The Greatest Traitor

The Greatest Traitor : The Life of Sir Roger Mortimer, Ruler of England 1327-1330

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One night in August 1323 a captive rebel baron, Sir Roger Mortimer, drugged his guards and escaped from the Tower of London. With the king's men-at-arms in pursuit he fled to the south coast, and sailed to France. There he was joined by Isabella, the Queen of England, who threw herself into his arms. A year later, as lovers, they returned with an invading army: King Edward II's forces crumbled before them, and Mortimer took power. He removed Edward II in the first deposition of a monarch in British history. Then the ex-king was apparently murdered, some said with a red-hot poker, in Berkeley Castle. Brutal, intelligent, passionate, profligate, imaginative and violent: Sir Roger Mortimer was an extraordinary character. It is not surprising that the queen lost her heart to him. Nor is it surprising that his contemporaries were terrified of him. But until now no one has appreciated the full evil genius of the man. This first biography reveals not only the man's career as a feudal lord, a governor of Ireland, a rebel leader and a dictator of England but also the truth of what happened that night in Berkeley more

Product details

  • Paperback | 400 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 30mm | 299.38g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New edition
  • 8
  • 0712697152
  • 9780712697156
  • 517,680

Review quote

' Mortimer' s book roars, races and sings-with a sense of passion and drama and an unrelenting pace.' Ann Wroe, Daily Telegraphshow more

About Mortimer, Ian

Ian Mortimer graduated with a degree in History from the University of Exeter in 1989, then qualified as an archivist at UCL and worked in the Devon Record Office and the Public Record Office before taking up a post in the Department of History at Reading University. In 1994 he moved to the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts. In1999 he moved back to the University of Exeter, where he has been employed since, in a dual capacity as lecturer in primary sources for British history and as an archivist. He has lectured on a very wide range of historical themes, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in more

Review Text

Many of the labyrinthine comings and goings in the lives of England's rulers have already been discussed and analysed in great detail, but that's certainly not the case where Sir Roger Mortimer is concerned. It's a peculiar omission, for the exploits and machinations of the first Earl of March who ruled England briefly in the early part of the 14th century make for a particularly gripping and action-packed tale. This is the first time in almost 800 years that the adulterous adventurer has come under such scrutiny, and his life is revisited and recounted in comprehensive detail by Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Ian Mortimer. The author, who is no relation, reckons it's time for a kinder approach to the much maligned rebel baron, and clearly delights in conjuring up scenes of mediaeval Britain, Ireland and parts of continental Europe as a suitably dramatic backdrop to a marvellous tale of adventure and intrigue. Here is a man who went from being the governor of Ireland and 'lord of many manors throughout England' to being held captive in the Tower of London, languishing under a life sentence for his part in a rebellion against King Edward II in 1321. Mortimer is perceived to be a real threat to the far from popular ruler and the even more unpopular government of the time, and his life sentence becomes a death sentence. Escape is the only option and a combination of drugged guards, chimney climbing, rope ladders and rowing boats help the intrepid Mortimer to make his way to France, where he is joined by his love, Queen Isabella. They return to England a year later to wrest control from the king, and Mortimer secures his pivotal role in one of the 'most significant events of mediaeval European history'. (Kirkus UK)show more

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615 ratings
4.12 out of 5 stars
5 40% (246)
4 38% (236)
3 17% (102)
2 4% (24)
1 1% (7)
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