The Plantagenets by Dan Jones


I hate it when my dad is right. He’s been telling me to read Dan Jones’s The Plantagenets for ages. I put it off.

It looked stuffy and boring. Textbook-style title, footnotes, that sort of thing. But it doesn’t read like a traditional history book. Dan Jones is a new breed of historian who manages to create more interesting nuance and narrative out of, well, history.

I’m not inherently interested in The Plantagenets per se. They all used to blur into one for me. So it’s real credit to Jones’s eye for what interests a modern audience. The beginning of the book starts with a royal booze cruise. The heir to the English throne and all onboard get so drunk that the ship sinks, they drown and thus the course of history changes.

Each king and queen has something compelling about them- I can feel the force of their personalities through the ages; feisty Eleanor of Aquitaine, cliquey Edward II with his dubious favourites, pious but antisemitic Henry III.

Sure, you could call this history journalist style, but you need some scandal and intrigue to bring these dead monarchs to life.

Read: to be able to tell the difference between Henry I, II and III

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