Read The Demon's Brood: A Plantagenet History from Anjou to Bosworth by Desmond Seward Online


The Plantagenets reigned over England longer than any other family - from Henry II, to Richard III. Four kings were murdered, two came close to deposition and another was killed in a battle by rebels. Shakespeare wrote plays about six of them, further entrenching them in the National Myth.Based on major contemporary sources and recent research, acclaimed historian DesmondThe Plantagenets reigned over England longer than any other family - from Henry II, to Richard III. Four kings were murdered, two came close to deposition and another was killed in a battle by rebels. Shakespeare wrote plays about six of them, further entrenching them in the National Myth.Based on major contemporary sources and recent research, acclaimed historian Desmond Seward provides the first readable overview of the whole extraordinary dynasty, in one volume....

Title : The Demon's Brood: A Plantagenet History from Anjou to Bosworth
Author :
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ISBN : 21120585
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 416 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Demon's Brood: A Plantagenet History from Anjou to Bosworth Reviews

  • Kathryn
    2018-12-02 19:41

    "Based on major contemporary sources and recent research" says the blurb. Seward repeats the 'red-hot poker' myth of Edward II's murder in 1327 uncritically as though it is gospel truth, even though only a handful of 14th-century chronicles mention it and the majority give other causes of death, and even though modern experts on the era reject the story. On the same page as repeating this stupid old myth, Seward claims that the Dominican friar Thomas Dunheved, who tried to rescue Edward from Berkeley Castle in 1327, "in 1326 had been to Rome seeking an annulment of the king's marriage." In a mere thirteen words, he makes three errors: the year is wrong (should be 1325); he fails to spot that in the 1320s the pope was in Avignon, not Rome, and had been since 1305; and he, again, uncritically repeats the story that Edward II was trying to annul his marriage to Isabella without bothering to check the primary sources (Edward was doing no such thing, and in fact sent Dunheved to the pope to complain about the archbishop of Dublin, as John XXII's own letters to Edward prove). Seward is remarkably judgemental, which I always hate to see: Edward II "had been an unmitigated disaster, without a single redeeming feature." Oh really? Not one single redeeming feature? Being the first person ever, and one of only two people in history, to found colleges at both Oxford and Cambridge universities, to take one example of many, isn't a positive? I really can't stand history books that are so black and white, that reduce complex human beings and complex events and relationships to such childishly simplistic 'analysis'. "Based on major contemporary sources and recent research" my foot.

  • Carolina Casas
    2018-12-05 21:39

    The Plantagenet Brood continues to fascinate us and no less because of the recent explosion of costume dramas and revisionist historians. However Seward still believes in many of the old Victorian and stereotypes pertaining to this dynasty and adheres himself to the view that those who were famous were so because they were successful, never mind their circumstances that allowed their success, and those who weren't were because they were unfit or to simply put it, mad.Surprisingly he disagrees with only two of these popular held views: Henry V and his son, the last Lancastrian monarch, Henry VI. In his book he dispels myths about the popular English hero (which I was happy for the most part since Shakespeare and English history propelled him to the level of sainthood where the man could do no wrong, Seward shows that he was far from perfect and he committed too many atrocities that call into question his so called status of a 'hero') classifying him instead as a murderer, zealot, power-hungry, amoral being. While his son, had the bad fortune of inheriting his father and uncle's problems and could not cope with the enormous pressure of ruling both England and France. While these views highlight his great understanding of the era and dispel the common held myths that one was a hero who could do no wrong and the other a 'mad king'; he goes to the other extreme casting Henry V as the worst kind of human being there could have existed while forgiving other kings (Edward I -who interestingly enough, Seward did not comment that he had as many people persecuted and ordered a mass expulsion of the Jews in 1290; Edward IV; John I who although Seward points out his flaws, he doesn't put examples of his persecution towards the Jews and other 'heretics' nor of those that followed). This double standard is very troubling, as is his use of sources. He relies heavily on Victorian historians and views of his subjects to explain why they were good or evil, and secondary sources which he sometimes puts above primary sources (like when it comes to Edward IV and Richard III whom he says deserves all the bad reputation he got from the Tudors). I do not disagree with using secondary sources but when you are writing about a book that you claim uses contemporary evidence, you can't place secondary sources above your primary ones. Also you have to take into account that every source has a bias to it and you have to explain to your readers why the author(s) chose to write that way about said king or queen. It's not a bad book but it isn't great either. Entertaining and accessible but it gives nothing new to this dynasty and the author's refusal to use primary sources over secondary is very troubling, as is leaving many important details and factors out that contributed to these kings' failures and successes.

