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Plantagenet Princes: The Sons of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II

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When Count Henry of Anjou and his formidable wife Eleanor of Aquitaine became king and queen of England, they amassed an empire stretching 1,000 miles from the Pyrenees to the Scottish border, including half of France. Henry's grandmother Empress (of Germany) Mathilda had taught him that ruling is like venery: show the hawk the reward, but take it away at the last moment, When Count Henry of Anjou and his formidable wife Eleanor of Aquitaine became king and queen of England, they amassed an empire stretching 1,000 miles from the Pyrenees to the Scottish border, including half of France. Henry's grandmother Empress (of Germany) Mathilda had taught him that ruling is like venery: show the hawk the reward, but take it away at the last moment, to keep the bird eager to please. To sons and vassals alike, Henry promised everything but gave nothing, keeping the three adult princes hating him and the other siblings all their lives. Plantagenet Princes traces the lives and infamous webs of mistrust and intrigue among them. What sons they were! Henry (b. 1155), 'the Young king' was entitled to succeed his father, yet was a rich playboy who died crippled by debt before his thirtieth birthday, after living the life of a robber baron. Richard (b. 1157), 'the Lionheart' was lord of his mother's duchy of Aquitaine and became, thanks to her, England's most popular king despite bankrupting the Empire twice in his disastrous 10-year reign. Geoffrey (b. 1158), count of Brittany, was the cleverest, but was trampled to death by horses aged 32 in a pointless m�l�e at Paris, leaving his wife Constance to act as regent for their son Arthur in a long power struggle between Philip Augustus, king of France, and the Plantagenets. The runt of the litter, John (b. 1166) was nicknamed Lackland, since no inheritance was initially promised him. He proved the longest-lived by far, dying at the age of fifty after signing Magna Carta, losing the key duchy of Normandy and most of the other continental possessions - also murdering his nephew Arthur, imprisoning Arthur's sister for life and waging war against his barons, continued by Henry III. The Plantagenet line continued with Richard of Cornwall, Edward I conquering Wales, gay Edward II, Edward III, Edward the Black Prince and Richard II, who died in prison while his usurper sat on the throne.


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When Count Henry of Anjou and his formidable wife Eleanor of Aquitaine became king and queen of England, they amassed an empire stretching 1,000 miles from the Pyrenees to the Scottish border, including half of France. Henry's grandmother Empress (of Germany) Mathilda had taught him that ruling is like venery: show the hawk the reward, but take it away at the last moment, When Count Henry of Anjou and his formidable wife Eleanor of Aquitaine became king and queen of England, they amassed an empire stretching 1,000 miles from the Pyrenees to the Scottish border, including half of France. Henry's grandmother Empress (of Germany) Mathilda had taught him that ruling is like venery: show the hawk the reward, but take it away at the last moment, to keep the bird eager to please. To sons and vassals alike, Henry promised everything but gave nothing, keeping the three adult princes hating him and the other siblings all their lives. Plantagenet Princes traces the lives and infamous webs of mistrust and intrigue among them. What sons they were! Henry (b. 1155), 'the Young king' was entitled to succeed his father, yet was a rich playboy who died crippled by debt before his thirtieth birthday, after living the life of a robber baron. Richard (b. 1157), 'the Lionheart' was lord of his mother's duchy of Aquitaine and became, thanks to her, England's most popular king despite bankrupting the Empire twice in his disastrous 10-year reign. Geoffrey (b. 1158), count of Brittany, was the cleverest, but was trampled to death by horses aged 32 in a pointless m�l�e at Paris, leaving his wife Constance to act as regent for their son Arthur in a long power struggle between Philip Augustus, king of France, and the Plantagenets. The runt of the litter, John (b. 1166) was nicknamed Lackland, since no inheritance was initially promised him. He proved the longest-lived by far, dying at the age of fifty after signing Magna Carta, losing the key duchy of Normandy and most of the other continental possessions - also murdering his nephew Arthur, imprisoning Arthur's sister for life and waging war against his barons, continued by Henry III. The Plantagenet line continued with Richard of Cornwall, Edward I conquering Wales, gay Edward II, Edward III, Edward the Black Prince and Richard II, who died in prison while his usurper sat on the throne.

37 review for Plantagenet Princes: The Sons of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II

  1. 4 out of 5

    Juliew.

