The nature of the surviving evidence subjects biographers of medieval figures to certain difficulties. As a case in point, my biography of Edward I was more a history of the reign than a study of the king alone, though documents provided clues about his character. Although a number of biographical studies have led to significant advances in understanding the history of medieval England during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the lives of kings and queens, as well as nobles and bishops, dominate the field simply because information about the lives of people in less grandiose positions is severely limited. There is a market for popular books about medieval figures, but these biographies do little more than tell a good story.

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