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Home » Books » History » Europe » England

The Perfect King

The Life of Edward III, Father of the English Nation

By Ian Mortimer

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Format: Paperback, 560 pages
Other Information: 16pp b/w plates
Published In: United Kingdom, 03 July 2008
He ordered his uncle to be beheaded; he usurped his father's throne; he started a war which lasted for more than a hundred years, and taxed his people more than any other previous king. Yet for centuries Edward III was celebrated as the most brilliant king England had ever had, and three hundred years after his death it was said that his kingship was perhaps the greatest that the world had ever known. In this first full study of the man's character and life, Ian Mortimer shows how Edward personally provided the impetus for much of the drama of his fifty-year reign. Edward overcame the tyranny of his guardians at the age of seventeen and then set about developing a new form of awe-inspiring chivalric kingship. Under him the feudal kingdom of England became a highly organised, sophisticated nation, capable of raising large revenues and deploying a new type of projectile-based warfare, and without question the most important military nation in Europe. Yet under his rule England also experienced its longest period of domestic peace in the middle ages, giving rise to a massive increase of the nation's wealth through the wool trade, with huge consequences for society, art and architect

Promotional Information

From the bestselling author of 1415, comes the story of King Edward III, who - like Elizabeth and Victoria after him - embodied the values of his age, forged a nation out of war and re-made England.


About the Author

Ian Mortimer was educated at Eastbourne College, Exeter University and University College London. He has worked for several archival and historical research organisations, including Devon Record Office, Reading University, the Historical Manuscripts Commission and Exeter University. He is married with three children and lives on the edge of Dartmoor. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 1998 and his most recent book is The Greatest Traitor (published by Cape in 2003).


"An excellent biography; entertaining as well as informative" -- Allan Massie * Daily Telegraph * "A fascinating portrait. At times, the reader seems almost able to reach across time and touch this man" * The Economist * "In producing this fine biography, Mortimer has succeeded magnificently, and has gone a long, long way towards restoring Edward III to his proper place as one of the great makers of this nation" -- Alison Weir * Daily Mail * "Ian Mortimer...has virtually single-handedly put medieval history back in the hands of ordinary readers, combining scrupulous research with a wonderfully iconoclastic approach to storytelling" -- Dominic Sandbrook * Daily Telegraph *

EAN: 9780099527091
ISBN: 009952709X
Publisher: Vintage
Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.9 x 3.5 centimetres (0.32 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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1 review(s)
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Customer on
I've been quite enjoying the Ian Mortimer histories. Sometimes I find his more controversial pieces of detective work a bit annoying, and I am not always convinced, but still, it is good popular history.

Its interesting to compare this book and the rather appalling "The last Knight" by Norman F. Cantor. Cantor is a highly respected American scholar, and his popular history is torrid. What makes Mortimer good is that unlike Cantor, he doesn't dumb down his work, and still makes it accessible. Its something the English are good at, and the Americans appear to be a bit hit and miss at.

Bad points about this book? Its mainly strategic, "big man" history, and it lacks much social or economic history. This was the period of transition from the medieval period, to the first hints of the renaissance and the enlightenment, but this is hinted at rather than thoroughly dealt with. So the universities are floating around here, but not much mentioned.

Nevertheless, is a good entertaining read on the whole.

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