    Very educational,fun to read and well written but I really struggled with giving it a rating as I thought only the main events of the princes lives were covered.I also thought the focus was going to be mostly on Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine's children but soon discovered this goes into the whole Plantagenet male line.Occasionally,even the women's lives are touched on as well.I just thought it was too distracting and that the author could have given more space to fuller biographies of our ma Very educational,fun to read and well written but I really struggled with giving it a rating as I thought only the main events of the princes lives were covered.I also thought the focus was going to be mostly on Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine's children but soon discovered this goes into the whole Plantagenet male line.Occasionally,even the women's lives are touched on as well.I just thought it was too distracting and that the author could have given more space to fuller biographies of our main four princes.Other than that it would be a great place to start if you have ever wondered who exactly are these Plantagenets? Much thanks to Netgalley for providing me a copy in exhange for my honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Melisende

    I will say this makes for a better introductory book on the male Plantagenet line from Henry II through to Richard II rather than an actually study of the four surviving sons of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Yes these sons are featured, but barely half the book is dedicated to them before diverging down the line to encompass the selected offspring of the princes and then continuing - selectively again - down the line to Richard II. For someone more well read, this will provide nothing new - I will say this makes for a better introductory book on the male Plantagenet line from Henry II through to Richard II rather than an actually study of the four surviving sons of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Yes these sons are featured, but barely half the book is dedicated to them before diverging down the line to encompass the selected offspring of the princes and then continuing - selectively again - down the line to Richard II. For someone more well read, this will provide nothing new - and this type of reader has most likely already tackled individual biographies - for someone looking for an overview or introductory text, then this is more than suitable - though I would re-think the title and leave it just as "Plantagenet Princes".

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

    I received this as a review copy from NetGalley. The good things: * The very concept. I love the idea of a book that covers all the Plantagenet fellas from Henry II to Richard III. Seeing their wildly varying careers one after the other points up just how outrageous and sometimes amazing and sometimes dreadful this lot could be. So great. * Some of the context given. I appreciated the broader comments about the Crusades, for instance - and this lot were involved right up to Crusade #8, which I d I received this as a review copy from NetGalley. The good things: * The very concept. I love the idea of a book that covers all the Plantagenet fellas from Henry II to Richard III. Seeing their wildly varying careers one after the other points up just how outrageous and sometimes amazing and sometimes dreadful this lot could be. So great. * Some of the context given. I appreciated the broader comments about the Crusades, for instance - and this lot were involved right up to Crusade #8, which I didn't know before this. The book starts with a very general intro to the concept of being a knight, and then gives an overview of the first couple generations after the Conqueror. I didn't need these, but for a reader less familiar with the era I'm sure it would be very welcome. * Eleanor of Aquitaine. Any time I get to read about her, it's a good day. * It's pretty straightforward to read. The less good things: (sigh) * The author mentions an historian who claims the Bayeux Tapestry must have been designed by a man because there are penises embroidered on it. And just... leaves that comment sitting there. * The author repeats that old saw about spices being used to cover the taste of rotting meat. Pretty sure that's been debunked. * The editing. Most significantly, the editing. First, there's some odd things going on here with the structure. Clearly I read a review copy so I don't know whether it's still got some editing to go. But there were bits where I wasn't sure if it was a typo or deliberately presenting variant spellings (Saladdin, and then Saladin); and there were several occasions where it felt like sentences were in completely the wrong place. Like, he would have a paragraph about an event; then the next event in the next paragraph, but suddenly the first event is mentioned completely out of context. And this got more frequent as the book progressed. Really quite confusing. And then additionally, several times there would be two men mentioned as being involved in something, and then "he" made some final gesture... and it was often unclear which "he" was being referenced. Overall, I did enjoy this as a history of the family. It presents the princes in their context, shows how they're connected and how they variously win and lose bits of their empire-not-an-empire. I suspect it would be a bit hard for someone with absolutely zero knowledge of the early Middle Ages, but then again if you're picking this up you must have at least an ember of a passion for that time. The editing problems came close to killing the enjoyment a couple times, but I was able to bull past it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Carol Macarthur

    Boyd's Plantagenet Princes is a good reference for writers and chronicles this line from its inception to its end. Every page is filled with intrigues, battles, blood lines blended and blended over again. This is a must for scholars of this historical period. Boyd's Plantagenet Princes is a good reference for writers and chronicles this line from its inception to its end. Every page is filled with intrigues, battles, blood lines blended and blended over again. This is a must for scholars of this historical period.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Heidi Malagisi

