This is the first major biography for a generation of a truly formidable king. Edward I is familiar to millions as 'Longshanks', conqueror of Scotland and nemesis of Sir William Wallace ('Braveheart'). Edward was born to rule England, but believed that it was his right to rule all of Britain. His reign was one of the most dramatic of the entire Middle Ages, leading to war and conquest on an unprecedented scale, and leaving a legacy of division that has lasted from his day to our own.
In his astonishingly action-packed life, Edward 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 constructed - at Conwy, Harlech, Beaumaris and Caernarfon - the most magnificent chain of castles ever created. After the death of his first wife he erected the Eleanor Crosses - the grandest funeral monuments ever fashioned for an English monarch.
In an age of chivalry and ever-shifting political boundaries, Edward I typified the ideal medieval monarch in his significant military conquests, construction of notable castles and towns, and participation in the Crusades. Morris (The Norman Conquest) expertly puts Edward's achievements, such as the Model Parliament, into historical context while laying bare and making interesting the king's struggles. The account primarily centers on Edward's role as monarch; there's comparatively little development of his personal relationships with his much-loved wife and tragedy-prone children. Edward's flaws (expelling the Jews, throwing temper tantrums, and levying heavy taxes) receive clear analysis; Morris wryly notes that an aging Edward benefited from outliving many of his detractors. Descriptions of Edward waging war in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and even Gascony maintain a level of excitement as Morris cleverly builds anticipation, never dropping a narrative thread. In Morris' able hands, readers accompany Edward Longshanks as he earns his legendary status as the larger-than-life warrior king who defeated Scotland's William Wallace, held on to his French lands, and built a reputation nearly impossible for later Plantagenet rulers to duplicate. Illus.