The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England

The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England

by Dan Jones


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The New York Times bestseller, from the author of Crusaders, that tells the story of Britain’s greatest and worst dynasty—“a real-life Game of Thrones” (The Wall Street Journal)

The first Plantagenet kings inherited a blood-soaked realm from the Normans and transformed it into an empire that stretched at its peak from Scotland to Jerusalem. In this epic narrative history of courage, treachery, ambition, and deception, Dan Jones resurrects the unruly royal dynasty that preceded the Tudors. They produced England’s best and worst kings: Henry II and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, twice a queen and the most famous woman in Christendom; their son Richard the Lionheart, who fought Saladin in the Third Crusade; and his conniving brother King John, who was forced to grant his people new rights under the Magna Carta, the basis for our own bill of rights. Combining the latest academic research with a gift for storytelling, Jones vividly recreates the great battles of Bannockburn, Crécy, and Sluys and reveals how the maligned kings Edward II and Richard II met their downfalls. This is the era of chivalry and the Black Death, the Knights Templar, the founding of parliament, and the Hundred Years’ War, when England’s national identity was forged by the sword.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143124924
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/25/2014
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 560
Sales rank: 54,800
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Dan Jones is the author of The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queen Who Made England, a #1 international bestseller and New York Times bestseller, and Wars of the Roses, which charts the story of the fall of the Plantagenet dynasty and the improbable rise of the Tudors. He writes and presents the popular Netflix series Secrets of Great British Castles. He is also the author of Magna Carta: The Birth of Liberty and Summer of Blood: England’s First Revolution and is working on a history of the Knights Templar due out in 2017.

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Copyright © 2014 Dan Jones.
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What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Praise for The Plantagenets

“Like the medieval chroniclers he quarries for juicy anecdotes, Jones has opted for a bold narrative approach anchored firmly upon the personalities of the monarchs themselves yet deftly marshaling a vast supporting cast of counts, dukes, and bishops. . . . Fast-paced and accessible, The Plantagenets is old-fashioned storytelling and will be particularly appreciated by those who like their history red in tooth and claw. Mr. Jones tackles his subject with obvious relish.”
—The Wall Street Journal

“Delicious . . . Jones has produced a rollicking, compelling book produced a rollicking, compelling book about a rollicking, compelling dynasty, one that makes the Tudors who followed them a century later look like ginger pussycats. . . . The Plantagenets is told with the latest historical evidence and rich in detail and scene-setting. You can almost smell the sea salt as the White Ship sinks, and hear the screams of the tortured at the execution grounds at Tyburn.”
—USA Today

“Jones has brought the Plantagenets out of the shadows, revealing them in all their epic heroism and depravity. His is an engaging and readable account—itself an accomplishment given the gaps in medieval sources and a 300-year tableau—and yet researched with the exacting standards of an academician. The result is an enjoyable, often harrowing journey through a bloody, insecure era in which many of the underpinnings of English kingship and ¬Anglo-American constitutional thinking were formed.”
—The Washington Post

“Brilliant and entertaining . . . a set of fine vignettes relating dynastic life, death, war, peace, governance, and palace intrigues. The result is a history book that frequently reads like a novel and can be opened to any chapter.”
—Tampa Bay Times

“Blood-soaked medieval England springs to vivid life in Jones’s highly readable, authoritative, and assertive history.”
—Publishers Weekly

“They may lack the glamour of the Tudors or the majesty of the Victorians, but the Plantagenets are just as essential to the foundation of modern Britain. . . . The great battles against the Scots and French and the subjugation of the Welsh make for thrilling reading but so do the equally enthralling struggles over succession, the Magna Carta, and the Provisions of Oxford. . . . Written with prose that keeps the reader captivated throughout accounts of the span of centuries and the not-always-glorious trials of kingship, this book is at all times approachable, academic, and entertaining.”

