Schooling of the Prince

By: Alan Chanter

At the age of three, Prince Edward was dispatched to Ludlow Castle to commence his formal education. The young prince, as the nominal head of the Council of the Marches of Wales, was given an impressive household which included some of the most prominent members of English society. John Alcock, the Bishop of Rochester, was to be the President of the Council and Edward's principle teacher. The accomplished Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers, was to be his governor, and Lord Richard Grey (Queen Elizabeth's youngest son by her first marriage) was to be the Prince's councilor.

His father, the King, was very anxious that the heir to the throne should receive the very best of educations to fit him for the role that one day he would have to undertake, and so issued a proscribed set of Ordinances setting out the instructions to the prince's teachers for every minute of his son's day.

The Prince was to arise every morning "at a convenient hour, according to his age" to hear Matins in his chamber. As soon as he was dressed he was to proceed to the Chapel or Closet to attend mass. After mass he would be allowed to eat his breakfast, and from then until dinner he was to give his time to "such virtuous learning as his age shall suffer to receive". During dinner, he was to listen to the reading of "Such noble stories as behooveth to a prince to understand and know". After dinner he was to return to his learning until much later in the day when he was to be given instruction in "such convenient disports and exercises as behooveth his estate to have experience in". Prince Edward was then to attend Evensong before being given his supper, after which the poor boy was at last allowed to relax and take " all such honest disports as may be conveniently devised for his recreation".

This was not, however, to last for very long, for although the court officials were instructed to "enforce themselves to make him merry and joyous towards his bed" by eight o'clock he was to be put to bed with the curtains drawn.

Not that his teachers duties ended here. For throughout the night a close watch has to be kept every night and all night "that disease might not steal in and rob the king of God's "precious sonne and gift and our most desired treasure." To this end a physician and a surgeon were always in attendance.

The moral welfare of the young prince was not forgotten either. The Royal ordinance especially forbade any swearing or ribald words within the household, and especially not within his presence, and finally it was expressed that no "customable swearer, brawler, backbiter, common hazarder, or adulterer" should be employed in the prince's service.

By the age of twelve Edward's educational accomplishments were beginning to be recognized to such an extent that an Italian humanist, seeking his fortune in England, composed a poem praising his academic achievements, but soon after, news arrived of the death of King Edward and preparations were begun for the return of Edward (who was now allowed to stay up to nine PM) and his younger brother to London for the coronation. Uncle Richard (later Richard III), however, was to have other ideas...

Works Cited