Just finished reading a mighty tome by Seymour Phillips on King Edward II of England, published by Yale.
Phillips view of Edward is on reflection very fair and balanced overall, using extremely detailed research to come to his conclusions.
He cautions on many occasions throughout his book, against taking at face value some contemporary chronicler's writings about King Edward II.
He concludes that:
1. Edward had a powerful sense of his own royal status as king and the duties pertaining to it throughout his reign;
2. Inherited a bankrupt kingdom from his father - Edward I, with the administration of the country in chaos and the powerful on the verge of rebellion. He believes even a more capable king would have found it difficult to do better;
3. Says it would be unwise to conclude that Edward had no interest or was not actively involved in the administration of his government, but that he interest was at best sporadic and unpredictable, leading to the cultivation of certain 'favourites', which was highly unsatisfactory for his times;
4. Despite certain chroniclers writings, there is no direct evidence that Edward had a sexual relationship with either of his favourites - Piers Gaveston and Hugh Despencer, the Younger. That labelling an individual a 'sodomite' was tantamount in his time to calling some a 'heretic' and was an insult used on my occasions against other powerful individuals to bring them down;
5. Edward he believes showed on many occasions, considerable skill in dividing his political enemies, Earl Thomas of Lancaster (his cousin) case in point, until he got his own way and could make powerful speeches disabling his opponents when required to do so;
6. He was underated in his own time, and has been ever since;
7. He was not lacking in physical or moral courage;
8. He was not stupid;
9. He was at least as well educated as his father - Edward I and his son Edward III;
10. There was something of a holy man about his personality;
11. That he was too able a king to be ignored, but had too many weaknesses of character and behaviour to be a success.
I have certainly changed my vision of the personality of King Edward II (to a more positive one), having read this brilliant work by Seymour Phillips, which could not have been more thoroughly researched. I absolutely recommend this book 100%
Anything with a vague historical bent
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