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Book Review / The Black Prince: England's Greatest Warrior by Michael Jones

I loved this book. I love the reassessment of the Black Prince's personality and re-evaluation of the Sack of Limoges. I went to see a talk the author gave at Canterbury Christ Church, and know that he knows his stuff.

It's extremely readable, as are most popular history books nowadays (the again, I find academic books to be extremely readable depending on the subject), and the writing is sound. The author is passionate about his subject (as am I), and intent on going some way to correcting the old view about the Black Prince being a moody, angry and cruel man, especially after his illness. I have never believed it from my own research (and the primary sources I own), and it was one of the reasons I was looking forward to, and enjoyed reading, this book.

The only problem I had is that the referencing system is not as clear as I would have expected for a book making some very interesting and very historically altering claims. I noticed it as I was getting through the start of the book, the distinct lack of inline reference numbering (or even footnotes), and use of paragraphs in the reference section consolidating evidence, instead of specific examples from primary sources that I can go off and find out myself. It makes it very hard to know where or how some conclusions were made (for example the assumptions about Joan of Kent and her first two marriages - it is assumed that she may not have been forced into marriage, and maybe even started an affair with Thomas Holland after he returned from war, and not married him before he went as is commonly accepted.

I love alternative views of history, but they need to be solid, like Ian Mortimer's works - meticulously explored and with every claim backed up with a specific source for the reasoning.


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