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Henry II (English Monarchs) [Paperback]

W. L. Warren
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 28, 1977 0520034945 978-0520034945
Henry II was an enigma to contemporaries, and has excited widely divergent judgments ever since. Dramatic incidents of his reign, such as his quarrel with Archbishop Becket and his troubled relations with his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and his sons, have attracted the attention of historical novelists, playwrights, and filmmakers, but with no unanimity of interpretation. That he was a great king there can be no doubt. Yet his motives and intentions are not easy to divine, and it is Professor Warren's contention that concentration on the great crises of the reign can lead to distortion. This book is therefore a comprehensive reappraisal of the reign based, with rare understanding, on contemporary sources; it provides a coherent and persuasive revaluation of the man and the king, and is, in itself an eloquent and impressive achievement.

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Henry II (English Monarchs) + Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"This must surely rank as one of the classic historical will hold its place not only as a work of reference but as a piece of historical literature."—Observer

"W. L. Warren has written a life of the great Angevin whose scholarship and fair-mindedness should make it the classic account for the next fifty years. . . . Dr. Warren's monumental celebration is made to last."—The Times

"The result is masterly. . . . it is alive all through, a fine work by a professional historian who can write and has an eye for significant detail, without burying us under it."—Sunday Telegraph

Product Details

  • Series: English Monarchs Series
  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (November 28, 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520034945
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520034945
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 6.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #408,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good biography on a great King of England June 1, 2004
Unlike the previous reviewer, I found the book to be well written and very readable. The research proves to be fine, informative and gives a great insight into this ruler who created England's first oversea empire.
The author gives all aspects of Henry's life, his strengths and his weaknesses that mold him into a King that he became in history. Henry's victories and failures were also shown with equal light but I would say that the author handled two great conflicts of Henry's life, his struggles against his wife and family and Henry's battle with Thomas Beckett superbly well.
Like most books on this series, it would helped if you had some previous background on the subject period. The book really isn't for a casual reader. The author didn't write this book to be on New York Times best seller list. Its a scholarly work for scholarly minded people. But the book still remains the standard work on Henry II to this day and it has stood the test of time so far.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite King, My Favorite Biography January 9, 2001
In every historical atlas you will see a map of Henry II's dominions streteching from Scotland & Ireland across Normandy and Aquitaine down to the Pyrenees. Henry is also known for his friendship with St. Thomas Becket -- the story which was made into the classic movie "Becket" -- which was quite a good movie, but not very good history. (Henry II is also in "The Lion in Winter" which is an even better movie and much better in its history.) But aside from these notices he seems somewhat overlooked in comparison with other Kings in England's pantheon, especially in comparison with his son, Richard the Lionhearted.
It is therefore very fortunate that Henry should have such an excellent biography. Warren's "Henry II" takes the whole reign topically -- it does a wonderful job of teaching not only about Henry II but also the general topics of Medieval Kingship, English law and government, church & state, etc.
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54 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cracking book for a crackerjack of a king May 25, 2000
Henry II is one of the few monarchs, English or otherwise to visit Ireland. He came to protect himself as some ambitious barons from the Marchs (borderlands) of Wales were trying to set up a rival kingdom here. Fair play to Henry for coming at all. The next English monarch to bother with a personal visit to Ireland was Richard III some two and a half centuries later ! Henry by all accounts was a fascinating person. He travelled all over the territories he ruled with what was said to be a restless energy. He threw himself into government with much energy and is credited with laying the foundations of common law. For example he introduced jury trial to prevent the practice of trial by duel. This helped to bring peace and fairness to judicial proceedings and leaves us with the legacy of jury trial and the O J Simpson case. (Bring back Henry to resolve that one I hear you say.) Still King Henry II was a serious player in his time. When the murder of his Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Beckett was partly said to be his resposibility, Henry had himself publicly whipped as a form of penance and redemption. He clearly believed his stock had to be backed up with real sacrifice, the kind todays politicians seem to think is practised by saying 'I'm sorry' or 'I did not sleep with that woman' whatever good they might be doing elsewhere. Henry had to battle his way to the throne. England was in civil war when he was growing up. It was only after many years in struggle during the period of the anarchy of Stephen, a king the English would like to forget about, did Henry eventually succeed to the English throne. Read more ›
