Kingmakers: How Power in England was Won and Lost on the Welsh Frontier By Timothy Venning


Once again this is a non-fiction book that focuses on a period of history that I absolutely love and that of course is the Medieval period. I originally saw this book in a photo on a website at the end of 2016 and straight away knew that I would like to read this book and if I got the opportunity to review it on my blog as well. So when I happened to contact Amberley Publishing to see if they had any books that were available for review I was extremely excited to see this book was one of the books on the press releases that the lovely Hazel sent me. So, once again I would like to thank Hazel at Amberley Publishing for being so kind and sending me a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Kingmakers: How Power in England was Won and Lost on the Welsh Frontier by Timothy Venning was first published this year (2017) and centres on (official blurb): “For a Medieval English king, delegation was a necessary evil; and nowhere more necessary – nor more potentially disatrous – than on the Anglo-Welsh borders. The Marcher Lords first empowered by William I were relied upon by subsequent Norman and Plantagenet Kings to protect the dangerous frontiers of the realm. In Wales, as in Ireland, the smaller size and military weakness of divided neighbouring states encouraged conquest, with the seized lands enhancing the power of the aggressive English lords. They were granted ever greater authority by the monarch, to the point where they believe they ruled like kings. They intermarried, schemed for extra lands and snatched power in a compex and often violent political process. Owing to their resources and unparalleled military effectiveness, they soon came to overawe kings and dominate national events. The strength of the Marcher lords would come to the fore at numerous times in the nation’s history in the shape of notorious figures such as Sime de Montfort and Roger Mortimer. The civil war of King Stephen’s reign, the baronial resistence to King John, the overthrow of Edward II and Richard II; all of these crises turned upon the involvement of the lords of the marches. Timothy Venning explores their mentality and reveals the dramatic careers both of those who propered from their loyalty to the kings and those whose power was gained by treachery –  from the Norman Conquest to the beginnings of the Tudor dynasty.”

When I first saw this book, I was immediately interested especially being that this a part of Medieval history that I have never really read about or covered when studying this period of history before. This book touches on key events that involve the Welsh Marches and its lords as well as the events and issues that occur because of England’s constant struggle for power on the Welsh Frontier. The work and research that was done to make this book happen shows that Timothy Venning definitely knows his stuff especially when it comes to this subject e.g. ‘How Power in England was Won and Lost on the Welsh Frontier’.

Not only is this book a comprehensive study of the Welsh Marches and the Welsh Marcher Lords and their involvement in power won and lost by the English it is also a fascinating insight into how the Welsh Marcher Lords influenced the fate of the English crown. In some places the writing did com across as a bit dry however, this book was well-written and does provide useful and interesting information on this topic. After reading, I found this book a well researched and interesting read. It is most definitely a good book for anyone studying or interested in this period of English and Welsh history.

“The new Marcher world post-1066 was a classic ‘frontier society’, which made its own contribution to legends…”


The edition I read was published by Amberley Publishing (2017).

(Image is my own please do not take/copy without permission first).



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