Edmund of Langley was the fourth surviving son of King Edward III and Philippa of Hainault.

Like many medieval English princes, he gained his nickname from his birthplace, Kings Langley Palace in Hertfordshire, where he was born in 1341.

It was through his son, Richard of Conisburgh, that the House of York made its claim to the throne during the Wars of the Roses. Edmund was ancestor to all succeeding monarchs of England beginning with King Edward IV in 1461.

Throughout the 1370s Edmund took part in several military expeditions to France. He was made a Knight of the Garter and later accompanied his eldest brother Edward, the Black Prince, on a campaign that resulted in the siege and sack of Limoges.

In 1381 he led an expedition to join with the Portuguese in attacking Castile as part of the Fernandine Wars, but after months of indecisiveness peace was declared between Spain and Portugal, and Edmund had to lead his disgruntled troops home.

He had two sons and a daughter with his first wife, Isabella, daughter of King Peter of Castile. Their eldest son was killed at the Battle of Agincourt.

Edmund and Isabella were an ill-matched pair. As a result of her indiscretions, which included an affair with Richard II’s half-brother, Isabella left behind a tarnished reputation.

After Isabella’s death, Edmund married his cousin, Joan Holland. The marriage produced no children.

Edmund acted as Keeper of the Realm in 1394 while his nephew, King Richard II, campaigned in Ireland.

In Richard II’s will, Edmund was declared the king’s heir despite the stronger claim of Henry Bolingbroke. This was not due for any preference Richard had for Edmund, but rather a desire the King had to set Edmund’s son on the throne.

Bolingbroke, who was also Edmund’s nephew, began a military campaign. Edmund raised an army to resist him, but quickly decided instead to join him, for which he was well rewarded. As Keeper of the Realm, he had little choice but to side with Bolingbroke.

He remained loyal to the new Lancastrian regime as Bolingbroke gained enough power and support to imprison Richard and have himself declared King Henry IV.

The Epiphany Rising, in which several earls planned to murder Henry IV and restore Richard to the throne, proved the danger Richard still presented to the crown while he lived. He died in Pontefract Castle, probably of starvation. Whether that starvation was self-inflicted or forced upon him is unknown.

After his death, Richard’s body was put on display in St Paul’s Cathedral to prove to his supporters that was truly was dead. Later, Henry IV had Richard discreetly buried in the Dominican Priory at King’s Langley, where he remained until Henry V brought his body back to London and buried him in Westminster Abbey.

After the accession of the House of Lancaster, Edmund absented himself from court and remained mostly at his palace in Kings Langley. He died there and was buried in the church of the mendicant friars.

Edmund’s grandson, Richard of York, made a claim to the throne following the death of Henry V. Thus began the Wars of the Roses. The opposing side in the war, the House of Lancaster, was formed from descendants of Edmund’s elder brother, John of Gaunt.

Years of battles and revolts followed until the Wars of the Roses came to an end following the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, during which Henry Tudor defeated the last Yorkist king, Richard III. After assuming the throne as Henry VII he married Elizabeth of York, Edmund’s great-great-granddaughter, thereby uniting the Houses of York and Lancaster. The House of Tudor ruled England until 1603.