Shadow Kings: The Life and Struggles of King Henry III of England, 1216-1272

Shadow Kings is about the lives of two orphan Irish boys who manage to become part of the court of Henry III (1216). One is a talented archer and swordsman and is able to serve Henry in his army. The other is a scholar with command of several languages and a strong artistic skill which made him perfectly suited to the position of scribe. His shared interest with Henry on the matter of architecture, which was changing at that time and tending strongly towards the Gothic style with much ornamentation. The boys joined Henry’s court at age 9 and 10, just about the same age as the King himself. Problems arise when the Cathars find their way to England, and although small in number, their presence was a major unsettling factor for Henry who was a devout Catholic. Much of the struggle in this story is centered around finding out who Henry really was. He was influenced by his regent, advisors, the barons, the Pope and others making it hard to determine which actions were at the will of Henry himself. Chaos was normal for the court because Henry was entangled continually with the French, his barons, the Pope, the Welsh and the Scots and always broke. Does this sound familiar?