Henry, The Young King (2016)

ISBN data

Hardback - 9780300215519

Paperback - 9780300232875

Link to the book's page at Yale

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2016 / 2018 and Kindle (UK & USA)

Companion Book Number: 4

While not officially a member of the English Monarchs series this book deserves its place in the canon. This Yale biography is disqualified from admission chiefly because its subject died before he could reign in his own right, yet he was declared joint king by his father Henry II. Overlooked because of his early death and overshadowed by his famous younger brother Richard, Henry is widely ignored although he played an important role in his father’s reign and a chief cause of the rebellion against Henry II by his children and queen. This new biography of young Henry updates the very out of date 'The Young King Henry Plantagenet' by O. H. Moore, (1925).

This new book is all the more fascinating as it is the first modern biography on this important Plantagenet. For all these reasons this book must be awarded honorary membership in the series, by the readership if not the publisher, and is a must-have for followers of the early Plantagenets. Henry the Young King was one of five Yale titles in these pages released in 2016. In publication order, the biographies of Henry IV and Louis the Lion were released just beforehand, with Æthelred II and William the Conqueror to follow only a few months afterwards. The paperback was released in 2018.

Ralph Turner (the Yale biographer of Eleanor of Aquitaine) reviewed the book in The American Historical Review Volume 123, Issue 2 (April 2018). Turner was delighted at this long-overdue book on Henry, the Young King, the only previous book being a slim volume from 1925. "Strickland’s bibliography reveals his mastery of both twelfth-century sources and recent research”, he wrote, and that it "will surely stand as the standard biography of the Young King for many years.” This book "is impressively documented with ninety-two pages of notes and an up-to-date bibliography, proof of the breadth and depth of his scholarship."

Meredith Clermont-Ferrand (Eastern Connecticut State University) is full of praise for this work. "It is an understatement to say Strickland’s Henry the Young King is an extraordinary scholarly success". She finds that the only (tiny) flaw in the book is a lack of examination of young Henry's relationship with his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine and an examination of the role she may have played in his development and, especially, young Henry's rebellion against king Henry II.

One final aspect of this book should be noted - all the English Monarchs titles from George IV (2006) onwards  have given thanks and credit to the Yale editor Dr. Robert Baldock. This credit is not given for ‘Æthelred the Unready’ or ‘Henry, the Young King’. This may be strong evidence that these books were not commissioned by the series editor and fall outside the series for that reason.

Matthew Strickland’s ‘Henry the Young King’ and Chris Given-Wilson’s ‘Henry IV’ were shortlisted for the 2017 Wolfson History Prize.

Cover: A scene at the banquet following the coronation of young Henry. Henry II is serving his son. From the 'Life of Thomas Becket', early 13th Century. British Library.

Henry, the Young King

By Matthew Strickland (1962-  )

Emeritus Professor of Medieval History, University of Glasgow

Book Editor: Heather McCallum