First off prior to reading this book my only reference for Edward I was his portrayal by Patrick Mcgoohan in the 1995 film Brave Heart. The movie portrayed him as a one dimensional character, a ruthless tyrant, widowed with only one child, a disappointing son. I love the movie Brave Heart and I was very apt to believe that Edward I was indeed nothing more than a Medieval dictator.
I really had no desire to pursue further research until this year when I discovered two very important things, one Jean Plaidy and two that Edward I was my 19th great grandfather. With these two things in mind it was a delight to discover that Ms. Plaidy had written a book about Edward I. The title alone Hammer of the Scots I found intriguing. The best part was finding this book at Waterstone's in Bath, England.
After reading this book I can say What I didn't know about Edward I was a lot.
What I didn't know was;
- He came from a large family of brothers and sisters
- He was dearly loved and adored by his parents Henry III and Eleanore of Provence
- He was considered a very handsome youth favoring his Viking ancestors
- He was named Longshanks because of his height and long legs
- He was devoted to his parents. He loved his father dearly
- He married Eleanor of Castile and remained faithful to her their entire marriage. He was devoted to her and she him. She accompanied him on the ninth Crusade to the Holy Land where he was nearly killed and she nursed him back to health. It was there at Acre that she delivered a daughter one of 16 children they would have. The baby died and is buried at Acre in the Holy Land.
- Of the 16 children only 6 would live to adulthood and of the 6 there was only one son the youngest child Edward II.
- He was devoted to his family, he loved his wife and children.
- He would conquer Wales and create the Prince of Wales
- He would expel the Jews from England. 16 -20,000 Jews would be ordered to leave by Edward I.
- He would design the special torture of being drawn and quartered for traitors
- He was just and generous to his family, servants, and citizens, but woe to those who were his enemies. He valued loyalty and loathed insincerity.
- He was determined to make England a great, respected kingdom with an invincible army.
- He placed a shrine to his wife Elenore every where her funeral procession would stop between Winchester and Westminster.
- He requested on his death bed to have his bones carried before the troops while engaged in battle against Scotland so he could be part of the victory.
- His heart would be taken and buried in the Holy Land as an act of penance before God for his sins.
These are just a few of the highlights of this great story. Ms. Plaidy has not left William Wallace out of the story at all. In fact the last few chapters of the book are devoted entirely to him. Very interesting and not so much the Brave Heart version, in fact I liked it better.
I love the way Ms. Plaidy writes. She gets to point and doesn't waste time with loads of description. She doesn't hesitate to tell you just how it was. Sometimes you love the character and sometimes you truly can't stand them.
I highly recommend this book for Jean Plaidy fans as well as Medieval History buffs. Believe me Edward I was far from being a one dimensional character, there was many facets to this man. I would have to say he was a great king, one that was needed to unify England. He took his calling in life very seriously and honestly did try to do the best he could. He had regrets to be sure.
I give the book 4.5 royal crowns!