...making decisions on the basis of what seems best instead of following some single doctrine or style.
Me in a nutshell!!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Book Review~The Follies of the King by Jean Plaidy...

This book has it all, treachery, adultery, murder and intrigue. Lord Byron coined the phrase Truth is stranger than Fiction and in the tale of Edward II and Isabella, Byron is spot on!

Prior to reading this book I knew next to nothing about Edward II. My only reference being the movie Braveheart which now I see as a total Hollywood myth.

A few clarifications in reference to the Braveheart myth:

Isabella was not married to Edward II when Edward I was alive. They were betrothed and Edward II would go to France to marry her following his father's death.

Isabella never met William Wallace. William was executed before Isabella and Edward II would marry.

Edward I never pushed Piers Gaveston from the window. Edward I had Gaveston banished to his home land Gascony, forbidding him to ever return to England.

Edward II was not a fopish, feminine man. He was a tall, handsome, strong man who loved the outdoors.

With that out of the way; what I now know about Edward II:
  • He was fond of young men.
  • He married Isabella and they had four children together. Yes he was the sire of all her children.
  • He neglected his duties as King and husband in favor of his current paramour, Piers Gaveston and Hugh le despencer were his favorites. He spent a lavish amount of money, bestowed estates and titles on these young men all at the expense of his subjects.
  • He was no military strategist. He hated conflict and war. He had no control in Scotland and the Northern borders were constantly being raided by Robert de Bruce. He lost miserably at Bannockburn.
  • He brought the country to the brink of civil war because of his affair with Piers Gaveston and disregarding the advise of the Barons.
  • He was a kind man.
  • He loved nature and being outdoors.
  • He commuted the death penalty for Roger Mortimer the traitor to life imprisonment which he would later regret.
  • He loved his children, in particular his son and heir Edward III.
  • He was generous to a fault with his friends.
  • He abdicated his crown in favor of his son.
  • He was betrayed, imprisoned and murdered for his Follies and remains in history as one of the most maligned monarchs of England.
One of the unfortunate things about this story is that Edward II is remembered for all his Follies and never for the mercy he showed for the Knights of the Templar. I was so impressed with this bit of history that I have to share it. King Phillip of France, Isabella's father waged war on the Templar's because of all their riches. Rumors were raging throughout France regarding these Knights. They of course were false and totally based on ignorance. However; these rumors were fuel to the fire for King Phillip it was his chance to get his hands on all the Templar money. He was rounding them up, torturing them into false confessions, burning them at the stake and seizing their fortunes. This went on for quite a few years. During this time Phillip encouraged his son-in-law Edward to do the same in England. Edward just ignored him at first, and then after much prodding by his father-in-law put his foot down and told him that he would not do the same in England, that the Templar's were safe on English soil. Edward had great respect for the service they provided for his father during the Crusades. To me this one heroic and compassionate act needs to be remembered in history just like the Danish King who rode out among the Nazi invaders wearing the yellow star of David in WWII. It took a lot of courage to stand up to King Phillip of France, who was known as a ruthless character.

As my followers know Jean Plaidy is one of my all time favorite historical fiction authors and she certainly did not disappoint in The Follies of the King. I was intrigued from page one until the end. It was a great, thought provoking tale. Edward II is my 18th great grand father and I wanted so badly to find some good and redeeming qualities in him. To me Ms. Plaidy has done a masterful job of portraying his character, leaving me with a great deal of love and compassion for this man.


  1. I love Plaidy as well - her books are great places to start when reading about a time period or person I'm unfamiliar with. And even though Braveheart is as inaccurate as all get out, I still love to watch it and see Mel in a kilt!

  2. Daphne I so agree! I love the movie. I just know it's all conjecture and that's cool it's just Hollywood.

  3. I haven't read this particular Plaidy yet nor have I read anything about Edward II. A wonderful post Susie. Plaidy always does an amazing job of clearing the historial air.

  4. You went through that book so quickly! It's a pity Jean Plaidy isn't around to know who her number one fan is! I love the way you get straight to the facts and give us what we need to know!

  5. I just started collecting Jean Plaidys' novels I can't wait to get into them now. I've been curious to see what others thought since I randomly picked one up at Barnes and Noble. I'm so glad to see your her number one fan! Thanks for another great review.

  6. Love the review, Susie! I'm glad that Ms Plaidy taught you so much about Edward II (I adore him too and run a blog and website about him) and did such a great job of making him a sympathetic character.

  7. Great review Susie! I love me some Plaidy, but haven't read this one yet. I'm looking forward to reading Plaidy's take on the intriguing man!

  8. Will be looking for this one. I've always enjoyed Jean Plaidy.

  9. Thanks for this review... I haven't read this one yet! Susan Higginbotham's The Traitor's Wife is a sympathetic read on Edward II through the eyes of his niece and Hugh le Despenser's wife.


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