Format Hardcover
Publication Date 03/15/15
ISBN 9781605986845
Trim Size / Pages 9.3 x 6.5 in / 480

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A Great and Terrible King

Edward I and the Forging of Britain

Marc Morris

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.

Marc Morris, PhD, is an historian and broadcaster, specializing in the Middle Ages. An expert on medieval monarchy and aristocracy, Marc has written numerous articles for History Today, BBC History Magazine and Heritage Today; he speaks regularly to schools, historical societies, and literary festivals, and also leads specialist tours of UK castles. He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and lives in England.

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Endorsements & Reviews

“A painstakingly researched and highly readable account. Vivid details and an engaging narrative style bring the man and his period to life. Highly recommended for scholars and generalists alike interested in the Middle Ages.” Library Journal (starred review)
“Enhanced with color and b&w photos, a list of abbreviations, chapter notes, a bibliography, Family Trees, and a comprehensive index, A Great And Terrible King is an extraordinary read and highly recommended for both community and academic library collections.” Midwest Book Review
“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. 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.” Publishers Weekly
“A modern classic. This is a thoroughly readable study, written in a lively and accessible manner and full of fresh insights into a crucial period of British history.” The Historian
“A splendid example of the genre. An excellent, readable account of his reign.” The Literary Review
“Morris does a splendid job of distinguishing England, Scotland and Wales in geographic, topographic, political and cultural terms. His descriptions of battles, political shenanigans and betrayals are as clear as a bell and his enthusiasm for his subject helps to make this biography something of a page turner.” The Providence Journal
“Uncommonly good. Edward was a remarkable man, and a great king. Marc Morris does him justice. It’s compelling stuff.” Allan Massie, bestselling author of 'The Royal Stuarts'
“An informative and easily digestible account of the life of an important if often unattractive medieval monarch.” Booklist
“Richly contextual treatment of a pivotal Medieval English monarch. An elucidating biography.” Kirkus
“Marc Morris is historical biography’s newest star.” The Bookseller
“The title of Marc Morris’ book is apt. No king of England had a greater impact on the peoples of Britain than Edward I. Morris has succeeded in writing a book for today.” The Times Literary Supplement