Edward III was one of England’s greatest kings. He was the son of Edward II, who was forced to abdicate in his favour in 1327, and he went on to reign for 50 years. During his minority the country was governed by his mother Isabella of France and her lover Roger Mortimer, but in 1330 Edward took control, banished his mother and executed Mortimer. He later claimed the French crown and declared war against Phillip VI in 1337, thus starting the Hundred Years War, the cost of which later ruined England’s public finances. In 1346, with his eldest son Edward the Black Prince, Edward III conquered a large part of Normandy and defeated the French at Crécy. There was a respite from war in the late 1340s when the Black Death wiped out about one-third of England’s population, but the war was renewed with another great victory at Poitiers in 1356. However, Edward never succeeded in winning the French crown and his reputation with both the people and Parliament declined in his later years. In 1377, Edward III to be succeeded by his grandson Richard II, Edward the Black Prince having died the previous year.
KING EDWARD III: 13th November 1312 OS (21st November NS); Windsor castle (51N29 0W38); 05:40am LMT (05:43 GMT) Source: Isabella: She-Wolf of France, Queen of England by Alison Weir (Pimlico 2006), p 71: "At 5.40 the next morning, Monday, 13 November 1312....the queen gave birth..." The author quotes Chronicon Angliae by 14th-century monk and chronicler Thomas Walsingham.
For more than 20 years Chiang Kai-shek was the dominant political and military figure in the Far East. When Chinese president Sun Yat-sen died suddenly in 1925, Chiang, as head of the armed forces, took control of China and from 1928 to 1931 was President of the Republic. He ended up, however, fighting a war on two fronts, one against the Japanese and the other against the Chinese communists under Mao Zedung. However, Chiang’s Kumintang (Nationalist Party) and the communists managed to bury their differences and unite to defeat Japan. But after World War II the split between the two parties intensified and in the final struggle in 1949 Chiang was defeated and forced to withdraw to the island of Formosa (now Taiwan). He died of a heart attack on 5th April 1975.
His second wife Song Meiling (b. 5th March 1897, d. 23rd October 2003), a former actress, was a popular personality in her own right and wrote a number of books on China. Since Chiang spoke no English, she acted as his interpreter when he met Roosevelt, Churchill and other war leaders.
CHIANG KAI-SHEK: 31st October 1887; Xikou, Zhejiang Province, China (28N52 119E11); 12:00 noon LMT (04:03 GMT). Source: Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the China He Lost by Jonathan Fenby (The Free Press 2003), p17: "On the upper floor of a two-storey house by the river running through the village, a boy was born at noon on 31 October."