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Warrior, Diplomat, Hero, Rebel and Traitor
on 6 February 2011
A traitor, perhaps. But to whom?
Where, indeed, were history books like this when I was at school? Well, as I am the same age as Ian Mortimer and he was, obviously, at school the same time as me, the likelihood is that they were still a long time away...
Since reading The Greatest Traitor several points have come to my mind, not least being the question of who was Roger Mortimer and why hadn't I heard of him and, if I hadn't heard of him, why has such an important character been "glossed over" by historty and historians, what was his function in the great scheme of things that was the Fourteenth Century.
Ian Mortimer's book is a work of true craftsmanship that explains, not just for the avidly studious, but also for the enthusiastic amateur, who he was and what impact he had on the period in which he lived and, he does so with an easy but dynamic style that radiates the author's passion for the task at hand; astonishingly, given the subject matter of the book, where taking sides would be far to easy an option, Mr Mortimer is very objective about the events of Roger Mortimer's life, his actions and their ultimate consequences. For his part, Roger Mortimer lived an astonishingly eventful forty-three years and achieved so very much, was party to so much and, by sheer quirk of historic editing, seemed to have become lost in a wilderness of historic obscurity until Ian Mortimer decided upon this work of literary excellence.
To my mind it is the duty of the historian to furnish the world with the facts as they were recorded, as they were understood and how they were perceived, both at the time of their happening and now. Ian Mortimer has succeeded wonderfully by creating this work; a word that offers the facts, places the facts in context and offers valid opinions based on those facts with clear and reasoned argument. Sir Roger Mortimer was, in his forty-three year life, many things; a warrior, a diplomat, a rebel, a usurper and, ultimately, a tyrant. What he shall not be is forgotten, thanks to the inestimable Ian Mortimer and his most delightful book.
I have purchased all of Ian Mortimer's published works and am sure I will enjoy them all with the same enthusiasm I did The "Greatest Traitor". This is a book I would and have recommended to anyone with the even the faintest interest in English history.
This book has given me perspective on a man who achieved so much and lost so much; to answer my own question, was a trator to himself more than anyone else.