Ian Mortimer


Medieval Intrigue
Decoding Royal Conspiracies

A series of essays dealing with some of the most controversial questions in medieval history, including whether Edward II was murdered, his possible later life in Italy, the weakness of the Lancastrian claim to the throne in 1399 and the origins of the idea of the royal pretender. Central to this book is a ground-breaking approach to medieval information: that we should not judge historical events based on 'weight of evidence' but investigate the information linkages between the event and the person who wrote the evidence. The resulting process of historical analysis ultimately leads to questioning historical doubts as well as historical facts, with profound implications for what we can say about the past with certainty.

Review by Professor Christopher Allmand, published in the journal History:
'The theme of troubled times pervades this whole book; plots, betrayal, violence and death are all here in ample measure. In a group of interesting and closely argued essays, the author examines some of the factors and rules which influenced the succession to the English throne, mainly in the fourteenth century. Upon what basis could legitimacy be claimed? There is plenty of evidence to show that there was sometimes sufficient doubt about the matter to allow pretenders to create trouble for those in power. The author adds considerably to the historical discussion regarding such important political and legal problems which reared their head several times in this period, and which had far-reaching consequences for contemporary society. As a result, we are now better informed about certain 'darker' but important aspects of late medieval English history upon which Dr Mortimer has shed considerable light.'

Included in the book are three previously published peer-reviewed articles,

  • 'Sermons of Sodomy: a Reconsideration of Edward II's Sodomitical Reputation', first published in Gwilym Dodd and Anthony Musson (eds) The Reign of Edward II: New Perspectives (Boydell, 2006), pp. 48-60.
  • 'The Death of Edward II in Berkeley Castle', first published in The English Historical Review, 120 (2005), pp. 1175-1214.
  • 'Richard II and the Succession to the Crown', History, 91 (2006), pp. 320-336.
The other seven essays are all previously unpublished.

In order to clear up any confusion, the original subtitle for this book was 'royal murder and regnal legitimacy'. Pages on the internet that still have this subtitle do not relate to a different USA edition - there is only one worldwide edition. These references relate to an old bibliographic detail that has not been updated.