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The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England [Kindle Edition]

Dan Jones
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (395 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $18.00
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Book Description

The New York Times bestseller that tells the story of Britain’s greatest and worst dynasty—“a real-life Game of Thrones” (The Wall Street Journal)

The first Plantagenet kings inherited a blood-soaked realm from the Normans and transformed it into an empire that stretched at its peak from Scotland to Jerusalem. In this epic narrative history of courage, treachery, ambition, and deception, Dan Jones resurrects the unruly royal dynasty that preceded the Tudors. They produced England’s best and worst kings: Henry II and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, twice a queen and the most famous woman in Christendom; their son Richard the Lionheart, who fought Saladin in the Third Crusade; and his conniving brother King John, who was forced to grant his people new rights under the Magna Carta, the basis for our own bill of rights. Combining the latest academic research with a gift for storytelling, Jones vividly recreates the great battles of Bannockburn, Crécy, and Sluys and reveals how the maligned kings Edward II and Richard II met their downfalls. This is the era of chivalry and the Black Death, the Knights Templar, the founding of parliament, and the Hundred Years’ War, when England’s national identity was forged by the sword.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

They may lack the glamour of the Tudors or the majesty of the Victorians, but in Jones’ latest book, the Plantagenets are just as essential to the foundation of modern Britain. As he chronicles the entire dynasty, beginning with Geoffrey of Anjou (commonly adorned with a sprig of Planta genista, which gave his line their moniker), familiar dramatis personae emerge. Of course, there’s the recklessly brave Lionheart and the incomparably inept John, but Jones devotes ample time to the forces at work that shaped the kingdom. The great battles against the Scots and French and the subjugation of the Welsh make for thrilling reading but so do the equally enthralling struggles over succession, the Magna Carta, and the Provisions of Oxford. Many of these early inklings toward a permanent parliament and the rule of law would find a much fuller and fraught expression under the Stewarts, but they begin here. Written with prose that keeps the reader captivated throughout accounts of the span of centuries and the not-always-glorious trials of kingship, this book is at all times approachable, academic, and entertaining. --James Orbesen


''Dan Jones' The Plantagenets is outstanding. Majestic in its sweep, compelling in its storytelling, this is narrative history at its best. A thrilling dynastic history of royal intrigues, violent skullduggery, and brutal warfare across two centuries of British history.'' --Simon Sebag Montefiore, New York Times bestselling author

''Entertaining and informative . . . Jones cuts through these myths effectively, marshaling primary sources to introduce the reader to the actual men who wore the English crown . . . Jones' work benefits from his colorful and engaging style . . . He has produced an absorbing narrative that will help ensure that the Plantagenet story remains 'stamped on the English imagination' for another generation.'' --Sunday Times(London)

''This action-packed narrative is, above all, a great story, filled with fighting, personality clashes, betrayal, and bouts of the famous Plantagenet rage . . . Jones is an impressive guide to this tumultuous scene . . . The Plantagenets succeeds in bringing an extraordinary family arrestingly to life.'' --Daily Telegraph(London)

''Excellent . . . Colorful and imaginative . . . It is unapologetically about powerful people, their foibles, their passions, and their weaknesses . . . The Plantagenets is a wonderful gallop through English history in the traditional way. Powerful personalities, vivid descriptions of battles and tournaments, ladies in fine velvet, and knights in shining armor crowd the pages of this highly engaging narrative.'' --Evening Standard (London)

''Jones has written a magnificently rich and glittering medieval pageant, guiding us into the distant world of the Plantagenets with confidence. This riveting history of an all-too-human ruling house amply confirms the arrival of a formidably gifted historian.'' --Sunday Telegraph London)

''Jones, a protege of David Starkey, writes with his mentor's erudition but also exhibits novelistic verve and sympathy . . . This is a great popular history, whether you are au fait with the machinations of medievalism or whether Magna Carta mystifies you . . . The Plantagenets is proof that contemporary history can engage with the medieval world with style, wit, and chutzpah. It is a long book at more than six hundred pages but remains engaging throughout.'' --Observer(London)

''A dashing historian goes swift with a colorful chronicle of the kings who made England . . . Jones pulls the hectic centuries into a coherent whole.'' --Independent(London)

