Medieval History is one of my favourite time periods of history ever and the Plantagenets are definitely my most favourite royal dynasty in English history. Which you probably have already gathered from the fact I review a lot of non-fiction books on this time period and royal family and even have a special blog page on here that is a place where I document all of the medieval history books I have reviewed so far on my blog. So you could imagine my excitement when the lovely Hazel at Amberley Publishing sent me some press releases and one of the books that was available for review was a biography on Henry III who also happens to be a member of the Plantagenet royal dynasty. So, of course I knew right there and then that this was most definitely a book I needed to read and review for my blog. 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.
Henry III: The Son of Magna Carta was written by Matthew Lewis and was first published in 2016. The book centres on (Official Blurb): “Henry III became King of England within days of his ninth birthday. His father, King John, had overseen a disastrous period in English history and the boy king inherited a country embroiled in a bitter entrenched war with itself. With barons inviting a French prince to take the crown, the young Henry was forced to rely on others to maintain his position. As he grew into adulthood, Henry had to manage the transition to a personal rule, wrenching power from men who had held it almost unchecked for years. With a settled position at home, attention could turn to the recovery of lost territory abroad and the salvaging of Henry’s family reputatuion. All would not go according to plan. Failures abroad led to trouble back in England as restless barons became disillusioned. They found a figurehead in Simon de Montfort, a man who would transform himself from Henry’s favourite to a de facto king. Imprisoned and stripped of power, Henry would again have to fight for his kingdom, now relying not on older mentors but on his immensely capable son. Henry was handed a monarchy in peril, a crown that was cracked and tarnished. He was given fifty-six years to mend the damage his father had done. It would spell over a half a century of highs and lows in country crying out for stability; the final measure of Henry’s achievement displayed in the crown that he left to his son, Edward I.”
Henry III: The Son of Magna Carta is such a brilliant biography on a Plantagenet king that has been much forgotten by history. The biography and the period of history that is discussed and talked about is just excellent. The world of Henry III is brought to life in such a fascinating and compelling way. Throughout the whole of this biography Matthew Lewis skilfully narrates the tale of Henry III as well as his long and very eventful reign.
It’s such a shame that Henry III has largely been forgotten by history because he was a very talented man that had a great cultural perspective. Matthew Lewis, restores Henry the man after decades of been ignoring as well as this Lewis also was most definitely successful in demonstrating that Henry and his 56 year reign of England was very far from boring. This book was analytical, scholarly, thoroughly researched, gripping, accessible and most importantly extremely readable.
He represented stability in choppy waters; he was a bridge between chaos and calm that was trodden by a nation. It is perhaps unfair that the bridge has been allowed to crumble and be forgotten. The son of Magna Carta deserves to be remembered as a father of nations.
There are very few biographies out there that have been written on this complex and in many cases elusive king who reigned for over 56 years. So it was so nice to finally read a biography on him that actually restores Henry the man after being neglected for so long. I thoroughly enjoyed the depth of history that this book and Matthew Lewis went into especially with such an underreported and also underrated king like Henry III. Overall, Matthew Lewis produced an excellent and compelling biography and I would highly recommend Henry III: The Son of Magna Carta to anyone whether they are new to this period of history or are a lover of it just like me. I’m most definitely going to check out more of Matthew Lewis’s work in the near future.
The edition I read was published by Amberley Publishing (2016).
(Image is my own please do not take/copy without permission first).