Biographies & Memoirs

The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III, Father of the English Nation

The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III, Father of the English Nation

He ordered his uncle to be beheaded; he usurped his father's throne; he started a war which lasted for more than a hundred years, and taxed his people more than any other previous king. Yet for centuries Edward III was celebrated as the most brilliant king England had ever had, and three hundred years after his death it was said that his kingship was perhaps the greatest that the world had ever known.

In this first full study of the man's character and life, Ian Mortimer shows how Edward personally provided the impetus for much of the drama of his fifty-year reign. Under him the feudal kingdom of England became a highly organised nation and experienced its longest period of domestic peace in the middle ages.

Nineteenth century historians saw in Edward the opportunity to decry a warmonger, and painted him as a self-seeking, rapacious, tax-gathering conqueror. Yet as this book shows, beneath the strong warrior king was a compassionate, conscientious and often merciful man - resolute yet devoted to his wife, friends and family. He emerges as a strikingly modern figure, to whom many will be able to relate - the father of both the English nation and the English people.


Chapter 1: Childhood

Chapter 2: A Treasonable Youth

Chapter 3: The Devil for Wrath

Chapter 4: Absolute Royalty

Chapter 5: Warrior of God

Chapter 6: The Vow of the Heron

Chapter 7: Sluys and Tournai

Chapter 8: Chivalry and Shame

Chapter 9: The Advent of the Golden Age

Chapter 10: Edward the Conqueror

Chapter 11: An Unassailable Enemy

Chapter 12: At the Court of the Sun King

Chapter 13: Lawmaker

Chapter 14: The Pride of England

Chapter 15: Outliving Victory

Chapter 16: A Tattered Coat Upon a Stick

Chapter 17: Edward the Gracious

Picture Section


1. Philippa of Hainault’s Date of Birth

2. The Fake Death of Edward II

3. A Note on the Later Life of Edward II

4. Royal Charter Witnesses in Regnal Years 4–5

5. The Intended Destination of the 1346 Invasion

6. The Date of the Foundation of the Order of the Garter

7. Edward III’s Physicians and Surgeons

8. The Descendants of Edward III



Genealogical Tables

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