Those Bloody Plantagenets

The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England. And what a bloody lot they were!

This very readable history book is by Dan Jones and he promises he has a sequel in the works. I can hardly wait. Don’t know why those exalted beings fascinate us so when in reality they had stinky feet like everybody else. Still, I’m fascinated. What impressed me most was seeing this notion of the Great Men Shape History theory in conjunction with Circumstances Around the Great Men Shape History.

Again and again through the centuries, Jones describes a couple of great kings, father and son, followed by a real stinker of a grandson who botches everything and loses hard-won territory and offends every social institution trying to blossom into being. Those examples make you think the country’s health depended solely on the monarch who either tried to improve the lot of England or tried to run the country into the ground. (King John was just as bad as the old Robin Hood stories painted him. In recognition of which, not a single monarch since has been named John.)

But then there were other factors, like the Black Death. Ruinous weather that destroyed crops and caused famine. Invading armies. Evil barons rubbing their hands together and cackling as they plotted nefarious schemes. Makes you think of Franklin Roosevelt trying to govern while in the midst of the Great Depression, or Obama struggling with a hostile House. Only so much an individual can do sometimes. Like nature vs. nurture, both the Great Man theory and Circumstances theory are true.

Jones begins with Henry II, the first Plantagenet (born 1154; his father was the Duke of Anjou and that family’s sign was broom, a plant that’s spelled planta genista in Latin) and ends his account when Henry IV takes the throne. The Fourth is counted as a Lancaster, but if you’re just looking at DNA, The Fourth is as much a Plantagenet as the others but was not descended from an eldest son. In fact, British monarchs have had some Plantagenet blood in them all the way down through a thousand years. (Not counting Oliver Cromwell as a monarch.) Even Elizabeth I has a few drops of Plantagenet in her bloodstream. And so does her new great grandson.

This is a really good read. Hope you enjoy it too.

About glcraig

Gretchen Craig’s lush, sweeping tales deliver edgy, compelling characters who test the boundaries of integrity, strength, and love. Told with sensitivity, the novels realistically portray the raw suffering of people in times of great upheaval. Gretchen was born and raised in Florida. She’s lived in climates and terrain as diverse as the white beaches of the Gulf Coast, the rocky shores of Maine, and the dusty plains of Texas. Her awareness of place imbues every page with the smell of the bayous of Louisiana, the taste of gumbo in New Orleans, or the grit of a desert storm. Rich in compelling characters and historical detail, Always and Forever is a sweeping saga of Josie and Cleo, mistress and slave. Amid Cajuns and Creoles, the bonds between these two remarkable women are tested by prejudice, tragedy, and passion for one extraordinary man. Gretchen’s first novel won the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence for Mainstream with Romantic Elements and was chosen as an Editor’s Pick in the Historical Novel Society reviews. Ever My Love, winner of the Booksellers Best Award from the Greater Detroit Romance Writers of America, continues the story of Cleo and Josie’s families, of their struggle for principle, justice, and love in a world where the underpinnings of the plantation culture are crumbling. Crimson Sky, inspired by the pueblos, mountains, and deserts of New Mexico, evokes the lives of people facing neighboring marauders and drought. Now the march of Spanish Conquistadors up the Rio Grande threatens their homeland, their culture, and their entire belief system.
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