  • Carole P. Roman
    2018-12-03 21:43

    Insightful and interesting book about the Plantagenet family. Desmond Seward writes a comprehensive history of the volatile clan who ruled England for hundreds of years. Well researched, this is history at its finest, coloring in the outlines of larger than life personalities but giving them realistic depth. He thoroughly describes each king, his wife, and children, delving into relationships, debunking myths with thoughtful and documented facts. He describes each leader with unvarnished honesty, and manages to leave the reader with an understanding of each of the quirks of their personalities. This is not a one dimensional cardboard representation, but well fleshed out recounting of each individual. In a few decisive paragraphs, he is able to give a definitive idea of each king, whether he is a madman or a quiet family man. A pleasure to read, with descriptive prose, he manages to paint a vibrant depiction of the medieval world, describing coronations, political climates, alliances and lastly a true picture of the life and times of thirteen different kings from one dynasty that shaped a country.

  • Victoria Johnston
    2018-11-28 21:39

    A good overview of the Plantagenet kings - which given the popularity of the Tudors do seem to have been overlooked somewhat. Most people seem to know the odd King - i.e. Henry V and Richard III but know little about the others.I already knew a fair bit on Henry II as my dissertation covered his introduction of the Common Law into England and being a history buff did know a fair bit about a number of the other kings. Those I didn't know much about however such as - Henry IV, Henry V, Henry III it was interesting to read about.A good over view of the dynasty and a good starting point for those wanting to learn more. I recommend this book.

  • S.J.A. Turney
    2018-12-07 16:37

    Every now and then you come across a non-fiction title that really stands out and is as much fun to read as a good novel. Such is Desmond Seward’s history of the Plantagenet dynasty. In fact, I found it so interesting that I kept highlighting little sections,It came as something of a surprise to me to see the range of dates and kings covered by the book. I had always thought of the Plantagenets as being the sort of Henry II through to Edward I or II sort of era. Surprised me to see that the story begins in the 10th century and only comes to a close in the Tudor era with the last lost scions of the family.The book takes a specific format, beginning with the origins of the Plantagenets and then taking us through the dynasty one king at a time, and then finishing with an examination of the fading of the family from the limelight after Bosworth Field.For each king, we are treated to a brief precis, then a chronological acocunt of their life and reign, focusing on each important aspect separately, with an examination of their personality, the historiography, and then finally a summation at the end. This is a nice, neat way to deal with them and worked very well for me, with a sort of smattering of tit-bits that clung to the memory.Another thing that struck me with the book is just how much I learned, even about the kings I thought I knew quite well. And, indeed, how interesting some of the kings I really knew little about (Henry IV for eg) compared with those I did (Richard I). So as I went through, I selected one little fact about each king that I hadn’t known by was fascinating.Here’s a sample of what I learned: Stephen & Matilda – if Matilda hadn’t come out on top, we’d probably have had a king Eustace! Henry II – was given Ireland by the Pope. Who knew? Richard I – offered coastal cities & his sister to Saladin’s brother if he would convert to Christianity… John I – was unusually clean, with an impressive bathing routine Henry III – was thoroughly happily married! Edward I – rebuilt the sinking port of Winchelsea. Edward II – he really did die in the gruesome manner we heard as kids. I’d always thought it exaggeration! Edward III – at the battle of Berwick killed over 4000 Scots, but lost a knight, a squire & 12 foot soldiers… Richard II – his clerk of the King’s Works was one Geoffrey Chaucer! Henry IV – fought in the Baltic crusades with the Teutonic knights. Fascinating. Henry V – first king since the Norman conquest to use English for his written business. Henry VI – was a very prudish fellow who abhored nudity. Edward IV – despite fighting some of the worst actions of his age, he never lost a battle! Richard III – was a very capable sea captain and curtlailed the menace of Scottish piracy.See what I mean? Fascinating little facts, and there are thousands more waiting for you in the book.The book was released by Constable yesterday, and I recommend it thoroughly, whether you have an interest in the Plantagenets or not. It’s always good to learn more about our history, and this is to some extent the forging of the nation we know.If I haven’t managed to hook your interest with these titbits then I never will. Go buy the book and have a read. You’ll be fascinated.

  • Carolyn
    2018-11-20 18:38

    I loved this. I've read plenty of books on some of the kings we all know, Henry II, Richard I, John I, but I knew next to nothing on the others. This book gave me a bit more curiosity and now I will be looking for some biographies and histories by this author! Each section is short and sweet and covers the main concerns of each time period and each king. I highly recommend it!