“A novelistic historical account of the bloodline that ‘stamped their mark forever on the English imagination’ . . . Perhaps Jones’ regular column in the London Standard has given him a different slant on history; however he manages, it’s certainly to our benefit. . . . For enjoyable historical narratives, this book is a real winner.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Outstanding . . . Majestic in its sweep, compelling in its storytelling, this is narrative history at its best. A thrilling dynastic history of royal intrigues, violent skullduggery, and brutal warfare across two centuries of British history.”
—Simon Sebag Montefiore, bestselling author of Jerusalem: The Biography

“The Plantagenets played a defining part in shaping the nation of England, and Dan Jones tells their fascinating story with wit, verve, and vivid insight. This is exhilarating history—a fresh and gloriously compelling portrait of a brilliant, brutal, and bloody-minded dynasty.”
—Helen Castor, author of She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England before Elizabeth

“This is history at its most epic and thrilling. I would defy anyone not to be right royally entertained by it.”
—Tom Holland

“Jones has written a magnificently rich and glittering medieval pageant, guiding us into the distant world of the Plantagenets with confidence. This riveting history of an all-too-human ruling House amply confirms the arrival of a formidably gifted historian.”
—Sunday Telegraph

“Entertaining and informative . . . Jones has produced an absorbing narrative that will help ensure that the Plantagenet story remains ‘stamped on the English imagination’ for another generation.”
—Sunday Times (London)

“Traditional narrative history at its best.”
—The Spectator

“Jones, a protégé of David Starkey, writes with his mentor's erudition but also exhibits novelistic verve and sympathy. . . . This is a great popular history, whether you are au fait with the machinations of medievalism or whether Magna Carta mystifies you. . . . The Plantagenets is proof that contemporary history can engage with the medieval world with style, wit and chutzpah.”
—The Observer (London)

“This action-packed narrative is, above all, a great story, filled with fighting, personality clashes, betrayal and bouts of the famous Plantagenet rage. . . . Jones is an impressive guide to this tumultuous scene. . . . The Plantagenets succeeds in bringing an extraordinary family arrestingly to life.”
—Daily Telegraph

“An excellent book . . . The Plantagenets is a wonderful gallop through English history. Powerful personalities, vivid descriptions of battles and tournaments, ladies in fine velvet and knights in shining armour crowd the pages of this highly engaging narrative.”
—The Evening Standard

