Edward I left an image of a powerful king who commanded respect from all classes of society, but his son - the subject of this biography - could not attract such esteem. Today we can admire Edward II as a monarch with the "common touch", but he went too far and broke the rules of conduct in a society which could tolerate his homosexuality, but not his preference for the company of workmen. His reign began with high hopes, but his unconventional behaviour soon dashed the expectations. He enjoyed the countryside and rural pursuits, gardening, hedging and ditching, music and architecture, metalwork and woodwork. But his relationship with Piers Gaveston threatened him and his kingdom. The reign was marked by a series of natural disasters and economic problems which, when combined with his lack of leadership, brought the country to a state of civil war. His wife, Isabella, was forced to take up arms against him to safeguard the kingdom for their son. The mystery surrounding Edward II's death brought many rumours, and he was revered as a martyr.