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The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III, Father of the English Nation

The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III, Father of the English Nation [Kindle Edition]

Ian Mortimer
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)

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"A fascinating portrait. At times, the reader seems almost able to reach across time and touch this man" -- The Economist

‘an excellent biography; entertaining as well as informative.’ -- Allan Massie, Daily Telegraph

Book Description

From the bestselling author of 1415, comes the story of King Edward III, who - like Elizabeth and Victoria after him - embodied the values of his age, forged a nation out of war and re-made England.

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More About the Author

Ian Mortimer has BA, PhD and DLitt degrees in history from Exeter University and an MA in archive studies from University College London. From 1991 to 2003 he worked for several archival and research institutions, including Devon Record Office, the University of Reading, the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts and the University of Exeter. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 1998, and was awarded the Alexander Prize (2004) by the Royal Historical Society for his work on the social history of medicine. His PhD was published by the Royal Historical Society in 2009 as 'The Dying and the Doctors: the Medical Revolution in Seventeenth-Century England'. He is also the author of two volumes of early modern manuscripts and numerous articles in the scholarly press on subjects ranging from the fourteenth to the twentieth centuries.

He is best known as the author of 'The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England', which was a Sunday Times bestseller in 2009 and 2010. He is also the author of a series of four sequential medieval biographies, 'The Greatest Traitor: The Life of Sir Roger Mortimer' (covering the years 1306-1330), 'The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III' (covering 1327-1377), 'The Fears of Henry IV: The Life of England's Self-Made King' (covering 1377-1413) and '1415: Henry V's Year of Glory' (covering 1413-1415). A volume of scholarly essays, 'Medieval Intrigue: Decoding Royal Conspiracies' provides several of the in-depth pieces of research that support the more difficult and contentious aspects of these books, and includes his important essay on understanding historical evidence. He lives with his wife and three children on the edge of Dartmoor.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Edward III:The Perfect King? 3 Mar 2008
Being brought up firmly in the school of Edward II -Berkeley Castle - red hot poker in places that made teenage scholars snigger, I approached this book with a great deal of caution. I have to say that Mortimer has made acompelling case for the survival of Edward II, which I personally can go along with. Even if you don't agree with this thesis you should still buy this book if you are interested in: the Fourteenth Century, Edward III, the Hundred Years War. Mortimer takes Edward from vulnerable youth, through warrior king, to manipulated old man, In my opinion this will be the definitive work on Edward III for many years to come. Well written, copiously researched, brilliant, so buy it!
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76 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rattling yarn 2 Dec 2009
By Dr. Tom Bell VINE VOICE
What a marvellous read. I am interested in all areas of history but as a boy Edward and his son the Black Prince were heroes. I have never been able to understand why we see so much about Henry V111 and so little about other great Kings such as Edward 111 or Edward 1 .. or indeed other fascinating long reigns such as Henry 111 with great charactors like Simon de Montfort. Here in Edward Dr Mortimer has found a character worthy of his writing. It is such a marvellous story. The theory that his father was alive till well in his reign is fascinating. Even better is that he does not go on about it , but states it firmly and lays down the reasons why he feels it is true. It is also fascinating that Edward was so enamoured of the tales of Arthur that he not only created his own myth for Camelot, but indeed when we see the myth in out minds eye, or on TV , it is not the early english hero we see but a figure much like Edward himself. READ THIS BOOK you will love it I think.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Forget the tudors, start here! 31 Mar 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the first book I've read about Edward III, and it's great. I was a fan of Mortimer's 'The Greatest Traitor' so really looked forward to reading this.

I was not disappointed. Mortimer sticks to his guns about Edward II being alive in Edward III's reign, and explains his motives in light of this. You couldn't get a more different king from Edward II, however, and it is his successful reign, wars in France and the multitude of offspring he has that makes this not only a great book in itself, but an excellent precursor to reading about Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V, as well as the Wars of the Roses (well, obviously!).

I started my history reading with the tudors, and worked my way back. If you are thinking of starting to read popular history, my advice is to start further back, as anglo-saxon and medieval kings and queens are so much more interesting!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect History in the Telling 28 Aug 2010
By Filthy Raider TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It might seem a bit weird to say it, as the other book is by a different author, but this is a great companion to A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain by Marc Morris.

