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A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain Paperback – International Edition, April 6, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
Morris explores Edward's life in its entirely to present a more well-rounded view of Edward the man, far removed from the diabolical movie baddie. From his birth and early childhood, to his turbulent teenage years in which the England was in the grip of political upheaval, to his ascension and reign spanning thirty years, revealing Edward's varying roles as warrior, crusader, ruler, lawmaker, friend, adversary, and faithful husband.
Perhaps most significantly, the author generally tries to avoid the pitfalls of judging the King by modern standards, though I did not feel that this prevented him from being critical upon occasion. One reviewer said that this biography `bordered on hagiography'. I disagree, not everything Morris says about Edward was positive as far as I could see, and sometimes a rather unflattering picture of the King or Prince emerges.
This said, the author does shed light on some of the perhaps more controversial and unpalatable actions of Edward by the standards of the time, by which they might not have been considered so heinous. For instance, the infamous massacre at Berwick upon Tweed, as terrible as it was, was consistent with the medieval laws of war regarding sieges.Read more ›
DETAIL: This book has been well-researched and is engaging to read. It is not easy to do this when writing about medieval historical figures, but Morris almost makes it look easy. It's all fine and good to see Edward I portrayed in Braveheart and come away with the idea that he was a ruthless monarch, but if you want to learn more about this ruler - how complicated his life was, how much he devoted himself to religion, family, and to uniting Britain - this is a great book to examine.
STORYTELLING: I learned loads of useful facts and stories about Edward in this book. It was interesting to see how many times he almost died young: Crusade, fall from collapsing floor in a cathedral, illness, etc. I especially enjoyed the chapter about Edward using the Arthurian legend and staging a reburial of King Arthur to prop up his throne. Great insight into medieval propaganda and maintaining one's power through the use of myth and legend. Most of the time, it's good, highly-interesting history to read.
OVERALL: I think Edward could just as easily be called the Hammer of the Welsh in addition to the effigy on his tomb: HAMMER OF THE SCOTS. There's a lot of compelling, little-known history in this book and it's worth telling.
1) Some grammatical errors, especially in the first 1/3 of the book. Try to overlook these.
2) A bit dry sometimes. This is not quite an exhaustive history, but there are sections where you'll find yourself wishing Morris would move on to something else. The book is written chronologically, which is a great strength, but there are inevitably going to be a few dry spells. This is especially so if you're not already familiar with some of the history from that period or with English geography.Read more ›
If you enjoy a good read that will bring to light one of the most interesting characters in history let alone English history, get this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Lots of detail providing context to better understand the motivations of Edward I as well as the English noblemen and subjects.Published 1 day ago by Tyla Berger
Fast paced and entertaining with the development history of Ireland, Wales,
and Scotland in their relationship to England by the hand of a King that reaches
into our day.
Too wordy. Did not keep my interest. Stopped ready 1/3 rd of the way.Published 3 days ago by gatorpal
Very well written. Extremely informative and entertaining.Published 8 days ago by Joseph M. Gangemi
Still reading it. I always enjoy biographies of the Plantagenets. Despite the depiction of him in "Braveheart", which is not entirely accurate (there is no evidence he ever... Read morePublished 10 days ago by Kaye T. Leidy
It was a surprise to read about the richness of cornfields in 1267 since corn was carried to Europe by Columbus more than 200 years later.Published 13 days ago by MrFinns
Reading this book was a pleasure. A critical period of the development of English democracy is presented. Read morePublished 14 days ago by Charles
Serious academic work that is a must read for anyone who wants to understand this period of English history.Published 14 days ago by Kellie Robinson