''Gripping storytelling and pin-sharp clarity . . . The Plantagenets is a satisfying as well as an enjoyable read. There is no need for added goblins in this real life Game of Thrones.'' --Literary Review

''The Plantagenets offers a glaring contrast between their even balance of outstanding kings and outstandingly bad ones. This adds to the already exciting dynamics of a dramatic period, captured to great effect in Dan Jones' big book on a big subject . . . He succeeds admirably. It is traditional narrative history at its best.'' --Spectator

''Dan Jones' epic portrait of the medieval royals is a timely reminder that things haven't always been so rosy for those on the throne. The House of Plantagenet ruled England for more than two centuries, giving us eight generations of our best and worst kings and queens -- and some bloody, brutal, and brilliant tales to match.'' --GQ

''This is an exciting period, and Jones describes it with verve. He has a keen appreciation of how power was seized and wielded by medieval monarchs and the way they manipulated history, religion, and symbolism in the service of kingship . . . Medieval history is enjoying its time in the sun again thanks to some excellent writers. Heaven be praised for that.'' --New Statesman

''The Plantagenets played a defining part in shaping the nation of England, and Dan Jones tells their fascinating story with wit, verve, and vivid insight. This is exhilarating history - a fresh and gloriously compelling portrait of a brilliant, brutal, and bloody-minded dynasty.'' --Helen Castor, prize-winning author of She-Wolves

''This is history at its most epic and thrilling. I would defy anyone not to be right royally entertained by it.'' --Tom Holland, prize-winning author

Product Details

  • File Size: 12943 KB
  • Print Length: 561 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Revised edition (April 18, 2013)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,722 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
121 of 123 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History that reads like fiction July 26, 2012
The Plantagenets and their Queens sweep through history, not a dull one to be found. If they are not busy trying to take land from the French King or better yet be the French King, they are rushing off to a crusade, or taking time out to march on Scotland to subdue the rebellious inhabitants and extend their kingdom northwards. Enlarging their Kingdom was a major preoccupation for the Plantagenets.
They arranged marriages, changed and made laws, administered justice mainly to suite themselves.
This book gives you not only many personal insights into the lives of the monarch and his court but also the peasants who were continually being caught up in wars not of their making. They paid taxes, battled hunger,and high infant mortality they got slaughtered on the battlefield and at home if they were on the wrong side. When the Black Death reduced the number of skilled tradesmen to a few and they raised their rates the king legislated them down to pre plague rates.
The sheer savagery with which the Plantagenets dealt with any opposition, noble, peasant, or on occasion another wayward Plantagenet is horrifying.
One quibble, the author has Henry de Bohun challenge Bruce to single combat before Bannockburn, all other books I have read from Prebble to Caroline Bingham aggree that Bohun charged the King without warning, the King riding a palfrey was somewhat outmatched, however, he managed to cleave the Knights head in two and win the following battle.
Dan Jones has written an informative, entertaining, fast moving book you will not want to put down.
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116 of 123 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent November 28, 2012
This is a great book that covers the history of English Kings from White Ship disaster which killed Henry I son William (and pretty much ended the Norman dynasty) and ends with Henry Bollingbrook's invasion and usurping of the throne from Richard II.

This is very much a kings, war and diplomacy book. It does not tell much about everyday life in medieval England. Instead it tells the hard facts of the Plantagenet dynasty from its beginning to end. The most surprising thing about the story is how few good kings England actually had. Really only Henry II an Edward III could be described as great kings and both of them left disastrous sons as heirs. Henry III was a religious flake who managed to get so cross ways with his barons he ended up being effectively disposed by Simon DeMonfort. Edward I, for all of his fame as conqueror of Wales and Hammer of the Scots, left the country bankrupt upon his death. And those two were not even particularly disastrous kings.

