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The Red Prince: The Life of John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster

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Gaunt was son of Edward III, brother to the Black Prince, father to Henry IV and the sire of all those Tudors. He’s had a pretty bad press: supposed usurper of Richard II’s crown and the focus of hatred in the Peasants’ Revolt (they torched his home, the Savoy Palace). Helen Carr will paint a complex portrait of a man who held the levers of power on the English and Europea Gaunt was son of Edward III, brother to the Black Prince, father to Henry IV and the sire of all those Tudors. He’s had a pretty bad press: supposed usurper of Richard II’s crown and the focus of hatred in the Peasants’ Revolt (they torched his home, the Savoy Palace). Helen Carr will paint a complex portrait of a man who held the levers of power on the English and European stage, passionately upheld chivalric values, pressed for the Bible to be translated into English, patronised the arts … and, if you follow Shakespeare, gave the most beautiful oration on England (‘this sceptred isle… this blessed plot’). An engrossing drama of political machinations, violence, romance and tragedy played out at the cusp of a new era.


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Gaunt was son of Edward III, brother to the Black Prince, father to Henry IV and the sire of all those Tudors. He’s had a pretty bad press: supposed usurper of Richard II’s crown and the focus of hatred in the Peasants’ Revolt (they torched his home, the Savoy Palace). Helen Carr will paint a complex portrait of a man who held the levers of power on the English and Europea Gaunt was son of Edward III, brother to the Black Prince, father to Henry IV and the sire of all those Tudors. He’s had a pretty bad press: supposed usurper of Richard II’s crown and the focus of hatred in the Peasants’ Revolt (they torched his home, the Savoy Palace). Helen Carr will paint a complex portrait of a man who held the levers of power on the English and European stage, passionately upheld chivalric values, pressed for the Bible to be translated into English, patronised the arts … and, if you follow Shakespeare, gave the most beautiful oration on England (‘this sceptred isle… this blessed plot’). An engrossing drama of political machinations, violence, romance and tragedy played out at the cusp of a new era.

30 review for The Red Prince: The Life of John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster

  1. 5 out of 5

    K.J. Charles

    I found this a bit disappointing, possibly because it's been quite heavily hyped so my expectations were high. Informative overview, but I didn't feel I got much sense of Gaunt as a personality, which obviously is partly because of the distance of time, but also because the book really felt quite special-pleading at points. (Frequent insistence on how honourable Gaunt was being, finding excuses for atrocities carried out under his command, etc.) It felt distinctly like the book had an agenda to I found this a bit disappointing, possibly because it's been quite heavily hyped so my expectations were high. Informative overview, but I didn't feel I got much sense of Gaunt as a personality, which obviously is partly because of the distance of time, but also because the book really felt quite special-pleading at points. (Frequent insistence on how honourable Gaunt was being, finding excuses for atrocities carried out under his command, etc.) It felt distinctly like the book had an agenda to show Gaunt in a good light. And the telling in general isn't terribly lively. Possibly I'm spoiled because I've read several excellent biographies of earlier figures recently that manage to bring the subject to life at least in flashes, and to get you really engaged with the twists and turns, but for me Gaunt came across as a distant and remote actor. (This is possibly because even on the account here he was an obscenely privileged man who actively fought to take more from the poorest, acted in his own best interests at every turn, and caused the deaths of thousands in his entirely self-centred campaign to become King of Castile. What a dick, and I mean that by the standards of the fourteenth century.) Underwhelming editing. Several uses of the wrong word ('solider' for 'soldier' is a giveaway of reliance on spellcheck) and numerous ungrammatical sentences. I'd expect better from the publisher, it's not even that long.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I was lucky enough to stumble across a copy of this which I can only assume was on sale early (thanks Waterstones 😉) I am a huge fan of John of Gaunt’s and have studied his brother Lionel so had very high expectations for this book. I’m pleased to say it absolutely did not disappoint. This book is brilliant and it is clear that the author has done a huge amount of detailed research. The books opens with the Battle of Sluys and delivers the reader straight into the heart of the action before goin I was lucky enough to stumble across a copy of this which I can only assume was on sale early (thanks Waterstones 😉) I am a huge fan of John of Gaunt’s and have studied his brother Lionel so had very high expectations for this book. I’m pleased to say it absolutely did not disappoint. This book is brilliant and it is clear that the author has done a huge amount of detailed research. The books opens with the Battle of Sluys and delivers the reader straight into the heart of the action before going back to the birth of John 3 months before the battle. The early chapters touch on the death of Edward II, the early reign of Edward III and I was particularly pleased to see that the author allowed Philippa of Hainault into the spotlight. The reader then follows John’s life through. I learnt a huge amount reading this and loved reading about the close relationships John had with both his brother - the Black Prince - and other such as Thomas Percy and Juan Guitierrez. These relationships really brought both the narrative and John to life. I finished this book feeling like I’d learnt a huge amount and that I had a much greater understanding of John’s life and character. Absolutely brilliant - this book has gone onto my list as a contender for book of the year.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Amy McElroy

