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The Three Edwards (The Plantagenets #3)

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  592 ratings  ·  38 reviews
THE THREE EDWARDS, third in Thomas B. Costain's survey of Britain under the Plantagenets, covers the years between 1272 and 1377 when three Edwards ruled England. Edward I brought England out of the Middle Ages. Edward II had a tragic reign but gave his country Edward III, who ruled gloriously, if violently.

A History of the Plantagenets includes THE CONQUERING FAMILY, THE
Mass Market Paperback, 480 pages
Published 1962 by Popular Library (first published 1958)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,362)
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Kathy  Petersen
I'm on a Costain popular history marathon. The Three Edwards is third in the series of four about the Plantagenets. It's fairly light reading (I've been a historian, and Costain won't be on any history professor's syllabus!), but his writing is really good and the Plantagenets an intriguing bunch. He also clearly explains when he's speculating or merely repeating a good but unverifiable story about the kings and queens and their courts and coteries from centuries ago. It's a fine journey.
Even if this is the third book of the Plantagenets series and I haven't read the second book, I was able to follow the very interesting flow of the narrative.

In my opinion, Costain is one of the masters in telling the history in a very captivating way by keeping the reader always connected with the description of the historical facts.

I think Edward III was the most dreadful story among his processors'.
I was surprised by how enjoyable and readable this book was. Within the first few pages Edward I gets stabbed with a poisoned dagger by a treacherous Muslim, and the history stays at that level of excitement throughout. Costain writes remarkably descriptive prose--he uses a whole lot of adjectives--but never delves into fiction. He doesn't put words or thoughts into the historical figures' heads, unlike all too many historians. I was pleased by Costain's breadth scholarship, as well. He spends l ...more
Jul 12, 2008 ROSALIE rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to ROSALIE by: I just read The Conquering Family by the same author
What I learned is people are people whoever they are, even Kings and Queens. I also learned lots of history of England. It was a very engaging book. It is not a novel, but it reads like one and carries the reader along on one adventure after another...very exciting.
This was my second reading, and I enjoyed it as much as the first time. It reads like a novel, with lots of interesting personal information.
Second only to Drunken History
I am enjoying Costain's Plantagenet series. Lots of information as I travel through the Middle Ages. I got a bit bogged down in places; there seemed to be a lot of unfamiliar "side trips" that were slower to digest.

Of particular note as the U.S. debates whether to raise the debt ceiling or default on its promise to pay debts. Edward III, in the course of fighting wars, borrowed heavily from two banking families in Florence, the Bardis and Peruzzis. In 1339 he realized he could not pay his debts,
Jill Hutchinson
I love English history and Costain's books are readable but, as another reviewer said, there is not a lot of information contained in this book to further enlighten a history buff. That said, I enjoyed this tale of the Plantagenet Edwards. What a vicious and bloody time in English history when England was either trying to subdue Scotland the Brave or fighting the French. Hanging, drawing and quartering, and beheading seemed to be a daily occurance. The story takes the reader through the last day ...more
Abigail Hartman
An enjoyable and broadbrush history of England under the three consecutive Edwards of the Plantagenet dynasty, told with Costain's unique novelist flair. I was not wrapped up in it quite as much as I was in the previous book, "The Magnificent Century," simply because there was no one man who stood out in these reigns the way Simon de Montfort did in Henry III's, but I did still enjoy it. It's hard not to like Costain's writing and the way he brings the past to life. I especially appreciate his t ...more
For his third book on the Plantagents, Costain does it again. He continues to tell the story of the English Kings while adding interesting side notes on the period and the people of the realm.

One of my favorite side notes was his discussion of the origin and use of the button!

Additionally although he seems to favor King Edward, Costain does provides a very fair re-telling of the king's treatment of William Wallace.

