The Magnificent Century

by Thomas Costain

Costain was a Canadian writer who wrote several very popular historical fictions in the '40s and '50s. His best known work is The Silver Chalice. He also wrote a 4 volume non-fiction series on the history of England's Plantagenet dynasty, and this is the second volume. The century in the title is the 13th century: specifically the reign of Henry III. His was the second longest reign in British history, 68 years, behind only Queen Victoria (although Elizabeth II may pass them both). He was the son of possibly the worst king the Brits ever had, John, of Robin Hood fame, and the father of possibly the best of all Brit kings, Edward I. Henry himself was not very good, but certainly not all bad.

The work itself is written in an interesting and almost novel like way. I generally read something like this in small, daily doses and although the cast of characters is large, the book is easy to follow. It was first published in 1959, and it is not an easy book to find these days, but worth the trouble if you are interested in English history. I recommend the series.