    This is clearly the result of meticulous research. All the questions I wanted to know about John of Gaunt are answered in this brilliant book. I honestly recommend this, it's excellent and full of information telling Gaunts story along with his relationships with others such as the Black Prince. I'll definitely be reading this one again in the future. This is clearly the result of meticulous research. All the questions I wanted to know about John of Gaunt are answered in this brilliant book. I honestly recommend this, it's excellent and full of information telling Gaunts story along with his relationships with others such as the Black Prince. I'll definitely be reading this one again in the future.

  4. 4 out of 5

    David Kenvyn

    I have no idea why this book is called “The Red Prince”. There is only one reference to this soubriquet in the introduction, and it does not explain why it was used. As far as I am aware John of Gaunt was not called “The Red Prince” in his lifetime. His brother, Edward, Prince of Wales, was called “The Black Prince” but, again as far as I can tell, not in his lifetime or in the following hundred years. It seems to me that the title was chosen as an anachronistic reference to the “Wars of the Ros I have no idea why this book is called “The Red Prince”. There is only one reference to this soubriquet in the introduction, and it does not explain why it was used. As far as I am aware John of Gaunt was not called “The Red Prince” in his lifetime. His brother, Edward, Prince of Wales, was called “The Black Prince” but, again as far as I can tell, not in his lifetime or in the following hundred years. It seems to me that the title was chosen as an anachronistic reference to the “Wars of the Roses” which happened more than fifty years after the death of John of Gaunt. It is alleged that there was a dispute between John of Gaunt’s great-grandson, the Duke of Somerset, and his great-grandson by marriage, the Duke of York in the Temple Inn Gardens in London, and that Somerset plucked a red rose and York a white rose as the symbols of their parties. John of Gaunt, being long dead, obviously had no part in the dispute that led to the deposition and eventual murder of another great-grandson, Henry VI. He also had no part in the deposition and death of his nephew, Richard II, by his son Henry IV, apart from the fact that it was his death that caused the dispute between the two cousins. This was the start of the domestic disputes in England that led to the Wars of the Roses, but John of Gaunt cannot be held responsible for the actions of his descendants. Calling him “The Red Prince” is both anachronistic and ahistorical. I suspect that the publishers wanted to benefit from the popularity of Philippa Gregory’s novels about the female leaders of the Wars of the Roses, Margaret of Anjou, Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort, a descendant of John of Gaunt. John of Gaunt did have a major involvement in the dynastic disputes of the fourteenth century in both France, Castile and Portugal. These were complicated. When Louis X of France died, he left behind a pregnant queen. France was left on tenterhooks to see if a king would be born. The child, John I, did not survive. Louis X had left behind a daughter, Joan, by his previous wife, who had been divorced for adultery and subsequently murdered. Her claim to the throne was overruled and Louis X’s brother, Philip V became king, introducing the Salic Law of succession by male descent only into France. When Philip V and his brother Charles IV died without male heirs, their cousin Philip VI, of the House of Valois, was proclaimed King. Edward III of England, whose mother Isabella was the sister of Louis X, Philip V and Charles IV, disputed this and claimed the throne of France. John of Gaunt, Edward III’s third son, was born in Ghent at the start of what is now known as the Hundred Years War. Naturally, as an English Prince he was involved in the many campaigns in Frances led by his father and his brother, the Black Prince. He was only six years old when the Battle of Crecy was fought, and only sixteen when the French were defeated at the Battle of Poitiers, and their King John II, taken prisoner. John of Gaunt was therefore not involved in the Hundred Years War until the end of his father’s reign, when his brother, the Black Prince, was also seriously ill. Edward III, of course, made sure that his younger sons were well provided for. He married John of Gaunt to Blanche Plantagenet, the daughter and heiress of Henry of Grosmont, Duke of Lancaster. I mention the family name, which was not used in the fourteenth century, because the author says that Henry of Grosmont was not royal. He was the grandson in the male line of Edmund Crouchback, Earl of Lancaster, the son of Henry III and the brother of Edward I. He was of the blood royal. Mistakes like this are irritating and there are too many of them. When Blanche died, she left three surviving children – Philippa, Henry and Elizabeth. It also meant that John of Gaunt was on the royal marriage market again. He did not seek a new bride immediately, but he took a mistress, Katherine Swynford, who was the mother of his children who took the surname of Beaufort. It was his second marriage that involved him in the dynastic disputes in Castile and then Portugal. He married Constance, the daughter