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW! What a book What a Monarch! February 17, 2002
Cleveland, OH. I have read Many books on English History and W. L Warren's King Henry II is head and shoulders above the rest. His detail in painting a picture of 12th Century Europe with accurate and compelling facts is outstanding. I especially liked the many maps inserted thoughout the book that helped with place and time. For those of you interested in Genealogy of Midevil Europe and Contemporaries of King Henry II this is an excellent source.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Biography I've Ever Read September 22, 2007
This is not only the best biography of Henry II I've ever read, but it is one of the best non-fiction historical books I've ever read, too. The writing is lively, engaging, and often wryly amusing, though that may be in part because of the subject. Mr Warren does not in the least ignore or minimize the flaws of Henry II, but neither can he conceal a deep respect for this magnificent king. Too often, the tragedy of Thomas Becket and Henry II's relationship with the glamorous Eleanor of Aquitaine detract from this great king's important accomplishments, and influence, the precursors of which extend even to our American judicial system today. What impresses me most about this man is that he did not love power for power's sake alone, but for the sake of honestly trying to improve the affairs of the wide kingdoms he ruled. This book by Mr Warren should stand as THE definitive biography of Henry II.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
W. L. Warren's excellent monograph on the first Plantagenet king displays a superb narrative style and an authoritative thoroughness of detail, which nonetheless remains surprisingly approachable for a work of this length and depth. This depth is remarkable: one can open the book to any chapter and read it independently without feeling that one is missing key details. Yet the book manages to steer free of a sense of drudgery or redundancy, even while effecting such an admirable encapsulated quality for its chapters. I can hardly wait to read his book on King John.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive Henry the 2nd biography
Extremely well researched, though a little dated, this book delivers a superb insight into the world and life of Henry II, King of England, and Duke of Normandy, Anjou, and... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mark Richard Beaulieu
5.0 out of 5 stars Always satisfied with amazon
Have not started the greenies yet, still have some old ones.
Henry II is a great read about the great grand son of William the Conqueror. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Elisabeth Azar
3.0 out of 5 stars Henry II, my ultra favorite royal, but not in this book
I love books about Henry II, my ultra-favorite royal, because of his character, well resumed on the first page of W.L. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Boyd Hone
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, informative, best historical bio I've ever read!
This is an excellent historical biography, the best I've read. Warren skillfully weaves Henry's life and reign effortlessly into informative descriptions of the social environment. Read more
Published 18 months ago by J Chadderdon
5.0 out of 5 stars It's an excellent biography made by a great historian of the angevin...
I would recommend it for anyone who is interested in Medieval english history.
It is what I call an "acamedic biography".
Published 18 months ago by Maria Paula Rey
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating & Authoritative
This classic biography provides a fascinating and authoritative look into the life of one of medieval England's most infamous rulers. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Iosephus Bibliothecarius
5.0 out of 5 stars FATHER OF THE COMMON LAW
King Henry II is one of the most fascinating rulers of the Middle Ages. A man of deep passion and great ability he ruled not only England for over thirty years but he was also the... Read more
Published on December 27, 2011 by Jeremy A. Perron
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive work on Henry II
The other positive reviews for this book give plenty of reasons why this biography is one of the best on the market. Read more
Published on January 3, 2011 by Daniel Putman
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Historical Work
I have always loved anything about Henry II who is considered one of the greatest monarchs in English history. Read more
Published on September 8, 2010 by Kevin Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars An exceptionally scholarly work. Easy to read, if you have already...
HENRY II by W.L. Warren is a 693 page book, printed on high quality white paper (not cheap beige paper), with 13 pages of black & white photos of castles, and 14 pages of photos of... Read more
Published on June 25, 2010 by Tom Brody
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