Best Book of the Week!
The sixth book of Maurice Druon’s The Accursed Kings series follows the fall of Robert Artois, the prime mover in many of the events of the other five novels. It is the reign of Philippe VI, the first Valois king, so you’d think the curse of the Knights Templar against the Capet kings would be complete. But Druon points out that there is one Capet we’ve probably forgotten.
It is Robert Artois who ensures that his Valois cousin is chosen from the candidates proposed for the crown, despite the better claims of Isabella of France, the only surviving sibling of the Capet King Charles IV, for her son Edward III of England. But even though by supporting the victorious candidate Robert finally gains a peerage and property of his own, he is still obsessed by the theft of his county of Artois by his Aunt Mahaut years ago.
He hears of the existence of a copy of the will and deeds that left him the property when he was a boy. The originals were stolen and destroyed by Mahaut and her minion, Monseigneur Thierry. But the Monseigneur kept the copies to protect himself, Robert is informed by Jeanne de Divion, the Monsiegneur’s mistress. Now that he is dead, Mahaut has treated Divion so poorly that she offers to steal the papers from the Monseigneur’s office. Before she gets the opportunity to do so, however, Beatrice d’Hirson, Thierry’s niece and Mahaut’s servant, steals them for her mistress. Robert then makes the decision that will decide his fate. He decides to forge the papers.
In the meantime, Isabella and Roger Mortimer have taken the throne from Edward II for his son, but the young king is a ruler in name only. Mortimer’s abuses are just as bad as those of the previous reign perpetrated by Edward II’s favorites. In addition, Edward III hasn’t forgiven Mortimer for having his father murdered. Soon, Edward will act for himself.
As with the others in this series, this novel is packed with traitorous acts, poisonings, and other skullduggery, as well as amazingly readable historical detail. Druon peppers his tales with plenty of cynicism and sly remarks. As always, I highly recommend this series.