of Peter I, King of Castile. Unfortunately, Peter I and her mother had not been married in church and that cast a doubt over her claim to the throne, but that was not the real problem. Peter I earned the nickname of “The Cruel” because he appears to have been a homicidal maniac. Peter’s half-brother, Henry of Trastamara, rebelled seeking to revenge the various members of his family that Peter had murdered. John of Gaunt sided with his father-in-law and inflicted a crushing defeat on Henry of Trastamara at the Battle of Najera. Henry fled to France where he received the support of Charles V, the son of John II who had been captured at Poitiers, because Gaunt was supporting Peter the Cruel. There followed a protracted struggle in which Peter I was captured and murdered by Henry of Trastamara, who proclaimed himself Henry II of Castile. Gaunt, of course, proclaimed his wife as Queen of Castile and so the civil war continued. By now, Edward III was dead and his son, Edward, Prince of Wales had preceded him. The new king was the Black Prince’s son, Richard II, who was a boy. John of Gaunt was, by now, the oldest member of the English Royal family, and he was distracted by events in southwest France, Spain and on the Scottish borders, where he had to negotiate a truce. As you can see, the situation was very complicated and involved huge expense for the royal government. Unfortunately, I was not able to grasp what involvement Gaunt had in the decision of the Royal Council to impose a poll tax. It is likely that he did not have his eye on the ball, and had no idea of the consequences of such a decision. It is also likely that neither the Council nor the Parliament had any idea of what they were about to unleash. The fact that Gaunt was not in London suggests that he did not think that there would be an issue. A population that had been more than decimated by the Black Death and had been paying for continental wars for some forty years exploded in anger. The Peasants’ Revolt is one of the seminal events of English history. John Ball asked the question “When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentle man?” Whatever the case, John of Gaunt was held responsible. His palace, the Savoy, was destroyed. His allies, including an Archbishop of Canterbury, were killed. It is significant that this was the time in which the Robin Hood stories became popular. It is possible that Gaunt was the evil Prince John and that “Good King Richard” was Richard II. What is sure is that Sir Walter Scott’s tale “Ivanhoe” is a travesty of the historical truth. When the revolt was quashed, with Richard II having a personal involvement in the savage reduction of Essex, John of Gaunt turned his attention back to Castile. The Portuguese King Ferdinand had died and there was a disputed succession there between John I of Portugal and Henry II of Castile. The Portuguese King won a decisive victory at the Battle of Aljubarrota. John of Gaunt married his daughter Philippa to John I Gaunt then invaded Galicia and Leon, and the result was a protracted war. This ended with Gaunt agreeing to the marriage of his daughter by Constance of Castile, Catherine, to the son of Henry II, and the endowment of his wife with considerable properties in Castile. Constance agreed to this arrangement and surrendered her claim to the crown of Castile. This was a considerable dynastic victory for Gaunt, placing two of his daughters as Queens Consort in Portugal and Castile. It robbed France of her allies south of the Pyrenees. The death of Constance in 1394 allowed Gaunt to marry Katherine Swynford, his mistress and the mother of four of his children. This has the effect of legitimating them, which was agreed by Richard II, although they were excluded from the succession to the throne, by a ruling of Henry IV. BY that time, Gaunt was dead. He died at the beginning of 1399, and it was Richard II’s seizure of his lands that led to a crisis. Henry returned to England and claimed his inheritance. This led to the deposition of Richard II, the proclamation of Henry IV as King and the subsequent (and probably consequent) murder of Richard II. The problem with assessing the career of John of Gaunt is that Shakespeare gave him possibly the greatest patriotic speech in the English language. It is doubtful that h would have found the speech comprehensible. He took great care of his lands and his retainers because they were the seat of his power, but “This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle, this earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, this other Eden, demi-paradise” were not the kind of sentiments that his career would have pointed towards. He was a dynast. He may not have secured the crown of Castile for himself but he did for his daughter, Catherine. His daughter, Philippa, became Queen of Portugal. His four sons were well provided for, and his two remaining daughters were married into powerful noble families. This book can only be described as a short introduction to the life of a man who had a significant impact on the histories of England, France, Spain and Portugal in his own lifetime. His family then had a significant impact on the history of western Europe in the fifteenth century. There is however no reason to call him” The Red Prince” except an anachronistic one.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Wylie Small

