31 January, 2012

Edward II Non-Fiction

 Today's post is about the five biographies of Edward II published in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and lists other non-fiction works about him.  The five biographies are:

Seymour Phillips, 2010.















- Seymour Phillips, Edward II (2010).  Part of the Yale English Monarchs series (W. Mark Ormrod's biography of Edward III, in the same series, was published recently), and a superb achievement likely to remain the standard work on Edward II's reign for many years.  Useful both for the reader who knows little about Edward's reign and for anyone with more knowledge of the era, and much more sympathetic to the king than accounts of him usually are, without whitewashing his many mistakes and character flaws.  There are great reviews here and here, and one by Professor Nigel Saul here.  (And a really dire, extremely ill-informed one here.)

- Roy Martin Haines, King Edward II: His Life, His Reign, and Its Aftermath, 1284-1330 (2003).  Also a scholarly, exhaustive look at Edward's life and reign, especially useful for its chapters on what was happening in Scotland, Ireland and Gascony at the time.  Perhaps not the best bet unless you already know a lot about the era, however, but a must-read for anyone seriously interested in Edward II.

Harold F. Hutchison, 1971.
- Mary Saaler, Edward II 1307-1327 (1997).  A small book of less than 150 pages to cover the period from 1284 to 1327, for a general audience.  There are a few interesting details in it I haven't seen elsewhere, such as Edward's owning falcons in the 1310s named Beaumont and Damory after his kinsman Henry Beaumont and friend Roger Damory, but there are also many inaccuracies, and overall I'd describe it as oddly disappointing and inadequate.

Caroline Bingham, 1973.
- Caroline Bingham, The Life and Times of Edward II (1973).  A gorgeously illustrated overview of Edward's life and reign, aimed at a general audience.  Although necessarily dated now, and states the red-hot poker death as fact, this is a really good place to start if you're interested in Edward II and his reign, and it treats him sympathetically and makes many insightful points.  Definitely recommended (as long as you take some of it with a pinch of salt!).

- Harold F. Hutchison, Edward II: The Pliant King (1971).  Another short overview of Edward's reign for general readers, also necessarily dated as it's over forty years old now, but a good little read to get you started.  The useful appendices cite some of the Ordinances of 1311 and several of Edward's extant letters of 1305, and the epilogue defends him against charges made against him in 1327 and ever since.

Other works of non-fiction about Edward II and his reign:
Mary Saaler, 1997

- Hilda Johnstone, Edward of Carnarvon 1284-1307 (1946).  Terrific examination of Edward II before his accession to the throne.  I love this one.

Roy Martin Haines, 2003.
- Natalie Fryde, The Tyranny and Fall of Edward II 1321-1326 (1979).  A much-used textbook, but not one I have much time for, I'm afraid; very useful in some aspects, especially Edward's finances, but full of errors, and ruined for me at least by Mrs Fryde's obvious dislike of Edward, which leads her into some unfair judgements on him.

- Gwilym Dodd and Anthony Musson, eds., The Reign of Edward II: New Perspectives (2006).  Superb collection of academic essays about aspects of Edward II's personality and reign, including his sexuality, his education and his foreign policy.

- James Conway Davies, The Baronial Opposition to Edward II: Its Character and Policy (1918).  Not for beginners.  :-)

- Roy Martin Haines, Death of a King: an account of the supposed escape and afterlife of Edward of Caernarvon, formerly Edward II, King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Aquitaine (2002).  Aimed at a popular audience, in contrast to Professor Haines' other scholarly works, this slim volume provides a useful overview of the events and people involved in them after Edward's supposed death in 1327.  I strongly disagree with his opinions and evaluation of the earl of Kent's plot of 1330, however.

R. Perry, Edward the Second: Suddenly, at Berkeley (1988).  Very short - more of a pamphlet than a book, really - discussion of the plots to free Edward of Caernarfon in 1327, his supposed death, and its aftermath.

- Ian Mortimer, Medieval Intrigue: Decoding Royal Conspiracies (2010).  Includes Dr Mortimer's excellent article 'The Death of Edward II in Berkeley Castle', formerly published in the English Historical Review, as well as evaluations of the earl of Kent's plot and Edward III's relations with the Fieschi family in the 1330s, as they relate to Edward II's survival.

