In The Restless Kings Nick Barratt presents the tumultuous struggle for supremacy between the first Plantagenet king, Henry II, and his four sons - a drama that tore apart the most powerful family in western Europe and shaped the future of two nations.
Readers curious about how ordinary people lived in medieval times must look elsewhere, but this is a solid political history of a royal family whose members were pugnacious, grasping, devious, and shortsighted. A good choice for scholars and students of the Plantagenets.
Scholarly and well written, Barratt’s history serves up operatic action punctuated with wry comments. Between the bickering and bloodshed, Barratt’s focus on a remarkable royal branch, which used its fondness for familial warfare to make substantial continental acquisitions, yields a fascinating tale.