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A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain Kindle Edition
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|Length: 481 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top customer reviews
Edward was tough, not always fair, sometimes seemingly bloodthirsty, stunningly selfish --but a very effective monarch in terms of creating a kingdom, suppressing rivals and building international alliances. He unified Wales and kept Scotland within English rule,mostly. He was very good at depleting the treasury too, suggesting that nation building is not an inexpensive enterprise. While 'Braveheart' indelibly made Edward ("Longshanks"} look like Patrick McGoohan in my imagination, the scope of A Great and Terrible King is much more, as well as more thorough and remains consistently interesting. It was inspiring enough to make me look around for other authors covering the same time period with less success than I hoped. . Those were busy times, when "nation hood' sort of became a thing, and when an English king could, very reasonably, assume that a substantial swath of France belonged to him as well. The inability of Edward II (son and heir) to keep it together supports the Great Man theory of evaluating history (a view I don't entirely hold). I read this book perhaps 6-8 months ago and am certainly failing to note some important moments, but for me to still remember so much of the man and his wars and wives is an endorsement of the effectiveness of the author. An interesting and engaging read throughout.
His father, Henry III, was pretty critical of his son and tended to keep him on a short leash. And Edward was strong-willed, not making things better. Edward did serve with his father in military campaigns and showed promise--and courage. But his father was not terribly effective and often served in a reactive mode.
This book speaks to Edward's life course--including his kingship. Here is someone who was often involved in military campaigns--Wales, Scotland, Gascony (England's land in France), a Crusade, and in England itself. He was often a good military leader--but sometimes he faced ruin (as one expedition in Gascony). He could often, as king, work with Parliament in a productive manner--but, at other times when he needed financing for war--he butted heads with his nobles and clergy and knights.
We learn of his private life, his relations with wife and his children. His son, to become Edward II, \was not his father and had some weaknesses. We also come to understand Scottish politics--Robert Bruce, William Wallace, and so on.
The book has a hard eyed view on Edward I's weaknesses and his strengths (although the conclusion tends to underplay some of his problematic actions). In the end, we get, from my limited background in this period of history, a good sense of Longshanks.
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