A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain

A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain

by Marc Morris

His reign was one of the most dramatic and important of the entire Middle Ages, leading to war and conquest on an unprecedented scale, and leaving a legacy of division between the peoples of Britain that has lasted from his day to our own.Edward I is familiar to millions as Longshanks, conqueror of Scotland and nemesis of Sir William Wallace (Braveheart).

Yet this story forms only the final chapter of the kings astonishingly action-packed life.

He also explores the competing reasons that led Edwards opponents (including Llywelyn ap Gruffudd and Robert Bruce) to resist him, and the very different societies that then existed in Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

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.

  • Language: English
  • Category: History
  • Rating: 4.12
  • Pages: 400
  • Publish Date: March 6th 2008 by Hutchinson
  • Isbn10: 0091796849
  • Isbn13: 9780091796846

What People Think about "A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain"

His father, Henry III, was a weak king, not a bad man, just not strong enough to contain the nobles or to hang onto the extent of his kingdom that was built by those who preceded him. Aerial view of Harlech Castle, built by Edward the 1st in Wales. Now, Simon de Montfort revolted against Henry III, and early on Edward sided with the barons against his own father, but after further reflection, he discovered that he was on the wrong side to insure his own future. At the Battle of Lewes in 1264, Montfort successfully defeated the Royalists, despite the fact that Edward fought well. Montfort himself, meanwhile, had received the special honour of a dedicated death-squad--a dozen men, the strongest and most intrepid in arms, chosen by Edward on the eve of battle, whose sole task was to find the earl and kill him. Aerial view of Caernarfon Castle Wales, built by Edward the 1st This is interesting because, generally with aristocracy, every attempt is made to capture them rather than kill them. Edward made a decision to kill Montfort, a decision that Henry III would have really struggled with. Interesting enough, Montfort is not done with Edward. As I was reading this book, it really felt like Edward was always at war. One thing that came of all his wars in Wales was that he was compelled to build these beautiful, amazing castles to intimidate the Welsh population. Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the last Welsh born prince of Wales, who had proved to be a thorn in Edwards side numerous times, decided to take a bride. Conwy Castle, built by Edward the 1st to intimidate Wales. I think the other nickname that Edward came to be known by, Hammer of the Scots, might give you some inkling as to how most of those battles went. He was nothing more than a blip on Edwards long and successful tenure as king. When Edward died in 1307, it would not be till his grandson Edward III came to power in 1327, after a very interesting power play by Edward IIIs mother, that England would have another king worth fighting for. Aerial view of Beaumaris Castle, built by Edward the 1st in Wales.

Marc Morris' main argument is, yes Edward I was a bit of a bastard, but he was a bastard in keeping with the late 13th Century.

While I already have a fascination with English history, and that certainly helped my choice, I also loved the movie "Braveheart" and this is the king that killed Mel Gibson. The English death sentence for treason was a particularly grotesque procedure only mildly portrayed in Mel Gibson's movie but routinely used over the centuries following Edward.

As a young prince he fought to suppress Simon de Montforts rebellion.

And I'll admit that you can't judge a medieval monarch by today's standards, but even so I found Morris' constant excusing of Edward's actions tiring.

The fact that in his biography of Edward I, Marc Morris does not, makes it an extremely refreshing read. A Great and Terrible King is a detailed account of the life and reign of Edward I, from the time of his conception and birth to the day he dies. Edwards life had many complex incidents that, in this book, flow from the pages with apparent ease. Marc Morris looks at all of the challenges Edward faced; from the Provisions of Oxford and crusades to the Holy Land during his fathers reign to his conquest of Wales, battles to regain his lordship of Gascony and gain control of Scotland in his own. The conquest of Wales, for example, was not Edward merely being a cruel and oppressing tyrant; it was Edward being a medieval warrior king, wanting to make life better for his subjects. Anyway, this book is an absolute must read for anyone who is interested in Edward I and medieval England.

In this audiobook, 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. Dr Marc Morris portrays the era accurately and in an engaging manner; Ralph Lister reads with energy.

While not skimping on what to modern mores are inherently evil actions, the author attempts to put Edwards actions into the context of his times. In looking at Edwards life, Prof Morris literally starts at the being and shows how being the son of an ineffectual king, Henry III affected his ruling style. These wars were not just the well know conquests of Wales and the largely successful, in his lifetime at least, conquest of Scotland, but included going on Crusade to the Holy Land and attempting to salvage the Crusaders States, attempting to save his French provinces, mainly Gascony and restore what he believed were his French lands that his Father and Grandfather had lost. I telling the tale of his conquest of Wales, the author looks at the causes of the wars and the tactics Edward used to subdue the Welch and permanently annex Wales to the English throne. In looking at the reasons for Edwards attempts to conquer Scotland and Wales, the author looks at the role the Arthurian legends had on Edwards thinking. In looking at the personal side of Edward, Prof Morris paints a man who was devoted in his religion. Finally, looking at the two great stains on his reputation, Prof Morris looks at the role the Church had in the attitudes towards the Jews.

He is Edward I and the author believes that his life is overdue a modern retelling of his life. Morris has worked well in carefully omitting whatever his own personal feelings are, showing in equal measure why Edward I was at once both a great and a terrible king, prolific builder, ruthless conqueror, shrewd businessman, tyrant, prolific taxer, defender of the faith concerned largely with ensuring the safety of his kingdom. Certainly the case is compelling: he ended the Welsh royal line and first granted the title of the heir to the English throne Prince of Wales but Im not sure this can be indicative of anything other than a desire to expand the kingdom of England with a view to claiming lands he desired (Wales and Scotland) and lands he believed was his by right and had been lost by previous kings (France).