The English Monarchs
Yale University Press
February 2, 2016
Henry IV (1399-1413), the son of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, seized the English throne at the age of thirty-two from his cousin Richard II and held it until his death, aged forty-five, when he was succeeded by his son, Henry V. This comprehensive and nuanced biography restores to his rightful place a king often overlooked in favor of his illustrious progeny. Henry faced the usual problems of usurpers: foreign wars, rebellions, and plots, as well as the ambitions and demands of the Lancastrian retainers who had helped him win the throne. By 1406 his rule was broadly established, and although he became ill shortly after this and never fully recovered, he retained ultimate power until his death. Using a wide variety of previously untapped archival materials, Chris Given-Wilson reveals a cultured, extravagant, and skeptical monarch who crushed opposition ruthlessly but never quite succeeded in satisfying the expectations of his own supporters.
Wow. This book is a beast. I mean that in the best way possible. At almost 800 pages, this book is absolutely packed full of information. This is not for the casual history fan, but is a dream for one who loves real history without needless exploitation or manufactured drama. Despite being so long, I didn’t feel like it dragged or can even suggest edits (which is rare for me). The attention to detail was excellent without being overwhelming and didn’t feel like Given-Wilson was including it just to prove he knew it (you know what I mean? Sometimes I read a detail in a history book and I’m *sure* the author just included it cause they were forced to learn it, so here, now you are too).
If you like hardcore English history and want to learn more about this lesser-discussed King, check this one out.
**I received this copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**