4 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

The first Plantagenet king, Henry II seemed to have everything in control, by the age of 40 he controlled England, parts of Wales, some of Ireland and the western half of France. He was married to Eleanor of Aquitaine, and he had eight children, three daughters and five sons.

It was the tension between these brothers that would ruin the legacy that Henry hoped to have as they sought to carve out their own power bases with land and income. Brother fought against brother and sometimes joined forces with each other to push back against their father. Some of the changes that he made in the way that the law and administration of his lands were run during his reign are still in use today, but the thing he could not do was temper any of his son’s desire for power.

I thought that this was a fascinating journey through our history of the early 1200s beginning with Henry II. Generally, it was quite readable, and the narrative storyline works really well. Occasionally the detail would be a little overwhelming, trying to keep up with which cousin or other relative going back on a promise and betraying the monarch at the time was. This power play took play across Europe and the UK and each of the Kings struggled to hold onto their authority across their vast lands. They were quite a greedy bunch and in certain cases fairly incompetent too and their legacy still rumbles across the political landscape of the UK Europe and even the Middle East even today.

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