Gerald, the Poet Earl of Desmond (d. 1398) held the office of king’s Irish deputy briefly during the declining years of Edward III (1377). Edward would be succeeded by his grandson, the boy king Richard II. Contemporary events in Europe must have given Gerald a foretaste of the Lancastrian coup d’etat that overthrew Richard in 1399, events that highlighted the martial career of Richard’s uncle John of Gaunt.
With Edward still on the throne, but past his best, the Hundred Years War with France stopped briefly with the Treaty of Bretigny, signed in 1360. But the French encroached on Gascony (capital Bordeaux) to exploit the fact of increased English taxation levied to pay for the recent English campaign in Spain. King Edward’s son John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster, set out to recover Gascony. He landed at Calais in 1374, from where he led his force to join his brother the Black Prince (pictured). The Black Prince died tragically in France. Then King Edward died, and Richard, son of the Black Prince, succeeded to the throne as Richard II.
French power grew as that of the boy king Richard was undermined by his uncle Gaunt. Richard was in Ireland when the coup against him was launched by the son of Gaunt: Henry Bolingbroke, who became Henry IV. Ireland, including the earls of Desmond, would support the enemies of the Lancastrian dynasty when the English civil wars began in the middle of the next century.
The battle of Aljoubarotta, 1385, Portugal, secured the independence of Portugal from Spain. The winner, king of Portugal, was married to John of Gaunt’s daughter. Note the beheading of prisoners, a foretaste of activity in the civil wars in England two generations later.