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The Most Essential Single Volume for the High Medieval Period.
on 20 March 2015
This book cannot be too highly recommended.
As a pleasurable experience, it lacks the 'reads like a novel' quality of books by Marc Morris, Tom Holland, Alison Weir or Ian Mortimer
but, then again, it's not written by one of the popularisers of history, it's the mass of accumulated knowledge catalogued and written down by a giant of the academic study of the High Medieval period, Professor David Carpenter (Peace Be Upon Him). So to even expect such a volume by such an author to be as 'easy' as an Alison Weir title would be to enter into it with false expectations.
Having said that, there is no book on the High Medieval that will not be enhanced by the information within this wonderful book.
If you have the mental stamina and aptitude to read it from start to finish, fantastic. If not, simply cherry pick the chapters that interest you the most or even just use it as a reference book, to help add an extra layer of understanding to the Morris or Mortimer book you're enjoying.
I became aware of this book by just only many bibliographies in turned up in.
When a particularly interesting statement caught my attention, and I checked out the source notes, often I was referred to this one book.
It was almost as if all, or most, source notes led to The Struggle for Mastery.
Another excellent reason for reading this is the absence of works concerning Henry III (since Maurice Powicke's day, anyway).
With the exception of a few titles concerning Simon DeMontfort, Eleanor DeMontfort and Eleanor of Provence (Henry III's Brother-in-Law, Sister and Wife) and the excess of ones about King John and King Edward (his father and son) there is precious little about the actual King who ruled for 56 years - the longest reign of any medieval monarch of England. This book is one of the few that goes into Henry III's reign in more detail than just as it applied to the above mentioned characters, 56 years needed more than the beginning (King John or William Marshall),the latter years (King Edward I) and a side view of the reign during the Baron's Revolt (DeMontford).
There are a great many more reasons why this book is an absolute necessity for the shelves of any student, or fan, of the High Medieval
It's also the one David Carpenter book that doesn't have an expensive price tag. I found mine for a derisory £2.50 (and that was the hardback).
For the price of a Happy Meal, or less, this book will be a lifelong companion for every Norman or early Plantagenet era book you ever read.
It is an absolute must.