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 Non-fiction books on Edward II

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Alianore
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PostSubject: Non-fiction books on Edward II   Wed Oct 03, 2007 11:59 am

For anyone interested in learning more about Edward II, I'd recommend a book published in 2006, called The Reign of Edward II: New Perspectives. It's a collection of essays, and takes a far more sympathetic attitude to Edward than is often seen (though without skating over his faults).

For 'newcomers' to Edward, Wink I'd recommend Caroline Bingham's Life and Times of Edward II - a nicely-illustrated introduction to Edward and his reign.

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"Sans lui n'estoit rien fait, et par lui estoit tous fait, et le creoit li rois plus que tout le monde." Without him nothing is done and through him everything is done, and the king trusts him more than any other: Hugh Despenser the Younger and Edward II
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Kate Plantaganet

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PostSubject: Books   Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:33 pm

Thanks for the reading tips.

For those who have read Ian Mortimer's "The Greatest Traitor" about Roger Mortimer....what did you think?
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elflady

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PostSubject: Re: Non-fiction books on Edward II   Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:52 pm

It is exceptionally well-written, thoroughly documented and offers a very detailed account on what Roger's life might have been like, starting with his background, his childhood, to the last events of his life and eventually his death. It also presents in a special chapter the evidence of his innocence... he did NOT order Edward to be assasinated!!! He was terribly wrong judged by history. I recommend it wholeheartedly.
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Kate Plantaganet

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PostSubject: Re: Non-fiction books on Edward II   Thu Oct 04, 2007 4:01 pm

Thanks Elflady! It sounds like it is worth a read. I will purchase it when I am in the UK next year. Books are very expensive in Australia!
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Alianore
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PostSubject: Re: Non-fiction books on Edward II   Thu Oct 04, 2007 5:32 pm

I second Elflady's recommendation! Ian Mortimer's books are historical biograhies at their best - incredibly well-researched and detailed, but also very easy to read for the non-expert.

I'd also recommend his Perfect King, a bio of Ed III, which expands his theories [for want of a better word - it's stronger than that!] on what really happened to Ed II in and after 1327.

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"Sans lui n'estoit rien fait, et par lui estoit tous fait, et le creoit li rois plus que tout le monde." Without him nothing is done and through him everything is done, and the king trusts him more than any other: Hugh Despenser the Younger and Edward II
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elflady

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PostSubject: Re: Non-fiction books on Edward II   Thu Oct 04, 2007 6:39 pm

Alianore wrote:
I'd also recommend his Perfect King, a bio of Ed III, which expands his theories [for want of a better word - it's stronger than that!] on what really happened to Ed II in and after 1327.

Thanks, Alianore! I'll definitely order it Very Happy .
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MaryReedMcCall

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PostSubject: Re: Non-fiction books on Edward II   Mon Oct 08, 2007 3:50 pm

I have a couple of books on Edward II and/or Isabella, and I'd like to get the opinions of those of you who are so much more deeply versed in the topic than I am, concerning their veracity for study.

The first is the Alison Weir book called Queen Isabella. I was cautioned by another historian in Scotland to be wary of her work, as much of it relies on supposition (more like fiction), and that she fills in the blanks in history with her own interpretation (i.e. in supplying thoughts and motivations that can't be substantiated by any historical documentation/letters/diaries etc). I was told to use her more for her bibliography and less for her own work, which this historian felt was heavily tainted with fictional elements.

The second book I have in front of me at the moment is Edward II 1307 - 1327 by Mary Saaler. I know nothing about the book or the author.

Does anyone have any thoughts about either book?

Thanks!
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boswellbaxter

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PostSubject: Re: Non-fiction books on Edward II   Mon Oct 08, 2007 6:06 pm

Saaler pulls together information from a lot of sources, but her book contains a few factual errors--for instance, she had Hugh le Despenser the younger surrendering Caerphilly Castle to the queen (the castle wasn't surrendered until months after Despenser's death, and it was his son, not Despenser, who surrendered it.) On the whole, though, it's pretty useful, but should be regarded with a certain degree of caution.

Alainore's posted at length on Weir's biography on her blog, so I'll just suggest you look there for a good summary of its good and bad points. On the whole, I didn't think it was bad, but it was overindulgent toward Isabella and did have some factual errors. I also didn't think she put forth her argument about the fate of Edward II very convincingly (which was unfortunate, because much of her assessment of Isabella's character depends on her assumption that Edward II was not murdered).
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Melisende

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PostSubject: Re: Non-fiction books on Edward II   Sat Dec 08, 2007 7:22 am

I liked Weir's "Isabella" up to the point where she discussed her views of the fate of Edward's death / escape. It didn't fit in with the overall tone of the book - and it detracted from the overall telling of the story.

I have said (on many a time) that she should have kept the theories seperate from the rest of the book, and presented them all collectively in an Appendix, or some such thing, at the very end. Tell the story first - present the various "ends" last.

