A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain

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9780091796846: A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain

This is the first major biography for a generation of a truly formidable king - a man born to rule England, who believed that it was his right to rule all of Britain. His reign was one of the most dramatic and important of the entire Middle Ages, leading to war and conquest on an unprecedented scale, and leaving a legacy of division between the peoples of Britain that has lasted from his day to our own. Edward I is familiar to millions as 'Longshanks', conqueror of Scotland and nemesis of Sir William Wallace ('Braveheart'). Yet this story forms only the final chapter of the king's astonishingly action-packed life. Earlier Edward had defeated and killed the famous Simon de Montfort in battle; travelled across Europe to the Holy Land on crusade; conquered Wales, extinguishing forever its native rulers, and constructing - at Conwy, Harlech, Beaumaris and Caernarfon - the most magnificent chain of castles ever created. He raised the greatest armies of the English Middle Ages, and summoned the largest parliaments; notoriously, he expelled all the Jews from his kingdom. The longest-lived of all England's medieval kings, he fathered no fewer than fifteen children with his first wife, Eleanor of Castile, and after her death he erected the Eleanor Crosses - the grandest funeral monuments ever fashioned for an English monarch. In this book, Marc Morris examines afresh the forces that drove Edward throughout his relentless career: his character, his Christian faith, and his sense of England's destiny - a sense shaped in particular by the tales of the legendary King Arthur. He also explores the competing reasons that led Edward's opponents (including Llywelyn ap Gruffudd and Robert Bruce) to resist him, and the very different societies that then existed in Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The result is a sweeping story, immaculately researched yet compellingly told, and a vivid picture of medieval Britain at the moment when its future was decided.

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Review:

'A direct, forthright and welcoming book... Edward I was called a "great and terrible king" and he has been well served by Marc Morris' -- Scotland on Sunday

'A highly readable account of an important reign' -- Scotsman

'A splendid example of the genre. Edward's life is in many ways an ideal subject for such an approach, full of incident and action... An excellent, readable account of his reign'
-- Literary Review

'Historical biography's newest star'
-- Bookseller

'The title of Marc Morris' book is apt. No king of England had a greater impact on the peoples of Britain than Edward I... he has succeeded in writing a book for today'
-- TLS

'Uncommonly good ... He was a remarkable man, and a great king. Marc Morris does him justice, brings him clearly before our eyes ... It's compelling stuff'
-- Allan Massie, Daily Telegraph

I enjoyed A Great and Terrible King
-- Robert Salisbury, Books of the Year, Spectator

Morris tells Edward's story fluently and conveys a compelling sense of the reality, and the contingency, of personal rule -- Guardian

Book Description:

The first popular biography of Edward I in a generation by a major new historian.

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Morris, Marc
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