  • Therese
    2018-11-25 19:42


  • Rebecca Hill
    2018-12-10 18:36

    Desmond Seward gives us an indepth view on the Plantagenet reign. Starting with the conflict with Stephen and Matilda, we begin the Plantagenet line with Henry II, and go through Richard III.While Seward manages to mostly keep his bias to himself, there are a few monarchs (ahem, Richard III) that it seems to come out stronger with. For the most part, I really enjoyed this read. It was a great book, and for someone who is wanting to learn more about the many monarchs and struggles that make up the Plantagenet line, this is a perfect starting point.

  • Sarah
    2018-11-15 17:36

    Wow. This book may have cured me of romanticizing the medieval time period. All I'm going to say is "funnel." YIKES.This is also a fantastic read for anyone who thinks we live in the most intolerant and violent times the world has ever seen. (Spoiler alert: not even close. Not in this country anyway.)

  • Hippiemouse420
    2018-12-10 18:38

    I choose broad histories on purpose, to get a basic understanding of something or someone before I read a more-detailed history, but then--I am irritated by the lack of details in the book. As always, I wish there had been tons more pictures. Now to find a good biography of Anne of Bohemia, the person who most piqued my interest.

  • Megan M
    2018-11-30 00:39

    Bad bad bad. I will not be completing this book after finding serious inaccuracies and Victorian fanfiction being passed along as pure fact in just the first 40 pages. Very unhappy to see that this was published and with such a great title and cover.

  • Nayirah Muhammad
    2018-12-10 17:51

    This book was informative but dragged on a little in certain parts that made me skim a lot of the time. I can’t say this book made me decide which Plantagenet was my favorite because none of them really stood out in this book. Maybe next time!

  • Peter C Lyon
    2018-11-27 00:57

    Great summary of the Plantagenets!

  • Kristi Richardson
    2018-11-15 19:43

    “War without fire is like sausages without mustard.” Henry VI was gifted this book by Pegasus Books for an honest review. This is a great overview of the Plantagenet Dynasty of rulers. It certainly made me want to read more about them and get some in depth information on their lives. Desmond Seward’s writing is easy to understand and it’s surprising how much I learned in the few pages he gives to each monarch. It really does leave you begging for more. I found his research well documented and up to date. When you get to Richard III, he already has the autopsy report from where the bones were dug up this year. Some people were upset on his treatment of Richard III but I believe it really is the most recent data and therefore cannot be denied on it’s accuracy. My favorites in the Plantagenet family have always been Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitane and Henry V of Agincourt fame. He did their lives justice and made me want to read my books again and look up some of the ones I haven’t read yet. The book has several illustrations in the middle of it and also copious notes and references in the back of the book.I loved Mr. Seward’s style and will definitely look for more of his works in the future. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves British history or even the Game of Thrones which Mr. Martin has said was based on the Plantagenets. You may be surprised in how much is truth in his fantasy.

  • Linda
    2018-12-08 22:41

    I was very disappointed in this book. I am a fan of Henry II and Richard III (the first and last of the Plantagenets - my masters work was in 12th century literature) and I could tell the author really hadn't done his homework at least on them. He accepted discredited research and passed along rumors as if they might have been facts. Obviously, the rest of the family must have similar incorrect history. And the book is new enough to include the discovery of Richard III's remains.If anything, his short sections in each man's chapter on "The Man" which describes physical and psychological characteristics seem to be reasonable. And his conclusion section in each gives a quick rundown on the overall reign.I'd say if you want a short history about the family that reigned the longest in England's history (and the sources of several of Shakespeare's history plays), don't read this. You'll be lead along paths that will give you an untrue vision of history.

  • Colin
    2018-11-25 23:43

    I got seduced by the title of this book. It's a sexy name, isn't it? But in terms of scholarship I don't think it fares that well. Seward admits early in the book that the Plantagenets generally don't include the participants in the Wars of the Roses, but he writes about them nonetheless. It makes me think he knew he knew he was lacking solid material and so wanted to include this rather scandalous episode of history to sell books. I don't think he was wrong in any of his assessments, per se, but they came so quickly and furtively I can't be sure. It was like drinking out of a fire hose. Names were tossed about freely and casually, often with little if any explanation of who they belong to or their significance. Perhaps worst of all, Mr. Seward mentions a place called "Bungerly Hippingstones" and just leaves it there, with no more said about it. How can he treat a name like with such haste?

  • Richard
    2018-11-28 22:00

    Fronted with a sweet family tree(that lists Richard III twice??) , the best bit of the book is a super brief overview at the start of the book. It just lists the events that happened, and the dates in the driest way possible. It only takes up about 5 pages though. The rest of the book is that again with some words crammed between that illuminate the events, but fail to get any of the true bananas onto the page.Amazing stories blast past in a sentence. I wish there was less crammed in, leaving room to tell the events in a way that would make them sound at least vaguely interesting.If you don't know whats coming, you probably wont get much from this book.