    I was excited when Helen Carr's "The Red Prince" was published. Aside from John of Gaunt being a great grandfather of mine many generations ago, I have always found him to be a tantalizing and enigmatic character. The son of a king (Edward III), brother of a legend (The Black Prince), and father of a king (Henry IV), Gaunt was instrumental in shaping the world of Plantagenet England. Carr did not disappoint in her thoroughly researched portrayal of him. There were many things to like about this b I was excited when Helen Carr's "The Red Prince" was published. Aside from John of Gaunt being a great grandfather of mine many generations ago, I have always found him to be a tantalizing and enigmatic character. The son of a king (Edward III), brother of a legend (The Black Prince), and father of a king (Henry IV), Gaunt was instrumental in shaping the world of Plantagenet England. Carr did not disappoint in her thoroughly researched portrayal of him. There were many things to like about this book. Carr's knowledge of John of Gaunt's life is extensive and she spends much time on his lifelong quest to be King of Castile as well as his constant forays into fighting the French. Carr delves into the tight relationship between Gaunt and his brother, Edward (The Black Prince), and how the relationship shaped Gaunt and, ultimately, Gaunt's relationship with Edward's son, the horrible King Richard II. This is an area where I wish Carr had spent more time - the tense dynamic between Richard, Gaunt, and Henry of Bolingbroke (Gaunt's son and later King Henry IV). I also wish Carr had spent more time on Gaunt's longtime relationship with his mistress, and ultimately third wife, Katherine Swynford. To me these areas are more interesting, and more humanizing, than reading about Gaunt's fighting with the French, although his warring nature was a key aspect of his character. Like another review said, I left feeling as though I didn't "know" John of Gaunt, but learned about his life, exploits, disappointments, and victories, after finishing the book. I do not feel I know the man any better, but I am much more aware of his contributions - or lack thereof - of 14th century England. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Plantagenet England. An excellent companion piece would be Ian Mortimer's "Henry IV," a biography of Gaunt's son, which focuses extensively on Gaunt and Bolingbroke's contentious relationship with Richard II. 4 stars.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    4.5 rounded up. I thought I knew a fair bit about John of Gaunt before starting this book, but it turns out I knew very little about the kind of man he actually was. This book shows us a Gaunt who is dedicated to chivalry, loyalty, and knighthood and this is quite different to the Gaunt I expected to find here. I had no idea he was supportive of Lollardy, which was a real surprise. I also didn’t know he put an end to his affair with Katherine Swynford after the Peasant’s Revolt, either. Because o 4.5 rounded up. I thought I knew a fair bit about John of Gaunt before starting this book, but it turns out I knew very little about the kind of man he actually was. This book shows us a Gaunt who is dedicated to chivalry, loyalty, and knighthood and this is quite different to the Gaunt I expected to find here. I had no idea he was supportive of Lollardy, which was a real surprise. I also didn’t know he put an end to his affair with Katherine Swynford after the Peasant’s Revolt, either. Because of things like this, I came away from this book with a sense of who he was and what he believed in, rather than just what he did. Overall this was a new, interesting and refreshing take on the life of one of England’s most pivotal figures. I enjoyed this book a lot and will certainly be keeping an eye out for any of Helen Carr’s future work.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jennie Morris

    I knew little about John is Gaunt. This is an excellent book on the historical figure. Helen Carr presents him not as a mythical, unreachable man, but personable with sometimes relatable frustration.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    A very interesting look into a figure we should be affording more attention to but I think it fell prey to the hype--I constantly thought that this would be better than it actually was, that it would introduce some brand new concepts. I wish I hadn't gone into it with such high expectations because it was a really interesting look into the time period. A very interesting look into a figure we should be affording more attention to but I think it fell prey to the hype--I constantly thought that this would be better than it actually was, that it would introduce some brand new concepts. I wish I hadn't gone into it with such high expectations because it was a really interesting look into the time period.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    A good historical telling of a British Prince and the creator of the Tudor dynasty. Entertaining and informative.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Martin Empson

    This is an excellent introduction to the life and times of John of Gaunt, a figure who epitomises more than anyone the powerful lords at the topic of medieval society. Gaunt's position, role and political machinations made him many enemies - not least the peasants who targeted his property during the 1381 revolt. My full review is on the blog: http://resolutereader.blogspot.com/20... This is an excellent introduction to the life and times of John of Gaunt, a figure who epitomises more than anyone the powerful lords at the topic of medieval society. Gaunt's position, role and political machinations made him many enemies - not least the peasants who targeted his property during the 1381 revolt. My full review is on the blog: http://resolutereader.blogspot.com/20...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Heidi Malagisi

    When one studies the history of the English monarchy, we tend to consider those who ruled and those who advised the ruler as significant characters. We rarely study the family members of the monarch who did not win the right to rule the kingdom. Yet, they are often either extremely loyal or they desire the crown with such ferocity that they rebel against their own family. It seems like a rather cruel world, but that was the life of a medieval monarch. True loyalty for one’s family was a rare fea When one studies the history of the English monarchy, we tend to consider those who ruled and those who advised the ruler as significant characters. We rarely study the family members of the monarch who did not win the right to rule the kingdom. Yet, they are often either extremely loyal or they desire the crown with such ferocity that they rebel against their own family. It seems like a rather cruel world, but that was the life of a medieval monarch. True loyalty for one’s family was a rare feat. One man showed the depth of his loyalty to his family, even when the people despised him. He was the son of King Edward III, the brother of the famous Black Prince, the uncle of King Richard II, and the father of Henry Bolingbroke who would become King Henry IV. Gaunt's reputation and legacy have been marred by his wealth and the role that he played with the Peasants’ Revolt, but was he such a bad person? In Helen Carr’s brilliant debut biography, “The Red Prince: The Life of John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster”, she looks to uncover the truth about the man behind the throne and why he never desired the crown for himself. Carr has chosen to call John of Gaunt “The Red Prince”, which makes a lot of sense for someone who understands the significance of his legacy in history. His son by his first wife Blanche of Lancaster, King Henry IV, was the first Lancastrian King of England. Obviously, they were represented by the red rose in the rather poetic sounding Wars of the Roses in the 15th century and their half-siblings, the Beauforts (who were descended from the children of John’s third wife and former mistress Katherine Swynford) would continue the legacy in their own way. There would be no Lancastrian Kings of England or Wars of the Roses or Tudor dynasty without John of Gaunt. I am getting a little ahead of myself. After all, during John of Gaunt’s lifetime, none of this happened. He was just the son of Edward III and the brother of the Black Prince when he earned the title of the first Duke of Lancaster. He earned his reputation as a loyal soldier fighting alongside his brother and father in the conflict with France that would be known in history as the Hundred Years’ War. His loyalty to his brother and father and his bravery as a knight was legendary. He gained vast amounts of wealth from his marriages to Blanche of Lancaster and Constance of Castile. He was a patron of the arts, especially to Geoffrey Chaucer, and championed those who wanted to challenge the way religion was understood during the 14th century. He had everything he could ever want until his world came crashing down around him. The Black Prince died of illness and his father King Edward III would soon follow, leaving the throne to his nephew King Richard II. To say things got off to a rocky start would be an understatement as John of Gaunt and other government officials were accused of raising taxes so high that it triggered what we know as the Peasants’ Revolt. On top of all of the problems in England, John of Gaunt decided to become King of Castile with his wife Constance. John of Gaunt led a life full of adventure, risks, and above all, loyalty to his family. Carr does a magnificent job of bringing Gaunt’s life into focus. So much of his reputation has been tainted over time, but Carr did not shy away from the challenge. This is one of the best biographies that I have read this year so far. John of Gaunt deserved to have his story retold and Helen Carr was the perfect historian to tell his story for a newer generation. Carr’s writing style is engaging with meticulous attention to detail. This is a gorgeous debut biography and I cannot wait to see what Helen Carr will write next. If you want to read a biography about the founder of the Lancastrian dynasty, “The Red Prince: The Life of John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster” by Helen Carr is a must-read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Aidan

    Written on a somewhat overlooked but influential English Medieval figure, John of Gaunt is a fascinating person for anyone interested in this period in history, particularly English history, being the ancestor of every English, and later British, monarch since Henry IV. Titled, ‘The Red Prince’ as a counterpart to his elder brother, and role model when growing up, Edward ‘The Black Prince’, Prince of Wales; the book shows you why John of Gaunt should be a figure worth remembering in the chronicle Written on a somewhat overlooked but influential English Medieval figure, John of Gaunt is a fascinating person for anyone interested in this period in history, particularly English history, being the ancestor of every English, and later British, monarch since Henry IV. Titled, ‘The Red Prince’ as a counterpart to his elder brother, and role model when growing up, Edward ‘The Black Prince’, Prince of Wales; the book shows you why John of Gaunt should be a figure worth remembering in the chronicles of history. From his involvement in the Hundred Years’ War, to his own personal compaign for the Crown of Castile, and then his political influence and respect both at home and abroad, Gaunt’s life is well worth being read about by historical readers. There are times, however, when Carr concentrates more on issues in England, or France, as if writing a book on the broad period of the time, rather than Gaunt’s life. While these political or military issues are important too, as Gaunt’s presence is ultimately required to help solve the issues and so the backstory is needed, I would have liked more details for events such as him negotiating terms with the Scots, who respected him. Or more time in his desire and campaign in Castile, and generally more detail overall for certain political or military events that Gaunt was a part of and a significant figure in. However, this is not to say I didn’t enjoy the book. I have grown more and more interested in John of Gaunt for some time now, and Carr’s book released at the perfect time for me. I’d recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about him, and why ‘The Red Prince’ should be remembered just as much as his elder brother, ‘The Black Prince.’

  13. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Dockrill

    The debut of Helen Carr's published works starts off with what I would consider a good accomplishment. Her writing manages to find a balance of being crisp pace - likely as a result of the sources being somewhat limited but also for the purpose of the general audience to find it enjoyable. Her voice and analysis was fairly balanced, showing his good qualities and while not pulling away from his poor decisions. It is quite clear that she was certainly pro Gaunt but she does it in a respectably su The debut of Helen Carr's published works starts off with what I would consider a good accomplishment. Her writing manages to find a balance of being crisp pace - likely as a result of the sources being somewhat limited but also for the purpose of the general audience to find it enjoyable. Her voice and analysis was fairly balanced, showing his good qualities and while not pulling away from his poor decisions. It is quite clear that she was certainly pro Gaunt but she does it in a respectably subtle way. Her writing does not get bogged down in conjecture or get distracted by other topics and her pros really immerses you into the events that are taking place. All in all, I would say John of Gaunt was in good hands in this biography, you really came out appreciating his character and just how loyal of a man he was - granted only for the nobles, he thought little of the commons, but that's the context of the time by and large. My nitpicks for the book is that she barely even talks about his epiphet "the red prince", which kind of takes away from the experience, she doesn't go into its historiography at all. Another is that she does not really elaborate on the bigger picture in some scenarios, such as the overall ramifications for the kingdom based on a decision, she keeps the narrative very close to John, which doesn't really lend itself to critical thinking. This book likely won't win any awards by any means but it's still a very enjoyable read and a promising sign of things to come for Helen Carr.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Shanna

