Book picks similar to
The White Horse King: The Life of Alfred the Great by Benjamin R. Merkle
Æthelstan: The Making of England
Tom Holland - 2016
But, after King Alfred ensured the survival of Wessex and his son Edward expanded it, his grandson Athelstan inherited the rule of both Mercia and Wessex, conquered Northumbria and was hailed as Rex totius Britanniae: ‘King of the whole of Britain’.Tom Holland recounts this extraordinary story with relish and drama, transporting us back to a time of omens, raven harbingers and blood-red battlefields. As well as giving form to the figure of Æthelstan - devout, shrewd, all too aware of the precarious nature of his power, especially in the north - he introduces the great figures of the age, including Alfred and his daughter Æthelflæd, ‘Lady of the Mercians’, who brought Æthelstan up at the Mercian court. Making sense of the family rivalries and fractious conflicts of the Anglo-Saxon rulers, Holland shows us how a royal dynasty rescued their kingdom from near-oblivion and fashioned a nation that endures to this day.
A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain
Marc Morris - 2008
His reign was one of the most dramatic and important of the entire Middle Ages, leading to war and conquest on an unprecedented scale, and leaving a legacy of division between the peoples of Britain that has lasted from his day to our own.Edward I is familiar to millions as ‘Longshanks’, conqueror of Scotland and nemesis of Sir William Wallace (‘Braveheart’). Yet this story forms only the final chapter of the king’s astonishingly action-packed life. Earlier Edward had defeated and killed the famous Simon de Montfort in battle; travelled across Europe to the Holy Land on crusade; conquered Wales, extinguishing forever its native rulers, and constructing – at Conwy, Harlech, Beaumaris and Caernarfon – the most magnificent chain of castles ever created. He raised the greatest armies of the English Middle Ages, and summoned the largest parliaments; notoriously, he expelled all the Jews from his kingdom. The longest-lived of all England’s medieval kings, he fathered no fewer than fifteen children with his first wife, Eleanor of Castile, and after her death he erected the Eleanor Crosses – the grandest funeral monuments ever fashioned for an English monarch.In this book, Marc Morris examines afresh the forces that drove Edward throughout his relentless career: his character, his Christian faith, and his sense of England’s destiny – a sense shaped in particular by the tales of the legendary King Arthur. He also explores the competing reasons that led Edward’s opponents (including Llywelyn ap Gruffudd and Robert Bruce) to resist him, and the very different societies that then existed in Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The result is a sweeping story, immaculately researched yet compellingly told, and a vivid picture of medieval Britain at the moment when its future was decided.
The Fears of Henry IV: The Life of England's Self-Made King
Ian Mortimer - 2007
Henry had not always been so unpopular. The son of John of Gaunt, he was courteous, confident, well-educated, musical and spiritually fervent. In 1399, at the age of thirty-two, he was enthusiastically greeted as the saviour of the realm when he ousted from power the insecure and tyrannical King Richard II.Therein lay Henry’s weakness. By making himself King he had broken God’s law and left himself starkly open to criticism. Enemies everywhere tried to take advantage of his questionable right to the crown. Such overwhelming threats transformed him from a hero into a duplicitous murderer: a king prepared to go to any lengths to save his family and his throne.But against all the odds, what Henry achieved was to take a poorly ruled nation, establish a new Lancastrian dynasty, and introduce the principle that a king must act in accordance with Parliament. He might not have been the most glorious king England ever had, but he was one of the bravest, and certainly the greatest survivor of them all.
Æthelstan: The First King of England
Sarah Foot - 2011
He won spectacular military victories (most notably at Brunanburh), forged unprecedented political connections across Europe, and succeeded in creating the first unified kingdom of the English. To claim for him the title of "first English monarch" is no exaggeration.In this nuanced portrait of Æthelstan, Sarah Foot offers the first full account of the king ever written. She traces his life through the various spheres in which he lived and worked, beginning with the intimate context of his family, then extending outward to his unusual multiethnic royal court, the Church and his kingdom, the wars he conducted, and finally his death and legacy. Foot describes a sophisticated man who was not only a great military leader but also a worthy king. He governed brilliantly, developed creative ways to project his image as a ruler, and devised strategic marriage treaties and gift exchanges to cement alliances with the leading royal and ducal houses of Europe. Æthelstan's legacy, seen in the new light of this masterful biography, is inextricably connected to the very forging of England and early English identity.
Alfred the Great
Justin Pollard - 2005
"This is the story of England's birth. A great story, beautifully told." (Bernard Cornwell, author of The Pale Horseman)Alfred was England's first kin, and his rule spanned troubled times. As his shores sat under constant threat from Viking marauders, his life was similarly imperiled by conspiracies in his own court. He was an extraordinary character - a soldier, scholar, and statesman like no other in English history - and out of adversity he forged a new kind of nation. Justin Pollard's enthralling account strips back centuries of myth to reveal the individual behind the legend. He offers a radical new interpretation of what inspired Alfred to create England and how it how it has colored the nation's history to the present day.
