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The Magnificent Century (The Plantagenets #2)

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  499 ratings  ·  36 reviews
THE MAGNIFICENT CENTURY, the second volume of Costain's A History of the Plantagenets, covers Henry III's long and turbulent reign, from 1216 to 1272.

During his lifetime Henry was frequently unpopular, unreliable and inconsistent. Yet his reign saw spectacular advancement in the arts, sciences and theology, as well as in government. Despite all, it was truly a magnificent

Paperback, 00111
Published January 1964 by Popular Library (first published 1949)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,109)
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Ray Campbell
The volume of Costain's series on the Plantagenet kings covers the 13th Century and the reign of Henry III. This was a turbulent period that witnessed war between England and France, civil war between the Barons and the Crown as well as conflicts between the Pope and the Crown. In the end, it was a century of progress for the right of the common man, science and learning, though the folks of the period would have been hard pressed to see it.

As a read, the book was very much a survey. Costain rec
Lady of the Lake
This is a great place to begin if you want to get all the facts from the PLANTAGENET'S FAMILY you will understand more what you are reading! I would say this is great for ones starting out as it is easy to follow and isn't a dry read for a non-fiction. But for those with more experience there isn't anything really NEW that you wouldn't already know but it it was fun to hear it all again like a quick refresher course! LOL
Mike Luoma
The "Magnificent" Century? Is that meant to be ironic? This second in Thomas B. Costain's books on the Plantagenets covers the 13th century, the 1200's, and the reign of Henry III... not the most spectacular period for the dynasty.
Although a bit more historical in feel than the first book "The Conquering Family", this second volume is still written as popular history to be read by the general public - no major citation of sources, no foot nor end notes here. Costain combines his own conjecture
Thomas B. Costain's second book in his Plantagenet series focuses on the life of Henry III and to a large extent Simon De Montfort. The first book runs through Henry II and his sons with solid details, but without spending too much time on any of the people. For me, I was not expecting book 2 to be almost totally devoted to the life of Henry III. Additionally, I just do not find Henry III to be the most interesting of the Plantagenets.

However, Costain does a good job with subject matter again.
This is history that reads like a novel.
This is the first of Costain's books that I have read and I am anxious to read more. Reading this reminded me of sitting in history class in college - yes there is a lot of information, no it is not a quick, easy read - but a century (the 13th) worth of information is presented in a way that you learn and are fixated at the same time. Since this was a time period I had not read much about beforehand, I was on the edge of my seat at some times wondering what would happen next. The story of Simon ...more
Jamison Shuck
Although not as good as The Conquering Family, Costain still presents a fascinating, page-turning history of the reign of Henry III. One complaint that I do have is with the title, throughout the book I kept asking myself why this England under the rule of the absolutely comicly inept Henry was so magnificent. Other than hints at Simon de Monforts democratic ideals, its not until the final few chapters of the book that Costain actually makes his case for the magnificence of the century, which ki ...more
The second book in Costain's series on the Plantagenet kings covers the 13th Century and the reign of Henry III. As he says in the book, Henry III was the son of probably the worst ever English king (John) and the father of one of the best, Edward I. Although Henry reigned for over 50 years, he was a poor king and somehow the country managed to prosper despite his efforts. The book details Henry's reign in great detail, all of it fascinating. It covers the of the turbulent period between England ...more
Wow. Henry III was ridiculous, but his reign was worth it for the backdrop to Simon de Montfort. He is my new obsession, and I must visit the site where Evesham Abbey (his burial place) used to be some day. He's on my list with Thomas Cranmer and the Anglo-Saxons as the people I most mourn in English history. It's hard to hate Henry III and Edward II, though, at least not like I hate William the Conqueror and Mary Tudor. Henry was too ridiculous to really hate, only feel contempt for him. And Ed ...more
I love British History and this series is among my favorites. I've had the privilege of reading many of Costain's novels, and while I enjoy them, this history is by far his best work. Although it is non-fiction, it is amusing and tragic by turns, as much so as any good novel. His research is fantastic, all the way down to the clothing, which I enjoy as I am a costumer with an avid interest in fashion history.
It's especially enjoyable to read about the Plantagenet's considering the recent discov
James Violand
Jun 29, 2014 James Violand rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs
Shelves: own
Costain seems to have been forgotten. Too bad. His English histories are well worth the reading. This volume of the series, "The Pageant of England" occurs around 1260 to 1480+. A wonderful read.
Dick Edwards
Costain does not tell us often enough the year that things are happening. I found the descendancy chart on pp. 12 and 13 extremely helpful. Somehow, I did not enjoy this book as much as the predecessor, The Conquerors, perhaps because the personnel were not as interesting. I don’t think there is as interesting story in all of history as that of Henry II, his wife and sons, and Thomas Becket. On the other hand, it is intriguing that such a great king as Edward I should descend from the evil and i ...more
Not quite as good as The Conquerors, but it's not the author's fault that Henry III wasn't the character his father and grandfather were. Still a wonderful story, I learned an awful lot about the 13th century.
I'm re-reading this for the second time. It's every bit as wonderful as I remembered it. Thomas Costain (RIP) wrote the most readable history of any historical author I've ever read. His books seem more like fiction and, even when I know what's going to happen, I find myself wondering what comes next. He lends his work a sense of immediacy.

