The first major biography of a truly formidable king, whose reign was one of the most dramatic and important of the entire Middle Ages, leading to war and conquest on an unprecedented scale.
Edward I is familiar to millions as "Longshanks," conqueror of Scotland and nemesis of Sir William Wallace (in "Braveheart"). Yet this story forms only the final chapter of the king's action-packed life. Earlier, Edward had defeated and killed the famous Simon de Montfort in battle; travelled to the Holy Land; conquered Wales, extinguishing forever its native rulers and constructing a magnificent chain of castles. He raised the greatest armies of the Middle Ages and summoned the largest parliaments; notoriously, he expelled all the Jews from his kingdom.The longest-lived of England's medieval kings, he fathered fifteen children with his first wife, Eleanor of Castile, and, after her death, he erected the Eleanor Crosses—the grandest funeral monuments ever fashioned for an English monarch.
In this book, Marc Morris examines afresh the forces that drove Edward throughout his relentless career: his character, his Christian faith, and his sense of England's destiny—a sense shaped in particular by the tales of the legendary King Arthur. He also explores the competing reasons that led Edward's opponents (including Robert Bruce) to resist him.
The result is a sweeping story, immaculately researched yet compellingly told, and a vivid picture of medieval Britain at the moment when its future was decided.
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.