David II Paperback – 22 Feb 2005
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From the Author
This book has just been awarded the Saltire Society's Scottish History Book of the Year Award for 2004.
About the Author
Michael Penman is Lecturer in the Department of History, University of Stirling.
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Top Customer Reviews
Like other authors have stated, this is most definately an academic work and is quite difficult for a standard reader who is new to the period. Penman argues (very well) that David's kingship was not, as traditionally thought, to be 'weak and inneffectual', but rather one of chivalry and diplomacy. The argument is put forward that David II had moved beyond the age of skirmishes and hoped to achieve the sort of kingship Europe boasted. Penman weaves this argument through the story of David's colourful and unlucky reign to produce a strong argument to counter most that have gone before it.
I did struggle with a lot of the names thrown at the reader in this work, but I suspect only academic historians will follow this from the outset. I was lucky enough to have been taught by Dr Penman on David II's reign while at uni and although David II didn't interest me much to begin, with this book was absorbing and helped me fill in a huge gap in my knowledge of Scottish history.
This work should definately feature on the bookshelves of those interested in Scottish history. I now feel David II deserves much more attention than he's initially been given and I feel this work will kickstart some serious historical debate on the subject.
The author paints a picture of David II being a ruler that never achieved his maximum potential due to the hinderences he encountered during his reign. Penman also successfully conveys a sense where it is harder to preserve a peace than to win a war. This was a situation that David inherited from famous father - Robert the Bruce.
However a major handicap of the book is Penman's habit of listing off a series charters David II issued to raise his allies or demote crown enemies. These details are often very complex and the book becomes very weighed down at times and makes it difficult to keep track of many of the characters featured.
All in all it is as excellent read. Colourfully and vividly it brings to life the political arena of 14th century Scotland.
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