Harold F. Hutchison, |
(Barnes & Noble, 1971)
Many people really learned of Edward II, the first Prince of Wales, in the movie Braveheart. Chuck that. Oh, the essence portrayed Edward II correctly. He was not his father by any standard. Edward I was vicious in warfare, ordering the Sack of Berwick, where between 4,000 to 20,000 Scots were slaughtered in three days of killing. But he was also the father of the British legal system and had a brilliant mind.
It must have been a sad disappointment to Longshanks -- to love the son that was growing into his image but watch him die, and know the throne of England would pass to his other son, one tainted with the Lionheart's gene. Yes, his sexual bent saw the son often rule for the wishes of his "favourites" and it set his princess and late Queen Isabella against him, as well as England's barons -- which eventually lead to his murder.
But who was this foppish young man who stood in the shadows of the most ruthless king England has ever known? He inherited from Longshanks a mess with Scotland, and he tried his best to be rid of it. At one time, he even went to Robert the Bruce for help in sheltering his continual companion that often overstepped his place at court.
Without whitewashing Edward's homosexuality, Harold Hutchinson tries to bring forth a portrait of this somewhat tragic figure in England's and Scotland's history. Edward's coronation saw not only the hostilities with Scotland continuing, but he had to contend with barons determined to expand their power at the expense of the crown, seeing Edward II's weak rule as the perfect time to strike. He had to contend with a government running in the red, due to his warrior father's expensive wars. He did not chose his inner circle well, and had a wife that was called the She Wolf. Edward's death -- murder -- was one of the most horrible deaths of any monarch in all of history.
This book is a good insight into a man that history barely gives a footnote to as the son of Edward the Longshanks.