Just my opinion.
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boswellbaxter

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PostSubject: Re: Non-fiction books on Edward II   Wed Apr 02, 2008 4:28 pm

Has anyone seen the Marc Morris bio of Edward I? It's out in the UK--there's a customer review that is quite favorable:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Great-Terrible-King-Forging-Britain/dp/0091796849/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1207142733&sr=8-1

It's definitely on my wish list! It should be interesting to see what he as to say about Ed I's relationship with Ed II.
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Alianore
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PostSubject: Re: Non-fiction books on Edward II   Fri Apr 04, 2008 9:04 pm

I'm really looking forward to that! Think I'll ask for it for my birthday!

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"Sans lui n'estoit rien fait, et par lui estoit tous fait, et le creoit li rois plus que tout le monde." Without him nothing is done and through him everything is done, and the king trusts him more than any other: Hugh Despenser the Younger and Edward II
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Anejre

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PostSubject: Re: Non-fiction books on Edward II   Sat Apr 05, 2008 4:40 pm

I actually had a sneaky look at it in my local Borders. The part where Prince Edward asks for Ponthieu for Gaveston. It repeats the usual scene - with prince Edward being abused and having his hair pulled out! Ouch! It's out in hardback right now, and a bit expensive. Think I'll wait for it to come out in paperback.
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Anejre

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PostSubject: Re: Non-fiction books on Edward II   Sat Apr 05, 2008 4:45 pm

As I just poted on Piers' thread, I am torn between reading Hamilton's bio of iers and Susan Higginbotham's 'The Traitor's Wife'. Hamilton's book has such wonderful detail! Yesterday though, I had to go on a train journey and read far more of Susan Higginbotham's splendid book! The relationship between Edward and Piers is handled very sympathetically and sensitively. I'm almost half way through, and enjoying the portrayal of Eleanor - I'm really keen to finish it in the next few days - once you ick it up, it's very difficult to put down!
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Anejre

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PostSubject: Re: Non-fiction books on Edward II   Sat Apr 05, 2008 4:54 pm

An old book of mine, 'The Princes of Wales', by Wynford Vaughan Thomas, has a wonderful story about Edward and Isabella's 'wedding certificate' being found at Neath Abbey in Wales. Edward once fled to Neath Abbey, near Swansea. When Neath Abbey was renovated some years ago, coins from his reign were found buried in a pillar in the nave. The certificate turned up in the late 19th century - Thomas writes

'a doctor ins Swansea was called to attend a farmer's wife in Gower. At the end of the visit, the farmer decalred that he had no money at hand to pay but added "Will this do?" He put in hand in the thatch and pulled out a box. It contained an old parchment which was submitted to the experts for examination. It turned out to be the marriage contract between Edward and Isabella. The parchment is still on display in the museum of the Royal Institution in Swansea, a sad relic, so evocative of royal suffering six hundred years ago. It must surely always remain in Wales, for according to the Wakefield chronicler, the Welsh had always shown a kindness to the first English Prince of Wales who had been born at Caernarfon'.
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Anejre

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PostSubject: Re: Non-fiction books on Edward II   Sat Apr 05, 2008 4:56 pm

This book was published in 1982, and I can tell you, the certificate is NOT on show in any museum in Swansea. It is kept at the university for security reasons - and sadly, not on show. I asked after it recently on a visit to Swansea museum.
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PostSubject: Re: Non-fiction books on Edward II   Fri Nov 07, 2008 2:15 pm

I read Alison Weir's book and found it immensely readable. However, she is very keen to state that things she would like to believe are truth are definite fact and things that she doesn't are just rumours.

For example she definitely believes that Edward II escaped and whilst there is some evidence, it can't acutally be proved that he did escape. I don't really see how she can state that that is what happened when it is a mystery.

I am currently reading Ian Mortimer's book on Roger Mortimer and really enjoying it. It is very well written and I am hoping it does not totally whitewash Roger as I think that whilst he had some very good qualities he was ruthless and ambitious.

I would also recommend 'Plantagenet England 1225-1360' by Michael Prestwich for a good overview of the period. It is more academic and quite long, but it is good for information on society in general and the politics of the time.
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PostSubject: Re: Non-fiction books on Edward II   Fri Nov 07, 2008 10:50 pm

I'm not a fan of Alison Weir's work in general. There's a definite lack of evidence in her books, and her bias towards her favs is transparent. I enjoyed Mortimer's book much more.
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Alianore
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PostSubject: Re: Non-fiction books on Edward II   Sat Nov 08, 2008 8:42 am

I found very much to enjoy in Alison Weir's bio of Isabella, but as Anerje says, she does play favourites with her subjects. It annoyed me how many things she left out that she thought would reflect badly on Isabella. For example, saying that 3 of Hugh Despenser's daughters 'became nuns' is hardly honest, given that Isa forcibly veiled them 5 weeks after their father's execution. Or saying that Isa's income from Jan 1327 (which Weir has Ed III granting her, although he was only 14 - obviously she granted it to herself!) made her 'one of the great landowners of the realm' when in fact it was a third of the annual royal revenue and the highest income that anyone in England (kings excepted) received in the entire Middle Ages.

I really love Plantagenet England too. Extremely readable. thorough, scholarly but entertaining.

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"Sans lui n'estoit rien fait, et par lui estoit tous fait, et le creoit li rois plus que tout le monde." Without him nothing is done and through him everything is done, and the king trusts him more than any other: Hugh Despenser the Younger and Edward II
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