Whatever his moral fiber—and it must always be remembered that those were times when most men admitted more openly than they do today their conviction that political ends justify almost any means—there was no doubt that Edward was dedicated to the art of hunting no less wholeheartedly than Gaston de Foix and Frederick II.
Theodore Roosevelt, in a foreword written at the White House in 1904 for a modern edition of Master of Game, spoke of both Gaston and Edward in admiring terms: "Both...show an astonishing familiarity with the habits, nature, and chase of their quarry. Both men, like others of their kind among their contemporaries, made of the chase not only an absorbing sport but almost the sole occupation of their leisure hours. They passed their days in the forest and were masters of woodcraft."
Edward, however, almost certainly had other motivations than a powerful dedication to the sport that prompted him to write Master of Game. He needed royal favor and, indeed, might well have wanted to express gratitude for the royal favor shown him in not cutting off his head after he plotted against the King. His dedication to the young Prince Henry is couched in most humble terms:
"To the honor and reverence of you my right worshipful and dread Lord Henry by the grace of God eldest son and heir unto the high, excellent and Christian prince Henry the Fourth (by the aforesaid grace, King of England and of France), Prince of Wales, Duke of Guienne, of Lancaster, and of Cornwall, and Earl of Chester:
"I, your own in every humble way, have ventured to make this little, simple book, which I commend and submit to your noble and wise correction; the book which, if it pleases your aforesaid Lordship, shall be named and called Master, of Game."
And, as noted earlier, shortly after his release from Pevensey Castle Edward was in fact made Master of Game to King Henry, a title which he still held when he died at Agincourt.
Edward, too, clearly stated his preference in hunting: he was interested in hunting and hounds. "For, although hawking with noble hawks for the heron and for waterfowl is noble and commendable," he wrote in his prologue to the young prince, "yet it seldom lasts, at the most, over half the year. And even if man found enough game to hawk at between May and Lammas [August 1], no one could find any hawks to hawk with. But as for hunting, there is no season of all the year that game cannot right well be found in every good region, and also hounds ready to chase it."
Edward's book is for the most part a careful and literal translation of Gaston de Foix's Livre de Chasse, but the additions which he wrote himself are important to historians as well as lovers of the chase. Three centuries and a half had passed since William the Conqueror landed at Hastings and brought French manners and French hunting practices to English soil—and in Edward's added chapters can be seen the influence of Norman French upon an Englishman. His concern is primarily with technique, and rightly so, for, as he says to the young prince: "Although I am unworthy, I am master of this sport with that noble prince your father, the aforesaid sovereign and liege lord of us all. And because I would not want his hunters or yours that now are, or those that come hereafter, to be ignorant of this art in all its perfection, I wish therefore to leave this simple record. For as Chaucer says in his prologue of the 25 good women, 'By writing, men often have memory of things past, for writing is the key of all good remembrance.' "
And in this spirit Edward makes it clear that in England the truly noble sport is running with the hounds; that falconry—so dear to Frederick a century and a half earlier—is less noble and less rewarding; and that cultivation of the art is a responsibility of noblemen and kings. For, having instructed on such matters as "How the Hart Should Be Moved With The Lymer And Run To And Slain With Strength" and "Of the Ordinance And The Manner Of Hunting When The King Will Hunt In Forests Or In Parks For The Hart With Bows And Greyhounds And Stable" and many niceties of technique and ceremonial, he concludes with a restatement of his purpose:
"And in my simple manner as best I could and as might be learned of old and many diverse gentle hunters, I did my business in this rude manner to put the craft and the terms and the exercise of this said game more in remembrance and openly to the knowledge of all lords, ladies, gentlemen and women, according to the customs and manners used in the high noble court of this Realm of England."