Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Perfect King by Ian Mortimer

The Perfect King (edition 2008)

by Ian Mortimer

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
299537,504 (4.09)19
Title:The Perfect King
Authors:Ian Mortimer
Info:Vintage Books (2008), Paperback, 560 pages
Collections:Main Library, Favorites
Tags:English History, English Monarchy, Medieval History, Medieval Warfare, Military History, Political Biography

Work details

The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III, Father of the English Nation by Ian Mortimer

Recently added byprivate library, Allen_Brown, jkrzok, thehawkseye, StevenCarter, dmmjlllt, TheEndofCinema



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 19 mentions

Showing 5 of 5
Brilliant. Well written. Mortimer has a gift for depicting battle scenes with rich context and excitement. His research concerning Edward II and the implications to our understanding of his son, Edward III provide both interest and enlightenment. ( )
  literarytech | Jan 19, 2013 |
Well-written and very informative. However, the author's attempt to defend his theory that Edward II was not yet dead when Edward III became king was a bit distracting. I also don't like how he would continue to speculate and speculate throughout the book. But overall, I would still recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about Edward III ( )
  zen_923 | Jul 26, 2011 |
This is a biography of King Edward III written by a medieval historian but aimed also at the more general reader. The question I asked myself when I started reading was; does it achieve its aims and on coming to the end of a rattling good read I am not really sure. I have recently read other books about the 14th century most notably The hundred years war trial by battle, Jonathan Sumption and so I know the story and the incidents described were familiar to me. How I would rate this book coming to this period in history for the first time I don't know. (I will have to get my wife Lynn to read it and see what she thinks.)

Ian Mortimer says in his introduction that "In historical biography to err on the side of caution is still to err" and so the reader of this book can expect to get some controversial points of view and Mortimer does not disappoint. He says that Victorian historians tended to dismiss Edwards III's claims to be a great king on the grounds that he was little more than a warmonger a religious cynic and a brutal thug. A king who indulged in continental wars at the expense of the economic and social welfare of his own country. Mortimer says that he should be judged by medieval standards and that to judge him by modern standards misses the point. He makes a convincing case for Edward III being the perfect king for his times.

So can we judge medieval standards from Mortimer's book? How well does he recreate a medieval scenario.? I think he does this pretty well (although Sumption's better). There are exciting and vivid narrative descriptions of all the major battles. A real feel for the life of a chivalric Knight and courtiers to the king, the intrigue plotting and sheer bare faced powergames that were a part of everday life for the aristocracy are well portrayed. This is juxtaposed with the horrors of a medieval battlefield and the devastation caused by the plague.

The narrative thread is extremely well handled and Mortimer's free flowing technique never gets bogged down. The characters of the King and his family emerge from the history and the Kings declining years are poignantly described.
There is certainly enough here for the committed historian, plenty of notes and appendices and Mortimer's contention that Edward II was not murdered and his continued existence had an effect on his sons kingship gets another airing.

I really enjoyed this superbly written book and I would also say to you lovers of historical novels to give this real history a try. ( )
2 vote baswood | Jan 19, 2011 |
In many ways this is a great work. The author has conducted exhaustive and detailed research and is a very good writer, able to evoke the spirit and colour of a time period and his subject to a remarkable degree, so that one feels he could write a powerful historical novel as well as a factual work. If this were all there was to say, I could agree with Alison Weir's view expressed on the cover that this should be the definitive work on the king.


...there is a caveat. Despite having read this, the author's biography of Roger Mortimer and Weir's biography of Isabella of France, I am still not convinced by the theory of the survival of Edward II. He raises some interesting points, but I simply cannot make myself believe that Edward III knew his father was still alive for another 14 years, running the risk of Edward the father declaring himself, with his son meanwhile pretending to the world he was dead. There is simply too much speculation built upon speculation built upon the few facts known, sometimes going to ridiculous lengths, for example working out that he died in 1341 simply on the basis of an ambiguous motto from a tournament, "it is as it is". Such speculation is a particular pity when the underlying research is so good. ( )
1 vote john257hopper | Jan 23, 2008 |
While the life of Edward III was very interesting, and this biography was very informative, I felt that it was not quite backed up by facts. I would have to read all of Ian Mortimer's sources to find out if he has truly drawn from them, because his documentation is confusing and he makes bold statements with little factual evidence. For a popular historian, he also didn't do a terrific job of making the biography readable. It was slow going, which I expect from normal history texts, but not really from a biography intended to appeal to the masses. The biography's good points, though, were in summing up Edward's influences on English kingship and his effect on the nation. He provided a great expanded view, it was merely the details that caused me to question. I would recommend this biography for a general view of Edward III the man and his life, but I would not use it in any academic context because I'm not sure how reliable it is. ( )
  littlebookworm | Jun 20, 2007 |
Showing 5 of 5
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 022407301X, Hardcover)

He ordered his uncle to be beheaded, and usurped his father’s throne. Yet under his rule, England experienced its longest period of domestic peace in the Middle Ages. In this first full biography of Edward III (1327-77), he emerges as the father of the English nation and the English people.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:26 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"He ordered his uncle to be beheaded; he usurped his father's throne; he taxed his people more than any other previous king, and he started a war which lasted to more than a hundred years. Yet for centuries Edward III (1312-77) was celebrated as the most brilliant of all Englisn monarchs, and thee hundred years after his death it was said that his kingship was perhaps the greatest that the world has ever known." "In this first full study of his character and life, Ian Mortimer shows how Edward personally provided the impetus for much of the drama of his fifty-year reign. Edward overcame the tyranny of his guardians at the age of seventeen and then set about developing a new form of awe-inspiring chivalric kingship. Under him the feudal kingdom of England became a highly organised nation, capable of raising large revenues and deploying a new type of warfare, culminating in the crushing victory over the French at Crecy. Yet under his rule England also experienced its longest period of domestic peace in the middle ages, giving rise to a massive increase of the nation's wealth through the wool trade, with huge consequences for society, art and architecture. It is to Edward that England owes its system of parliamentary representation, its local justice system, its national flag and the recognition of English as the language of the nation." "Nineteenth-century historians saw in Edward the opportunity to decry a warmonger, and painted him as a self-seeking, rapacious, tax-gathering conequeror. Yet as this book shows, beneath the strong warrior king was a compassionate, conscientious and often merciful man - resolute yet devoted to his wife, friends and family. He emerges as a strikingly modern figure, to whom many will be able to relate - the father of both the English people and the English nation."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
1 avail.
63 wanted
1 pay

Popular covers


Average: (4.09)
2 2
3 3
3.5 3
4 18
4.5 6
5 9

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 116,087,973 books! | Top bar: Always visible