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The Plantagenets summary

The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England

4.5 (192 ratings)
32 mins

Brief summary

The Plantagenets by Dan Jones takes us through the tumultuous history of the English monarchy from 1154 to 1399. Full of intrigue, war, and political maneuverings, it's a captivating journey through the lives of one of England's most famous dynasties.

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    The beginning of a dynasty

    The year is 1120 and King Henry I of England is inconsolable. His beloved son, and heir apparent, has just drowned crossing the English Channel.

    King Henry is forced to look in a new direction to secure his dynasty: toward his daughter Matilda. Like her recently deceased brother, Matilda is haughty and arrogant, and she doesn’t inspire confidence among her father’s barons. To improve her claim to England’s throne, King Henry organizes a marriage between Matilda and the powerful landowner, Geoffrey of Anjou. Geoffrey’s a dapper fellow. He’s especially fond of wearing a yellow broom flower in his hair – a flower that, in Latin, is called planta genista. The House of Plantagenet is born.

    Geoffrey and Matilda don’t much care for each other, but that doesn’t matter. Their marriage is an important political match, and they have basically one objective. In 1133 they achieve it; their first child is born. They name him Henry, like his grandfather.

    But the barons still aren’t convinced. When the old king dies, the barons reject Matilda. They throw their weight behind another claimant, Matilda’s cousin Stephen.

    Stephen becomes king, but he’s not very good at his job. His weak leadership soon destabilizes England. Matilda – brooding in France – perks up her ears. Maybe here’s a chance for her to regain what she considers rightfully hers: the crown of England.

    What happens next proves disastrous for England. Matilda’s and Stephen’s forces chase each other throughout the countryside for nine years, spreading devastation everywhere they go. Endless battles are fought, but the two sides remain at a stalemate. English society collapses. This period of chaos gets an ominous name: The Anarchy. 

    Meanwhile, Matilda’s son Henry is coming into his own. He’s gangly, ginger-haired, and whip-smart with a large chip on his shoulder. He’s built a reputation for himself around France as a precocious youth with a keen head for strategy. He’s been leading military expeditions across the Channel into England since he was 13. None has been very successful, but Henry has still shown bravery and a decent sense of war and diplomacy.

    Henry’s reputation catches the attention of a remarkable woman: the 28-year-old Eleanor of Aquitaine. She’s a powerful noblewoman, recently cast aside by the king of France for being too worldly and politically opinionated. But the ascendant youth with an ax to grind seems much more her style than the monkish French king. For the 19-year-old Henry, Eleanor has significant territory and a royal pedigree to offer – as well as all the worldliness of an older woman.

    It’s a match that will spawn a dynasty.

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    What is The Plantagenets about?

    The Plantagenets (2012) is a rollicking history of eight generations of English royal rule. From the Crusades through the signing of Magna Carta and up to the start of the Hundred Years’ War, the House of Plantagenet ruled during some of the most thrilling times of English history.

    The Plantagenets Review

    The Plantagenets (2012) by Dan Jones is an engaging exploration of one of England's most powerful dynasties and why it is a fascinating read:

    • Through meticulous research and detailed storytelling, the book brings to life the complex characters and turbulent events of the Plantagenet era.
    • It offers a fresh perspective on medieval history, challenging common assumptions and shedding light on lesser-known aspects of this influential dynasty.
    • With its compelling narratives and vivid descriptions, the book never fails to captivate readers, making this historical account anything but dull.

    Who should read The Plantagenets?

    • Lovers of high drama and intrigue
    • Game of Thrones fans
    • Medieval history fanatics

    About the Author

    Dan Jones is a British historian, journalist, and television presenter. He’s written several books about English history, including The Hollow Crown, which picks up where The Plantagenets leaves off.

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    The Plantagenets FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Plantagenets?

    The main message of The Plantagenets is a fascinating exploration of the rise and fall of the powerful Plantagenet dynasty.

    How long does it take to read The Plantagenets?

    The reading time for The Plantagenets varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Plantagenets a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Plantagenets is a captivating read that brings history to life. It's definitely worth diving into for history buffs and enthusiasts alike.

    Who is the author of The Plantagenets?

    The author of The Plantagenets is Dan Jones.

    What to read after The Plantagenets?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Plantagenets, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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