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Edward II: The Chameleon (The English Monarchs Series)

Edward II: The Chameleon (The English Monarchs Series) [Kindle Edition]

Seymour Phillips
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"The book's value lies in its accumulation of detail from an extraordinary range of unpublished sources and a thorough review of published writings: it is a reliable work of reference."--Ralph A./i>--Ralph A. Griffiths "The American Historical Review "

Product Description

Edward II (1284–1327), King of England, Lord of Ireland, and Duke of Aquitaine, was the object of ignominy during his lifetime and calumny since it. Conventionally viewed as worthless, incapable of sustained policy, and significant only for his sporadic displays of ill-directed energy or a stubborn adherence to greedy and ambitious favorites, he has been presented as fit only to be deposed and replaced by someone more worthy of the throne.

This definitive biography, the fruit of a lifetime’s study, does not present Edward II as a heroic or successful king: his deposition after a turbulent reign of nearly twenty years is proof enough that it went terribly wrong. But Seymour Phillips’ scrutiny of the multitude of available sources shows that a richer picture emerges, in line with the complexity of events and of the man himself. If Edward II was not a successful king, he was not fundamentally different in many ways from most English monarchs. The biography strikes a deft balance, taking full account of the problems the king faced in England, Scotland, and Ireland and in his relations with France. It also tackles the contentious issue of whether Edward II did not die in 1327, murdered under barbaric circumstances, but lived on as a captive in England and then a wanderer on the Continent. Eight hundred years on, a king’s life is properly examined.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2053 KB
  • Print Length: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (8 Jun. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0089W2L7Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #175,787 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fair, just reportage. 12 Aug. 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Edward II doesn't come in for a good press generally speaking. His reign gets written off as a dire spell between two great ones; his morals are questioned; and the supposed manner of his death makes him a joke.

It's always seemed to me that whoever followed Edward I was going to have a most difficult reign. Edward I had bled the country dry for his military exploits, alienated a large part of the baronage and left an unstable political framework. One could write a good part of the story of Edward II's reign just from the state of England at his accession.

He was blamed for the state coffers being empty - but his father had emptied them, and left substantial debts. We're told he mishandled the peers - but they were spoiling for a fight after the way they'd been treated. He suffered military reverses - but the nation was overstretched.

That doesn't absolve Edward II from the mistakes he did make. He certainly had a blind spot when it came to Gaveston, and inadvertently set him up as a target, though one can wonder how much it was because Gaveston seemed actually to be on his side.

This book gives a detailed account of Edward II's reign that is balanced, judicious and rooted in the evidence. For that it deserves much praise.

It is, however, as exhausting as it is exhaustive, and the sheer weight of detail makes it hard going in places. Yet that comes with the territory to a certain extent; if you are going to write a full and balanced account, then the detail is unavoidable.

For anyone who wants a reliable account of a reign that is surrounded by misapprehensions and innuendoes, and which enables Edward II to be seen as a man with an impossible role, then this book has to be a strong contender.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By BobH
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Troublesome Reign and Lamentable Death of Edward the Second'

Seymour Phillips has produced a brilliant biography of King Edward II, who has the misfortune to be `sandwiched' between two of the 'greatest' medieval kings. The author's style is very clear and his division into small sections the chapters making up this scholastic tome make it easier reading. The book is massive - in scholarship, in references and in bibliography - and is the culmination of a lifetime's research into the early 14th century.

The first seventy-odd pages deal with Edward II's reputation - a weakling, obsessed with homosexual activity and cuckolded by his wife, who was eventually deposed and murdered. Seymour Phillips firmly rejects the homosexual charge but admits an excessive royal reliance on favourites such as Piers Gaveston and Hugh Despenser. Memory of the reign is marred by the disaster suffered by the English at Bannockburn, partly due to inept leadership and partly due to inadequate resources. However, Edward had had more military experience than usually recognised but was undermined by a personality and life-style alienating magnates like Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, which didn't help assembling, organising and employing what remained essentially a `feudal host'. The author identifies the faults on both sides which destroyed cohesion at the top for most of the reign. The frequent absences of Thomas of Lancaster from parliaments, military operations or official events (whether through fear of treachery or spiteful aims at disruption) made consistent government impossible. The squabbles among those surrounding the King, more often about land or marriage than official policy, bred distrust and disharmony.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent, balanced account. 13 Aug. 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As with the previous reviewer, I found this a thoroughly researched book, which succeeds in giving a balanced account of the reign of Edward II.
Many of the problems that Edward faced he had inherited from his father, such as a recalcitrant nobility and an empty treasury.

The book does not dismiss Edward's failings but makes an attempt to understand them in context. Too many previous authors have gone along with the Lancastrian propaganda and taken the sources at face value.Anyone who wishes to study this period in some detail would be well advised to use this book - not only for the material and ideas presented by Seymour Phillips but also to gain access to the wider literature that is available on the subject.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a really exhaustive biography, and at the end there can be really little more to say! Certain of the authors conclusions/interpretations I found surprising and I did not always agree with them - however it is written in a style that makes it very easy to pick up and read a section and then leave for a while. Although it appears a huge historical tome, for anyone interested in the fourteenth century this is actually a very easy read. As for Edward himself he appears to be a king universally condemned in his own lifetime and never rehabilitated as centuries went by, so pretty bad! However this is probably as close as he will get to a positive hearing and Seymour Phillips treats his subject with understanding and even with a sense of the positive. For the work, the scholarship and most of all the approachability of the writing style I have given this five stars.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars good communication, prompt
Item as described, good communication, prompt delivery
Published 2 months ago by Steve Porritt
5.0 out of 5 stars Revisionism at it's best
Outstanding book. I am currently using this to write a report on the Deposition of Edward II and this has been my bible. Read more
Published 2 months ago by James
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent book and very informative
Published 3 months ago by duke evans
4.0 out of 5 stars A good general history
Well balanced and clear. A better history than most books about this troubled monarch, and far more positive in its assessment of the time.
Published 8 months ago by jeremy bennett
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb biography
This is a superb biography. It is meticulously researched, unbiased in its approach to the subject & easily accessible for the contemporary reader.
Published 10 months ago by eken47
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - but....
This is an excellent book. It is thorough, objective and comprehensive. A masterpiece, but.. it is an academic tome (nothing wrong with that) full of facts, references and... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Royal Windsor
5.0 out of 5 stars Edward II detailed historical study of a neglected period.
One of the few up-to-date and readable studies of the reigh . Well written and organised.of Edward II. First rate!
Published 23 months ago by Jacqui Davies
5.0 out of 5 stars Edward ii
A very thorough book. It should be read alongside Paul Doherty's book and Alison Weir's 'Isabella.' All have convincing arguments to support the author's views of Edward ii. Read more
Published on 6 Feb. 2012 by A. Moore
3.0 out of 5 stars AN interesting, thorough, if flawed, history of England's infamous...
Of all the kings in Medieval England, it is perhaps Edward II who achieves the most notoriety. Certainly he is the most condemned for having favourites and his apparently flagrant... Read more
Published on 16 Sept. 2011 by Hermes 3Magistus
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