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A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain Paperback – International Edition, April 6, 2009

47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Marc Morris’s new account of the life of Edward I is a splendid example of the genre. Edward’s life is in many ways an ideal subject for such an approach, full of incident and action. . . . An excellent, readable account of his reign.” – Literary Review

From the Publisher

The first popular biography of Edward I in a generation by a major new historian. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Windmill (April 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099481758
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099481751
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.2 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr Marc Morris is an historian and broadcaster, specialising in the Middle Ages. He is the author of the bestselling A Great and Terrible King (Hutchinson, 2008) and The Norman Conquest (Pegasus, 2013).

In 2003 Marc presented the highly acclaimed TV series Castle for Channel 4 and wrote its accompanying book (now published in paperback by Hutchinson). He has also contributed to other history programmes on radio and television.

An expert on medieval monarchy and aristocracy, and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Marc has written numerous articles for History Today, BBC History Magazine and Heritage Today (now published together as an e-book, Kings and Castles).

For more information, including details of upcoming talks and tours, visit or

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Forbes G. on September 6, 2012
Format: Paperback
I preferred Michael Prestwich's biography of Edward I to this one. Not because it was more thoroughly researched (It was), and this version is much more personable in imparting the information. The problem arises in that this biography takes things a step too far in an attempt to be more easily understood by the reader. A good biography presents what facts are known, accepts what is not known, and allows the reader to make their own conclusions. This one presents its own conclusions as fact. So, while I definitely did enjoy the read, I feel it takes a step backward in terms of establishing fact from common belief and misconception about King Edward I.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Robert P. Mills on December 20, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Good:
DETAIL: This book has been well-researched and is engaging to read. It is not easy to do this when writing about medieval historical figures, but Morris almost makes it look easy. It's all fine and good to see Edward I portrayed in Braveheart and come away with the idea that he was a ruthless monarch, but if you want to learn more about this ruler - how complicated his life was, how much he devoted himself to religion, family, and to uniting Britain - this is a great book to examine.
STORYTELLING: I learned loads of useful facts and stories about Edward in this book. It was interesting to see how many times he almost died young: Crusade, fall from collapsing floor in a cathedral, illness, etc. I especially enjoyed the chapter about Edward using the Arthurian legend and staging a reburial of King Arthur to prop up his throne. Great insight into medieval propaganda and maintaining one's power through the use of myth and legend. Most of the time, it's good, highly-interesting history to read.
OVERALL: I think Edward could just as easily be called the Hammer of the Welsh in addition to the effigy on his tomb: HAMMER OF THE SCOTS. There's a lot of compelling, little-known history in this book and it's worth telling.

The Not-So-Good:
1) Some grammatical errors, especially in the first 1/3 of the book. Try to overlook these.
2) A bit dry sometimes. This is not quite an exhaustive history, but there are sections where you'll find yourself wishing Morris would move on to something else. The book is written chronologically, which is a great strength, but there are inevitably going to be a few dry spells. This is especially so if you're not already familiar with some of the history from that period or with English geography.
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43 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Mars Ultor on August 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
Edward I is the great thirteenth century king who forged Britian into an empire-be it for a short time. It was a great thrill, and I could hardly put the book down. It ranks as a close second to Ian Mortimer's books, if not equal to them. It was great.

Edward was obivously a compact subject to cover. Hollywood made him into the ruthless Edward Longshanks, a man who hated freedom and an arrogant thug. The real man was very different. If Edward hated freedom, why did he allow Parliament to florish as it did? If he was arrogant, why did he travel with so many men in the Holy Land. Hollywood protrayed Edward so wrong, it was hard to bring the real man back into the picture.

However, Marc Morris succeded where many failed. He picked up on Mortimer's new theory, and analized the man from is own time. He protaryed Edward as the glorius soldier and lawyer, the heroic crusader, and the old lion in the saddle in 1307, when he died at 68, yet on another campaign to conquer Scotland. Scotland was Edward's greatest ambition and the thing that alluded him the most, but it is fair to say that he came the closest to bring Scotland under England before 1707. Edward's was a great personality.

Marc Morris's book soared to the heavens. It got me interested in 13th century Europe, and I'm hungary for Michael Prestwich's book on Edward I
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Darrel W. Ray on November 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
As a student of English history all my life, A Great and Terrible King will now have a prominent place on my book shelf. Mr. Morris has done a wonderful job illuminating one of the greatest names in medieval history. It is well written and researched. Having traveled a good deal though northern Wales in the 1990's, I saw many of Edward's castles but had little appreciation for what I was seeing. The haunting Denas Bran made a strong impression on me when I first saw it, now even more so. The massive Caernarfon castle now makes perfect sense. One of the more interesting aspects of this history is how much the Arthurian myth influenced culture, political policy as well as diplomacy for the Edwardian court.

If you enjoy a good read that will bring to light one of the most interesting characters in history let alone English history, get this book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Medieval Lady on September 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
Marc Morris' work was been advertised as the first biography of Edward I in years, and in many ways it may have been a necessary one. Edward I `Longshanks' stands today as one arguably one of the most notorious and despised Kings of Medieval England (perhaps in part with good reason), many people may know him only as the baddie in Braveheart. Some (as a result of the said movie) have seem even to regard him as a `pagan' King.

Morris explores Edward's life in its entirely to present a more well-rounded view of Edward the man, far removed from the diabolical movie baddie. From his birth and early childhood, to his turbulent teenage years in which the England was in the grip of political upheaval, to his ascension and reign spanning thirty years, revealing Edward's varying roles as warrior, crusader, ruler, lawmaker, friend, adversary, and faithful husband.
Perhaps most significantly, the author generally tries to avoid the pitfalls of judging the King by modern standards, though I did not feel that this prevented him from being critical upon occasion. One reviewer said that this biography `bordered on hagiography'. I disagree, not everything Morris says about Edward was positive as far as I could see, and sometimes a rather unflattering picture of the King or Prince emerges.

This said, the author does shed light on some of the perhaps more controversial and unpalatable actions of Edward by the standards of the time, by which they might not have been considered so heinous. For instance, the infamous massacre at Berwick upon Tweed, as terrible as it was, was consistent with the medieval laws of war regarding sieges.
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