Edward II is one of the most controversial kings of English history. On numerous occasions he brought England to the brink of civil war.
Author Stephen Spinks argues that Edward and the later murdered Piers Gaveston were lovers, not merely ‘brothers-in-arms’. Influenced by successive royal favourites, and with a desire for personal vengeance, his rule became high polarised and unstable. His own wife took a lover and invaded his kingdom resulting in his forced abdication; the first in British history. Edward’s prevailing legacy remains the warning that all kings can fall from power.
And yet…war, debt and baronial oppression before 1307 ensured that Edward II inherited a toxic legacy that any successor would have found almost impossible to wrestle with. Stephen Spinks explores that legacy using a wide breadth of contemporary and later sources. By focusing on Edward’s early years as much as on the reign itself, and exploring the conflicting influences of those around him, Stephen shows the human side of this tale against a backdrop of political intrigues, betrayals and revenge. He peels back the layers and seven hundred years of opinion to reveal the man who wore the crown. Edward’s belief in his unchallenged right to rule, increasingly at odds with those at his court, and his undeniable thirst for revenge, creates a 14th-century tragedy on a grand scale.
Sara Cockerill, author of Eleanor of Castile: The Shadow Queen
‘Stephen Spinks has made excellent use of the original sources and recent scholarship to spell out an engaging portrait of this complex and often misunderstood king. At the same time he has produced a lively and clear narrative history of a reign the relentless politics of which can often confuse’.
Joseph Harris, reader on Amazon
‘A superbly written and accessible account of Edward’s life and reign. The author presents a balanced and fair view of not only Edward’s career as king but also on his character that highlights both his strengths and his weaknesses. Edward II ultimately failed as a king and Stephen Spinks does not try to deny that, but he does highlight the fact that he was far from the incompetent and foppish figure we’ve seen him popularly portrayed as.
Additionally, the book has a rich appendix, colour illustrations and a complete bibliography for those who are keen for further reading on Edward’s life. This is a wonderful debut for Stephen Spinks, and I will be looking out for anything he may write in the future. Highly recommended’.