Edward the Confessor (2020) - Forthcoming

Go back to the earlier study of Edward   Go forward to Harold


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Edward the Confessor:

Last of the Royal Blood

by Tom Licence

Professor of Medieval History

and Consumer Culture,

University of East Anglia

The anouncement of the publication of a new Edward the Confessor in the English Monarchs series was something of a surprise, although the surprise was the timing rather than the fact. Yale quietly added this book to the list of series titles for publication within months without any prior advice that it was coming. The author has been at the University of East Anglia for the past decade, firstly as Senior Lecturer in Medieval History and then, from 2019, Professor. His prior post was as a research fellow not far away from Norwich at the University of Cambridge - where he gained his Master's degrees and a Ph.D in Medieval history.

Tom Licence's book will be the fourth book to revisit a monarch with an existing book in the series - if you include Michael Hicks' Richard III (2019). Three of the first four books in the series have been or will be replaced by newer works. Only Henry VIII (1968) remains to be replaced.

This new book also confirms the trajectory of the series. Yale has set a course to revisit the books in the series to keep it fresh and relevant. Each author of the new titles has been sensitive enough to attribute to these early titles the significance of the work and their pioneering nature. Professor Chrimes in his 1972 biography of Henry VII, was the first to admit that his book was but a survey of Henry's reign and a preliminary one at that, with the expectation that given enough time a further book with more detail would follow. It seems reasonable then to expect Yale to continue to update the earliest biographies issued in the series. It will be interesting to see the titles list in these forthcoming English Monarchs books and whether or not the older titles remain the the current list of series books.

Although this will be the author's first English Monarchs biography his name will have been seen in an English Monarchs title by readers with a retentive memory and an eye for detail. In the preface to his English Monarchs biography of William the Conqueror David Bates thanks Licence for his assistance and comments "...on the book's narrative and analysis". They are both at the University of East Anglia.

The new Edward the Confessor is due on 11 August 2020 and priced at £25.00. It will be published in North America on 29 September 2020 priced at $35.00. The cover, released by Yale, is a new style for the series. As was the case with its immediate predecessor Henry III, the kingly subject has few images to his name. This has necessitated a more creative piece of art to fill the gap. In the case of the Henry III book the artwork used was a treated graphic based on Henry's tomb effigy. For Edward the Confessor a stylised title on a striking red background has been created, with a small figure representing Edward peeking out at the foot of the cover and pointing to his name in the title. This is extracted from the first scene of the Bayeux Tapestry and was used in the Yale reprints of the Frank Barlow biography of Edward.

This new style is an interesting development and is simlar to the creative solution to the problem of lack of relevant images of the subject of biographies. Well done, Yale graphic artists! The new Edward the Confessor biography has a cover similar to Max Adams' book 'Aelfred's Britain: War and Peace in the Viking Age' (Head of Zeus, 2017). Both use a red and gold colour scheme with the title presented in a styllised font. Head of Zeus also used complementary covers on other Max Adams books: 'The King in the North' (2013); 'In the Land of Giants' (2015); and 'The First Kingdom' (2020). Perhaps this will become the classic style of this period of publising?

Book Number: 33

Cover: A new style of cover for an English Monarchs book. The graphic of Edward in the bottom corner is from   the very first panel of the Bayeux Tapestry showing that Edward sends Harold to visit William of Normandy.