Lionheart and Lackland: King Richard, King John and the wars of conquest
Spanning most of Europe and the Middle East, this narrative shows these larger-than-life characters as they really were - crusading, fighting vicious wars in France, negotiating with the papacy, engaging in ruthless dynastic intrigue, often against each other. Anyone who has seen 'The Lion in Winter' will remember the vicious, compelling world of the Plantagenets: the towering, almost psychopathic Henry II, commander of the slaughter of Thomas a' Becket, at war with both his wife the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine and his sons (including the subjects of this remarkable book, Richard and John). And readers of the romance of Robin Hood will be familiar with the type-casting of Good King Richard, defending Christendom in the Holy Land, and Bad King John who usurps the kingdom in his absence. The images are mother's milk to every Hollywood producer and every British schoolchild. But how much do these popular stereotypes correspond with reality? Frank McLynn, known for a wide range of historical studies which are scholarly, punchy and wonderfully readable, has returned to the original sources to discover what the Plantagenets were really like and how their history measures up to their myth.
85 pages matching Lionheart and Lackland: King Richard, King John and the Wars of Conquest in this book
Results 1-3 of 85
What people are saying - Write a review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
Here is another fantastic history by McLynn. As usual, he makes figures that might be easily seem one-dimensional become lively and human. When I picked up this book its heft alone was daunting, but it never dragged and always kept me interested. It's dense, no doubt, but always entertains. Although I'm not usually a fan of military history, McLynn's treatment of battles is especially good. He manages to describe the action clearly and with enough explanation for someone not necessarily intimate with medieval warfare, while somehow also making them suspenseful. His other forte is how he handles the politics in Europe in the12th and 13th centuries. Just enough detail and analysis is provided to make the story interesting but also worthwhile to read. There are two reasons I only gave "Richard and John" four and a half stars instead of the full five (McLynn's "1066: The Year of Three Battles" easily gets a perfect score in my book). The first is that McLynn falls into the trap of overusing modern cliches to explain otherwise difficult-to-grasp medieval political concepts. Some of this type of thing is welcome in my opinion, as it really can help make a point clear without spending too much text, but the amount of times McLynn "visits that well" (see, I can do it too) was distracting. The second reason this book fell a little short is that McLynn spends far too much time and energy defending the classic evaluation of Richard as the "good" king and John as the "bad" king. I take issue with any historian feeling that they have to evaluate the merit of figures from the distant past. I get that it can make for more interesting reading, but it's easy enough to draw your own conclusions when the facts are stated as thoroughly as McLynn does here. It's impossible not to judge one king against another, especially when they contrast as starkly as Richard and John, and it might be asking too much for a historian not to throw in his own judgment now and then, but McLynn beats you over the head with it at times. I have to end on a positive note, because overall this was a great read and I recommend it: if McLynn could just write a history of England from the Roman invasion to modern times I would be a happy camper. All histories should be this engaging and complete.
Review: Lionheart and Lackland: King Richard, King John and the Wars of ConquestUser Review - Justin - Goodreads
The book's covers proclaim this to be 'A rattling good read' (Spectator), 'marvellously readable' (Literary Review) and 'History at its most readable' (Bookseller). It is none of these: the subject ... Read full review