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The Gothic King: A Biography of Henry III

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The first biography in many years of Henry III The son and successor of Bad King John, Henry III reigned for 56 years from 1216, the first child king in England for 200 years. England went on to prosper during his reign and his greatest monument is Westminster Abbey, which he made the seat of his government—indeed, Henry III was the first English King to call a parliament. The first biography in many years of Henry III The son and successor of Bad King John, Henry III reigned for 56 years from 1216, the first child king in England for 200 years. England went on to prosper during his reign and his greatest monument is Westminster Abbey, which he made the seat of his government—indeed, Henry III was the first English King to call a parliament. Though often overlooked by historians, Henry III was a unique figure coming out of a chivalric yet Gothic era: a compulsive builder of daunting castles and epic sepulchres; a powerful, unyielding monarch who faced down the De Montfort rebellion and waged war with Wales and France; and, much more than his father, Henry was the king who really hammered out the terms of the Magna Carta with the barons. John Paul Davis brings all his forensic skills and insights to the grand story of the Gothic King in this, the only biography in print of a most remarkable monarch.


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The first biography in many years of Henry III The son and successor of Bad King John, Henry III reigned for 56 years from 1216, the first child king in England for 200 years. England went on to prosper during his reign and his greatest monument is Westminster Abbey, which he made the seat of his government—indeed, Henry III was the first English King to call a parliament. The first biography in many years of Henry III The son and successor of Bad King John, Henry III reigned for 56 years from 1216, the first child king in England for 200 years. England went on to prosper during his reign and his greatest monument is Westminster Abbey, which he made the seat of his government—indeed, Henry III was the first English King to call a parliament. Though often overlooked by historians, Henry III was a unique figure coming out of a chivalric yet Gothic era: a compulsive builder of daunting castles and epic sepulchres; a powerful, unyielding monarch who faced down the De Montfort rebellion and waged war with Wales and France; and, much more than his father, Henry was the king who really hammered out the terms of the Magna Carta with the barons. John Paul Davis brings all his forensic skills and insights to the grand story of the Gothic King in this, the only biography in print of a most remarkable monarch.

30 review for The Gothic King: A Biography of Henry III

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sarah u

    Over the past few years, I have read plenty of books and articles about King Henry III of England, the people around him and the time he lived in, especially those that discuss the period of the Second Barons’ Wars. The time is fascinating to me, and I cannot get enough of it. I often thought to myself what a shame it is- was- that no chronological narrative of Henry’s reign had been written by a modern author. For all the masses of analysis and contextualisation there is, there was nothing that Over the past few years, I have read plenty of books and articles about King Henry III of England, the people around him and the time he lived in, especially those that discuss the period of the Second Barons’ Wars. The time is fascinating to me, and I cannot get enough of it. I often thought to myself what a shame it is- was- that no chronological narrative of Henry’s reign had been written by a modern author. For all the masses of analysis and contextualisation there is, there was nothing that just told us what happened in the right order. Well, no more, readers! Last August a book titled The Gothic King suddenly appeared in my amazon recommendations, penned by historical biographer John Paul Davis. Here it was, at last, the book the life and study of Henry III needed. I immediately pre-ordered, then waited extremely patiently for a little over nine months for it to arrive. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely. At just over 260 pages long, this is the life of Henry, in order, in a nutshell. Davis has engaged with his subject well, researching thoroughly using both primary source material and the work of recent scholars. In the introduction to the book it is made clear that the book is intended to put things in order rather than analyse in depth, which makes the book clear, concise and very easy to read. Many of the author’s points are referenced, and the end notes and bibliography are well presented. HenryIIIjpdGiven the fifty six years Henry was king and the intention of the book to remain readable, many of the events are recounted with the finer points missing. Though this on a few occasions made me look twice, I can understand the need to omit some detail on account of the length of the text and the fact that someone new to Henry’s reign is likely to pick this book up (I hope they do!). Davis himself states in the prelude that his book “could have been at least ten times longer than it is“- how daunting that would be for a newcomer to the period! The main objective of the book, to present the reign of Henry III in the most straightforward way possible, was achieved excellently. The critical analysis in the final chapter works really well, and I have to say that chapter 11- ‘Henry the Builder’- was a personal highlight of the book. Overall thoughts? Excellent writing, a clear concise account of what happened and when, some lovely plates of photography in the centre, short, easy to digest, fun and not overwhelming. An excellent addition to any medieval bookshelf.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Richard Brandy

    I decided to read this book purely via an interest in Edward I, to get more of an impression of what his younger days might have been like. However, I came to be very interested in Henry III in the process and actually find him to be one of the few Plantagenet kings that I think I might actually like as a person. He was compassionate towards the suffering of the poor and eager to enrich England's landscape with cathedrals and churches, from which many towns still benefit today. Henry is a king I I decided to read this book purely via an interest in Edward I, to get more of an impression of what his younger days might have been like. However, I came to be very interested in Henry III in the process and actually find him to be one of the few Plantagenet kings that I think I might actually like as a person. He was compassionate towards the suffering of the poor and eager to enrich England's landscape with cathedrals and churches, from which many towns still benefit today. Henry is a king I had genuine empathy for, when hearing about how he came into his role at only nine years of age, at a time when the country looked set for takeover or civil conflict. The fact that he had such a long reign that left England in a stronger place, Davis argues, should counter many of the criticisms that he was a weak king because Simon De Montfort was able to usurp the throne. Henry's reign is perhaps sandwiched between more interesting periods of history, however, it is not dull. If, like me, you enjoy learning about English kings that are the least trendiest among scholars, then you will find this book very enriching. Davis has an engaging hand and does not shy away from exploring the more strange and peculiar events of the time.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Eurydicegirlgmail.Com

    accurate, but confusing, lacks cohesion One gathers Henry III’s kingship was found lacking in historical traditions. This book seeks to correct skew by using a neutral fact based rundown of politics and power interests which Henry III inherited . The author uses simple terms to describe events and conflicts but withholds analysis. This leaves nonspecialist readers a bit at sea. Reluctance to impose bias has displaced context, meaning and proportion. For general readers unfamiliar with 13th centu accurate, but confusing, lacks cohesion One gathers Henry III’s kingship was found lacking in historical traditions. This book seeks to correct skew by using a neutral fact based rundown of politics and power interests which Henry III inherited . The author uses simple terms to describe events and conflicts but withholds analysis. This leaves nonspecialist readers a bit at sea. Reluctance to impose bias has displaced context, meaning and proportion. For general readers unfamiliar with 13th century world views and values, the motives , dynastic aspirations and perceived duties of various royal, noble and papal players remains opaque. The massive displacement from Mongal invasions and Khanate emerges briefly only to disappear. One is left wondering what exactly motivates the relentless monetary demands of the papacy. Germany, eastern, southern Europe and the Levant are blanks although Henry’s daughter and brother are crowned in these realms. Also, familial names and origins, Savoyard, Poitier or English are missing, obscuring the dynamics and motives of disgruntled Barons, particularly the northern, midlands and Welsh marcher lords and bishops. I did not find this particularly helpful, and do not recommend this biography for introductory level students. readers aware of historiographical bias may appreciate this as a nostrum, a fresh objective reassessment. Not that the author’s goal is not praiseworthy; most history is permeated with a weird chauvinistic preconception of human history & culture. Our early modern to modern era canon is saturated with progressivist ideological constructs. Popular culture and politics has a dangerous messianic streak., that has not yet questioned the innate ideological hubris of imposing a collective obligation onto us to March Forward Together in Progressivist Harmony, . But this book needs to address such assumptions more directly: we and our era are not superior. To retell history free of the teleological lens that permeates our understanding of society. A formidable task indeed. .

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michael Bully

    Whilst I think that Darren Baker's 'Henry III the Great King England Never Knew It Had' from 2017 is probably the best choice if someone wants a more in depth heavier read ' , felt this book gave a reasonable outline of all the key events of the reign of Henry III 1216-1271. Henry ascended the throne at the age nine. Huge swathes of the realm were in the hands of rebel barons and their French allies. Henry faced several rebellions, culminating in being held captive by his brother in law Simon de Whilst I think that Darren Baker's 'Henry III the Great King England Never Knew It Had' from 2017 is probably the best choice if someone wants a more in depth heavier read ' , felt this book gave a reasonable outline of all the key events of the reign of Henry III 1216-1271. Henry ascended the throne at the age nine. Huge swathes of the realm were in the hands of rebel barons and their French allies. Henry faced several rebellions, culminating in being held captive by his brother in law Simon de Montfort from May 1264 after being defeated at the Battle of Lewes -until 4th August 1265 when the de Monfort was defeated at Evesham. Yet somehow his reign lasted,and Henry died peacefully in bed. The writer is sympathetic , admiring Henry III for his piety, his generosity his charity towards the Poor, , loyalty to his wife, his building of cathedrals, his reinforcing of castles, and his ability to make peace when needed. Felt that some of Henry's more vicious attitudes , especially towards captured rebels from the 1264 campaign were played down, though being fair, the writer does not gloss over some of Henry's disastrous military campaigns such as the Poitou campaign of 1242. Occasionally couldn't quite follow the writer's thread . The 1258 famine was covered yet later in the book the same year is cited as being a time when the population were content. Was never sure how the author considered Henry III's real attitude towards Magna Carta being re-issued, and the 1258 Oxford provisions, in which the interests of the barons were, and even the burghers, could be represented But overall a worthwhile introduction to a fascinating reign that is often overlooked.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Matt Stephen

    A good financial history of England in the mid-1200s, but lacking in all other areas. Desperately needs some maps or further description of places, especially in the few paragraphs dedicated to military campaigns.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Monty Charles

    Excellent summary with insightful conclusions.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Neeuqdrazil

    This was not awesome. The life of Henry III is presented firmly chronologically, and I find that this sort of life benefits from being presented, if not thematically instead of chronologically, then at least using a combination of the two. (There is one chapter covering "The Builder King" which is thematic rather than chronological.) There was also a lot of referring to people by their first names (Edward, Richard, Edmund) instead of title - in periods like this, where every second person was a W This was not awesome. The life of Henry III is presented firmly chronologically, and I find that this sort of life benefits from being presented, if not thematically instead of chronologically, then at least using a combination of the two. (There is one chapter covering "The Builder King" which is thematic rather than chronological.) There was also a lot of referring to people by their first names (Edward, Richard, Edmund) instead of title - in periods like this, where every second person was a William, every third was a Richard, and every fourth an Edward, and especially when father and son have the same name (see William Marshal and William Marshal the younger), this type of reference gets very confusing. I didn't feel like I learned much from this. It wasn't bad, exactly, just not great.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    I liked this book, but I didn't love it. I felt that Davis spent too much time talking about battles and not enough time talking about Henry III's personality. I loved the last chapter where, in wrapping everything up, Davis mentioned that Henry III ordered a pet for his ill child and very much loved his wife. That seems to be a very rare occurrence for a king. I liked this book, but I didn't love it. I felt that Davis spent too much time talking about battles and not enough time talking about Henry III's personality. I loved the last chapter where, in wrapping everything up, Davis mentioned that Henry III ordered a pet for his ill child and very much loved his wife. That seems to be a very rare occurrence for a king.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Blair Hodgkinson

    Very neat introduction to the reign of Henry III, covering the personality and the reign. Overall, well-written, informative, and enjoyable.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Донка

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  12. 4 out of 5

    Daren Kearl

  13. 4 out of 5

    Philippa Peacock

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kristina Church milashus

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tim Robinson

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tony Bennett

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sirena

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Bunting

  20. 4 out of 5

    P.D. Maior

  21. 5 out of 5

    Steve

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Soucy

  23. 5 out of 5

    James

  24. 5 out of 5

    Glen Broad

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

  26. 4 out of 5

    skw

  27. 4 out of 5

    Gabriella

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dara

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ackerley

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dianna Bellerose

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