Edward III is another 'great' English King that no one in my history lessons at school bothered to tell us about. 1066 then the War of the Roses with maybe a rumour of Agincourt thrown in. That was school history of 1066 to 1600!

I have to confess I was fascinated by the war with France and had read a lot about Agincourt and through the unlikely avenue of a Bernard Cornwell book I learned about Crecy and the great battles of Edward III and his eldest son, Edward The Black Prince. These are battles that easily rate with Agincourt in terms of fighting against the odds.

What you learn through this book is that these were ages of intrigue, battles and intense religious and political upheaval. Mortimer, like Morris with Edward I, takes you by the hand and guides you through the mire and throws in a few surprises along the way. His father Edward II, for example, was not dead when Edward III ascended to the throne - he was very much alive and was probably around for several years into the young Edward's reign.

Where Edward I was called the Hammer of the Scots, Edward III was possibly the Hammer of the French, and for 30 years he dominated the battlefields. But Kings get old and unlike Edward I who effectively died being carried to battle, Edward III would die a lonely old man with much of his battle won advantages being lost in later life and after death.

These sort of historical books are terrific reads. You feel like you really 'know' the subject and haven't just had the sort of 'glancing blow' most school history lessons cast at you.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A King For England And A Hero To His People 29 Mar 2011
Having just read Ian Mortimer's book, The Greatest Traitor, I felt compelled to read The Perfect King and was, without exaggeration, completely blown away...!!! When The Greatest Traitor left Edward III, we was still in his teens, a very uncertain and nervous man. The Perfect King provides, with delightfully compelling narrative, an amazing account of the boy who became, arguably the template for what being a king should mean. Ian Mortimer excels in taking the old dust-cloth off of history and bringing it out into the light of day so that it may shine like a jewel and be enjoyed by all who see it. Ian Mortimer is as much a craftsman as he is an Historian.

Additionally, this account, which is written both sympathetically and with reasoned objectivity, gives us an amazing glimpse in to the time when England went from becoming an out of the way island beset with local feuds to THE major force in European politics and a military force to be reckoned with. I loved this book and I feel better for having read it. Ian Mortimer's gift is that he bridges the gap between the past and present and makes knowledge available to all - and he makes history exciting!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!
Such a comprehensive and well written piece of work. I learnt so much and was in disbelief at first that Edward II was not murdered. Makes one proud to be English. Read more
Published 27 days ago by J. Speakman
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb historical biolgraphy
This excellent book completely revolutionises our perception of this important king. It also reveals stunning research that his father was not murdered! Read more
Published 29 days ago by Dr. J. W. Casson
5.0 out of 5 stars Book review
I bought this after reading 'Henry the Vs year of glory' which I found reay enjoyable. This was by the same author. Read more
Published 1 month ago by B. Watret
4.0 out of 5 stars Book
A read that's still in progress but as an initial revue I would say that this will be a good book to have in my collection.
Published 1 month ago by C.M.Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Ian Mortimer at his best
Follows on from his great expose of Roger Mortimer, another brilliant read that turns recieved history on its head... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jane Brooke
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique insight into the central figure of the Hundred Years' War
This is a well-written account that focuses on Edward's political objectives and true motivations for war. Read more
Published 2 months ago by I. H. Roblin
5.0 out of 5 stars fabulous
Truly a work of a genius. Truly informative and fascinating. I would recommend this to anybody interested in English history.
Published 3 months ago by mpatti2401
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good
It's a long book and detailed. It's best to take one's time to read it. I haven't finished it yet. It's teaching me a lot about Edward III. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Julia Hussey
2.0 out of 5 stars I agree with Jo
Yes - the style is of very variable quality and what's more the text is highly tendentious.There is an element of brutality here which can't really be gainsaid.
Published 4 months ago by Mr. J. S. Joseph
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
I came across this in the acknowledgment of another book and it's been a great read. Really illuminating about a formative stage of our country's history and great insight into an... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Bear G
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not until 1802 that George III finally dropped the formal title ‘King of France’, after the French Revolution had destroyed the Bourbon monarchy. &quote;
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Previously medieval society had understood that it was composed of three ‘estates’ of people: those who fought (the nobility and knightly class), those who prayed (monks and the secular clergy), and those who worked (the peasantry). &quote;
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On 15 August 1316 Prince John, Edward’s brother, was born at Eltham. &quote;
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