Review: The Plantagenets, The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England by Dan Jones

Publisher: Viking, April 18, 2013.
Genre: Non-fiction, House of Plantagenet, Kings and Queens of England, medieval history.
Format: Hardcover.
Pages: 560.
Rating: 5 Stars for excellent.
Source: Self-purchase.

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A second book has recently been released, The Wars of the Roses. The book was published October 14, 2014.

The highlighted link will pronounce the word Plantagenet correctly.

Summary:
The Plantagenets, is a precise chronicle of their rule in England, from Henry II to Richard II. Dan Jones, began by giving an account of Henry I, and the "ship-wreck" that ended the life of his son and heir, William Aetheling in 1120. Henry II, born in 1133, was the son of Matilda, the daughter of Henry I, and her second husband Geoffrey Plantagenet of Anjou. After Henry I died, Stephen of Blois, staked his claim to the throne. There was a power struggle between Stephen and Matilda, and their armies clashed. "Eventually, in 1148, Matilda left England." Matilda's son, "Henry II was crowned at Westminster Abbey on December 19, 1154, with a heavily pregnant Queen Eleanor sitting beside him."
The history section at libraries and book shops are filled with non-fiction and historical fiction books pertaining to Tudor History. I love reading Tudor History, but my true passion is the Middle Ages. Reading a book that spans from 1120 to 1400 "is my cup of tea."
Henry II
My Thoughts:
While reading The Plantagenets, I looked for new historical information I'd not read before. One of the Plantagenet rulers who was not regarded with respect then nor now is King John. King John ruled 1199 until 1216. He reigned after his brother Richard I died. Their parents were Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor is one of my favorite historical figures, John is not a favorite. My first introduction to John was in the movie, The Lion in Winter. Nigel Terry portrayed John as a blubbering incapable person next to his brothers Richard and Geoffrey. Movies and books can change how we feel about historical people and events. I admit being influenced by the movies depiction of John.

I have not changed my mind in regard to thinking warm positive thoughts about John, but I do understand him a bit better. He loved an extravagant lifestyle. He took more baths than most people in this era. He had a problem with rage. John had a strong interest in law and wherever his royal court traveled, "a judicial circuit" prevailed. I was surprised to read he had sympathy for the poor. John "was a hands-on king, closely involved in day-to-day governance and keen to intervene in person wherever he could, from disputes between the great barons to stone throwing between boys." Taxes increased heavily during his reign, then followed seizure of lands. Taxes was one way he controlled England. Dan Jones expressed, "The second way in which John used the law to profit was far more political and eventually caused him far more problems. He used it as a direct tool by which to both tax and control the great barons of England."  
Reading through the generations of the Plantagenet kings and queens, I was able to compare their personalities as well as reigns.
Jones provides a fascinating narrative study of each royal figure. He examined their characters and the decisions they made.
Edward I, Edward II, and Edward III are kings I plan to read more extensively. I'd not been interested in Richard II until reading The Plantagenets, but I've decided to read more of his history in the near future.
The Plantagenents has been one of my absolute favorite books I've read thus far in British History. I'm anxious to read his next book, The Wars of the Roses. 
Richard II

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