Isabella and the Strange Death of Edward II

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9780786711932: Isabella and the Strange Death of Edward II

For good reason, the queen in chess inherits its fearsome power on the game board from the reputedly murderous maneuvers of the fourteenth-century Queen Isabella of England, as historian and biographer Paul Doherty shows in his engaging account of a savage chapter in medieval English history. What begins with a peace match—the marriage of the twelve-year-old daughter of France’s Philip IV to the dissolute Edward II in 1308—ends in bloody conflict, a possible regicide, the usurpation of royal power, execution, and exile. In a lively narrative that brings a fresh perspective to the history of Isabella’s catastrophic marriage, Doherty illuminates the people, passions, and politics that prompted the young queen, after thirteen years, to flee the feckless, ineffectual king who had sacrificed the English army to ignominious and unnecessary defeat at Bannockburn and to escape court intrigues and her personal persecution by men like the sinister Hugh Despenser. At Isabella’s command, though, Despenser eventually met a gruesome death, when she returned to England with the exiled Roger Mortimer and a mercenary army that deposed Edward and enthroned the conquering queen in the name of her young son, Edward III.

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About the Author:

Paul Doherty is the internationally renowned author of many historical books and novels. He studied history at Liverpool and Oxford universities, and gained a Doctorate at Oxford. He is now headmaster of a London school and lives near Epping Forest

From Publishers Weekly:

This tidy survey of the 14th-century reign of British king Edward II and his queen, Isabella, provides thumbnail sketches of a series of massacres, tortures, plots and counterplots leading to the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Edward, the first English king to be deposed from the throne. The prolific Doherty (author of the recent, compelling The Mysterious Death of Tutankhamun) is better known for writing several series of historical mystery novels, including the criminal investigations in an older Britain of Hugh Corbett and Brother Athelstan. Renowned for a sure ability to bring these periods to life in his fiction, Doherty seems strangely hog-tied by facts here. He notes in regard to the problems of determining why celebrity marriages go south today, that the difficulty is compounded by speculating on such events which occurred 700 years ago. The arranged marriage of Edward, heir to the English throne, and Isabella of France, went spectacularly wrong, with the queen, after she had been in exile in her native France, returning to England with an army to depose Edward. According to one tradition, Isabella arranged his death by means of a red hot poker thrust up into his bowels. Doherty postulates that Edward may have escaped this dire end in the year 1327, while duly recording Isabella's political supremacy and influence on history, which symbolically lives on in the powers invested in the queen in chess.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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