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Monarchy: England and her Rulers from the Tudors to the Windsors [Paperback]

David Starkey
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Sep 2007

David Starkey's thrilling new paperback charts the rise of the British monarchy from the War of the Roses, the English Civil War and the Georgians, right up until the present day monarchs of the 20th Century.

With both authority and verve, David Starkey unmasks the personalities and achievements, the defeats and victories, that lie behind the monarchs that form the backbone of British history.

This magisterial study begins with the Tudors – five monarchs who ruled over England and Ireland until the reformation of the 1530s – and continues with the Stuarts who followed them. It includes Oliver Cromwell, a non monarch, who ruled as Lord Protector, a 'king in all but name', and the Georgians, a dynasty that began with the accession of George I and ended with the death of George IV. In a new, final chapter Starkey brings his study to the present day, examining the iconic role of Victoria and her controversial successors; concluding with Elizabeth II and questions of what we have gained, or indeed lost, through the monarchy, and considering the troubled status of their future.

More important than this, ‘Monarchy’ encompasses the greatest and most notorious events in our history. From the War of the Roses to the infamous Gunpowder Plot, the bloody battles of the English Civil War to the madness of King George III, the Napoleonic Era to the heyday of Empire under Victoria, and finally to our present day Queen Elizabeth II,‘Monarchy’ offers a radical reappraisal of English nationhood, culture and politics, shown through the most central institution in English life. With characteristic insight and perceptiveness, Starkey gives new life to these figures, producing an entertaining and masterful picture of the building blocks upon which the England of today is built on.

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (3 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007247664
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007247660
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 348,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr David Starkey is Bye Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. He is a winner of the W.H.Smith Prize for Biography (for Elizabeth) and the Norton Medlicott Medal for Service to History presented by the Historical Association.

Product Description


'In the hands of another historian, the results might have been dry and overly academic, but Starkey, always an engaging writer, has a gift for bringing ideas as well as individuals to life.' The Sunday Times

‘Excellent…the really crucial events in the history of the British Monarchy since the Middle Ages are assessed with authority, wisdom and wit…This is Starkey at his fluent and entertaining best.’ Sunday Telegraph

‘This book…is vivid, lucid and engaging…his judgements delivered with quasi-Pontifical assurance are often acute…a very enjoyable book.’ Daily Telegraph

‘David Starkey tours England's monarchical horizon with gusto.’ Sunday Times

‘Starkey brings the past to vivid life.’ Daily Express

‘Combines compelling narrative and lucid analysis to guide us with a sure hand through two centuries of domestic turmoil unparalleled in any other period of English history…nowhere is there to be found a better short summary of the Glorious Revolution of 1688…Starkey's book will undoubtedly make him and his publishers a tidy profit.’ The Spectator

'I found myself compelled by David Starkey's vivid recreation of the hazardous uncertainty of Elizabeth's early life, her successive exclusions from the centre of power, the studiedly ambiguous answers she offered her interrogators, her inevitable implications in conspiracies and narrow escapes from execution.' Times Literary Supplement

‘This work has real drive, and it is often hard to remember how dull history could be at school'.’ Daily Telegraph

'Combines a relaxed and unfussy style with a thorough knowledge of the period and a sharp eye for detail. Elizabeth's life makes for a compelling story and Starkey tells it well.' Spectator

‘Starkey is as eloquent and lucid as ever’ The Times

'Starkey is an energetic and authoritative guide through the Wars of the Roses, the Tudors and Stuarts and the Civil War to the Hanoverians, Victorians and Windsors.' Express

Sunday Times

'Starkey, always an engaging writer, has a gift for bringing ideas as well as individuals to life.'

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very engaging 11 Jun 2009
I bought this out of a sense of duty - my knowledge of English history is pretty poor - and was expecting it to be rather dry. However, it was a lot of fun and a real page turner; packed with detail, very good on the political and economic contexts that shaped how the monarchy evolved, and written in an engaging and witty style. Rather than a description just of "Who" the monarchs were, it also explains very well "how" and "why" we ended up with the system we have.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, perfectly balanced 25 Feb 2009
"Monarchy" by historian David Starkey is a beautifully written history of the development of the British monarchy from medieval times onwards. The story of the constant, often involuntary adjustments of the monarchy to hold on to its position is portrayed in a very clear way, making the book a joy to read.

In my opinion, the writer has found the perfect balance between important historical developments, constitutional changes and personal stories of monarchs and other players. The result is that the story has a natural flow, giving all monarchs equal attention and showing connections between events, reigns and changes unknown to me.

From a Dutch point of view, where Willem III (from William and Mary) is one of our less appealing and influential monarchs, the writer gives William of Orange credits for being the founder of modern Britain. I would love to see Starkey write a similar history on the Dutch monarchy.

All in all, "Monarchy" is wonderfully written and reads like a train. Starkey has managed to create one big, logical story in stead of a series of unconnected chapters as taught at school: Chapeau!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just as good in print as on the radio and TV 30 Nov 2013
I'd never read a book by David Starkey before, although I'd heard and seen him often on TV and on the Radio Four "Any Questions" panel where his forthright and incisive comments always liven up the debate, cutting through the bleating anodyne inanities and hypocrisy of the mainstream politicians.

This book did not disappoint. It's a swift gallop through several centuries of history, focusing on the changing role of the monarch in English and British society, and the power struggles between the Monarch, the Lords, the Church, and the middle and working classes both "on the street" and in the House of Commons. Despite covering so much ground in a medium-sized book, there was still a lot I didn't know. for instance, he shows the importance of Queen Anne and King William IV, of whom I'd known almost nothing previously.

David Starkey has very strong opinions and doubtless there's a lot to disagree with in his book, but it's an excellent introduction to the "kings and queens" aspect of history which I beleive is not much taught in schools nowadays.

Only two negatives- (a) The genealogical charts were a bit confusing, and (b) the last chapter felt a bit rushed as if tacked on as an afterthought, especially his comments on Princess Diana. I suspect this bit was added at the suggestion of his editor or publisher.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book. 20 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As usual david starky here again produces an excellent book. A great history lesson is yet again produced here in full historical terms. A must for any reader interested in this subject.
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5.0 out of 5 stars As good as an exciting novel 7 Nov 2013
Whilst still trying to catch up on history and fill in the yawning gaps, this book has been immensely helpful. The history of Britain is underpinned so much by its monarchy, that an understanding of the forces, families, alliances and religion that shaped the succession is absolutely essential.
I am no fan of Starkey's TV work - his censorious, headmasterly approach is offputting, but I enjoy his writing immensely. In his hands, history is a thrilling drama and his clarity in explaining the backdrop to events is masterly. I read this like an exciting novel, which provided more than enough coverage of events from the Tudors to the Windsors, acting as a catalyst for further reading.
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