Thomas B. Costain’s second book in his Plantagenet series focuses on the life of Henry III and to a large extent Simon De Montfort. The first book runs through Henry II and his sons with solid details, but without spending too much time on any of the people. For me, I was not expecting book 2 to be almost totally devoted to the life of Henry III. Additionally, I just do not find Henry III to be the most interesting of the Plantagenets.
However, Costain does a good job with subject matter again. He covers the key women of the period in a fair manner and gives them their place in the rolls of history. I appreciated this because he is writing prior to the “women’s movement” so his cover of these women is genuine and fair. They have important parts to play and are given credit for their good and bad behaviors because that’s how it happened.
One of the joys of reading Costain are his “tangents” where he discusses the details of time and place or the personal history of other people of the period. In this book we are treated to digressions including discussions of woman’s fashion and the life of Roger Bacon.
The final few chapters are a wonderful summation of the book, so if you get bored reading it— skip to the end.