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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2009
I have always had a passing interest in the history of the monarchy and when I saw a review of this book I had to get a copy. I was not disappointed, it was a very interesting and enjoyable read. I wish all history books were writen in such an easy to follow way. I look forward to reading other books by Marc Morris.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 December 2014
I'm still reading this book, but so far I'm enjoying it. The author has a very readable style and seems (so far) to have been diligent in his research. Perhaps I will return to this review, but for now I can certainly recommend A Great and Terrible King to anyone with an interest in English medieval history.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 31 July 2011
Good informative book.
I thought the first half of the book was a bit of hard work but once into the Scottish invasion period of Edwards reign it became far more enjoyable and you got a real feel for the man.
Definately not someone to mess with!! good book would recomend.
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on 26 March 2015
Very well written, education and entertainment
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on 23 January 2015
Seems an authoritative book and readable too.
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on 20 February 2015
Arrived in good condition as to be expected.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 September 2009
the book is very informative about the conflict between Wales and England in the 13th Century. I am researching the history of James of St george, master builder and this book and the many references have been a great help
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 September 2013
Marc Morris' work was been advertised as the first biography of Edward I in years, and in many ways it may have been a necessary one. Edward I `Longshanks' stands today as one arguably one of the most notorious and despised Kings of Medieval England (perhaps in part with good reason), many people may know him only as the baddie in Braveheart. Some (as a result of the said movie) have seem even to regard him as a `pagan' King.

Morris explores Edward's life in its entirely to present a more well-rounded view of Edward the man, far removed from the diabolical movie baddie. From his birth and early childhood, to his turbulent teenage years in which the England was in the grip of political upheaval, to his ascension and reign spanning thirty years, revealing Edward's varying roles as warrior, crusader, ruler, lawmaker, friend, adversary, and faithful husband. Perhaps most significantly, the author generally tries to avoid the pitfalls of judging the King by modern standards, though I did not feel that this prevented him from being critical upon occasion. One reviewer said that this biography `bordered on hagiography'. I disagree, not everything Morris says about Edward was positive as far as I could see, and sometimes a rather unflattering picture of the King or Prince emerges.

This said, the author does shed light on some of the perhaps more controversial and unpalatable actions of Edward by the standards of the time, by which they might not have been considered so heinous. For instance, the infamous massacre at Berwick upon Tweed, as terrible as it was, was consistent with the medieval laws of war regarding sieges. Also England's relationship with Scotland, before Edward's fateful decision in the 1290s is also examined, and perhaps surprisingly is revealed to have been positive.
Other aspects of the social background of the political and military events of Edward's reign are also shed light upon, such as the common attitude towards the Welsh, or the challenges posed by the last King of Wales in ruling his own Kingdom, as well as Edward's turbulent relationship with some of his nobles. Also there are other interesting details, such as the assassination attempt on Edward by none other than Sultan Baybars himself, and his dealing with the Mongol Khan during his period on crusade.

On a personal level, some of the events of the King's reign supported a belief I have long held. The The death of Edward's wife, then that of the girl he hoped would marry his son, followed by rebellion and ensued not long after the expulsion of all the Jews from England, and so his `ill-fortune' was a direct consequence of such.

Though towards the end I found the book became a little slower, bogged down perhaps with relating the King's extortions of money from his nobles to fund his wars, and it may sometimes be a little too detailed, I believe it is still a fascinating and valuable work on the King. I also wasn't sure if I agreed with all the author's conclusions made in the final chapter, especially regarding the King's temper, but his overall summary of the characters and reign of Edward may be hard to undermine. Hate him or view him more sympathetically, Edward was indeed A Great and Terrible King who left and indelible mark on British history, admired by many of his contemporaries, missed when he died, and shaped by his times.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2012
Many things are explained here, for the first time for me at least. The origin of Edward's success is much clearer. He was a natural administrator who wanted to inventory everything and reaped the benefit in being able to tax because of it; and lawyer and a very good and experienced warrior. He raised money for building castles (initially) by selling the customs to Italian bankers.
Perhaps the most interesting insight is that the origin of the Irish troubles lay, not in Edward but in the attitude of his magnates who viewed them as animals, not worthy of equality under the law of England. What a mistake that was. Partition was the eventual outcome, an avoidable disaster.
History has improved as this and other books of this kind (narratives) show continually: the depth of the research is very helpful.
From the Scottish point of view, Edward was a rotter: continually moved the goalposts (in all that he did, even to his own English barons). He was just not a decent man. He could be relied upon to cheat. This became more apparent after the death of his first wife. Until then he had striven to be a model king.
His comeuppence was that his son was defeated at Bannockburn, something he would have hated. Had he been in charge, he would still have lost. That is quite certain. I am the expert on that.
From memory, the history of Conway Castle (at the castle) gives a figure of about £4,000 for the construction which is very much less than suggested by this author who writes of about £20,000 for each of the Welsh castles. Maybe further research has moved the figure up.

Edward was above all an innovator, a very active and enterprising ruler who expanded his dominions by force, guile and deceit, overcoming the difficulty of lack of money and troops by sheer power of personality. Yet in his day this would hardly count against him. He set out to make a great kingdom of all the four countries of the British Islands and he succeeded for a time.
A very successful work, this book
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on 15 November 2014
Well written and keeps reader involved
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