    One of the most infamous families in the history of England lasted for over three hundred years and it was filled with numerous princes that fought for their right to rule, much to the chagrin of the Tudor dynasty. The Plantagenet Dynasty was full of scandals and bloodshed, testing the core values of what it meant to be a family and rulers of an emerging country like England. This dynastic clash for power that came to define this dynasty began with Henry II and his sons by his wife Eleanor of Aq One of the most infamous families in the history of England lasted for over three hundred years and it was filled with numerous princes that fought for their right to rule, much to the chagrin of the Tudor dynasty. The Plantagenet Dynasty was full of scandals and bloodshed, testing the core values of what it meant to be a family and rulers of an emerging country like England. This dynastic clash for power that came to define this dynasty began with Henry II and his sons by his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine. When their father refused to give the boys any true power, which was to be excepted with all princes, his sons waged war against Henry II and their brothers. The stories of these bonds and what ultimately tore them asunder are told in Douglas Boyd’s latest collection of biographies aptly titled, “Plantagenet Princes: The Sons of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II”. I would like to thank Net Galley and Pen and Sword Books for sending me a copy of this book. When I read the description of this one, I was drawn in. I am always looking for more information about this fractured family, so I decided to give this book a try. Boyd begins by describing the lifestyles of a knight and how they went into battle, which was essential for a medieval prince. He also dived into the complicated relationship between Eleanor of Aquitaine, her first husband Louis VII of France, and her second husband Henry II. Since Eleanor did not have any make children with Louis VII, she decided to divorce him to marry the soon-to-be King Henry II of England. It is Eleanor’s children with Henry II that are remembered for their feuds. Their sons; Henry the Young King, Richard I, Geoffrey Duke of Brittany, and King John fought against one another and their father to some extent for the throne of England. I found the chapters about the sons engaging albeit short. The big problem that I had with this particular title is that it only spent a portion of the book on the actual princes of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II. I was craving more depth, more information out of these chapters, but Boyd decided to go all the way through until the crowning of Henry IV. Once he started to go onto the descendants, I will be honest that I started to find the writing a bit dry. It is fine as an overview, but I was hoping for a bit more. Boyd also used a lot of research that has been used numerous times. He did not present any new information and reused some myths about these figures. I wanted to hear Boyd’s voice and his opinions about these figures, but it felt lost in this book. Overall, this book is just okay. I was looking for a bit more depth with the research that focused on the sons of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II, not their descendants. Boyd knows a lot about the Plantagenet dynasty, but it just fell flat for me. If you want a book that gives an overview of the Plantagenets until the coronation of Henry IV, check out “Plantagenet Princes: The Sons of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II” by Douglas Boyd.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mariel

    Plantagenet Princes: The Sons of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II by Douglas Boyd At the beginning of this book, the reader is introduced to the world of knights, the protectors of the people upon their noble steeds – or so we have been led to believe, when basically what they actually excelled at was killing others. I love history, especially this time period after having become fascinated with Harold Godwinson, but Plantagenet Princes covers so much more including many things I had not though Plantagenet Princes: The Sons of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II by Douglas Boyd At the beginning of this book, the reader is introduced to the world of knights, the protectors of the people upon their noble steeds – or so we have been led to believe, when basically what they actually excelled at was killing others. I love history, especially this time period after having become fascinated with Harold Godwinson, but Plantagenet Princes covers so much more including many things I had not thought of previously, obvious though some of them are, the difference between the horses the knights travelled on and their “destrier “ the horses they rode into battle, but once considered it makes total sense. This is just one of the points Douglas Boyd brings to life and explains in a clear and precise style. In fact, I learned things between these pages which I have often wondered about but never encountered them discussed so honestly and openly. We live through the exploits, the forming of the family and associates that become the Plantagenets. I appreciate that in the places where previously discovered opinions are quoted, where doubt may still be present in some cases, Douglas Boyd does not assume to “tell” us what the truth is. He states in all honesty that “ we do not know...” and may give a possible scenario, yet still does not insist to know in full detail. I particularly recommend a part of the book referenced, which was written by Daniel of Beccles that gives advice as to certain propriety of knights e.g., not to attack an enemy while he was squatting to defecate. I must bear that in mind! The author fully underlines how wily rulers could be and in certain circumstances had to be, how difficult it must have been to relax and sleep soundly in one's bed, constantly having to watch your back, with fathers and sons turning against one another...it seems almost impossible to live a life in such a manner, yet this is what they did. It seems bizarre how important continuing the bloodline was, from father to a son, how necessary a son was but then too many sons became a threat as they more often than not rebelled against their father and their other brothers for greed. This is aided by Boyd's descriptions and detailing of events being so rich and evocative. Throughout the book, I tried to imagine how the “ ordinary “ person would have existed, trade being badly affected and peasants were incessantly taxed – it must have been hell on earth, being penalised for faults not of their doing. To conclude, Douglas Boyd has written an informative and enjoyable read, highlighting the Plantagenet line, a rivalry that disrupted families, people and even countries. I rate Plantagenet Princes 5 out of 5 stars.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jean-Luc