Customer Reviews

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The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
edivietro More than 1 year ago
I love medieval history. I know that makes me weird. It's ok. Once, my father brought one of his friends up to New Hampshire to visit me. While sitting in a diner, my dad says, "Joe, ask him what he does with his free time." His friend looked at me. I told him, "I study medieval and Byzantine history." The two of them exchanged a look and my dad just laughed. It is not that my father thinks I am weird. He gets it. History is the fabric of our own existence, and the medieval world is our most neglected and possibly also most influential thread of our history. Given an opportunity to read a book that explores the Plantagenet kings who defined what it meant to be English in the Middle Ages, of course someone interested in such history would want to read it.  It should come as no surprise that when the opportunity came up to review The Plantagenets by Dan Jones (Penguin Group - Viking), I leapt at it.  What can I say? Dan Jones was a great job of surveying the period from Henry II's ascension in 1154 until Henry VII's ascension in 1485. Being three hundred years makes the job of creating a readable single volume history hard enough; but when those three centuries are filled with Plantagenet intrigue, corruption, marriage, warfare, plague, and any number of other elements, the job's complexity is multiplied. Dan Jones' prose is direct and to the point, but he takes the time to occasionally pause for a brief humanizing anecdote that helps us understand specifics a little better. He balances his views of all of the Plantagenet kings and avoids the generalized caricatures you find in many works on the period. Most importantly, Jones does not gloss over significant events. He does not simply note, as many histories do, that the Hundred Years' War was a catalyst for the rising use of English as England pulled away from France. He takes the time to note the progress of this change, particularly focusing on Edward III's Pleading in English Act of 1362 which changed the official language of the courts of England. I have read a lot of popular histories of the Middle Ages, and Jones is the first to note this seminal event. In brief, I found Dan Jones' book to be well worth the investment of money and time to explore it. So much of the book illuminates the seed ideas of our modern English-speaking culture. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To those who gave a low rating because the sample crashed on page 17 is moronic and does a disservice to the author and potential readers. Got a tech problem keep it off a review of the merits of the work itself. This book so far has been entertaining and well written I love reading about this period of English history. A 400 year real Game of thrones.
AmyAndThePugs More than 1 year ago
This is just to counteract every jackass who gave this book a one-star review, thus penalizing book and author for a mistake made by Barnes & Noble. If you can't figure out how to lodge a complaint correctly, and you're willing to hurt the sales of an author whose work you were, apparently, interested in, you're a loser who should just stop commenting, period. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This history moves like a novel, but is jam packed with familiar historical figures.. Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II, Thomas Becket,to begin. Richard the Lionhearted who actually spent more time across the Channel. Richard's villainous brother John who was forced to sign the Magna Carta by nobles. Edward the Hammer who conquered Scotland. This royal family was always fighting someone... even each other. Dynastic feuds were the norm. The author is working on a follow up book covering the biggest dynastic feud of all aka the Wars of the Roses.
lsmeadows More than 1 year ago
I am a self proclaimed history geek.  Although my first love was, and always will be, Historical Fiction, over the years I have developed an intense love affair with many well written History books of the non-fiction variety.  I have said many time, on here no less, that a good Historical Fiction book should peak my interest and make me seek out factual books on the given subject to fill in the gaps and give me the "true" picture.  As a result, I am always excited when I found one of the said History books that I can not only enjoy, but recommend.  The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens who made England  by British historian Dan Jones is just such a book.    When it comes to history, nothing is more fascinating to me than the history of the families designated as Royalty and their nobles.  If you look throughout history, there are not many families or dynasties that you can find who would be more fascinating than the Plantagenets.  From the beginning of their rule in England in the 1100s, to the splintering of their family into the Lancasters and Yorks, and on to the takeover of England by the Tudors, the Plantagenets have had a huge affect on the history of England and Great Britain.  To me, they are the dynasty that all other Royalty, English and other, are measured by.  Dan Jones' book begins with the death of Henry I's son William and the demise of Norman rule in England. From there he deftly covers the history of the Plantagenet Dynasty, ending with Henry Bollingbrooke's takeover as Henry IV and the end of the reign of Richard II.  Here is a family full of heroes and heroines, crusaders, thieves, murderers.  Their lives had tragedies and triumphs.  At times they were both brilliant in their rule and careless in their mistakes, but through it all, they made England into a force to be reckoned with.  Dan Jones captures all of these events and their consequences and impacts, and he does it with a writing style that reads more like a good story than just the listing of facts and dates.  That is perhaps the best thing about this reads like a good story, not like a textbook.  I became so engrossed in the lives of the various members of this ruling family, that I would find that I had been reading for an hour or more without realizing it.   In the end, I enjoyed this one so much that, although I was given a free copy to read for review, I actually spent the $25.00 to buy myself a hardback copy to read and re-read at my leisure.  I can say, that almost never happens when I am given a book to read for review.   Dan Jones' book, though, is the kind of book that I can see myself enjoying more than one, while also using it as a reference on the Plantagenet Dynasty.  My only complaint was that the book ended too soon, leaving out some of the more familiar members of the family.  Although I understand the reason to stop at the point that this books ends, I am holding Dan Jones to his "promise" of  a second book to finish the tale.  I am highly anticipating this second book, and only hope that he meant what he said about writing it and that it comes out soon.  This book is highly recommended by me to anyone who is interested in the history of the ruling families of England, but of England and Great Britain itself.  A Huge thanks to Viking Adult and Netgalley for allowing me the privilege of reading this book in exchange for my review. 