    This was one of my anticipated reads for 2021. I’ve been a fan of Helen Carr and her podcast Hidden Histories for quite some time now, so I was excited for her book. The Red Prince did not disappoint, which has made me so happy. Helen Carr does a fantastic job in detailing John’s life and ties in the socio-economic and political environment that he lived in. There were a few parts that I had to re-read, but it was mainly because I accidentally speed read through them. (Also, as an American, the This was one of my anticipated reads for 2021. I’ve been a fan of Helen Carr and her podcast Hidden Histories for quite some time now, so I was excited for her book. The Red Prince did not disappoint, which has made me so happy. Helen Carr does a fantastic job in detailing John’s life and ties in the socio-economic and political environment that he lived in. There were a few parts that I had to re-read, but it was mainly because I accidentally speed read through them. (Also, as an American, the British spellings sometimes confused me, but that wasn’t much of an issue in the end.) I read this in my Kindle app, and I do plan to buy a physical copy sometime soon. I highly recommend this as a read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    This is a good history book on that time period in general, but we hear lots more about John’s extended family than the man himself – it almost reads as a biography of his older brother, the Black Prince. Also, the author goes on and on about John valued honor and the chivalric code above all – but he sure does burn down a lot of French villages in the course of his life. Also, he seemed to almost constantly have some group or another mad at him and trying to kill him – the peasants, the nobles, This is a good history book on that time period in general, but we hear lots more about John’s extended family than the man himself – it almost reads as a biography of his older brother, the Black Prince. Also, the author goes on and on about John valued honor and the chivalric code above all – but he sure does burn down a lot of French villages in the course of his life. Also, he seemed to almost constantly have some group or another mad at him and trying to kill him – the peasants, the nobles, the French, the Portuguese, the Spanish, etc. What’s the common factor in all these altercations? Oh, yes, John. The facts are all here, but I never felt like I got a sense of who John of Gaunt really was.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mr John Fahy

    This is an excellent biography of a fascinating character. John of Gaunt spent his early life in the shadow of his elder brother, the Black Prince. He fought campaigns all across Europe but also had to fight domestically to create and defend his dynasty. the House of Lancaster, which would play a huge part in shaping English history over the next few centuries. Based on this excellent book Helen Carr is definitely a historian to look out for in future.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Stefanie Robinson

    I really enjoyed this book. I didn't know much about John of Gaunt. I had always read plenty about The Black Prince, so I was excited when I saw this book on a nonfiction Instagram that I follow. It was very detailed about the life and circumstances of his life. This book was also included in Audible Plus. I really enjoyed this book. I didn't know much about John of Gaunt. I had always read plenty about The Black Prince, so I was excited when I saw this book on a nonfiction Instagram that I follow. It was very detailed about the life and circumstances of his life. This book was also included in Audible Plus.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This book is easy to read but thoroughly entertaining and feels educational. John of Gaunt is only really known for his speech in Shakespeare’s Richard II, and almost entirely lost to history. However the story Helen Carr tells is one of a fiercely loyal, courageous and diplomatic prince, who shouldn’t be forgotten.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lynn A Baumann

    Well documented life and times Helen Car provides a well documented life of John Gaunt sighting texts and writers of his time...insights to his character are also provided along with the legacies of his children. A must read for Midevil History lovers.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Remon Gerges

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Nice

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    Learned a lot

  22. 4 out of 5

    peter lang

    Interesting I like a book that doesn't try make the facts twist to support their beliefs. The author presented everything known in a objective manner. I highly recommend it Interesting I like a book that doesn't try make the facts twist to support their beliefs. The author presented everything known in a objective manner. I highly recommend it

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cauldhamer

    A thorough chronological biography of John of Lancaster includingof the Plantagenet's from Edward III to Henry IV: John of Gaunt's son. Well researched easy to read. Chapter's are fluid and well laid out. A thorough chronological biography of John of Lancaster includingof the Plantagenet's from Edward III to Henry IV: John of Gaunt's son. Well researched easy to read. Chapter's are fluid and well laid out.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

  25. 4 out of 5

    Felicity de Scarfo

  26. 4 out of 5

    John Bicknell

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sherry

  28. 5 out of 5

    Geraldine

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nola Sim

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Helps

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