The Plantagenets: The Kings Who Made England
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This is where the wild ride starts, as Henry and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine created the devil's brood, out of which arose Richard I and John (who doesn't need a numeral after his name because there will never be another King John). Here the book does try a bit to give John some credit for something, but boooo-hisss-snarl, he really was the Darth Vader of his time.
The Plantagenet Prelude: (The Plantagenets: book I): the The Plantagenet Prelude: (The Plantagenets: book I): the
An extraordinary and dramatic depiction of the legendary battle of Agincourt from the number one historical novelist This was nothing more than a contractual basis for civil war. Stating that a king should govern according to the law and making sure that he did so were, it turned out, quite separate matters. These questions would lie at the heart of every major disagreement between king and country for centuries to come.The publishers have managed to stamp the book with the imprimatur of some impressive heavyweights, including David Starkey and Simon Sebag-Montefiore. These things always seem slightly over the top to me - clearly solicited in advance rather than drawn from a published review - , almost hysterical in their approbation. The latter, for example, describes The Plantagenets as ‘outstanding’, a judgement echoed by Helen Castor, the best-selling author of She Wolves. (It must be so: it says so on the cover!) The sinking of the White Ship is one important marker; the other is Matilda’s marriage in 1128 to one Geoffrey of Anjou. It was a marriage made in hell, or at least Matilda might have thought so. A widow of twenty six, previously married to the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V, she now found herself bound to a red-headed teenager of fourteen, a marriage arranged by her father for the sake of the peace. Geoffrey, son of the count of Anjou, had taken to sporting a sprig of yellow broom as his personal emblem- the planta genista in Latin, hence the name of the ensuing dynasty. A riveting portrait of the royal lineage from Henry II through Richard II . . . Despite the density caused by any attempt to cram centuries of English history into one volume, Jones manages to create a work that is highly accessible to readers with only a basic knowledge of this era. . . . This is an excellent study of the period, both an overview and a series of character studies. It will be thoroughly enjoyed by Anglophile history buffs and others who love popular history or even historical fiction.”
The Plantagenets: book II): one The Revolt of the Eaglets: (The Plantagenets: book II): one
And then there's Edward II, who gave so many honours and jewels and important jobs to his "dear friend" Piers Gaveston that everyone else in the kingdom, including his wife, started to feel left out. Jones takes the conservative view that Edward and Gaveston might just have been Really (Really) Good Friends, but I have my doubts. If only the lords had taken the sensible course advised by Mitchell and Webb, yet another civil war might have been avoided.
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I love how the English kings, like our presidents, try to wrap their own reigns into the myth and history of their predecessors. I have been reading this book for over three years. It covers a huge amount of English history, far too much to fairly condense into a review. I read it in conjunction with Shakespeare’s history plays, and I found those particular monarchs more interesting as a result. The knowledge of the actual events surrounding these characters really helped me when approaching the plays. It’s really interesting to see how Shakespeare presented these events, changing people and merging figures together according to his own will and the purpose of effective drama.