  • Patricia
    2018-12-12 22:57

    This is a very good historical analysis of the Plantagenet Dynasty - a period I am fascinated with - for those who already know something about it. The author gives highlights important for each monarch's reign and clearly analyses the strengths and weaknesses of each. Since Seward doesn't always proceed chronologically and references some historical events without going into a lot of detail, I wouldn't recommend it someone who doesn't have at least a basic grasp of early British history. I didn't read this straight through; instead I used it as a sort of "palate cleanser" between fictional reads, covering one monarch at a time.

  • Marie Z. Johansen
    2018-12-03 00:58

    I am not quite finished with this most excellent book...but it has been a pleasure to read. I have been going very slowly and taking notes as I I do with history books that teach me about a particularly enjoyable time period. The Plantangents were, in a way, the founding fathers of Britain and of much of our legal system which began to evolve under Henry II (of "who will rid me of this priest"- Thomas Becket- fame). I will update my review when I have turned the last page and taken the last note... Thank you Desmond Seward for this most excellent book!

  • Sarrah
    2018-11-14 18:48

    A nice overview for people who just want to figure out the difference between Richards and Henrys and to discovery if King John really was as evil as depicted. Obviously, the author had to gloss over a lot, but he takes a pretty open-minded view of each Plantagenet, clear back to the father of Henry II. Sometimes the repetitive first names, frequent use of pronouns, and sometimes appalling lack of commas made things confusing, but there are very good but not too detailed family trees to help a reader along.

  • Juliew.
    2018-11-24 22:03

    This was a narrative of every Plantagent king in England's history.Each chapter discusses one king,his politics,religion,associates,personality,physical characteristics,women and children.I really enjoyed reading this and I thought each chapter provided just enough detail to capture the imagination but as a long time English history fan I must admit I felt slightly cheated.However,it is a highly readable and enjoyable account and I would recommend it perhaps to someone needing an overview of the dynasty.

  • Doug
    2018-11-19 17:59

    The Demon's Brood delivers exactly what Desmond Seward promised in the introduction - a concise history of the Plantagenet kings of England. Each king receives between 20 and 40 pages which covers the highlights of his reign. I borrowed this book from the library but I think I'll by a copy to have on hand as a reference. In addition to the brief bios, there is a useful timeline of the period and geneo;ogy charts that are actually readable. I liked the fact that he included conflicting points of view from chroniclers of the time. Well written and useful.

  • Robin Carter
    2018-11-20 22:51

    ReviewI don’t often read non fiction, not because its badly written, just because i don’t have time with all the great fiction out there. Yet now and again a book will come along and something will click and make me pick it up. This is one of those books, a non fiction account of the Plantagenet DynastyRead the rest of review:

  • Cheri D Mendenhall
    2018-12-02 22:00

    Very goodDesmond Seward's writing is well done. The text is written to be informative but not dry or boring. He made me remember what I liked about that period of history, his statement about us not remembering the Plantagenet's very well is true and most of them were very colorful characters.

  • ej cullen
    2018-11-18 23:45

    Reads like a Russian novel with all these Dukes (Norfolk, Clarence, Cornwall, Lancaster, York, Gloucester, Somerset, Richmond, Bedford, Marlborough, Northumberland, Kent, and on and on, and they all change every three pages depending on the reigning King's whim and will. 350 years in 300 pages. That said, still enjoyed it.

  • KateK. F.
    2018-12-05 17:00

    A fascinating survey of the Plantagenet dynasty with a thoughtful look at the sources and popular biographies. Seward managed to cover a lot of history in a readable manner without seeming to lose any information. I would recommend this book to someone who wants to understand more of the history behind Shakespeare's plays and other tales if these kings. I plan on reading more of Seward's books.

  • Jaime
    2018-12-09 17:57

    The author does a great job in describing each king. I would recommend this book for people who do not know much about the Plantagenet's and want to gain some insight into their lives and some of the events that took place during their reigns. This book is a good starting point because it's a fast read and each chapter provides a general overview of each king's life.

  • Mitchell Kaufman
    2018-12-04 23:40

    A rather enjoyable, if extremely cursory look at the Plantagenet Kings of England (expanded a bit to include the Yorks and Lancasters). All of the intrigue, triumph, murder, and war one could expect. Perhaps the recent finding of Richard III will spur more new research and writing on these formative kings of England.

  • Small Review
    2018-11-21 18:39

    Skips over too much information and heavy handed authorial opinions. I could live with the bias, probably, but I don't want to read about historical events and omit a bunch of important information.

  • Ryan
    2018-12-03 22:46

    While occasionally brief (Seward crams in the lives of 13 kings into just under 300 pages) this book is still incredibly informative and entertaining. If you are interested in history or politics, I highly recommend this read!