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Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings Who Invented England Hardcover – May 1, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 666 customer reviews

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Hardcover, May 1, 2012
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

They may lack the glamour of the Tudors or the majesty of the Victorians, but in Jones’ latest book, the Plantagenets are just as essential to the foundation of modern Britain. As he chronicles the entire dynasty, beginning with Geoffrey of Anjou (commonly adorned with a sprig of Planta genista, which gave his line their moniker), familiar dramatis personae emerge. Of course, there’s the recklessly brave Lionheart and the incomparably inept John, but Jones devotes ample time to the forces at work that shaped the kingdom. The great battles against the Scots and French and the subjugation of the Welsh make for thrilling reading but so do the equally enthralling struggles over succession, the Magna Carta, and the Provisions of Oxford. Many of these early inklings toward a permanent parliament and the rule of law would find a much fuller and fraught expression under the Stewarts, but they begin here. Written with prose that keeps the reader captivated throughout accounts of the span of centuries and the not-always-glorious trials of kingship, this book is at all times approachable, academic, and entertaining. --James Orbesen --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.


'Stonking narrative history told with pace, wit and scholarship about the bloody dynasty that produced some of England's most brilliant, brutal kings' Observer 'Colourful and engaging ... Jones has produced an absorbing narrative that will help ensure that the Plantagenet story remains stamped on the English imagination' Sunday Times 'Unapologetically about powerful people, their foibles, their passions and their weaknesses ... vivid descriptions of battles and tournaments, ladies in fine velvet and knights in shining armour crowd the pages of this highly engaging narrative' Evening Standard 'Action-packed ... Filled with fighting, personality clashes, betrayal and bouts of the famous Plantagenet rage' Daily Telegraph

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007213921
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007213924
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 2.4 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (666 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,602,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Elizabeth R. Ash on July 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Plantagenets and their Queens sweep through history, not a dull one to be found. If they are not busy trying to take land from the French King or better yet be the French King, they are rushing off to a crusade, or taking time out to march on Scotland to subdue the rebellious inhabitants and extend their kingdom northwards. Enlarging their Kingdom was a major preoccupation for the Plantagenets.
They arranged marriages, changed and made laws, administered justice mainly to suite themselves.
This book gives you not only many personal insights into the lives of the monarch and his court but also the peasants who were continually being caught up in wars not of their making. They paid taxes, battled hunger,and high infant mortality they got slaughtered on the battlefield and at home if they were on the wrong side. When the Black Death reduced the number of skilled tradesmen to a few and they raised their rates the king legislated them down to pre plague rates.
The sheer savagery with which the Plantagenets dealt with any opposition, noble, peasant, or on occasion another wayward Plantagenet is horrifying.
One quibble, the author has Henry de Bohun challenge Bruce to single combat before Bannockburn, all other books I have read from Prebble to Caroline Bingham aggree that Bohun charged the King without warning, the King riding a palfrey was somewhat outmatched, however, he managed to cleave the Knights head in two and win the following battle.
Dan Jones has written an informative, entertaining, fast moving book you will not want to put down.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Dan Jones spectacular new (to America) history of England's Plantagenet dynasty from its founding by Geoffrey of Anjou to Richard II's loss of the Crown to Henry of Bolingbroke, or 1120-1399. It was a span of English history that saw the signing of the Magna Carta, the conquest of Wales, and the first half of the Hundred Years' War. The Plantagenet kings included some of the most well known English monarchs (well known even here in America)--Richard the Lionheart, John, and Edward Longshanks. It also included less well known (at least by me), but equally important, monarchs--Henry II and Edward III. Of lesser repute were Henry III, Edward II, and Richard II (and Jones accepts the conventional wisdom that John belongs in that group).

Military tactics evolved from sieges led by mounted knights to pitched battles won by archers and dismounted men-at-arms. The two centuries saw not only the Magna Carta (and the Charter of the Forest) but a number of other, important charters (and the Magna Carta itself needed constant renewal against kings chafing under its yoke). We see English power erode in France and grown in Wales and Scotland.

Covering two centuries of history in a single volume is a tall order. Jones succeeds, but the task requires certain sacrifices nonetheless. The Plantagenets is a history of England, but it is one told through the eyes of its kings. The focus is on England's great battles and the struggle for power between the king and the barons. Jones does a particularly great job at tracking the progress of the great charters the barons forced out of successive kings.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a great book that covers the history of English Kings from White Ship disaster which killed Henry I son William (and pretty much ended the Norman dynasty) and ends with Henry Bollingbrook's invasion and usurping of the throne from Richard II.

This is very much a kings, war and diplomacy book. It does not tell much about everyday life in medieval England. Instead it tells the hard facts of the Plantagenet dynasty from its beginning to end. The most surprising thing about the story is how few good kings England actually had. Really only Henry II an Edward III could be described as great kings and both of them left disastrous sons as heirs. Henry III was a religious flake who managed to get so cross ways with his barons he ended up being effectively disposed by Simon DeMonfort. Edward I, for all of his fame as conqueror of Wales and Hammer of the Scots, left the country bankrupt upon his death. And those two were not even particularly disastrous kings.

Then of course there were the truly bad kings. First and foremost was of course John. The book is very instructive in debunking myths about kings. John for all of his fearsome reputation, was no worse a tyrant than his father and older brother and actually did his best to run a fair judicial system (so much for the Robin Hood myth). But what John didn't do, that is brother and father did, was protect the realm. John suffered devastating military defeats at the hands of King Phillip losing Normandy. The loss of Normandy explains many of the problems later kings would have with their barons. Before John lost Normandy, the barons were a cross channel aristocracy who had every reason to support the Kings wars in France.
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