Hugh Despenser the Younger and Edward II (Paperback)
Downfall of a King’s Favourite
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Hugh Despenser the Younger and Edward II tells the story of ‘the greatest villain of the fourteenth century’, his dazzling rise as favourite to the king and his disastrous fall.
Born in the late 1280s, Hugh married King Edward I of England’s eldest granddaughter when he was a teenager. Ambitious and greedy to an astonishing degree, Hugh chose a startling route to power: he seduced his wife’s uncle, the young King Edward II, and became the richest and most powerful man in the country in the 1320s. For years he dominated the English government and foreign policy, and took whatever lands he felt like by both quasi-legal and illegal methods, with the king’s connivance. His actions were to bring both himself and Edward II down, and Hugh was directly responsible for the first forced abdication of a king in English history; he had made the horrible mistake of alienating and insulting Edward’s queen Isabella of France, who loathed him, and who had him slowly and grotesquely executed in her presence in November 1326.
As featured by.Cardiff Times, February 2019
Kathryn Warner has gone above and beyond to find new information from primary sources to add to the stuff that is already out there. Through Despenser's letters - of which, thankfully, many have survived, we get a glimpse of his personality - and it isn't always a pretty one. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that he was a man of his time, when only people of wealth and position counted. Other magnates also behaved in similarly reprehensible ways, but on a much smaller scale, and without the collusion of the king. This book is not a quick read, as it has so much information packed within its covers, but oh boy, if you are interested in the early 14th century, or historical personalities, is it ever worth it! Ten out of ten for a superb first biography of Hugh Despenser the younger!
Hugh Despenser the younger was a gangster! There is no other word that describes him more accurately. He stole, lied, cheated, murdered and bullied his way to become the second most powerful and richest man in England next to the King himself. Kathryn Warner writes her biography of Hugh Despenser the younger with all the bloodstained details, action and accuracy of a modern day "Godfather" novel. No stone is left unturned as the details of Despenser life are brought to light in this amazing biography.
This is the very first biography of Hugh DeSpenser to have been written and is not to be missed.
As with all of Warner's work, this book is meticulously researched and we gain an insight into Despenser's mind in Warner's examination of his original letters, where he re-drafts to avoid appearing like the over-mighty subject he obviously was. We will never know the true relationship between Edward II and Hugh Despenser, but it's fascinating to follow the course of their relationship, with Edward II intensely disliking Despenser at the start of his reign. By the 1320s, it was a complete turnaround. Warner avoids endless speculation and tells Hugh's story as it was. Despite his many faults, Hugh's family life is a revelation, and he seems to be a caring and loving father, as well as happily married to his wife.
This is an immensely readable book and gives a superb insight into the court of Edward II.
I don't think I've ever read a more thoroughly researched historical book than Hugh Despenser the Younger & Edward II: Downfall of a King's Favourite by Katherine Warner...This book is a fascinating account of a tangled web of deceit, turmoil, courtly life, war and rebellion. Warner has done a remarkable job of research and brings the turmoil of Edward's reign to life like no other book I have read.Britain Express
Read the full review here
Edward II is famously one of England’s most unsuccessful kings, as utterly different from his war-like father Edward I as any man possibly could be, and the first English king to suffer the fate of deposition. Highly unconventional, even eccentric, he was an intriguing personality, and his reign of nineteen and a half years from 1307 to 1327 was a turbulent period of endless conflict and the king’s infatuation with his male favourites, which ended when his own queen led an invasion of his kingdom. Following in the Footsteps of Edward II presents a new take on this most unconventional and puzzling…By Kathryn Warner
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