The Perfect King

The Perfect King : The Life of Edward III, Father of the English Nation

4.15 (1,080 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

He ordered his uncle to be beheaded; he usurped his father's throne; he started a war which lasted for more than a hundred years, and taxed his people more than any other previous king. Yet for centuries Edward III was celebrated as the most brilliant king England had ever had, and three hundred years after his death it was said that his kingship was perhaps the greatest that the world had ever known. In this first full study of the man's character and life, Ian Mortimer shows how Edward personally provided the impetus for much of the drama of his fifty-year reign. Edward overcame the tyranny of his guardians at the age of seventeen and then set about developing a new form of awe-inspiring chivalric kingship. Under him the feudal kingdom of England became a highly organised, sophisticated nation, capable of raising large revenues and deploying a new type of projectile-based warfare, and without question the most important military nation in Europe. Yet under his rule England also experienced its longest period of domestic peace in the middle ages, giving rise to a massive increase of the nation's wealth through the wool trade, with huge consequences for society, art and architecture. It is to Edward that we owe our system of parliamentary representation, our local justice system, our national flag and the English language as the 'tongue of the nation'. Nineteenth century historians saw in Edward the opportunity to decry a warmonger, and painted him as a self-seeking, rapacious, tax-gathering conqueror. Yet as this book shows, beneath the strong warrior king was a compassionate, conscientious and often merciful man - resolute yet devoted to his wife, friends and family. He emerges as a strikingly modern figure, to whom many will be able to relate - the father of both the English nation and the English people.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 560 pages
  • 160 x 230 x 44mm | 839.16g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • Jonathan Cape Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 8
  • 022407301X
  • 9780224073011

Author information

Ian Mortimer was educated at Eastbourne College, Exeter University and University College London. He has worked for several archival and historical research organisations, including Devon Record Office, Reading University, the Historical Manuscripts Commission and Exeter University.He is married with three children and lives on the edge of Dartmoor.He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 1998 and his mostshow more

Review quote

"This is a story which, for its boldness of interpretation, success in evoking this vanished medieval world, and sheer narrative elan, deserves to be widely read."-"Sunday Times" "From the Trade Paperback edition."show more

Rating details

1,080 ratings
4.15 out of 5 stars
5 40% (429)
4 41% (445)
3 15% (163)
2 3% (30)
1 1% (13)
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