87 Scandal was brought upon the Kingdom

This week, and introduction to Edward II, quite probably the most reviled king in English history. So this week he have a bit of a survey of how history has treated the lad, and the chroniclers that have given him his reputation. And then we kick of the reign. 

87 Scandal was brought upon the Kingdom

Edward Ist by Ranulf Higden

Edward II

This extract from the contemporary chronicler has formed the basis of opinion for many other contemporaries. I've taken it from Seymour Phillip's book 'Edward II'. 

King Edward was a man handsome in body and of outstanding strength, but, if common opinion is to be believed, most inconsistent in behaviour. For shunning the company of the nobles, to sought the society of jesters, singers, actors, carriage drivers, diggers, oarsmen, sailors and the practitioners of other kinds of mechanical arts. He indulged in drink, betrayed confidences lightly, struck out at those standing near him for little reason and followed the counsel of others rather than his own. He was extravagant in his gifts, splendid in entertainment, ready in speech but inconsistent in action. He was unlucky against his enemies, violent with members of his own household, and ardently attached to one of his familiars, whom he sustained above all, enriched, preferred and honoured. From this obsession opprobrium came upon the lover and obloquy to the loved one; scandal was brought upon the people, and the kingdom was damaged. He also promoted unworthy and incapable men to office in the church, a practice which was to be a beam in his eyes and a lance in his side. In his days there was also to be a dearth of grain and constant mortality among farm animals, such as had scarcely been seen before.  

The books I've used for Edward II

Here are the main books I've used: 

  • Michael Prestwich, 'Plantagent England' – general survey, textbook, and bit dull
  • Seymour Phillips, 'Edward II' – everything you ever wanted to know in 600 pages
  • Michael Prestwich, 'The Three Edwards' – really good – not too long, the main themes and sweep of history
  • Ian Mortimer, 'The Greatest Traitor' – Lively, immediate and a great read as ever with Ian Mortimer.

Then there's a quite amazing blog, Edward II by Kathryn Warner. Slightly chippy it must be said, but brilliantly written, incredibly comprehensive and easy to find whatever information you want. The best history blog I have come across by some distance. 

5 thoughts on “87 Scandal was brought upon the Kingdom

  1. Ah hello Kathryn! Not at all, you have an amazing blog, I’m really enjoying it – and am rather indebted to it! Glad you didn’t object to the ‘chippy’ bit… You might well have submitted a comment before; I have had to deal with a spam blizzard so had to add the daft log in approach.

  2. Hello again, David.
    Re. your self-deprecating “hack in a shed” comment, I’ll have you know you’re my favorite hack in all the sheds in Christendom, so do keep at it, good sir. I have visions of some lovely, bucolic, setting for that shed, actually, as I frequently hear bits of British birdsong in the background of your dialog. Makes me imagine something like those sham “ruins” or “follies” those 18th century toffs would put up on their estates. I think of your shed as being a replica of one of those monk’s cells or something, with a lovely bit of garden beyond. (No need to spoil it for me mentioning all the bits of wire and electronic equipment and that rusty spade and lawnmower in the corner, eh?)
    Just recently figured out how to actually load this stuff onto an MP3 player and listen on the go. (Up ’til now I’ve listened from the website.) How wonderful that practically every THoE episode I’ve listened to since has been just the right length for my daily commute, from job to driveway or vice versa. And your warm voice is far more soothing than the average American commercial radio DJ’s. I’d probably listen if you did nothing more than read the telephone directory for Nether Wallop, Great Snoring, Licky End, or one of those other very British places.

  3. Oh, and by the way, re. your secondhand Audible recommendation of Bill Bryson’s “At Home”. I TOTALLY agree with that recommendation, from personal experience. I DEVOURED that book. It was the one that turned me on to Bryson in the first place, and I’ve since read all but one or two of his books. And this was one of his best! You really MUST read it before you get up to the Industrial Revolution and Victoria’s reign in this podcast. It is fascinating and very revealing about what it was like to live before there were the modern conveniences we all take for granted. Not just in the obvious ways you’d think of, either (like electricity). I recommend it right back at you! Read it before your podcast reaches modern times!

Leave a Reply