Edward the Second has been barbarously murdered in Berkeley Castle on the orders of his wife, Queen Isabella, and her lover Roger de Mortimer, and fifteen-year-old Edward the Third is now king. Young Edward has already met and fallen in love with Philippa of Hainault and, to prevent him enquiring into the details of his father's death, Isabella allows the marriage to take place. A son is born who goes on to become the famous Black Prince.
While some suggest that Edward has a claim on the French throne, he is reluctant to pursue it, aware of the magnitude of such an undertaking. It is only when Robert of Artois arrives, bent on starting a war with France, that the king is provoked into action. When Robert presents Edward with a dead heron and compares him tauntingly to the timid bird, Edward vows to attack France, heralding the beginning of the Hundred Years' War. Here we see Edward in his greatness, victorious in war and leading his country to prosperity, and at his very weakest, fallen from glory and crippled by his scheming mistress.