Works focusing on the personalities who shaped Edward II's reign and its aftermath:

J.R.S. Phillips, Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke 1307-1324: Baronial Politics in the Reign of Edward II (1972)

- J.R. Maddicott, Thomas of Lancaster 1307-1322: A Study in the Reign of Edward II (1970)

- Ian Mortimer, The Greatest Traitor: The Life of Sir Roger Mortimer, Ruler of England 1327 to 1330 (2003)

- J.S. Hamilton, Piers Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall 1307-1312: Politics and Patronage in the Reign of Edward II (1988)

- Pierre Chaplais, Piers Gaveston: Edward II's Adoptive Brother (1994)

- Mark Buck, Politics, Finance and the Church in the Reign of Edward II: Walter Stapeldon, Treasurer of England (1983)

- Roy Martin Haines, Archbishop John Stratford: Political Revolutionary and Champion of the Liberties of the English Church, ca. 1275/80-1348 (1986)

- Roy Martin Haines, The Church and Politics in Fourteenth-Century England: the Career of Adam Orleton, c. 1275-1345 (1978)

Jeffrey H. Denton, Robert Winchelsey and the Crown 1294-1313 (2002)

There's also Alison Weir's hagiography of Isabella of France (2005) and Paul Doherty's odd and error-strewn book Isabella and the Strange Death of Edward II (2003), neither of which I can recommend.  I should also mention several other more general works which I've found helpful and interesting (by no means an exhaustive list!):

- Michael Prestwich, The Three Edwards: War and State in England 1272-1377 (1980) and Plantagenet England 1225-1360 (2005)

- The Fourteenth Century England series, published every two years.

- Chris Given-Wilson, The English Nobility in the Later Middle Ages (1996)

- Antonia Gransden, Historical Writing in England II: c. 1307 to the Early Sixteenth Century (1982)

- K.B. McFarlane, The Nobility of Later Medieval England (1973)

- G.A. Holmes, The Estates of the Higher Nobility in Fourteenth-Century England (1957)

- May McKisack, The Fourteenth Century 1307-1399 (1959)

- Michael Hicks, Who’s Who in Late Medieval England, 1272-1485 (1991)

- Marc Morris, A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain (2008)

- Ian Mortimer, The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III (2006) and The Time-Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England (2008)

- W.M. Ormrod, Political Life in Medieval England 1300-1450 (1995)

- John Carmi Parsons, Eleanor of Castile: Queen and Society in Thirteenth-Century England (1995)

(Apologies if the formatting in this post is messed up, as it always seems to be in photo posts.)

14 comments:

Susan Higginbotham said...

A great list! I'm pleased to say I've at least dipped into most of them.

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Susan! I thought you'd have seen almost all of these. :-)

Kendi said...

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Anerje said...

I've dipped into most of them as well - a very comprehensive list! Thanks!

Kate S said...

Thanks for the list!
Not all of them easy to find, though!

Kathryn Warner said...

You're welcome, Anerje and Kate! So true unfortunately that some of them are very hard to find. :(

Carla said...

A very useful list, thank you.

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Carla! Really glad you found it helpful!

Gabriele C. said...

Piers Gaveston: Edward II's Adoptive Brother ?

I've never heard about them being brothers of any sort, adoptive or other.

Kathryn Warner said...

Gabriele, several contemporary chroniclers do refer to Piers as someone whom 'the king had adopted as brother', and it does seem that Edward often called Piers his brother. I don't entirely agree with Professor Chaplais's thesis - I think there was a lot more to their relationship than brotherhood and/or friendship - but it's well worth a read, if you can ever find a copy. :-)

Anonymous said...

All of these people mentioned on this blog are my ancestors so I suppose I should learn about them! Thanks for the blog!

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks for reading!

Bartc said...

A very useful and interesting list. i just finished Dan Jones "The Plantagenets", and started Marc Morris "Edward I", which both directed my attention towards Edward II.
Do you have any tips about Edward II in fiction?

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks! :) The only Edward II fiction I'd recommend is Susan Higginbotham's The Traitor's Wife, about Edward's niece Eleanor de Clare, and Brenda Honeyman's two novels The King's Minions and The Queen and Mortimer, both of which are sadly very hard to find these days. :/