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ONE FOR THE ACADEMY
on 14 May 2011
In Leeds City Square there is a magnificent statue of the Black Prince, erected in 1903 when the British Empire was at its height, and patriotism uncomplicated. Displaying an intense pride in his life and achievements, the inscription proclaims that the Prince was `the victor of Crécy and Poitiers, the Flower of English Chivalry and the Upholder of the Rights of the People in the Good Parliament'. One would not expect a book written in 2007 to make the same grandiose claims, and Dr Green does not even intend this book as a conventional biography - he has written one of those already (The Black Prince, Tempus 2001). Instead, he tells us openly that he is concerned with themes, and not the person. The common thread is the exercise of power in medieval Europe.
Ideally, this book should be read as a companion to the earlier biography. As such it is an excellent supplement - a typical product of the British academic establishment: learned, well-written, properly documented, and in this case lavishly illustrated; but the book does not stir the emotions. The pride which those English burghers of Leeds felt in 1903 has, alas, long since been dissipated.