He ordered his uncle to be beheaded; he usurped his father's throne; he taxed his people more than any other previous king, and he started a war which lasted for more than a hundred years. Yet for centuries Edward III (1327-77) was celebrated as the most brilliant of all English monarchs. In this first full study of his character and life, Ian Mortimer shows how under Edward the feudal kingdom of England became a highly organised nation, capable of raising large revenues and deploying a new type of projectile-based warfare, culminating in the crushing victory over the French at Crecy. Yet under his rule England also experienced its longest period of domestic peace in the middle ages, giving rise to a massive increase of the nation's wealth through the wool trade, with huge consequences for society, art and architecture. It is to Edward that England owes its system of parliamentary representation, its local justice system, its national flag and the recognition of English as the language of the nation. Nineteenth century historians saw in Edward the opportunity to decry a warmonger, and painted him as a self-seeking, rapacious, tax-gathering conqueror. Yet as this book shows, beneath the strong warrior king was a compassionate, conscientious and often merciful man - resolute yet devoted to his wife, friends and family. He emerges as a strikingly modern figure, to whom many will be able to relate - the father of both the English people and the English nation.
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.
For more information, see www.ianmortimer.com