‘A Great and Terrible King’ (Windmill Books) A Great Story of a Controversial King – Book Review

This is the most comprehensive and fluent account I have ever read of Edward I, king of England.

But firstly, the cover. We are drawn to covers, of course, although sometimes we don’t like to admit it, that it might just be a tiny bit shallow to judge a book by its cover. Yet this cover says it all, really, a ruler who lived by the sword, who was both just and ruthless, as every successful monarch of the high middle ages had to be, like a roaring lion in human form.

Morris conveys convincingly the notion that we have to judge the man by his times and not our own; Edward was a crusader and a conqueror, subjugator of Wales and ‘Hammer of the Scots’.

The appalling treatment of William Wallace in 1305, accused of treason, and then hung, drawn and quartered whilst Edward was at play elsewhere, does not seem at all righteous to modern minds. After all Wallace was probably one of the very few Scottish nobles who did not swear allegiance to the English king: he was a Scottish patriot after all, but that would be lost on the empire building approach of Edward and the expediency of his reign.

So today Edward I may not be too popular in either Scotland or indeed Wales. But he failed to fully conquer Scotland, even though he was successful in planting his ‘own man’ (John Balliol) on the Scottish throne for a time.

And then there is the Statute of Jewry of 1275 where Edward acceded to the Church’s demands to try and limit the effects of usury. Morris deals with this in a most balanced way, I feel, trying to help us understand the reasons for this and what seems to us now the eventual cruel banishment of Jews from the kingdom of England in 1290. Naturally, today such action is not viewed in the same light; we live in a very different, more secular world.

Most especially this book conveys the sheer intensity of the personality of this monarch, his energy and drive, a man whose body was exhumed in 1774, confirming his oft used moniker of the time, Longshanks – that is, he had long legs.

The subtitle of Morris’ book is ‘And the forging of Britain’. Ultimately, the king was only partially successful in this and many of his achievements were undone by his son, Edward II, who lost at Bannockburn in 1314, which in turn led to the groundbreaking Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, where noble Scots claimed their long term independence from England.

All in all, a fabulous read, albeit keeping us at a safe distance from those terrible, tumultuous times.


Copyright Francis 2021

Tarot Reading: Will England Retain its Monarchy?

I have asked this question previously, in fact several times. Each time I do not get a definitive no. I have got the impression that the monarchy will remain but in a different form.

So I asked the question again, and I got a broadly similar answer. I used a three card spread, as I often do, the centre card being the overt position, the left card the covert position and the right card the outcome or resolution position.

The three of wands is a generally positive reply. For me this card corresponds to the third decanate of Aries, ruled by Jupiter. I think the monarchy’s future will come up for some debate rather soon, but not to remove it, at least I don’t think so. The three of wands is quite expansive, forward thinking, even joyous, creative, so I think we could see a very different monarchy in the future, one that both harkens back to the past, spiritually, but also looks forward to new possibilities. This might mean a change of dynasty, or in the role of the monarch.

The Fool in the covert position is an indication that in the background the discussion about the monarchy’s future is already being seriously debated – and I don’t think anything is being ruled out. Some of the controversies involving some members of the Royal Family will have certainly contributed to the situation. The Fool represents primal energy, endless possibility, but also cautions one to ponder on decisions. Look at the dog scratching The Fool’s leg; is he trying to caution him? I think we are being warned here not to ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’, so to speak. The monarchy is the one steadfast element remaining in the English ‘constitution’ and I believe nations will remain an important factor in the future. Yes, changes are almost certainly needed but we should be careful what some of us may wish for.

The resolution card is The World, card 21, which also adds up to three. For me this indicates that the future decision in regard to the English/British monarchy will have a profound and universal effect. It would seem that England, and thereby Great Britain too, stands to have much influence in the future world, particularly its new monarchy, whatever form that may take. I do not think this means a united world ruled by the British monarchy! No, that would be awful; however, it could be that somehow it will become a spiritual beacon for the rest of the independent nations of the world to follow, however unlikely that might seem right now.

Copyright Francis 2022

Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint Edmund!’ — Reflections (Reblog for November 20)

Last Friday was St Georges day. The now Patron Saint of England. My Reflection this week is that he wasn’t always such. That honour once held by Edmund. King of East Anglia in the 9th century AD. A devout Christian (believed born on Christmas Day 841), he fought alongside Alfred the Great against the ‘Great […]

Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint Edmund!’ — Reflections