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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Monday, 19 December 2011

"The Greatest Traitor" by Ian Mortimer

This life of Roger Mortimer, deposer of Edward II, is a cracking good read.

Mortimer as a young man enjoyed the company of young Prince Edward and his mates, including Piers Gaveston, at the court of Edward I. But when Ed I died and the Prince became King things began to turn sour. Ed II was besotted with Gaveston, flirting with him whilst marrying his Queen, Isabella, beautiful blonde daughter of handsome King Philip 'the Fair' of France. Gaveston became greedy and arrogant, mocking the royal Earls and stealing castles, manors and estates. Finally the noblemen got so pissed off they kidnapped and murdered him. In all this Roger supported the King.

Then it all started again but with a bloke called Hugh Despenser who was Roger's sworn enemy because Roger's grandad had killed Hugh's grandad at the battle of Evesham when Hugh's grandad had been fighting with Simon De Montfort. These families were like warring Mafia clans! But King Ed II favoured Hugh and Hugh got greedy and stole loads of land and then the Parliament insisted Hugh was exiled which he was for a while (becoming a pirate) but then he came back and got even more too big for his boots and Roger opposed him which led to Roger being done for treason and thrown into the Tower. Roger's whole family suffered, his sister-in-law being locked up in Chicksands Priory.

Roger then became one of the very few people ever to escape from the Tower. He fled to France where he got together with Isabella (on a visit to her brother who was now King) and they had an affair. They came back together and there was a rebellion and they arrested King Ed II and forced him to abdicate in favour of his son who became King Ed III. But the real power behind the throne was Roger and his mistress Queen Isabella. There was some truculence among the Lords which led to the Earl of Lancaster surrendering at Bedford and the Earl of Kent being executed for treason despite being the new King's uncle for the crime of trying to rescue his brother Ed II from Corfe Castle (even though Ed II had supposedly died at Berkely Castle).

Finally a group of men went through a secret passage into Nottingham Castle with the assistance of Ed III and arrested Roger who was hanged naked at Tyburn.

English History: better than fiction.

December 2011; 264 pages

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