    Douglas Boyd has given us a captivating look, albeit a succint one, into the lives of the four male halfwits born of the tempestuous union of Becket's murderer & the infamous French nympho, a truculent foray into the most dysfunctional Anglo-French family of the Middle Ages. Far from being the brightest lights in the harbour and always running a wheel short of a full set, those four royal brothers managed to turn pride, gluttony, lechery, covetouness, wrath, envy and sloth into child play by con Douglas Boyd has given us a captivating look, albeit a succint one, into the lives of the four male halfwits born of the tempestuous union of Becket's murderer & the infamous French nympho, a truculent foray into the most dysfunctional Anglo-French family of the Middle Ages. Far from being the brightest lights in the harbour and always running a wheel short of a full set, those four royal brothers managed to turn pride, gluttony, lechery, covetouness, wrath, envy and sloth into child play by continually backstabbing each other and squabbling endlessly over asinine reasons while bringing mayhem & wreaking havoc all over Western France during their father's reign, whenever & wherever those four self absorbed idiots felt like it, "bien sûr"..... I definitely love to hate them & I can't stop being fascinated & disgusted at the same time by their egregious and often hard to understand behaviour. Suffice to say that if reality TV had existed at the end of the 12th century, they would definitely have given the moronic Kardashians a run for their filthy money! A wonderful introduction to the never boring world of the Plantagenets & higly recommended to anyone interested in Medieval history. Many thanks to Netgalley and Sword & Pen for this rollicking ARC.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    I received Plantagenet Princes as part of a Goodreads giveaway. An overview of the lives of the Plantagenet rulers from Henry II to Richard II, Plantagenet Princes a very traditional history in that it's mostly political and military in nature, and thus focuses almost exclusively on the male royals. This isn't a book for subject matter experts--it's very fast-paced, with roughly a chapter devoted to each monarch. That said, it isn't necessarily a bad thing for those who need an overview rather th I received Plantagenet Princes as part of a Goodreads giveaway. An overview of the lives of the Plantagenet rulers from Henry II to Richard II, Plantagenet Princes a very traditional history in that it's mostly political and military in nature, and thus focuses almost exclusively on the male royals. This isn't a book for subject matter experts--it's very fast-paced, with roughly a chapter devoted to each monarch. That said, it isn't necessarily a bad thing for those who need an overview rather than massive detail. The book ends rather suddenly, with a comparatively brief chapter on Richard II and no conclusion, which I wish would have been filled out a bit more. This would be a useful read, however, for someone who wants a bit more depth than a typical textbook in learning about the political landscape of the high-to-late Middle Ages.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Hill

    For those that love the Plantagenet line, this is the perfect book for you! Jump into the tangled web of Plantagenet history, and intrigue. Eleanor of Aquitaine was a formidable woman, but her sons were going to prove just as formidable. While they did not all have happy endings, the line that Henry and Eleanor began was going to be one of intrigue, deceit, piousness and poignant figures that are not easily forgotten. Dive into the the history of this larger than life family, and get to know the For those that love the Plantagenet line, this is the perfect book for you! Jump into the tangled web of Plantagenet history, and intrigue. Eleanor of Aquitaine was a formidable woman, but her sons were going to prove just as formidable. While they did not all have happy endings, the line that Henry and Eleanor began was going to be one of intrigue, deceit, piousness and poignant figures that are not easily forgotten. Dive into the the history of this larger than life family, and get to know the Plantagenet line in a whole new light! LOVED this book!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sarah - All The Book Blog Names Are Taken

  11. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

  12. 5 out of 5

    Beth

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jerome

  14. 5 out of 5

    James Harrison

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Carter

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  17. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne Matthews

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sally Cray

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

  20. 4 out of 5

    Zachery Barger

  21. 5 out of 5

    Crystal Friars

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Bianchi

  23. 4 out of 5

    Katie

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jason Roberts

  25. 5 out of 5

    Noah

  26. 5 out of 5

    Julie Szuster

  27. 4 out of 5

    K.J. Charles

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dayla

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jane

  31. 5 out of 5

    Emma Williams

  32. 4 out of 5

    Fran Johnson

  33. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

  34. 5 out of 5

    Jaidee

  35. 4 out of 5

    Beth

  36. 5 out of 5

    Faith

  37. 5 out of 5

    Pixie Thepurple

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