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Isabella and the Strange Death of Edward II
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Isabella and the Strange Death of Edward II

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  151 ratings  ·  20 reviews
For good reason, the queen in chess inherits its fearsome power on the game board from the reputedly murderous maneuvers of the fourteenth-century Queen Isabella of England, as historian and biographer Paul Doherty shows in his engaging account of a savage chapter in medieval English history. What begins with a peace match—the marriage of the twelve-year-old daughter of Fr ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 21st 2003 by Basic Books (first published February 15th 2003)
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On the one and only time I visited Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, way back in the sixties, the chamber where Edward II was reputedly murdered was billed as a highlight of the tour. Later, as a student at Southampton University in 1969, I remember Ian McKellen playing Edward II in Marlowe’s play of the same name, raising shocked intakes of breath as he entered planting a kiss on the lips of the King’s favourite, Piers Gaveston.

The notorious manner of the king’s death — “by a red hot poker be
The reign of Edward II must be one of the most turbulent and, from a historical perspective, fascinating eras in English history. Son of Edward I, Longshanks and Hammer of the Scots, and father of Edward III, the epitome of medieval kingship, Edward II is perhaps proof of the old adage that virtues and vices often skip a generation.

A weak-willed and pleasure-loving prince, obsessed with his favourites, neglectful of his duties and too easily swayed, Edward II was the first king in English histor
Pete Friend
I've just had to change this to 4 stars instead of 3. (Probably actually it's around 3.5 like the average seems to be). Not least because it pulled me through in only a few days and the bibliography is so detailed at the back that it invited me to appreciate the work that had gone into it. The writing style is great again from the author and I especially liked the thought that had gone into his own theory of Henry II's escape from the castle at Berkeley. Henry II starts out as a likable rogue an ...more
Rebecca Hill
Paul Doherty goes deep within the medieval world, and comes up with a new theory of the death of Edaward II. Doherty digs into the royal family and dirty secrets that the monarchy would have rather kept hidden..

Isabella, the French princess that was supposed to bring peace, instead she was jealous and was determined to see anyone who vied with her position with her husband brought down. Edward II was a strange king. He preferred to not have to govern to much, delegating as much as he could to th
Well written history book. Despite the prurient interest we have in Edward II’s life (was his relationship with his favorites sexual? Did Isabella join in? Etc.) and his death (did Isabella actually order him killed? Was he killed with a red hot poker up the ass, so as to avoid detection? Or did he escape to live in Wales , as the author seems to believe?), we know little about him or his queen. No portraits or letters by their own hand—the best we have are their monuments and clerks’ inventorie ...more
Pretty good, an interesting topic and the author provides some interesting ideas of what may have happened during this time, I don't agree with all of them but they were very interesting. I also was very intrigued by the fact that Doherty moves away from Gaveston's relationship with Edward that so many people focus on, when there is so much more to the relationship.
A very interesting and highly readable revisionist/counterfactual reworking of the life and death of Edward II, and the role played in both by his either much-maligned or complete bitch of a wife, Isabella. Doherty suggests that Edward was not murdered unpleasantly (by having a red-hot poker shoved up his backside) at Berkley Castle, as centuries of bloodthirsty schoolboys have been taught, but may have actually been helped to escape and either travelled to the continent or hid out in Wales, whe ...more
Blair Hodgkinson
Interesting review of the facts surrounding the Isabella/Mortimer coup against Edward II and some interesting speculation surrounding the odd circumstances of Edward's death.
Michele bookloverforever
strong woman survives less than loving spouse and his preferred favorites but makes the mistake of falling in lust with the warrior who overthrows her spouse, the king of england and then poses threat to her son, the new king, edward III. She is known as the she wolf of england. If she had avoided the sex outside of her marriage or at least kept it more discreet during the 14th century she might have kept her reputation. Her son, Edw.III whitewashed her reputation afterwards. However, turns out ...more
Pete daPixie
Having read 'The Perfect King' by Ian Mortimer, I wanted to dig a little more into the death of Edward II. I've visited Berkeley Castle many moons ago, scene of the so called murder. I've also visited the tomb of Edward's in Gloucester Cathedral.
I think Paul Doherty investigates this 700 year old whodunnit, and comes up with the truth behind what happened. No need to visit Gloucester Cathedral again then!
Lynda Wilcox
I adore Paul Doherty's mediaeval mysteries but the early part of the Strange Death of Edward II is merely re-stating most of what he has covered elsewhere. It isn't until right at the end of the book that Doherty puts forward less than compelling evidence concerning Edward's demise. If he had written the first part with as much verve and panache as the ending, I might not have felt so disappointed.
E.C. Ambrose
Wow--if you think fantasy novels are full of devious characters and twisted plotlines, you won't believe this history book! It's fascinating reading, full of love, betrayal, vengeance and murder.

the author also writes historical mysteries, and his deft prose is easy and enjoyable. Highly recommended if you're interested in royalty, intrigue or the Middle Ages.
Heather Domin
I'm not very familiar with the reign of Edward II, so this fact-filled book made a good educational starting point. I found the writing style somewhat flat, though, and some of the author's conclusions made me scratch my head, especially in regards to Isabella's motivations as a female.
Doherty proposes that the accepted story of the death of Edward II at Berkley Castle may not be true, but fails to propose an alternative or suggest which of the other theories he finds most convincing.
Shawn Thrasher
The fortunes of a whole nation rested on the whims of just a couple of highly placed people, which is why we don't really have a whole lot of governments based on monarchies like this anymore.
This was not a mystery, more of a look into what happened to Edward II. Why he was a schmuck, why his wife hated him, why his wife had him killed. Hot poker up the rear end. Ouch.
Recommended only to someone interested in English history. This was one ruthless chick!!!
Very dry presentation of events in England surrounding life and death of Edward II
Nothing new, just author's opinions and speculations
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

He has been published under several pseudonyms: P.C. Doherty, Celia L. Grace, Paul Harding, Ann Dukthas, Vanessa Alexander, Michael Clynes and Anna Apostolou but now writes only under his own name.

Paul Doherty was born in Middlesbrough (North-Eastern England) in 1946. He had
More about Paul Doherty...
Satan in St Mary's (Hugh Corbett, #1) The Mask of Ra (Amerotke, #1) The Nightingale Gallery (Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan, #1) The Anubis Slayings (Amerotke, #3) The Horus Killings (Amerotke, #2)

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