A novelistic historical account of the bloodline that “stamped their mark forever on the English imagination."
The first 250 years of the Plantagenets included numerous battles, the first half of the Hundred Years’ War and some of the most colorful kings, from Henry II (the first king of England, as opposed to “of the English”) and his “eaglets” to the three Edwards and Richard II. With a bit of background on the civil war between Stephen and Matilda that first gained the throne for Henry, Jones (Summer of Blood: The Peasants' Revolt of 1381, 2009) splits his tale in two at the usurpation of Richard II in 1399 by his first cousin Henry IV. This structure will whet readers’ appetites for the second volume, which will cover the War of the Roses, the princes in the Tower and Richard III. Shakespeare and the movies have given most nonhistorians sufficient background to enjoy further tales of these kings and the little I-never-knew-that! moments that a good historian uses to tickle our fancies. For example, Edward I’s Hundred Rolls was an even larger inventory than William the Conqueror’s Domesday Book. After King John’s death, his wife, Isabella of Angouleme, returned to France and married the man she was betrothed to when John swept her off her feet. There were so many battles and skirmishes with France and invasions back and forth, readers may wonder why the French and British even speak to each other anymore. Perhaps Jones’ regular column in the London Standard has given him a different slant on history; however he manages, it’s certainly to our benefit.
Historians may question a few dates and events, but for enjoyable historical narratives, this book is a real winner.