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Medieval Intrigue Paperback – 15 Oct 2008

3.6 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Continuum; Reprint edition (15 Oct. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1441102698
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441102690
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.2 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 348,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

[Mortimer] revisits the methodology of medieval history, analysing numerous key historical texts in a new way to shed a refreshing light on the facts.' --Your Family Tree

About the Author

Ian Mortimer is the author of the bestselling The Time-Traveller's Guide to Medieval England, a series of four medieval historical biographies and a revolutionary study of medicine in early modern England. He is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Exeter, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (by whom he was awarded the Alexander Prize in 2004) and a qualified archivist.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mike Davey VINE VOICE on 17 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a quantum leap away from his previous 'The Time Travellers Guide to Medieval England' but quite in line with his 4 excellent biographical studies of the period and clearly outlines his theory that historical 'facts' can be challenged using an Information based approach to argue with the evidence or lack of it and actually questioning what 'evidence' really means.

It has to be admitted that this is not going to appeal to the casual reader because it assumes too much prior knowledge. The author expects that the reader will already know the background to e.g. the death/murder of Edward II to appreciate his reasons why alternative readings of events can be outlined. The first chapter outlines the Information based approach that Dr Mortimer is using and I found that once I had fully taken this in, then the individual chapters became really exciting and thought provoking.

I cannot however recommend this book to readers of his other studies of the period for the following reason. I agree with the reviewer who has pointed out that the cover is rather misleading because it does tend to obscure the serious nature of the study: one chapter actually being devoted to arguing with specific critiques of the author's view that Edward II was not murdered in Berkeley Castle. After much thought I am still concerned by its marketing and am taking a star off the review for this reason. It is fair to say that this very serious study is being marketed in a way that will attract all the readers that were entranced by Dr Mortimers' other books on the period and that is unreasonable because it is not going to appeal in such a general way - in my opinion.

It is absolutely fascinating stuff but extremely hard going because it falls into the serious history arena. This is without doubt a tour de force as a study but again, the publishers are misleading us.
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Format: Hardcover
I have to admit, when I first saw Ian Mortimer's new history book-I was a bit dumbfound. He had always written history for the general reader, but with this book he was advertising scholarship instead of general readability. His questions in this book run very deep at the heart of English and indeed, European Medieval history.

This book contains ground-breaking research. On some things, Mortimer goes back to touch on again (for example the Death of Edward II). On others, he is presenting new evidence and histories of various topics (one being the concept of the pretender. I found all of this very intersting. I won't say its all easy to comprehend-you might have to reread the first chapter to take it all in, but nonetheless you will fing many thought provoking histories in this book. Central is Mortimer's scientific theory that helps determine what can be considered fact and what can't

This book, for all its scholarship, is a great tool for historians and for history buffs. It's not an easy read-on the contrary, Mortimer himself has stated it is very hard-core history. However, that does nothing to jeperdise Mortimer's historiacl reputation. If anything, this book enriches it, for here is Ian Mortimer's answers to the scholars and academics who have questioned him for so long.
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Format: Hardcover
The conventional view is that Edward II was probably murdered in Berkeley castle in 1327, perhaps by means of a heated rod inserted into his anus; but Ian Mortimer believes that the evidence for this, and even for the fact of the King's death in 1327, is very unreliable; that Edward escaped to Corfe Castle, Ireland and then Italy, where he lived in a monastery as a hermit. He was the same man who was known as William le Galeys, was still alive when Edward III went to see him in Germany in 1338 and probably did not die until 1341[pp 178 & 212].

Mortimer has argued this case in a series of remarkable books, and he now re-states it, in the context of an explanation of his methodology. He makes large claims for his general theory: he claims that his approach constitutes a `revolution' (indeed a `double revolution') in historical technique' [p 38]; and appears to believe that his theories have something in common with those used by scientists. Yet he shares nothing of the scepticism of the scientist and, at times, openly declares a faith. One day he will be proved right, and what he has been saying for years about Edward II will be shown to be the truth [p 146].

Many would regard the writing of history as part of literature - an art, and not a science at all, in the same sense as maths, physics and chemistry. Whilst it is important to be as accurate as possible in finding and selecting the facts, we should not fool ourselves into thinking that we are re-creating the past, or even that we can be certain about it, or accurate in the way that mathematics and `hard' science are capable of being. We cannot construct theorems which use exact algebraic formulae; and we cannot conduct experiments, so as to falsify or confirm our theories. Ian Mortimer is not content with this.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not an easy read but an interesting one with a postmodern view of using historical sources. The subject-matter is as interesting as the accounts offered. A book for someone with a serious interest in History and how historians work. Five stars for a book that has a confident approach to the task but four stars for the complexity of some argument and the tendenct to obscurity through what used to be called 'jargon'. I have a good history degree, I struggled a little sometimes but I finished the book feeling that the efforts were well worth the cvhallenge
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