Was Edward III a much-loved Arthurian champion, or the military mastermind behind the Plantagenets’ success?The exploits of England’s Plantagenet rulers are in the spotlight, thanks not least to Philippa Gregory’s The White Queen. Medieval scholars have seized their moment, offering to disentangle the disputed facts from the over-dramatised fiction. The violence of Plantagenet politics, which is apparently not that dissimilar to the cruelty and scheming in George RR Martin’s fantasy world of Westeros, has been discussed with a vividness rarely encountered in journals. Historical reality can evidently be as engaging as the melodramas it inspires.This is certainly true of the deeds of Edward III, according to Richard Barber. Edward’s 50-year reign (1327-77) did much to establish Plantagenet power in the centuries that followed. The king reasserted English authority over Scotland and vigorously pursued his predecessors’ military campaigns in France. He established a network of alliances among European rulers through marriage, and created a company of knights that championed contemporary chivalric ideals and loyalty to the monarchy. Edward was heralded as a second King Arthur and courtiers, chroniclers and a good number of historians since have praised his achievement.Barber argues that English successes in France between 1346 and 1349 owed much …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books