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Edward II (Penguin Monarchs): The Terrors of Kingship



By: Christopher Given-Wilson(Author)

Language: English

Genre: Biography

Publisher: Allen Lane; UK ed. edition (29 Sept. 2016)

Format: pdf doc docx mobi djvu epub ibooks (*An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.)

The original title of the book: Edward II (Penguin Monarchs): The Terrors of Kingship

'He seems to have laboured under an almost child-like misapprehension about the size of his world. Had greatness not been thrust upon him, he might have lived a life of great harmlessness.'

The reign of Edward II was a succession of disasters. Unkingly, inept in war, and in thrall to favourites, he preferred digging ditches and rowing boats to the tedium of government. His infatuation with a young Gascon nobleman, Piers Gaveston, alienated even the most natural supporters of the crown. Hoping to lay the ghost of his soldierly father, Edward I, he invaded Scotland and suffered catastrophic defeat at the Battle of Bannockburn. After twenty ruinous years, betrayed and abandoned by most of his nobles and by his wife and her lover, Edward was imprisoned in Berkeley Castle and murdered - the first English king since the Norman Conquest to be deposed.

Christopher Given-Wilson is Emeritus Professor of Medieval History at the University of St Andrews.His writing and research focuses on 14th and 15th century England.

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  • By mark eliot on 5 October 2016

    Okay - if you want a really in depth read on Edward II, if you are a scholar on the subject at University for example - then read the Seymour Phillips biography, or possibly the Mary Saaler biography (I have read and reviewed both). But Seymour Phillips has the advantage of over 600 pages and he can really begin to get underneath what went on, his picture also presents the man himself - as opposed to a line of the events as they happened. Given-Wilson has only a hundred pages and consequently we have a very unsympathetic account of the subject (mind you it is hard to be very sympathetic to him) in which Edward II is presented in terms of total failure from start to finish. Given more space perhaps the rounder version of Seymour Phillips would have been explored. I found this little book readable, it was very straightforward to follow - the chapters connected to a central theme each, dividing the reign up from one misjudgement to the next. I don't think it attempted to say anything new, and the biographer clearly disliked his subject. I read it effortlessly from start to finish, the writing style clear and concise. But it reminded me more of a sprint through the essential details, if I only had read this I don't think I would have a sense of Edward II as a person at all, I don't find his personality really explored at all - and the awful events of the reign such as famine and heavy rains blighting everything are passed over in less than a page. All this said however, a great starting point to reading on the monarch and his times.

  • By Mr Tim Cole on 8 October 2016

    This is another volume from the eminent Penguin Monarchs series and focuses on one of our least successful monarchs in our long history. King Edward II who was deposed in 1327 after a bloody and disastrous reign of twenty years by his own wife Isabella of France and her lover Roger Mortimer, who went on to rule England for nearly four years until they too were overthrown by Edward's son the future Edward III in 1330. Author, Christopher Given-Wilson details Edward's dramatic reign in less then six explosive chapters. It details the King's disastrous defeat by the Scots at Bannockburn in 1314. It also relates his over reliance on unpopular favourites, civil wars and his dramatic encounters with his own nobility which ultimately resulted in his bloody deposition and murder at Berkely castle in 1327. He narrates each chapter chronologically and also explores Edward's marriage to Isabella which would ultimately prove so fateful. This little book is well researched and excellently written and well worth purchasing. Its a well-told story brilliantly evoked and narrated in a modern style which is eminently readable.

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