Henry III (1207-72) reigned for 56 years, the longest-serving English monarch until the modern era.
Admired for his building projects like Westminster Abbey, he is nevertheless dismissed by scholars as weak and inept, at least compared to his father King John and son Edward I.
This biography changes that perception and shows that he was in fact a more than capable ruler.
Crowned as a boy, scarred by civil war, he strove to be the good king implored of him by William Marshal, but his increasingly insular barons and clergy, emboldened by Magna Carta, constantly thwarted his plans to make England a thriving centre of cosmopolitanism.
Their jealousy and resentfulness led to a palace revolution that eventually checked his power and ambition.
He would have clawed it all back were it not for one man, Simon de Montfort, who forced him to accept the form of government that eventually became the parliamentary state.
Yet somehow Henry survived, as he always had through the remarkable age that was the thirteenth century.