As this was book 2 of 4, I'm going to take a break before re-reading books 3 and 4. They will be something to look forward to with anticipation. (and I have s
Reads like a term paper. Totally boring and focuses on surrounding players and not Henry III.

Rosemary Prawdzik
This is the 2nd book in this series and not nearly as fun to read as the first. Too many side treks and out of sequence segments for me. Mr Costain has a higher opinion of Edward I than I do certainly in his reference to Edward being a moderate voice in the dealings with the rebel barons and remaining family of Simon de Montfort. And for some reason still contends that John Longespee is the son of Henry II's Fair Rosamund. Just plain wrong. A dry read for sure.
The second book of the Plantagenet series was as illuminating and readable as the first volume. Using Henry III and his long but incompetent reign as the pivot point, Costain tells of the beginnings of England's constitutional government, the events that shaped Henry's son and next king, Edward I, and the hints of the age of enlightenment to come. I look forward to reading the next two volumes as I work my way through the centuries of British history.
Abigail Hartman
Costain is a splendid historian, treating his subjects fairly, conveying history as it was, but at the same time writing with a novelist's flair. No chapter is dull, nor any of the characters. Costain blows the dust off them and makes them each stand out from the pages of history, alive with their virtues and vices. If you ever think that all histories are dull, I defy you to find Costain's to be so.
What an interesting book! I've read historical fiction about the players in this book (Henry III, Simon de Montfort, Edward I, Eleanor of Provence) but this really explained the back story without much bias.

Unfortunately, since this book was published in 1963 and is out of print, I did have to interlibrary loan it from Weber County.

Can't wait to start reading The Three Edwards.
I've gotten accustomed to the narrator's voice, so this was a very quick read. It was fun, but I'd recommend A Distant Mirror instead.
Coleen Dailey
Second in the series. I actually read these a few years ago so this is simply a review of what happened. Given all the novels that are coming out about that time, I would recommend this series for someone who wants an overview of what really happened.
I read this in high-school, along with a bunch of other historical fiction. I remember the title as being something I really liked, but for the life of me can't remember the details of what I liked about it, now.
Boulder Boulderson
It's popular history with a story to tell - in this case the development of Magna Carta to a full-blown popular government. Quite a good book really, as long as you don't take it too seriously.
Maria Christensen
Well-researched facts recounted with really liberal amounts of historical imagination make this highly readable for people interested in history who don't necessarily like to read dry textbooks.
Yet another great job by Costain in his examination of medieval England, this one focusing on the 13th century and the long reign of Henry III. Just one more to go in this 4 book series.
Thomas Walsh
This is the first in the magnificent quatrain works on the House of Plantagenets by Costain. Every one is interesting, because he writes with such lucid styles.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elijah Spector
Sep 16, 2010 Elijah Spector marked it as to-read
Haven't read any of Costain's straight-up history writing, but found this little mass market paperback for $1.50. Why not? The Plantagenets are great!
This account of King Henry III's long and turbulent reign, from 1216 to 1272 is a very readable volume of British history.
Jacinta Hoare
The style of writing is a bit dated and as a result I found it a bit of a slog to get through. However well worth the effort
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Costain was born in Brantford, Ontario to John Herbert Costain and Mary Schultz. He attended high school there at the Brantford Collegiate Institute. Before graduating from high school he had written four novels, one of which was a 70,000 word romance about Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange. These early novels were rejected by publishers.

His first writing success came in 1902 when the Brantford
More about Thomas B. Costain...

Other Books in the Series

The Plantagenets (4 books)
  • The Conquering Family (The Plantagenets, #1)
  • The Three Edwards (The Plantagenets, #3)
  • The Last Plantagenets (The Plantagenets, #4)
The Silver Chalice The Black Rose The Last Plantagenets (The Plantagenets, #4) The Conquering Family (The Plantagenets, #1) The Three Edwards (The Plantagenets, #3)

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