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The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III, Father of the English Nation Paperback – International Edition, April 24, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“This is a story which, for its boldness of interpretation, success in evoking this vanished medieval world, and sheer narrative élan, deserves to be widely read.”
Sunday Times

About the Author

Ian Mortimer is the author of The Greatest Traitor: The Life of Sir Roger Mortimer, and The Fears of Henry IV: The Life of England’s Self-Made King.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Pimlico (April 24, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844135306
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844135301
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.3 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,092,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr Ian Mortimer is best known as the author of 'The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England', which was a Sunday Times bestseller in the UK in 2009 and 2010. Its Elizabethan follow-up was a Sunday Times bestseller in 2012.

He is also the author of a series of four sequential medieval biographies, 'The Greatest Traitor: The Life of Sir Roger Mortimer' (covering the years 1306-1330), 'The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III' (covering 1327-1377), 'The Fears of Henry IV: The Life of England's Self-Made King' (covering 1377-1413) and '1415: Henry V's Year of Glory' (covering 1413-1415). A volume of scholarly essays, 'Medieval Intrigue: Decoding Royal Conspiracies' provides several of the in-depth pieces of research that support the more difficult and contentious aspects of these books, and includes his important essay on understanding historical evidence.

He was awarded the Alexander Prize (2004) by the Royal Historical Society for his work on the social history of medicine. His PhD was published by the Royal Historical Society in 2009 as 'The Dying and the Doctors: the Medical Revolution in Seventeenth-Century England'. He is also the author of two volumes of early modern manuscripts and numerous articles in the scholarly press on subjects ranging from the fourteenth to the twentieth centuries. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

He also writes poetry and fiction, the latter using his middle names 'James Forrester'. The Clarenceux trilogy of novels, set in the 1560s, is published by Sourcebooks in the USA.

He lives with his wife and three children on the edge of Dartmoor. For more information, see www.ianmortimer.com

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Ken on October 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is without doubt, a paean to someone Mortimer regards as a national and personal hero. I have read his book on Henry IV and own the earlier book on Roger Mortimer. I am impressed with his ability to both research and dissect complex political, military and economic documents that trace who did what, where, when and to or with whom without losing the reader in the complexity. As a student of this period, I'm familiar with a great deal of the subject matter, but I confess to being enlightened on more than a few matters. I'm a bit concerned however about his assertion that Edward II, this Edward's father did NOT die as traditionally thought, murdered, but rather later as a private gentleman living in Europe. He makes a convincing case, but I am planning to research other historians' opinions on the validity of his claim. In any event, there is much to recommend in this and other works by this author.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Mars Ultor on October 23, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Perfect King is truly remarkable. It is a book of facts, yet Ian Mortimer made it seem like a legend, even though it was non-fiction. A warrior Edward certanly was. He brought the use of the gun and longbow together against the Scots and the French. This, along with his stunning and aggressive courage was a truly invincibale tactic.

But Edward wasn't just a warrior. He was a lawmaker, who was called "The Second English Justinian" putting him on the same level as Edward I. Edward was also the greatest English patron of the arts of the late Middle Ages, collecting italian paintings, making alabaster tombs, and, above all, creating this majestic castles and churchs. When it comes to this book, I believe what Ian said was right: that had Edward died in 1363 he would be know today as "Edward the Great."
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Edward III reigned over England and Wales for over 50 years (1327 to 1377). He also had claims over Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man (from 1333) and France (from 1340).

In this book, Ian Mortimer combines a very clear respect for his subject with meticulous research and succeeds in providing a detailed contextual picture of this monarch.

Many with an interest in this period of history will know of Edward III as the king who started the 100 Years War, who won a number of battles (including at Crecy and Calais) - and who added Calais as a long standing English possession.

`For the 30 years between 1334 and 1363 he was the greatest exponent of chivalric kingship there was.'

The Black Death (1348-1349) occurred during his reign. The tragic loss of life and resulting labour shortages brought changes to the structure of society: a subject of study in their own right.

Ian Mortimer lists five overarching achievements:
(1) Kingship
(2) Domestic peace
(3) England's standing in the international community
(4) Modernised warfare
(5) Participatory government

I agree with these broad headings, but would make special mention of The Statute of Pleading (1362). This was the first piece of legislation to officially recognise the English language - thus making the law (potentially at least) more accessible to all.

I'd highly recommend this book to those with an interest in the life and times of arguably one of England's greatest monarchs. In his later years, Edward's authority waned but his achievements stand alone.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Putman on April 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Mortimer writes an entertaining biography. It is engaging and gets the reader involved. But to do that Mortimer writes as if he thoroughly knows the inside of Edward's mind and his full range of emotions. And Mortimer is never short of absolute adjectives to display Edward's strengths. A mental grasp of the situation becomes a "strong" mental grasp. Edward does not just decide; he "seizes" the moment. When Edward goes jousting after the supposed death of his father at a seemingly inappropriate time, it is because "Edward was no ordinary young man." (This is before Edward finds out his father's death was faked, as Mortimer argues.) All this hyperbole combined with the assumption of knowing the man's emotions, and there is plenty of both, makes for great reading but after a while the reader wonders if Edward and Mortimer (Ian, not Roger) were bosom buddies. Edward's life is fascinating as is; it is not clear why it needs embellishing.

Another interesting feature is Mortimer's claim that Edward II did not die in 1327. Mortimer had made this point in a scholarly article in The English Historical Review. So it is a possibility but one not held by other historians of the period. For example, Phillips' very recent and thoroughly documented biography of the man himself, Edward II, does not agree. Nor does W.M. Ormrod in his biography of Edward III. But, granting that the survival of Edward's father is a theoretical possibility, what I found irritating is that Mortimer constantly gives Edward III motivations and emotions regarding his supposedly living father. It is a great example of weaving the interpretation of later events around a theoretical possibility. Engaging reading - a man in turmoil with strong emotions for a father whose death was faked and it all must be kept a secret.
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