Gothic Kings of Britain: The Lives of 31 Medieval Rulers, 1016–1399 1st Edition, Kindle Edition
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This book offers a brief synopsis of the reign of each king, but somehow manages to do without making the reader feel like they're perusing an encyclopedia. Not only are the highlights of each reign touched upon, but interesting tidbits, as well as tie-ins to other european monarchies, are often included.
This is a fairly easy read - I read about 60 pages/hour and was easily able to finish this within a week. This is not a textbook by any means. Think of it as more of a "Cliffnotes" version of British medieval history, and you won't be disappointed.
This is really a very military history of Britain. It is set up in 2 parts. The first part covers the rulers of England and the second part covers the rulers of Scotland. Each king covered is given a date of birth, what we know of his education, whether it appeared his marriage was happy (when applicable), and the constant military efforts the king exerted to keep power over his realm. There is nothing personal about any of the summaries, but it pretty much reads like a military history. The king went over here to exert his authority and then he went over there to exert his authority. During times of peace he contributed to the expansion of the Church and trade to improve the prosperity of his people. There is significant overlap, especially in the early English kings, in the information presented for each king as their interactions were so entwined and they ruled relatively briefly and all fought one another.
I generally like my biographies a little more personal, though I realize that isn't the scope of this book and is difficult if not impossible to know for some of the early kings. The politics that lead to each military excursion are not covered in depth, if at all, but this is an overview, not a full out biography of any of these kings. As such is was okay. I knew next to nothing about the Scottish kings so I felt the omissions of details less there than I did with the English kings. Some maps of England and Scotland would have been helpful. Perhaps they are available in the print version, but there were none in the Kindle version and I don't remember my English and Scottish geography well enough to always have a good idea where events took place.
Overall, it is a solid introduction to the early kings of Britain and really made me realize that most of these people had too much time on their hands so they constantly made war to keep themselves occupied. And they were trained as knights starting at age 7 so what else were they going to do? But if you want something that goes into detail, rather than being more of a supplemental textbook, I would look elsewhere.
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