Finished July 20
The Plantagenets: The Kings Who Made England by Dan Jones
This extensive history of the Plantagenet line of English royalty includes most of the Norman kings as well, taking us from the reign of Henry I to the ascension of Henry IV.
It begins in 1120, with the shipwreck that killed the son and heir of Henry I, William the Aetheling, which set up a power struggle between King Stephen, nephew of King Henry I and Empress Matilda, Henry's daughter and heir.
The Plantagenet Dynasty began with the next king, Henry II, eldest son of Empress Matilda, who married another powerful woman, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Henry II took the throne in 1154. The Plantagent kings reigned as follows.
Henry II (1154-1189)
Richard I (1189-1199), second son of Henry II
John (1199-1216), fourth and youngest son of Henry II
Henry III (1216-1272), eldest son of John
Edward I (1272-1307), eldest son of Henry III
Edward II (1307-1327), youngest son of Edward I
Edward III (1327-1377), eldest son of Edward II
Richard II (1377-1399), grandson of Edward III, second son of his eldest son Edward, The Black Prince
Henry IV, who took the kingdom from Richard II, was also a grandson of Edward III, by his son John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and his reign began the rule of the House of Lancaster.
This book definitely shows the human failings of the kings, but also the courageous acts and leadership abilities. We see the fear and jealousy, the misguided advice and bad decisions, the political intrigues and the emergence of British law. This is the line of kings that brought us the Magna Carta and parliament, the line that showed that a king had responsibilities towards his subjects of good government.
This set of kings won large portions of what is now France, and lost them again.
Laid out in short chapters, this book shows us predominantly the public side of these men, with glimpses of the personal.