Then of course there were the truly bad kings. First and foremost was of course John. The book is very instructive in debunking myths about kings. John for all of his fearsome reputation, was no worse a tyrant than his father and older brother and actually did his best to run a fair judicial system (so much for the Robin Hood myth). But what John didn't do, that is brother and father did, was protect the realm. John suffered devastating military defeats at the hands of King Phillip losing Normandy. The loss of Normandy explains many of the problems later kings would have with their barons. Before John lost Normandy, the barons were a cross channel aristocracy who had every reason to support the Kings wars in France.
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Medieval History of England from 10,000 Feet April 18, 2013
By H. P.
Format:Kindle Edition
Dan Jones spectacular new (to America) history of England's Plantagenet dynasty from its founding by Geoffrey of Anjou to Richard II's loss of the Crown to Henry of Bolingbroke, or 1120-1399. It was a span of English history that saw the signing of the Magna Carta, the conquest of Wales, and the first half of the Hundred Years' War. The Plantagenet kings included some of the most well known English monarchs (well known even here in America)--Richard the Lionheart, John, and Edward Longshanks. It also included less well known (at least by me), but equally important, monarchs--Henry II and Edward III. Of lesser repute were Henry III, Edward II, and Richard II (and Jones accepts the conventional wisdom that John belongs in that group).

Military tactics evolved from sieges led by mounted knights to pitched battles won by archers and dismounted men-at-arms. The two centuries saw not only the Magna Carta (and the Charter of the Forest) but a number of other, important charters (and the Magna Carta itself needed constant renewal against kings chafing under its yoke). We see English power erode in France and grown in Wales and Scotland.

Covering two centuries of history in a single volume is a tall order. Jones succeeds, but the task requires certain sacrifices nonetheless. The Plantagenets is a history of England, but it is one told through the eyes of its kings. The focus is on England's great battles and the struggle for power between the king and the barons. Jones does a particularly great job at tracking the progress of the great charters the barons forced out of successive kings.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT service! GREAT prices! I'll be BACK!
a GREAT resource book for my ancestry searches. Thank you!
Published 1 day ago by Peggy Morgan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 day ago by REBowen
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than fiction
If you think history is boring, you haven't read Dan Jones! Jones takes you on a tour of the time and events of the early Plantagenet kings in a way that makes you feel like... Read more
Published 3 days ago by MJZ
5.0 out of 5 stars You don't need to be a scholar to enjoy
Very well written and easy to follow. This book covers a large swath of English history but is organized in a way that can be followed. Read more
Published 10 days ago by GBASH
5.0 out of 5 stars A tour de force in UK history.
Detailed, incisive, meticulously researched, an informing read. Coupled with the writings of P. Gregory, Dorothy Dunnett and C. J. Read more
Published 11 days ago by iain m. campbell
5.0 out of 5 stars the story of England's rise told with the drama of a great novel
The story of England is long and involved. How an island country -- isolated from the European continent by oceans on three sides and a thin channel of water separating the fourth... Read more
Published 12 days ago by David H. MacCallum
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful survey of medieval English politics and royalty
A wonderful survey of medieval English politics and royalty, enough detail to satisfy the casual history reader and a good place to begin a more serious study of the period.
Published 12 days ago by Robin B Tingley
4.0 out of 5 stars It is an interesting read. I expected it to ...
It is an interesting read. I expected it to be annotated but it is not; so whatever Mr. Jones says one has to take as accurate without any proof. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Syed Naqvi
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Well-written, fills in gaps in my knowledge of history.
Published 17 days ago by Alabama Guy
5.0 out of 5 stars Weekend monarchists need this.
A thorough description of the Plantagenet centuries (12-15th) that stops before the Wars of the Roses. If you have a weakness for English royalty, this one's a keeper.
Published 18 days ago by reachin4myrevolver
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More About the Author

Dan Jones is a historian and an award-winning journalist. His first book, Summer of Blood: The Peasants' Revolt of 1381, was published in 2009 and was an Independent book of the year. His second book, published in the UK as The Plantagenets: The Kings Who Made England, and in the USA as The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings And Queens Who Made England, was a #1 bestseller and a book of the year in the Observer, The Times and the Sunday Telegraph.

Dan studied history at Cambridge University, where he was taught by David Starkey and Helen Castor. He graduated with a First in 2002. As a journalist he writes a regular column for the London Evening Standard and is also published widely on both sides of the Atlantic, in the Times, the Sunday Times, the Daily Telegraph, The Spectator, The New Statesman, The Literary Review, GQ, The Daily Beast, Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal.

He lives in London with his wife and daughters.

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