Book picks similar to
Charlemagne by Derek Wilson
Winston's War: Churchill, 1940-1945
Max Hastings - 2009
At once brilliant and infuriating, self-important and courageous, Hastings’s Churchill comes brashly to life as never before. Beginning in 1940, when popular demand elevated Churchill to the role of prime minister, and concluding with the end of the war, Hastings shows us Churchill at his most intrepid and essential, when, by sheer force of will, he kept Britain from collapsing in the face of what looked like certain defeat. Later, we see his significance ebb as the United States enters the war and the Soviets turn the tide on the Eastern Front. But Churchill, Hastings reminds us, knew as well as anyone that the war would be dominated by others, and he managed his relationships with the other Allied leaders strategically, so as to maintain Britain’s influence and limit Stalin’s gains. At the same time, Churchill faced political peril at home, a situation for which he himself was largely to blame. Hastings shows how Churchill nearly squandered the miraculous escape of the British troops at Dunkirk and failed to address fundamental flaws in the British Army. His tactical inaptitude and departmental meddling won him few friends in the military, and by 1942, many were calling for him to cede operational control. Nevertheless, Churchill managed to exude a public confidence that brought the nation through the bitter war. Hastings rejects the traditional Churchill hagiography while still managing to capture what he calls Churchill’s “appetite for the fray.” Certain to be a classic, Winston’s War is a riveting profile of one of the greatest leaders of the twentieth century.
The Black Prince: England's Greatest Medieval Warrior
Michael Jones - 2017
At Poitiers, in 1356, his victory over King John II of France forced the French into a humiliating surrender that marked the zenith of England’s dominance in the Hundred Years War. As lord of Aquitaine, he ruled a vast swathe of territory across the west and southwest of France, holding a magnificent court at Bordeaux that mesmerized the brave but unruly Gascon nobility and drew them like moths to the flame of his cause.He was Edward of Woodstock, eldest son of Edward III, and better known to posterity as “the Black Prince.” His military achievements captured the imagination of Europe: heralds and chroniclers called him “the flower of all chivalry” and “the embodiment of all valor.” But what was the true nature of the man behind the chivalric myth, and of the violent but pious world in which he lived? This exemplary new history uses contemporary chronicles plus a wide range of documentary material—including the Prince's own letters and those of his closest followers—to tell the tale of an authentic English hero and to paint a memorable portrait of society in the tumultuous fourteenth century.
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 Maid and the Queen: The Secret History of Joan of Arc
Nancy Goldstone - 2011
Caught in the complex dynastic battle of the Hundred Years War, Yolande championed the dauphin's cause against the forces of England and Burgundy, drawing on her savvy, her statecraft, and her intimate network of spies. But the enemy seemed invincible. Just as French hopes dimmed, an astonishingly courageous young woman named Joan of Arc arrived from the farthest recesses of the kingdom, claiming she carried a divine message-a message that would change the course of history and ultimately lead to the coronation of Charles VII and the triumph of France.Now, on the six hundredth anniversary of the birth of Joan of Arc, this fascinating book explores the relationship between these two remarkable women, and deepens our understanding of this dramatic period in history. How did an illiterate peasant girl gain access to the future king of France, earn his trust, and ultimately lead his forces into battle? Was it only the hand of God that moved Joan of Arc-or was it also Yolande of Aragon?
Theodore Ayrault Dodge - 1891
Setting out from Carthaginian-dominated Spain with a small army of select troops, he fought his way over the Pyrenees and crossed the Alps with elephants and a full baggage train. Theodore Dodge retraced this route from Carthage to Italy, paying particular attention to the famous crossing of the Alps, and wrote what remains unequalled as the most comprehensive and readable study of history's greatest general.
Warriors of God: Richard the Lionheart and Saladin in the Third Crusade
James Reston Jr. - 2001
Acclaimed writer James Reston, Jr., offers a gripping narrative of the epic battle that left Jerusalem in Muslim hands until the twentieth century, bringing an objective perspective to the gallantry, greed, and religious fervor that fueled the bloody clash between Christians and Muslims.As he recounts this rousing story, Reston brings to life the two legendary figures who led their armies against each other. He offers compelling portraits of Saladin, the wise and highly cultured leader who created a united empire, and Richard the Lionheart, the romantic personification of chivalry who emerges here in his full complexity and contradictions. From its riveting scenes of blood-soaked battles to its pageant of fascinating, larger-than-life characters, Warriors of God is essential history, history that helps us understand today's world.
The Templars: The Dramatic History of the Knights Templar, the Most Powerful Military Order of the Crusades
Piers Paul Read - 1999
Examines the history and legacy of the warrior monks, discussing their successful capture of the city of Jerusalem during the Crusades, and their eventual demise.
Richard Winston - 1968
Before his astonishing career had ended, he had conquered half of Europe and his armies had marched through Italy, Germany, and Spain. In a glittering Christmas Day ceremony in Rome, in the year 800, he was crowned the new Holy Roman Emperor. More than the heroic conqueror of Western Europe, Charlemagne was an intense and thoughtful human being. His succession of five wives brought him a palace full of children. So warm was his love for his daughters that he could never bear to see them married away from the court, even though enticing alliances with other rulers were offered them. A deeply religious man, Charlemagne became the protector of orthodox Christianity against medieval heresies. A patron of learning, he established schools and brought artists and scholars to his court to work and study. As a result, most classical literature comes down to us in copies of books made in Charlemagne's time. Here, from National Book Award winner Richard Winston, is his remarkable story.