Four Queens: The Provençal Sisters Who Ruled Europe
Nancy Goldstone - 2007
From a cultured childhood in Provence, each sister was propelled into a world marked by shifting alliances, intrigue, and subterfuge. Marguerite, the eldest, whose resolution and spirit would be tested by the cold splendor of the Palais du Roi in Paris; Eleanor, whose soaring political aspirations would provoke her kingdom to civil war; Sanchia, the neglected wife of the richest man in England who bought himself the crown of Germany; and Beatrice, whose desire for sovereignty was so acute that she risked her life to earn her place at the royal table.
Daughters of Chivalry: The Forgotten Children of Edward I
Kelcey Wilson-Lee - 2019
Yet the reality was very different, as Kelcey Wilson-Lee shows in this vibrant account of the five daughters of the great English king, Edward I. The lives of these sisters - Eleanora, Joanna, Margaret, Mary and Elizabeth - ran the full gamut of experiences open to royal women in the Middle Ages. Living as they did in a courtly culture founded on romantic longing and brilliant pageantry, they knew that a princess was to be chaste yet a mother to many children, preferably sons, meek yet able to influence a recalcitrant husband or even command a host of men-at-arms
The Princes in the Tower
Alison Weir - 1992
Did Richard III really kill “the Princes in the Tower,” as is commonly believed, or was the murderer someone else entirely? Carefully examining every shred of contemporary evidence as well as dozens of modern accounts, Alison Weir reconstructs the entire chain of events leading to the double murder. We are witnesses to the rivalry, ambition, intrigue, and struggle for power that culminated in the imprisonment of the princes and the hushed-up murders that secured Richard’s claim to the throne as Richard III. A masterpiece of historical research and a riveting story of conspiracy and deception, The Princes in the Tower at last provides a solution to this age-old puzzle.Look for special features inside.Join the Circle for author chats and more.RandomHouseReadersCircle.com
The King in the North: The Life and Times of Oswald of Northumbria
Max Adams - 2005
A charismatic leader, a warrior whose prowess in battle earned him the epithet Whiteblade, an exiled prince who returned to claim his birthright, the inspiration for Tolkien's Aragorn. Oswald of Northumbria was the first great English monarch, yet today this legendary figure is all but forgotten. In this panoramic portrait of Dark Age Britain, archaeologist and biographer Max Adams returns the king in the North to his rightful place in history.
In Search of the Dark Ages
Michael Wood - 1981
In Search of the Dark Ages vividly conjures up some of the most famous names in British history, such as Queen Boadicea, leader of a terrible war of resistance against the Romans, and King Arthur, the 'once and future king', for whose riddle Wood proposes a new and surprising solution. Here too, warts and all, are the Saxon, Viking and Norman kings who laid the political foundations of England - Offa of Mercia, Alfred the Great, Athelstan, and William the Conqueror, whose victory at Hastings in 1066 marked the end of Anglo-Saxon England.Reflecting recent historical, textual and archaeological research, this revised edition of Michael Wood's classic book overturns preconceptions of the Dark Ages as a shadowy and brutal era, showing them to be a richly exciting and formative period in the history of Britain.—'With In Search of the Dark Ages, Michael Wood wrote the book for history on TV.' The Times—'Michael Wood is the maker of some of the best TV documentaries ever made on history and archaeology.' Times Literary Supplement
The Wars of the Roses: Through the Lives of Five Men and Women of the Fifteenth Century
Desmond Seward - 1995
The civil wars consumed the whole nation in a series of battles that eventually saw the Tudor dynasty take power. The much admired historian Desmond Seward tells the story of this complex and dangerous period of history through the lives of five men and women who experienced the conflict first hand. In a gripping narrative the personal trials of the principal characters interweave with the major events and personalities of one of the most significant turning points in British history.
1215: The Year of Magna Carta
Danny Danziger - 2003
At the center of this fascinating period is the document that has become the root of modern freedom: the Magna Carta. It was a time of political revolution and domestic change that saw the Crusades, Richard the Lionheart, King John, and—in legend—Robin Hood all make their marks on history.The events leading up to King John’s setting his seal to the famous document at Runnymede in June 1215 form this rich and riveting narrative that vividly describes everyday life from castle to countryside, from school to church, and from hunting in the forest to trial by ordeal. For instance, women wore no underwear (though men did), the average temperatures were actually higher than they are now, and the austere kitchen at Westminster Abbey allowed each monk two pounds of meat and a gallon of ale per day. Broad in scope and rich in detail, 1215 ingeniously illuminates what may have been the most important year of our history.
Ecclesiastical History of the English People
It begins with Julius Caesar's invasion in the first century BC and goes on to tell of the kings and bishops, monks and nuns who helped to develop government and convert the people to Christianity during these crucial formative years. Relating the deeds of great men and women but also describing landscape, customs and ordinary lives, this is a rich, vivid portrait of an emerging church and nation by the 'Father of English History'.Leo Sherley-Price's translation from the Latin brings us an accurate and readable version of Bede's History. This edition includes Bede's Letter to Egbert, denouncing false monasteries; and The Death of Bede, an admirable eye-witness account by Cuthbert, monk and later Abbot of Jarrow, both translated by D. H. Farmer.For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.