A review of a book i have read recently, for the school-work. Just to show what kind of thing's going on here.
I attended a seminar given by Michael Prestwich at UWA on an entirely different subject, that of pictures and illustrated books of hours; it was very interesting, he spoke well. He also writes well.
This is a fairly simple, but by no means unlearned, history of one of England’s more popular kings ~ within England: The Scots and the Welsh probably don’t have so much good to say about the “Hammer of the Scots”! That duality of vision about Edward made for quite curious reading here; Prestwich is obviously intrigued by his subject, and enjoyed writing about him, and there is evidently an enormous body of material about the King and his activities, but i find it awkward reading about him because i find so many of his actions of a lower quality than i would have hoped for from such a great man.
I suppose that i am disappointed that Edward was as human as he was: I would rather that he had been the man of honour and quality and courage and chivalry and impeccable behaviour that he would have wanted to be remembered as. But, the truth is, he was proud, and greedy, and dishonourable, and selfish, just as other men, in addition to having, just as other men, flashes of brilliance, moments of wisdom, episodes of chivalry. And all intertwined around and through each other. Thus, it is hard to reconcile the man who hung his enemy’s sister and supporter in cages, exposed to view in towns, with the man who loved his own wife so much that he built a series of crosses where her dead body rested on its way to London; just as hard to reconcile the man who so desired to return to the East as a crusader with the one who built an Eastern-influenced castle in Caernarfon to intimidate and oppress a newly subject people. In the end, i am saddened by the reminder that even the greatest (among whom Edward must be numbered) of England’s sovereigns are and have been fully human, not semi-divine.