tradition, he was never named Prince of Wales; he did have the titles Earl of Chester and Duke of Aquitaine, says Britannica.

He had to grow into the job

Mother moved to France and plotted the overthrow of her husband. The Queen and her associated nobles, including her lover, Roger Mortimer, defeated the forces of Edward II, who was forced to abdicate, charged with incompetence "and breaking his coronation oath." (Surely part of the king's job description would include "hold on to the throne," so maybe the incompetence part holds up.) Once Edward II was off the throne, Edward III was on. He was 14 years old.

The lad served mostly as a figurehead, with Mother and Not Father actually ruling the country, according to the English Monarchs website. Two years later Edward III was married to a cousin, Philippa of Hainault. He proved to be unfaithful, but they were devoted to one another nevertheless ("in his fashion" comes to mind), producing 14 children of their own, one of whom would become known as The Black Prince. Edward removed Mortimer from power and had him executed, and Mother was shut away in a castle in Norfolk, though apparently allowed to live out her life in comfort nevertheless.

Edward passed on to eternity and the history books in 1377 at the age of 64. He'd ruled England for 50 years. He also took England into what became the Hundred Years War with France. But that's another story.