An in-depth overview of Edward IV’s reign.
Corbet’s debut nonfiction tome argues that the titular English king, known for his prowess on the battlefield, was more successful than he’s often given credit for. His historical reputation, he says, is due to agitation from various members of the aristocracy and the fact that he’s overshadowed by Richard III, who usurped the throne from Edward’s successor and, in a sense, got all the press from that period (thanks to William Shakespeare’s famous play). Despite political infighting and frequent conflicts, including the Hundred Years’ War, Edward IV’s reign marked a period of increased growth in the merchant class, Corbet asserts, leading to greater national wealth and political power as well as a relatively peaceful period over its last years. Divided into three sections, this well-researched work presents an overarching historical narrative of Edward IV’s rule followed by an analysis of the years immediately after the monarch’s death and the subsequent shaping of his legacy. It concludes with a series of minibiographies of the major players and historical figures of the time followed by appendices that lay out the family trees of the major royal houses, among other historical information. This book is exhaustively researched and presented with an eye toward accuracy as it buttresses Corbet’s thesis. The text can often be dry, with only flashes of the author’s personality seeping through the barrage of details and events. On the other hand, his fascination with the era is evident at all times, and his passion for arguing Edward’s merits, even while acknowledging the king’s errors, goes a long way toward maintaining the book’s momentum. For readers interested in English history or the political machinations of 15th-century royalty, Corbet’s work will be a welcome addition to the canon.
author’s deep knowledge and clear passion for royal history help drive this historical
analysis forward, even when the details threaten to become overwhelming.