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Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Plantagenets by Dan Jones

 Henry II ordered Thomas Beckett to give a beggar the expensive coat that he was wearing.  Surprisingly, Beckett loved luxury and sumptuous clothes, so he was reluctant to do this, but he could hardly refuse the King's orders.

This is one of the many fascinating anecdotes in Dan Jones's book, The Plantagenets.  Jones brings English history to life as he describes the many colourful monarchs of this era, including the evil King John who murdered his own nephew, Henry II who introduced many reforms to England, and the weak King Edward II.  My favourite (and Jones's favourite) is the story of the heroic Edward III, although his reign unfortunately ended in misery and paranoia.  I also enjoyed reading about his intrepid mother, Isabella of France, and her affair with the power-hungry Roger Mortimer.

There are a lot of characters and wars in this book, so it can become quite confusing, but it always remains lively and interesting as well as being an excellent reference book. Jones includes sources and more research suggestions for every chapter, so I'm going to have a good look at them.  I'm pleased to see that this young and brilliant historian is writing a book about the Wars of the Roses, and I'm looking forward to reading it.


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