I also enjoyed Costain's discussion of Mortimer's escape. He took the time to p
Mike Luoma
Another winner from Costain as he relates the reigns of Edward I, II, and III, the British kings who dominated the 14th century and started the Hundred Years War with France, though of his four books in this history of the Plantagenets this is clearly the weakest link. It may be simply that it ends on a down note, historically speaking. The book meanders and occasionally seems to lose its way towards the end, much as the feeble and addled old king Edward III tended to do towards the end of his l ...more
Crappy pop history. For an author described on the cover as one of the greatest storytellers of his time, he seems to get really excited about listing off the prices of objects and how much people/countries made per year. While that isn't necessarily bad history combining it with his random bouts of melodrama made me want to put down the book over and over again. The only reason why I kept up with it is because I'm trying to focus more and more on individuals within the broad historical scope of ...more
Jamison Shuck
Costain is a master storyteller. Although there are no sources and its not to be used as an academic study, his history of the Plantagenets is throughly enjoyable. One complaint is that unlike Henry II and his sons and the comically inept Henry III, I have less of a personal portrait of the Three Edwards than I did of the previous Plantagenets in Costain's series. It may just be due to a lack of sources, but I feel I really knew John and Henry III as people but I can't really say the same about ...more
Lady of the Lake
A great book for learning the important facts to keep you in the loop when reading HF of this tome period. It is a GREAT series for newbies to he time period! It reads well not at all dry for a NON-FICTION work and it would help you to have a better understanding while reading HF. All these books in the series can stand alone but it is good to start from t he first one and move through the years to have a complete understanding of the family PLANTAGENET!
Another easy read about the Plantagenets. I don't agree with the reviewer who said that it's always clear when the author is speculating, but I don't worry about it. History requires storytelling and synthesis, not just a discussion of whether a given fact is or is not a fact. Costain succeeds at creating a solid narrative from disparate events. Of course, someone else could have written a different story, and perhaps that would have been fun, too.
Jun 02, 2011 Kathie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those interested in English history and the Plantegenet family.
Recommended to Kathie by: my daughter after doing genealogical research
I liked the history during the times of Edwards I, II, and III and the stories of their extensive families. The book is full of facts, is well written and easily understood, not like a text book. It is over 400 pages of solid text and could have easily been 1000 pages and easier to read. It took me about three weeks to read the first 100 pages. I will attempt it again some day though it was somewhat difficult to locate a copy.
An excellent, easy read about an era that is of great interest to me. I think I read Costain's The Silver Chalice many years ago - he has a great feel for the Middle Ages. I plan to read the other 3 books of this series (The Plantagenets)on my Kindle, after a few other books are tried - The Black Count, the new Jared Diamond book.
Chris Gager
Lightweight history is the best kind for me. Why the dainty treatment of the homosexual issue? Have we come a long way since 1300? Blood, guts, warfare, torture, resentment, paranoia...
Although this is a history book, it is written in a descriptive way such that it really makes the people and places come alive. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Tracy Wild
Although not near as good as The Last Plantagenets, Costain writes in a clear and concise manner that brings the period and the people to life.
H. P. Reed
This book, though it may be flawed, started my love of history. Thank you, dear dead Thomas B. Costain.
Third in the series on Plantagenet kings, enjoyable and well written.
Julian Haigh
Spanning three kings of the Plantagenets this book shows how modern government worked with different interests (mostly barons but also traders) balancing with their self-identity as kings from France but in England. An important period in the development of what it means to be English.
This is the 3rd of 4 volumes on the Plantagenet kings of England. I read them about 30 years ago and enjoyed them so much, that I've been meaning to re-read them. They're so well written that they almost seem like exciting fiction...except that the good guys often don't win in the least not some of the ones I was cheering for.

There are no footnotes, which seems both good and bad. It makes for easier reading, but sometimes I want more information that would likely be found in a footnote.
Read this as an adjunct to the Dragon Knight books. It is full of fascinating material.
Boulder Boulderson
The first half of this book, on Edwards I and II, is quite dull and slow moving. Obviously the author is limited by the source material (ie history) but he could have concentrated less on them, more on Edward III, where the story really picks up. The colourful characters of the period, from Edward himself and the Black Prince, to the various Kings of France and the Churchmen, politicians and soldiers of the day are brought back to life in a manner which, while not 100% historically accurate, is ...more
Another one bites the dust! 3 down, 1 to go. Similar in tone to volumes 1 and 2, so I don't have much to say except that he dodges too much of Edward II.
The Three Edwards of the title are Edward I, II, and III of England (father, son and grandson respectively). Their reigns covered the years 1272-1377. It was interesting to read about a time period of history not discussed as often as some (ex. Tudor, Victorian Era), but the writing was not thrilling enough to keep me reading compulsively. It took me a while to get through it.
Dick Edwards
Costain again leaves out dates when describing events. The descendency chart on page 19 is extremely helpful. This book goes into details about the Scots and Welsh, and this makes it interesting. I find the description of Edward III’s children helpful as an introduction into the period that follows, called the War of the Roses. I give this book my personal rating of 8.
My real fault with this book is it's a very slow read. I've read other books by Costain, and while his research is good, he's just not easy to read.

I'm a confirmed Anglophile and a lover of history (especially Medieval), so his books will most likely remain on my shelves, but I can't say I recommend them.

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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 Magnificent Century (The Plantagenets, #2)
  • The Last Plantagenets (The Plantagenets, #4)

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