After discovering that the massacre was committed by French soldiers, a historian exonerated Black Prince.

Edward of Woodstock’s reputation was tarnished by the account of a French chronicler who said he ordered the massacre of 3,000 innocent people in the French town of Limoges during the Hundred Years War between England and France. 

The eldest son and heir to Edward III, the prince was known as The Black Prince. He is still hated in France today.

2017 evidence showed that the prince, who was south-western France’s ruler of Aquitaine, didn’t order the massacre in the sacking of Limoges on September 19, 1370.

It was the French forces that murdered 3,000 of their fellow countrymen. They opened Limoges’ gates to allow the English in.

The fascinating findings can be found in a biography of Prince Michael Jones by Michael Jones, a military historian. Jones says he wants ‘to remove an unwarranted stain from the prince’s reputation.

Jean Froissart, a French chronicler, wrote a provocative account of the sack at Limoges. It described the ‘indiscriminate slaying’ of men and women who had surrendered to the prince and begged for mercy, but were ignored. 

He wrote, “The English broke through and began to slay the residents, indiscriminately as they were ordered to.

It was a terrible thing. Children, women, and men fell to their knees before the prince, asking for mercy. But he was so mad with anger and a burning desire for revenge that he didn’t listen to anyone.

“All were put to death wherever they were found.”

“There was no one in Limoges that day who was so broken, no one with even a sliver of pity, and was not deeply affected by what was happening before them.

“About 3,000 people were executed that day.”

Mr Jones, however, has examined archives in Limoges et Paris and found compelling new evidence that casts doubt on Froissart’s version of events.

Three days after the capture, a letter that the prince had written was discovered. It does not mention a mass slaughter of residents.

A local chronicler also witnessed the citizens making their way to the main gate, raising the banner of France or England in a pre-arranged signal, and then throwing it open.

Limoges was a large city with many people who supported the prince, who had ruled them for the past ten years. They also did not want to be associated with Jean de Cros, the treacherous bishop who orchestrated the French retaking of Limoges the month before.

In an effort to persuade fellow clergymen to accept John, Duke of Berry’s (brother Charles V of France), French forces, the bishop spread a rumour that the prince had died from a sudden illness.

Importantly, Jones discovered documents that relate to a lawsuit between two merchants from Limoges, held in the Paris Parlement (court), July 10, 1404. These documents reveal that when English troops invaded the city, the enraged French garrison murdered those who allowed them in.

The testimony was about the suitability of the rival claimants to hold the royal office. The deposition referred the appellant’s father, Jacques Bayard who, along with a group of other poor people, allowed the prince’s soldiers to enter Limoges.

His father carried the banner of English with him to the main gate. The captain of the French garrison then captured him and beheaded him.

The garrison then fired on the houses around them, and they fled towards the bishop’s palace.

After the sacking of Limoges, the prince adopted an accommodative tone that Mr Jones claims is completely at odds with someone who allegedly ordered the massacre of 3,000 persons.

The prince stated that the treason of their bishop caused grievous losses to their bodies, possessions, and hardship.

“We don’t want them to be further punished as accomplices in this crime, when it was the bishop who was to blame and they had nothing else to do with it.

We declare them pardoned.

During the Hundred Years War’s first phase, Edward of Woodstock was England’s most prominent military leader. It lasted from 1337 to 1453.

He was just 16 years old when he won his spurs in Crecy, where the French nobility had been decimated by the English longbowmen.

Ten years later, he led vastly outnumbered English forces to victory at Battle of Poitiers. This forced French king John II to submit to terms of a treaty that marked the height of England’s dominance during the conflict.

He was the lord of Aquitaine, a powerful lord over large areas of south-western France. He also held court at Bordeaux. After suffering from dysentery, his death occurred on June 8, 1376.

Mr Jones, 62 years old, from South London, stated that Edward was one of our great heroes, who inspired others to fight, and won incredible military victories.

Froissart’s account on the sack of Limoges that I had always been suspicious of, because it seemed outlandish, tarnished his reputation.

“The prince was a tough warrior, but a very religious man.

“The more I looked at Froissart’s account, the more it didn’t add up.

“My gut instinct and archival research have led me to a completely different story.”

‘Froissart doesn’t seem to have visited Limoges, and his account is almost certainly fanciful.

The Prince had made a policy to clemency toward towns that had pledged allegiance the French. Most of Limoges had remained loyal and was still waiting for him. The rest had been tricked by subterfugee into admitting the duke and Berry’s troops.

‘The townspeople, who had been on good terms with him, were furious to learn that he had died and allowed the English in.

“Froissart’s love for stories led him to invent passages from his history, to just make things up.

“His vividly colored account of the Sack of Limoges has held on to our imagination for too many years.

“It is time for Edward to be removed from the public eye and for one of our great heroes to be restored to their rightful place.