JRVA More than 1 year ago
This is definitely one of the best histories I have read...and I have at least three shelves (double stacked) of English history...WOW...I am going to order his previous book and will impatiently wait for his next book...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly entertaining. Anyone that reads history can see the parallels that exist today. Power corrupts....
LToots More than 1 year ago
I am interested in this type of literature and have read many about the other "houses". This one covers a lot of monarchs and time. There are times when it is a bit dry but overall it is easy and fascinating to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great, engaging narrative history of Plantagenet England. The author is very competent at providing detailed information about not just the monarchs and their families, but also the political dynamics within England, Scotland, Wales, France, and more. He does this without the book becoming overly complex or bogged down in unimportant details. Each monarch and many of the supporting characters comes to life and I think I have a decent understanding of what they must have been like. Most of the monarchs are some of the most compelling historical figures in English history: from Henry II and his brilliant Queen Elanor to Richard the Lionheart and King John down to the brutal efficiency of Edward I, absolute incompetence of Edward II, and triumphant mastery of Edward III, I was always entertained. I do have to say that, contrary to edivietro's review, the book goes from Henry II (well, even before that, but roughly) to Henry IV, not Henry VII. It follows the main branch of Plantagenets but does not cover the Wars of the Roses between the York and Lancaster factions beyond the initial upheaval and end to the main Plantagenet line with the ascension of Henry IV.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No problems with this book. A really good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great way to learn about the first royal family in England! Entertaining and educational
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think this book was really good for what it was, I just didn't really know what it was when I bought it. It reads as a history book with absolutely no dialog. That's okay, but that means there were times when I actually feel asleep reading. I loved the overall story and hearing a more accurate version of stories like Robin Hood and William Wallace. And it seemed to get better and more detailed the more you read. Very interesting, but not compelling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an easily readable and interesting book for me. I have never read anything about royalty before and became interested after watching the Tudors series. Really learned a lot from this book. Going to read his next, the Wars of the Roses
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Perhaps I might be a wee bit biased, however this book, written by one of my favorite authors shines! Dan Jones begins naturally with Henry II, and Eleanor of Aquitaine, who are hands down the most fascinating king and queen of England in my opinion. As we journey through history in this book, it is obvious that Henry II was one of, if not the greatest kings to rule. Henry Angevin certainly gained much of his power and wealth as a result of marrying Eleanor. That said, Henry was driven to succeed, proving that by attempting to take Stephen's crown at around age 16. There is no doubt that Henry was influenced by his mother Matilda, and he even chose to refer to himself as Henry Fitz Empress. And as I fast forward through the early Plantagenets, the Warrior Kings story ends on a rather sad note with Richard II. Richard II was a weak ruler, influenced by all the wrong people and in the end his crown was usurped, and he met with an untimely end.
55T-Bird More than 1 year ago
So much history!! Bravo to Dan Jones for taking on the work of writing about the Plantagenet kings and queens of England. And he did a brilliant job! This book takes the reader through a time period when England really began to move from an outlyer on the world stage to a forward position in world events– thus it really becomes the preface to the story about how England changed the world as they moved into the twentieth century. The impact of the events detailed in this book still resonate today. For me, that makes for exciting reading. But if that isn’t enough to capture the attention, Jones also have a way of telling the story that keeps it readable, engaging and exciting. And if you enjoy this book you will also want to read his next book, War of the Roses.
ggmm More than 1 year ago
Did not let me down on this continuing saga.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Historical work that reads like a novel. Mr. Jones brings the period and players to life in a straightforward and engaging manner. after finishing this, I look forward to picking up a copy of his latest.
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newsluthe More than 1 year ago
I have found this to be a very enjoyable and easy reading overview of the Plantagenets kings. I had some misconceptions about some fo the kings and this book brought new information into light. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This ia an excellent read for someone who is interested in English History. At times a bit wordy, but overall a pretty decent read.
runfromfire More than 1 year ago
The best history books flow like fiction and this succeeds admirably. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago