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A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,489 Ratings  ·  125 Reviews
This is the first major biography for a generation of a truly formidable king – a man born to rule England, who believed that it was his right to rule all of Britain. His reign was one of the most dramatic and important of the entire Middle Ages, leading to war and conquest on an unprecedented scale, and leaving a legacy of division between the peoples of Britain that has ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published March 6th 2008 by Hutchinson
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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happy
Apr 08, 2016 happy rated it really liked it
If the modern reader knows Edward I at all it is probably as the villain of Mel Gibson’s movie, Braveheart. With this biography Prof. Morris attempts to balance the scale. I found this a very well researched and written biography of one of the great (as medieval kings are rated) kings of England. While not skimping on what to modern mores are inherently evil actions, the author attempts to put Edward’s actions into the context of his times. These include his expulsion of the Jews from England in ...more
Lindz
Nov 19, 2015 Lindz rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Perfect introduction to medieval history.
Edward I is safe to say though a very smart and successful king was a bit of a bastard. Squashed the Welsh, stole from the Irish, bankrupted then evicted the Jews, and with the laugh of an evil genius conducted a corporate take over of the Scottish crown, with a disembowelment of William Wallace on the side . Gordon Gecko would be proud - "Greed is Good".

Marc Morris' main argument is, yes Edward I was a bit of a bastard, but he was a bastard in keeping with the late 13th Century. Also Morris has
...more
Juliew.
Nov 27, 2015 Juliew. rated it liked it
Shelves: england, biography
Not really a very exciting read nevertheless I thought it seemed well researched an a good introduction to the subject.This focused on Edward I's campaigns in the Middle East,Wales and Scotland.Also,much attention is given to smaller matters inside England at the time of his reign.I thought it lacked personal details and seemed more a political account rather than a complete biography.
Jamie Collins
A very readable biography of this Great and Terrible king, even though it’s necessarily remote from the actual human being who lived 700 years ago. Most of what we know about medieval rulers comes from the extensive legal and financial records which have survived.

Edward’s life story seems to consist of one war after another. As a young prince he fought to suppress Simon de Montfort’s rebellion. He fought in the Holy Land, including one very personal battle against a would-be assassin. He fought
...more
Sarah u


Edward I is infamous in the historical world. To many modern eyes he was a bully, a tyrant, a ‘cruel pagan’, an oppressor and one of England’s worst kings. His overall reputation, it is fair to say, is not very good. He is remembered by many people in an extremely negative way.

Is this a fair assessment, though? I’m not so sure. It’s easy to look back in hindsight, through our modern eyes, and condemn a medieval king for his actions and their consequences. The fact that in his biography of Edward
...more
anna
Marc Morris’ work was been advertised as the first biography of Edward I in years, and in many ways it may have been a necessary one.

Edward I ‘Longshanks’ stands today as arguably one of the most notorious and despised Kings of Medieval England (perhaps in part with good reason), many people may know him only as the baddie in Braveheart. Some (as a result of the said movie) have seem even to regard him as a ‘pagan’ King.
Morris explores Edward’s life in its entirely to present a more well-round
...more
Caroline
I did enjoy this book, but I did find it verging on hagiography. I'll admit, Edward I is not my favourite king, far from it. And I'll admit that you can't judge a medieval monarch by today's standards, but even so I found Morris' constant excusing of Edward's actions tiring. If the true standard by which a king should be judged is that of his contemporaries, then let's look at Edward's legacy - in Morris' own words, "criminals were pardoned in return for military service; Ireland was bled dry in ...more
M.G. Mason
Aug 18, 2012 M.G. Mason rated it really liked it
He is known by several titles. Longshanks, Hammer of the Scots, Edward Plantagenet. He is Edward I and the author believes that his life is overdue a modern retelling of his life. Perhaps inspired by Alison Weir’s dominance of the Tudors, perhaps wanting to correct the injustices of Braveheart (cruel pagan indeed!), Morris has sought to provide a critical and factual account of his life largely bereft of personal prejudice. Some may sneer at the moral relativism of excusing Edward I’s anti-semit ...more
Steven Peterson
Jul 05, 2016 Steven Peterson rated it really liked it
A fascinating review of England's King Edward 1 (nicknamed Longshanks). For those who know him only through the movie "Braveheart," this would be an educational volume. He had real strengths--but also weaknesses.

His father, Henry III, was pretty critical of his son and tended to keep him on a short leash. And Edward was strong-willed, not making things better. Edward did serve with his father in military campaigns and showed promise--and courage. But his father was not terribly effective and oft
...more
Sir
Jan 15, 2016 Sir rated it it was amazing
An interesting history of England and Edward I, beginning with his parents and and continuing through his death in 1307.
Ross
Dec 09, 2015 Ross rated it liked it
This is a bit of a stretch for 3 stars and I only recommend the book to those who feel they must read the history of all the English kings.
As I went through the book I kept wondering how the author came up with the title, since all Edward's undertakings were commonplace. The answer I think was to boost sales of the book.
At the very end of the book the author finally gives some reasons for the "Great and Terrible" title.
The "Great" part comes from the obituaries at his funeral. Give me a break.
Th
...more
Linda Humberstone
Jul 30, 2015 Linda Humberstone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: just-read
Although this has taken some time to read this has only been because I've broken off to read other books. It is a really good, well researched, historical account of Edward 1st and, even though I already knew much of the history of that time, it focuses on the events which took place, how they influenced decisions made by Edward and other important high placed individuals, and their reactions to them.

It does, in my opinion, reveal much about Edward's personality, his aspirations, his idea of ho
...more
John
Sep 26, 2015 John rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The book is very well researched. I am amazed that so much material survives about the King and even more surprised that this historian manages to present it in such a way as to bring Edward to life and retain the reader's interest (well this one at any rate) throughout. Reading this it's hard to believe that he has been dead almost 750 years.

Edward's task on succeeding his father, the rather ineffectual Henry III, was far from easy. Relations between the monarchy and the nobility were uneasy,
...more
Miike
Nov 15, 2012 Miike rated it it was amazing
I have been a big fan of Edward I since I saw his chain of castles in North Wales. As another reviewer mentioned below, he is often overlooked in our history of the monarchs, especially with recent Henry VIII events. Without this book Edward 'Longshanks' ran the risk of being a supporting character in a Mel Gibson film, and the associated history has also been romaticized to support or justify various modern notions of nationhood and independence.
Luckily for us, Morris has provided an in depth s
...more
Mark
Aug 17, 2014 Mark rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I think the first thing to say about this biography is that it is very masculine in its outlook. There is much here about battles, heroism and legacy and little that we learn about Edward the man, and his relationships to his family and close associates. His love for his wife particularly is mentioned only fleetingly when she dies despite widespread confirmation we have from primary sources that the two were deeply in love and committed to one another; a rarity for the period in question.

Edward
...more
John somers
A biography of 1 of englands most fascinating kings. Before reading this book all I knew about him was that he was the evil king in Braveheart but this book shows him as a far more interesting character crushing Montfort's rebellion, crusading to the holy land, absorbing Wales and seeking to conquer Scotland while fighting off challenges to his rule of Gascony from the French king. This book shows the limits of rule through personal authority and places many of his actions such as the expulsion ...more
lia
Nov 04, 2012 lia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This is a truly good book from Marc Morris. His writing make me feel excited reading it and not in the least bored as I usually do while reading history book.

"A great and Terrible King" is the story of Edward I. Of all England king, I think that Edward I somehow lost in history defeated by more well known others like Richard The Lionheart, Henry VIII or even Richard III.
Edward I is known today as Longshank (because he was very tall during his days), the king who ordered Jews expulsion from Eng
...more
Loni
Aug 12, 2015 Loni rated it really liked it
This is a detailed history of Edward I's (Longshanks) reign. The author did extensive research and therefore made this an enjoyable and informative read. This is more a social history than detailed battle scenes and I liked that aspect. Edward defeated Wallace (Braveheart), tamed Wales (adopted the Price of Wales title for the inheritor of the throne), fought in the Crusades, tangled with the Pope and also with France. I liked this enough to read more of his works particularly 1066.
Siria
This is biography of Edward I of England is written by an academic but aimed at a general audience. There are no really new insights here—Morris is working from secondary sources, not from primary ones—but it's very readable and I think is quite accessible. Morris has a good eye for an engaging anecdote. That said, I don't think that Morris's mostly laudatory conclusion on Edward quite bears up in the light of the evidence presented in previous chapters. There are also places where I thought Mor ...more
Winifred
Aug 06, 2015 Winifred rated it really liked it
A very nice take on Longshanks that adds interesting dimension to the subject and his time, including insightful political analysis and explorations of fascinating and yet relevant cultural tangents. The author's rich context for this late medieval period of English history shines through (pick up his book on the Conquest). Interesting looks at Anglo-Saxonness, Normanness, Welshness, and other cultural influences. Edward's reign is full of fascinating stories and tantalizing hints at the far-rea ...more
Arnie
Apr 16, 2016 Arnie added it
Having discovered that my father's family tree can be traced back to Edward the First and his family...I just had to find out more about them. I found the history fascinating and the insight into the individuals and their lives and struggles was enlightening. The reader is not just told the names and dates and events. The author pulls you into the time...so you can picture it all. Really well done.
Betty
Aug 14, 2012 Betty rated it it was amazing
As an Englishwoman living in Caernarfon, I wanted to know a bit more about the man who'd built the "iron ring" of castles around North Wales, and understand why the locals up here hate Edward so much. Having read this book I can see why: he was a right nasty b*stard, vain, greedy, cruel and proud (even by medieval standards). Having spoken to my local bookshop owner about the book, she says it's a very controversial book as far as Welsh people are concerned, because Edward's attitude to the Wels ...more
1CheekyLass
Apr 19, 2015 1CheekyLass rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biographies
The title speaks volumes. Edward I truly was a Great and Terrible King. A true medieval king. He's short tempered and brutal but can be somewhat diplomatic and genial. I enjoyed the book but found myself zoning out here and there. Narration: 4.
Kathleen
Aug 01, 2014 Kathleen rated it it was amazing
Today Marc Morris tweeted this from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: 'There his counsellors came to him, and all the people occupying land who were of any account all over England.’ 'They all submitted to him, and became his men, and swore oaths of allegiance, that they would be loyal to him against all other men'

I realized that before I started my book blog I read Marc's book " A Great and Terrible King" as it was important to me ancestrally. My ancestor(s) the L'enfaunts of Limerick and Kildare Ir
...more
Pete daPixie
Jan 02, 2009 Pete daPixie rated it it was amazing
A great read by Marc Morris, published 2008, a chronological march with Longshanks. Through the later reign of the troubled Henry III, to Outremer with the crusader prince, to return as Edward I. To north Africa, Gascon, Ireland, the pacification of Wales and the hammer of the Scots. Edward was the most travelled English monarch until modern times. A great supporting cast too, including Simon de Montfort, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, William Wallace (Braveheart...the film is historically very faulty), ...more
Stefanus Andre
Jul 09, 2015 Stefanus Andre rated it it was amazing
Good:
* Excellent narrative that describes clearly Edward's challenges

Bad:
* No campaign maps
* A bit too biased in favor of the king
Socraticgadfly
Jun 17, 2015 Socraticgadfly rated it it was amazing
This is a very good new biography of Edward I. While not passing over some of Edward's darker moments, he's painted in shades of gray — and of white as well as black.

Morris provides an overall sympathetic bio, noting Edward's seeming earnestness to spread Christianity by crusade, to work with the Church when it didn't too much hinder his own activities, and other things. This includes multiple diplomatic missions to the Mongols after their sack of Baghdad, not necessarily to convert, but to mak
...more
Greg
Feb 27, 2015 Greg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book as part of a Goodreads Firstreads Giveaway.

I found this book to be a fantastic retelling of history, and reset my knowledge of the period, correcting much of the information that I (as well as might be expected most modern Americans at least) “learned” from the movie Braveheart.

To begin, Morris spends quite a bit of time setting the context into which Edward was born, and the embarrassments his father suffered, as well as the jockeying for power by people desperate to enlar
...more
Jason
Dec 31, 2011 Jason rated it liked it
Shelves: history
I enjoyed this book, although I found the personality of Edward I rather more challenging than Marc Morris did. His conclusions were emphatically positive but I found the number of times that the king 'flew into a rage' rather disconcerting. It has to be said, however, that I am not in favour of strong leaders in general and found that the benefits of empire that came about through his 'qualities of character' were ephemeral and extremely costly in suffering and lives lost.
Amanda Denham
Feb 08, 2013 Amanda Denham rated it it was amazing
We've all been there, eager to learn about a period of history, but entirely disinclined to spend the next 3 weeks reading some dry historical text. Marc Morris' narrative is engaging and educating, you're drawn through Edward I's life chronologically rather than (as Morris points out in the introduction) topically. A definite recommend if you are interested in the life of one of England's greatest and most influential Kings.
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