Frederick the Great: King of Prussia
Timothy C.W. Blanning - 2015
From early in his reign he was already a legendary figure - fascinating even to those who hated him. Tim Blanning's brilliant biography recreates a remarkable era, a world which would be swept away shortly after Frederick's death by the French Revolution. Equally at home on the battlefield or in the music room at Frederick's extraordinary miniature palace of Sanssouci, Blanning draws on a lifetime's obsession with the 18th century to create a work that is in many ways the summation of all that he has learned in his own rich and various career. Frederick's spectre has hung over Germany ever since: an inspiration, a threat, an impossible ideal - Blanning at last allows us to understand him in his own time.
Ministers at War: Winston Churchill and His War Cabinet
Jonathan Schneer - 2015
Survival seemed to hinge on the leadership of Winston Churchill, whom the King reluctantly appointed Prime Minister as Germany invaded France. Churchill’s reputation as one of the great twentieth-century leaders would be forged during the coming months and years, as he worked tirelessly first to rally his country and then to defeat Hitler. But Churchill—regarded as the savior of his nation, and of the entire continent—could not have done it alone.As prize-winning historian Jonathan Schneer reveals in Ministers at War, Churchill depended on a team of powerful ministers to manage the war effort as he rallied a beleaguered nation. Selecting men from across the political spectrum—from fellow Conservative Anthony Eden to leader of the opposing socialist Labor Party Clement Attlee—Churchill assembled a War Cabinet that balanced competing interests and bolstered support for his national coalition government. The group possessed a potent blend of talent, ambition, and egotism. Led and encouraged by Churchill, the ministers largely set aside their differences, at least at first. As the war progressed, discord began to grow. It reached a peak in 1945: with victory seemingly assured, Churchill was forced by his Minsters at War to dissolve the Government and call a General Election, which, in a shocking upset, he lost to his rival Attlee.Authoritatively recasting our understanding of British high politics during World War II, Schneer shows that Churchill managed the war effort by managing his team of supremely able yet contentious cabinet members. The outcome of the war lay not only in Churchill’s individual brilliance but also in his skill as an executive, and in the collective ability of men who muted their personal interests to save the world from barbarism.
The Templars: The Rise and Spectacular Fall of God's Holy Warriors
Dan Jones - 2017
A band of elite warriors determined to fight to the death to protect Christianity’s holiest sites. A global financial network unaccountable to any government. A sinister plot founded on a web of lies.Jerusalem 1119. A small group of knights seeking a purpose in the violent aftermath of the First Crusade decides to set up a new order. These are the first Knights Templar, a band of elite warriors prepared to give their lives to protect Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land. Over the next two hundred years, the Templars would become the most powerful religious order of the medieval world. Their legend has inspired fervent speculation ever since. In this groundbreaking narrative history, Dan Jones tells the true story of the Templars for the first time in a generation, drawing on extensive original sources to build a gripping account of these Christian holy warriors whose heroism and alleged depravity have been shrouded in myth. The Templars were protected by the pope and sworn to strict vows of celibacy. They fought the forces of Islam in hand-to-hand combat on the sun-baked hills where Jesus lived and died, finding their nemesis in Saladin, who vowed to drive all Christians from the lands of Islam. Experts at channeling money across borders, they established the medieval world’s largest and most innovative banking network and waged private wars against anyone who threatened their interests.Then, as they faced setbacks at the hands of the ruthless Mamluk sultan Baybars and were forced to retreat to their stronghold in Cyprus, a vindictive and cash-strapped King of France set his sights on their fortune. His administrators quietly mounted a damning case against the Templars, built on deliberate lies and false testimony. Then on Friday October 13, 1307, hundreds of brothers were arrested, imprisoned and tortured, and the order was disbanded amid lurid accusations of sexual misconduct and heresy. They were tried by the Pope in secret proceedings and their last master was brutally tortured and burned at the stake. But were they heretics or victims of a ruthlessly repressive state? Dan Jones goes back to the sources tobring their dramatic tale, so relevant to our own times, in a book that is at once authoritative and compulsively readable.
God's Wolf: The Life of the Most Notorious of all Crusaders, Scourge of Saladin
Jeffrey Lee - 2016
A reviled figure in Islamic history, often portrayed as the very epitome of brutality, Reynald remains as controversial—and as vividly present in the minds of many in the Middle East—as the story of the crusades themselves.An epic saga set in the midst of a violent clash of civilizations, God’s Wolf tells the story of Reynald’s staggering rise from lowly soldier to prince of Antioch, one of the crusader kingdoms in the Near East. Jeffrey Lee argues that, despite his brutality, Reynald was a strong military leader and an effective statesman who defended his kingdom against attacks from Byzantines, Armenians, and Muslims. A tale of faith, fanaticism, and brutality, God’s Wolf is the fascinating story of an exceptional crusader and a provocative reinterpretation of the crusader era.
Richard and John: Kings at War
Frank McLynn - 2006
In the myth-making, King Richard, defender of Christendom in the Holy Land, was the “good king,” and his younger brother John was the evil usurper of the kingdom, who lost not only the Crown jewels but also the power of the crown. How much, though, do these popular stereotypes correspond with reality? Frank McLynn, known for a wide range of historical studies, has returned to the original sources to discover what Richard and John, these warring sons of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, were really like, and how their history measures up to their myth. In riveting prose, and with attention to the sources, he turns the tables on modern revisionist historians, showing exactly how incompetent a king John was, despite his intellectual gifts, and how impressive Richard was, despite his long absence from the throne. This is history at its best-revealing and readable.