- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Carroll & Graf (February 28, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0786711930
- ISBN-13: 978-0786711932
- Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.5 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,972,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Isabella and the Strange Death of Edward II Hardcover – February 28, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
This tidy survey of the 14th-century reign of British king Edward II and his queen, Isabella, provides thumbnail sketches of a series of massacres, tortures, plots and counterplots leading to the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Edward, the first English king to be deposed from the throne. The prolific Doherty (author of the recent, compelling The Mysterious Death of Tutankhamun) is better known for writing several series of historical mystery novels, including the criminal investigations in an older Britain of Hugh Corbett and Brother Athelstan. Renowned for a sure ability to bring these periods to life in his fiction, Doherty seems strangely hog-tied by facts here. He notes in regard to the problems of determining why celebrity marriages go south today, that the difficulty is compounded by speculating on such events which occurred 700 years ago. The arranged marriage of Edward, heir to the English throne, and Isabella of France, went spectacularly wrong, with the queen, after she had been in exile in her native France, returning to England with an army to depose Edward. According to one tradition, Isabella arranged his death by means of a red hot poker thrust up into his bowels. Doherty postulates that Edward may have escaped this dire end in the year 1327, while duly recording Isabella's political supremacy and influence on history, which symbolically lives on in the powers invested in the queen in chess.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Oh, the color and drama of the Middle Ages. Doherty whisks us off to those vibrant but cruel days in this accessible biography of the queen of England's Edward II (who ruled during the years 1307-27). The son of the mighty but brutal Edward I married Isabella, a princess of France, but the great love of his life was a foreign-born man, Piers Gaveson. Edward II insisted his friend be treated as co-king; naturally, the favorite one made enemies, and those enemies eventually dealt him a fatal blow. For some years after that, Edward and Isabella were close, but soon the king had another male favorite; and, not surprisingly, the king's favorite and the queen had it out. As a result, Isabella fled home to France, came back with an army, and deposed her husband in favor of their son, Edward III. And what should she do with her husband, whom she now despised? Traditional historiography has it that she had him murdered; however, Doherty finds otherwise. Brad Hooper
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Top Customer Reviews
I also feel that he may be utilizing too much speculation where the primary sources are lacking, especially when he ascribes motivation to the actors in various events. One sentence in particular stands out, in attributing motivation to Isabella after Edward was captured and held prisoner: “Isabella had murder in her heart.” I feel these sorts of assumptive statements and overly dramatic prose throughout the work undermines his credibility as a serious scholar .
In describing the events surrounding the treason charges of the Earl of Kent, Doherty makes this statement: “Isabella and Mortimer, however, were in a hurry to get rid of him.” I found no justification or citation for this statement. While is it entirely possible that they were, indeed, anxious for Kent to be executed, ascribing this emotion to both Isabella and Mortimer without sufficient evidence is questionable at best. The evidence Doherty does provide substantiates his claims as to their reasons for pursuing the treason charges and their desire to see Kent executed, but nothing I found find in the text supports the above quote. It appears to be, like so many other statements throughout the book, pure fiction designed to increase the drama of the narrative.
What is perplexing is that it appears that Doherty has performed solid research - or at least, is including the primary and secondary sources I routinely see in other works on Edward II - but instead of writing in an academically accessible style for a popular audience, he chose to write in a lowest-common-denominator “whodunit” style. And frankly, it stinks.