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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have!, 2 May 2010
This review is from: John of Gaunt: The Exercise of Princely Power in Fourteenth-Century Europe (Paperback)
My only knowledge of John of Gaunt was limited to what I read in Shakespeare's play. Obviously, I didn't know much. After two semesters spent working on late medieval England, I ended up studying Richard II's reign and the king's relation to his magnates. As Duke of Lancaster and uncle to Richard, Gaunt was the wealthiest and most powerful of them but his unpopularity matched his status.

For long, John of Gaunt had been almost disregarded by historians who saw him in the wider frame of the Lancastrian Affinity and such works were not too interesting for anyone who did not study history. The only other biography of Gaunt to be found is that of Armitage-Smith, written in 1904, a fact that speak for itself. The reign of Richard II had been the subject to many interpretations and studies but what of this man who played a most important role during that period?

Anthony Goodman does John of Gaunt justice with his work, showing and explaining the different aspects of a complex man who's attachment to royal prerogative was seen as an illustration of his own interest in the crown. Goodman presents us with the statesman, the mighty Duke of Lancaster who had a claim to the throne of Castile, but also with a man who shaped the politics of his time and who was revered in all Europe. John of Gaunt was not the evil uncle, the father of an usurper (which might be discussed quite lengthily) some might want to see, and this book is perhaps what Lancastrian studies needed.

An authoritative account of John of Gaunt's life and achievements, as well as a very instructive and enjoyable read. A must have for every student and scholar working on the reigns of Edward III, Richard II and even Henry IV, or later medieval England in general.
Also, one of the rare books bought for studies that can be read just to improve one's own knowledge.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 28 Mar 2013 20:47:35 GMT
B. D. Elford says:
A helpful review, thank you. You may want to edit "who's", which should be the possessive "whose". I was unclear what to conclude from knowing that Armitage Smith's book was published in 1904.
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