- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Boydell Press (January 1, 1964)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0851158242
- ISBN-13: 978-0851158242
- Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,269,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Henry Plantagenet: A Biography of Henry II of England Hardcover – January 1, 1964
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At once objective and readable, it can be thoroughly recommended... An admirable portrait of a great king and his times. --Catholic Herald
An able and sympathetic view of Henry, both as man and king. --Irish Times
About the Author
RICHARD BARBER's other books include Tournaments, with Juliet Barker, Edward Prince of Wales and Aquitaine, The Life and Campaigns of the Black Prince, The Knight and Chivalry and books on King Arthur; he is currently working on a study of the legend of the Holy Grail.
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If you are new to Henry, son of the Empress Matilde, daughter of Henry I, then this is a good starting point. The next stop on your voyage will be Warrens Monarch Series account, which is so thorough and is regarded by many as the definitive expert on this great king. He ruled a territory of vast scale.
He instilled justice, a sense of common law, and a sense of regal authority, crushing[until the end] all those who opposed him. His only fault seemed to be his inability to see the truth of his sons. I still find myself unable to contain my anger and disbelief at his sons[the supposedly great Richard the Lionheart, the bad King John, and Geoffrey, and Henry the Youngers deceit and betrayal of their father because of their own desires.
Richard, supposedly the icon and model of the later chivalry, becomes irredeemable in my eyes. John, is john. But it is difficult not to feel for the great king on his horse before his son, the king of france, yielding all he has worked his life to and for. His death came as he learned of Johns[the one son he truly loved] desertion and betrayal.
If you are new to english history and have an interest in the Plantagenets but dont feel the need to learn about every minute detail, I whole heartedly recommend Thomas Costains 4 book series on the Plantagenets. It is written almost like a novel, fluid, adventurous, and addicting. It would be my first choice if I were about to embark on this great voyage.
He does a fine job of breathing life into Henry II's 34-year reign, which needs his touch because Henry II may be the most under-appreciated king in English history. This formidable, life-long warrior is eclipsed by his son Richard Lionheart's military feats. A decisive man with extraordinary energy, Henry is upstaged for glamor and charisma by his consort through 36 years of love and hate, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Even as a villain - women by the score, anger-management problems to rival Zeus, a tirade that may have ended Thomas Becket's life and a rampage that exiled Eleanor to England for fifteen years - even as a villain, Henry II is upstaged by his youngest, King John.
What did Henry do well? Apart from winning wars and battling prelates, he made major, enduring changes to English law and jurisprudence, including property and contract law, moves that stimulated commerce. But that makes poor press. Barber captures the moods and actions of the young king and his maturing reign of constancy amidst constant strife and domestic chaos. He integrates Henry and a large supporting cast into their turbulent times very well.
In addition to writing about Arthurian legend and medieval history, Barber has been a publisher of medieval studies for almost four decades. His breadth of knowledge shows. "Henry Plantagenet" makes subtle links across time and dynasties that might escape a lesser historian's art.
Robert Fripp, author of
"Power of a Woman. Memoirs of a turbulent life: Eleanor of Aquitaine"
of his time, defying the Church and France to lead his realm. Since Barber wrote this book back in the sixties, it is not up to date on new research into Plantagenet rulers. Also Barber confuses the reader with the names of many people that were not a central theme of the King's time. The names are the most confusing aspect of this book, and thus the rating of three stars.