Isabella and the Strange Death of Edward II [NOOK Book]

Overview

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 France's Philip IV to the dissolute Edward II in 1308—ends in bloody conflict, a possible regicide, the usurpation of royal power, execution, and...

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Isabella and the Strange Death of Edward II

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Overview

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 France's Philip IV to the dissolute Edward II in 1308—ends in bloody conflict, a possible regicide, the usurpation of royal power, execution, and exile. In a lively narrative that brings a fresh perspective to the history of Isabella's catastrophic marriage, Doherty illuminates the people, passions, and politics that prompted the young queen, after thirteen years, to flee the feckless, ineffectual king who had sacrificed the English army to ignominious and unnecessary defeat at Bannockburn and to escape court intrigues and her personal persecution by men like the sinister Hugh Despenser. At Isabella's command, though, Despenser eventually met a gruesome death, when she returned to England with the exiled Roger Mortimer and a mercenary army that deposed Edward and enthroned the conquering queen in the name of her young son, Edward III.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This tidy survey of the 14th-century reign of British king Edward II and his queen, Isabella, provides thumbnail sketches of a series of massacres, tortures, plots and counterplots leading to the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Edward, the first English king to be deposed from the throne. The prolific Doherty (author of the recent, compelling The Mysterious Death of Tutankhamun) is better known for writing several series of historical mystery novels, including the criminal investigations in an older Britain of Hugh Corbett and Brother Athelstan. Renowned for a sure ability to bring these periods to life in his fiction, Doherty seems strangely hog-tied by facts here. He notes in regard to the problems of determining why celebrity marriages go south today, that the difficulty is compounded by speculating on such events which occurred 700 years ago. The arranged marriage of Edward, heir to the English throne, and Isabella of France, went spectacularly wrong, with the queen, after she had been in exile in her native France, returning to England with an army to depose Edward. According to one tradition, Isabella arranged his death by means of a red hot poker thrust up into his bowels. Doherty postulates that Edward may have escaped this dire end in the year 1327, while duly recording Isabella's political supremacy and influence on history, which symbolically lives on in the powers invested in the queen in chess. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Forbes Magazine
Distinguished British historian Paul Doherty proves that if he ever took to writing detective novels, he'd quickly establish an Agatha Christie or Arthur Conan Doyle-class reputation. Neither Miss Marple nor Sherlock Holmes could've done better in unearthing evidence and resolving two historic mysteries: Was England's King Edward II really murdered, as has been supposed for centuries; and did Alexander the Great die prematurely from his allegedly excessive fondness for wine, or was he poisoned?(13 Apr 2005)
—Steve Forbes
Kirkus Reviews
A lively reconstruction of events in medieval English history, full of all the good stuff: murder, adultery, treason, and a few beheadings. Isabella, the daughter of French king Philip Le Bel and Johanna of Navarre, is a minor figure in world history, all things considered; Mel Gibson’s 1995 film Braveheart gives her a far more important role in the unpleasantness between England and Scotland of the late-13th and early-14th centuries than the facts warrant, especially by supposing that the Scottish leader William Wallace was the father of her child, who would become Edward III. For all that, Isabella did chalk up some significant deeds, not least of which, writes English mystery author and historian Doherty (The Mysterious Death of Tutankhamun, 2002, etc.), was that "she brought about the first formal deposition of an English king, even though it was for her own selfish motives." That king was Edward II, son of Edward Longshanks, who emerges in Doherty’s account as a feckless but not altogether bad fellow; his downfall came not through his homosexual dallying, as Braveheart hints, but through his overall lack of interest in running an empire, a job Isabella was only too happy to take on in the name of her son, fathered not by Edward but by the English exile Roger Mortimer. The existence of both heir and bedroom rival meant, of course, that Edward II had to be done away with, and Isabella engineered a nicely gruesome end for him. Confused yet? Well, the times were plenty confusing--they could hardly be otherwise in a milieu when royal spymasters wrote to the Pope to ask for blessings against spells cast by rival magicians, and when the death of a child in Norway could set about a struggleover monastic succession in France. Doherty deftly keeps the players and the facts lined up, delivering an entertaining tale as well. A satisfying excursion for medieval-history buffs.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781472112408
  • Publisher: Constable & Robinson
  • Publication date: 8/15/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 250,386
  • File size: 779 KB

Meet the Author

Paul Doherty was born in Middlesbrough. He studied History at Liverpool and Oxford Universities and obtained a doctorate for his thesis on Edward II and Queen Isabella. He is now headmaster of a school in north-east London and lives with his family in Essex.
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Table of Contents

Prologue: England under Edward I 1
1 A Fitting Marriage ... 11
2 Isabella and the King's Favourite 35
3 The New Favourite and Isabella's Disgrace 69
4 The She-Wolf Triumphant 105
5 The Burial of a King 133
6 The Downfall of the She-Wolf 155
7 The Immortal King 183
8 The King is Dead, Long Live the King 217
Notes 241
Bibliography 251
Index 257
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