(Review) Edward II: The Unconventional King by Kathryn Warner

Publisher: Amberley Books, October 19, 2014.
Genre: Non-fiction, British History Reading Challenge 2014, Edward II, kings and queens of England.
Format: pdf.
Pages: 336, with 30 illustrations.
Rating: 5 stars for excellent.
Source: Free pdf from Amberley in exchange for a review.

Link for book @ Amazon. 

Links for following Kathryn Warner:

Additional Resources:
King Edward II, from Royal Family History
From, English Monarchs, Edward II
From, The British Monarchy
From, Britannia
From, BBC-History

Edward Caernarfon was born on April 25, 1284, at Caernarfon Castle in Wales.
He died September 20 or 21, 1327, at Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire, England.

Edward II is hedged between two other kings named Edward who had legacies of power and popularity. Edward II's legacy was his tawdry relationships with male favorites. Edward II was tall and handsome, but he did not have the ambition to be a king. He became a king because he was his father's only surviving son and heir. Edward was a man and king of discordance. He had a personality that displayed fits of rage. He was a man who held grudges and did not forgive. However, he had moments of tenderness and empathy. He showed love and affection for his wife. Nevertheless, he had male favorites who were probably his homosexual lovers. His life and reign is an anomaly. He is a curiosity. In the introduction written by Ian Mortimer, he explains, "But I still maintain that in a true biography-as opposed to a history book about a reign-it is important to present not only what a man thought of himself but his awareness of what others thought of him."

My Thoughts:
Before reading Edward II, my knowledge of him was limited. I love historical based films, yet they stray from fact most of the time in order to entertain. I appreciate historians who write books with the goal of facts backed-up from solid documented sources.
I have mixed emotions in regards to Edward II. I have empathy for Edward, I'm sad for the circumstances that caused hardship in his life. But I also feel he lacked a judicious and tactful nature. I wonder if he suffered from what we know as bi-polar? His fits of rage and bursts of spending are symptoms of the disorder.
Edward II began with a strong and detailed introduction written by Ian Mortimer. I appreciate his stage setting of the books goals. Mortimer warned of the, "Danger of emotion seeping into the narrative, and obscure the contradictions of the character." I believe this is a warning for both the writer and the reader.
I enjoyed reading Kathryn Warner's balanced view of Edward II. She carefully weighed other historian's views. I was able to see Edward as the person he was and not just an obscure king. There are still mysteries surrounding Edward's life, but I feel Kathryn Warner's Edward II has represented his character and life in vivid detail.

Several points in the book are studied.

  • Edward's relationship with Piers Gaveston.
  • Edward's relationship with Hugh Despenser,
  • Edward's marriage and children. 
  • The wars with Scotland.
  • The court life of Edward II, pertaining to servants, food, and clothing.
  • Isabella's great betrayal. 
  • Roger Mortimer.
Additional points that I enjoyed reading. 
  • Edward's confinement at Berkeley Castle.
  • The plots to help Edward escape.
  • Edward's (morbid) death in 1327. The pros and cons of believing the "death event." Is it a myth or true? 
  • Did Edward escape death in 1327 to live a longer life?