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Publisher's Summary

King Henry IV survived at least eight plots to dethrone or kill him in the first six years of his reign. However, he had not always been so unpopular. In his youth he had been a great chivalric champion and crusader. In 1399, at the age of 32, he was greeted as the saviour of the realm when he ousted from power the tyrannical King Richard II. 

But Henry had to contend with men who supported him only as long as they could control him; when they failed, they plotted to kill him. Adversaries also tried to take advantage of his questionable right to the crown. Such threats transformed him from hero to murderer, prepared to go to any lengths to save his family and throne. 

Against all the odds, however, he took a poorly ruled nation, established a new Lancastrian dynasty and introduced the principle that a king must act in accordance with parliament.

©2014 Ian Mortimer (P)2017 Tantor

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  • Kirstine
  • 27-03-2019

I learned a lot about two Reigns

This book describes the lives of both Richard II and Henry IV as they are inextricably linked. My knowledge of these two Kings was largely based on the Shakespeare plays shaped by the playwright's awareness of the sensitivities of Elizabeth I to the deposing of a monarch. The author is an historian who has done much research which is reflected in the scholarly approach to many of the issues over the deposing of Richard and the validity of the various claims to the throne if Richard, as the grandson of the Edward III, was deemed not fit to rule.

It was a turbulent period of English history with civil strife and repeated battles against the Scots and the French which makes for a pacy narrative. I was left very aware of how circumstances surrounding a monarch's reign colour how he/she is regarded by future generations.

If you're interested in history I'm sure you'll enjoy this book.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Jill Desborough
  • 19-03-2020

Interesting read on lesser known king

This is a really well researched and written book on a king who seems to have been pretty overlooked ...obviously a conciencious and well intentioned man. My only problem was the narration which although authorative had an odd halting quality, full of short pauses in the middle of sentences which I found rather got in the way. Sorry narrator.

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  • SjC
  • 22-11-2019

Interesting, Educational, Funny totaly Fantastic

This was a great read, I didn't realise how much of my knowledge of Henry 4 was based on Shakespeare and pop culture. I learnt so much from this book, it's very well written and full of the sort of detail you know to expect from Mortimer. Perfectly structured it not only works as a biography of both Henry 4 & also Richard 2 but also as a history of the wars of the roses part 1.
It never dragged and I genuinely couldn't put it down.

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  • Alison
  • 05-12-2020

The Fears of Henry IV

The story can never be less than fascinating. The tyrannical and despotic Richard II and the barons who tried to stay alive. The politics are fascinating. But good grief, the narration was dreadful. Mispronounced words, a weirdly breathless style and a seeming incomprehension of the subject. Read it, but don't listen to it!

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  • Leslie Read
  • 05-05-2020

Another Great Book from Ian Mortimer

Ian Mortimer has done it again. A history book that is not only thoroughly researched but is also written in such a way as to be both entertaining and educational. The book has the air of a story book drawing you forward page by page. No dry and dusty tome is this but a fresh and attractive book. I feel now as if I knew Henry IV in person. What a Man. What a King.

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  • susanne H
  • 11-09-2019

Boring narration

I persevered with this book in smaller chunks than I usually listen to because although I found the factual content interesting the reader made it a chore, his diction was clear but sounded like a lecturer dictating notes

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