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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Critical yet sympathetic account of the life of King Stephen., 28 May 2011
By 
K. J. Greenland "kevinthegerbil" (Cardiff, Wales) - See all my reviews
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Edmund King has written a meticulously detailed and a well-researched account of the life of King Stephen. Withe the nineteen year long civil war the main event of the reign, King also gives important assessment to the real powers behind the throne; Stephen's queen Matilda and brother Henry of Winchester, son Eustace, and his civil war enemies; Empress Matilda, her bastard brother Robert of Gloucester and the 'legal heir' to the kingdom, Duke Henry of Normandy who succeeded Stephen as Henry II.

The traditional view of Stephen is that he was an ineffective ruler who failed to pass on his kingdom to his descendants, relinquishing the succession after 19 years of civil war to Henry, Duke of Normandy, the future Henry II, the son of Empress Matilda and grandson of the previous king Henry I.

While King doesn't shy away from Stephen's ultimate failure, he is very sympathetic, concluding that, to his credit, Stephen was a peace-loving king but at the same time appeasement in favour of his enemies did not secure him and his descendants the crown. King writes with John of Worcester's conclusion in mind, that 'Stephen is the king of peace. If only he was the king of firm justice, crushing his enemies under foot.' It was inevitable, as evidenced by the peaceful settlement, even before Stephen's heir Eustace's death, that Duke Henry would succeed.

A valuable book that gives us more flesh and understanding to this period.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars King Stephen, 5 April 2012
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This review is from: King Stephen: Yale English Monarchs (Yale English Monarchs Series) (The Yale English Monarchs Series) (Paperback)
I very much enjoyed reading this important biography of a little-known English king. Yale do an excellent job in producing this series.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 29 Jan. 2015
This review is from: King Stephen: Yale English Monarchs (Yale English Monarchs Series) (The Yale English Monarchs Series) (Paperback)
good biog, many thx
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A present, 23 Oct. 2013
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I can't comment on it because it was as a present for someone else, but it arrived quickly and it was well-packaged, so I gave it 5-stars on that basis alone.
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