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Monarchy: From the Middle Ages to Modernity [Hardcover]

David Starkey
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

16 Oct 2006

To coincide with the Channel 4 series to be aired at the end of this year – David Starkey's ‘Monarchy’ 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.

David Starkey’s magisterial new book Monarchy charts the rise of the British crown from the insurgency of the War of the Roses, through the glory and dangers of the Tudors, to the insolvency of the Stuarts and chaos of the English Civil War, the execution of Charles I, the rule of a commoner who was ‘king in all but name’, the importing of a German dynasty, and the coming-to-terms with modernity under the wise guidance of another German, Victoria’s Prince Consort Albert. An epilogue brings to story up to the present and asks questions about the future.

The crown of England is the oldest surviving political institution in Europe. And yet, throughout this book Starkey emphasises the Crown’s endless capacity to reinvent itself to circumstances and reshape national polity whilst he unmasks the personalities and achievements, the defeats and victories, which lie behind the kings and queens of British history.

Each of these monarchs has contributed, in their own way, to the religion, geography, laws, language and government that we currently live with today. In this book,Starkey demonstrates exactly how these states were arrived at, how these monarchs subtly influenced each other, which battles were won and why, whose whim or failure caused religious tradition to wither or flourish, and which monarchs, through their acumen and strength or single minded determination came to enforce the laws of England.

With his customary authority and verve, David Starkey reignites these personalities to produce an entertaining and masterful account of these figures whose many victories and failures are the building blocks upon which Britain today is built. Far more than a biography of kings and queens, ‘Monarchy’ is a radical reappraisal of British nationhood, culture and politics, shown through the most central institution in British life.


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress; 1st Edition edition (16 Oct 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007247508
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007247509
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 24.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 315,000 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

Review

‘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

‘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

‘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

'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

‘Taken together…these two books supply the best short history of England written since J.R. Green in the 1870s…all of the familiar stories are here, from Alfred and his cakes, to the passion and elevation of St Diana of Knightsbridge…this is an enterprise of surpassing excellence. For those who wish for a panoramic view of English history…this is a study…that can be highly recommended.’ Times Literary Supplement

From the Back Cover

David Starkey’s magisterial book charts the rise of the British crown from the insurgency of the War of the Roses, through the glory and dangers of the Tudors, to the insolvency of the Stuarts and chaos of the English Civil War, the execution of Charles I, the rule of a commoner who was ‘king in all but name’, the importing of a German dynasty, and the coming-to-terms with modernity under the wise guidance of another German, Victoria’s Prince Consort Albert. An epilogue brings to story up to the present and asks questions about the future.

The crown of England is the oldest surviving political institution in Europe. And yet, throughout this book Starkey emphasises the Crown’s endless capacity to reinvent itself to circumstances and reshape national polity whilst he unmasks the personalities and achievements, the defeats and victories, which lie behind the kings and queens of British history.

Each of these monarchs has contributed, in their own way, to the religion, geography, laws, language and government that we currently live with today. In this book,Starkey demonstrates exactly how these states were arrived at, how these monarchs subtly influenced each other, which battles were won and why, whose whim or failure caused religious tradition to wither or flourish, and which monarchs, through their acumen and strength or single minded determination came to enforce the laws of England.

With his customary authority and verve, David Starkey reignites these personalities to produce an entertaining and masterful account of these figures whose many victories and failures are the building blocks upon which Britain today is built. Far more than a biography of kings and queens, Monarchy is a radical reappraisal of British nationhood, culture and politics, shown through the most central institution in British life.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
David Starkey provides a gripping tale of the various claims to the English and later British throne that there has been throughout the century. What Starkey achieves so well in this book that he does not merely catalogue every King and Queen from King Henry VII to Queen Victoria but rather how the power of the monarchy passed to each Dynasty in turn. A great read and one which is highly recommended for anyone reading about the English monarchy for the first time.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
David Starky's Monarchy - from the middle ages to modernity, is just what it says on the 'tin'... This book explains in sometimes mind boggling detail the true politics and practices that put our monarchs on the throne... someone always had an ulterior motive...(usually power or money or religion) nothing new there!! for those of you that thought that our Royals always inherited the throne by birthright think again!!. This book also has lots of detail about the life and times of England... very interesting and well worth reading.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful intro to this period 19 Jan 2007
Format:Hardcover
I can seldom remember enjoying a history book more - it is a wonderful sweep through the tudors to the present day, and would heartily recommend it for anyone interested in history but without an academic background- it reads so well.

My only concern is that David Starkey wrote a wonderful introduction to the origins of the monarchy (literally the book of series 1 of monarchy)but has jumped several hundered years, how I would have liked him to introduce me to the early mediaeval period. I also wonder where the promised Henry VIII biogrpahy has gone - it was listed for publishing later this year but is no longer listed - that was going to be the highlight of my year!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Slant on British History 3 Oct 2007
By A. I. Mackenzie VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
Being of a confirmed republican slant, this doesn't seem like the best history book for me. I did see some of the Channel 4 programme that this is based on, which was enough to whet my appetite.

However, David Starkey writes clearly and intelligently on how Britain (mostly England let's be honest) has been shaped by monarchy and in turn shaped their Kings and Queens. It moves at a fair clip and is very readable. This book runs form Henry VII to Victoria with a short chapter on the 20th century.

I think he documents the difficulty of balancing the monarch's power with the subjects and the vacillation between monarch, nobles and later parliament and the volatile mix that religion brought into this.

It's also interesting to speculate, for example, would England still be a Catholic nation if Catherine of Aragon bore a surviving son? Henry VIII was almost completely opportunistic and heedless of the consequences , and his legacy was religious schism which essentially lasted until the civil war.

Well worth a read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy 'Crown and Country' 19 Feb 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
Buy 'Crown and Country' as it is the two books 'The Monarchy of England: The Beginnings' and 'Monarchy: From the Middle Ages to Modernity' joined together. Great reading.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Royal read 9 Jan 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
`Monarchy: From the Middle Ages to Modernity' is one of the best non-fictional history books which I have had the pleasure to read. The book's brilliance for me lies in its simplicity, as this is a book which describes the transition of power from one monarch to the next and does not become overly biographical by concentrating too heavily on the life of a single monarch. The book lists each monarch (or Lord Protector!) from King Henry VII to Queen Victoria and concludes with a very brief look at the `ultra-modern' House of Windsor.

This is a book about the transfer of ultimate power within the English, Scottish and British political establishments. It explains how ultimate power was at one point wielded by the reigning monarch and also describes the ways in which this power was eventually leached away and handed to Parliament and then the Prime Minister over the centuries. This is the history of our Government and most importantly our nation explained in a way which is certainly informative, but completely compelling.

This is an excellent way to become acquainted with some of our lesser well known monarchs as the author incorporates fascinating details and facts which breathe life into these long dead heads of state. Starkey definitely leaves the reader wanting more as he gives you just enough details to satisfy curiosity, but not enough to answer all those inevitable additional questions which arise. That's a very clever writing technique as it means that I will have to buy more of his books (or other equivalents) in order to slake my appetite for further knowledge.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read 18 Mar 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Was a bit concerned this could end up another 'dry' history book but not so. It is interesting without being overburdened with too many facts and the illustrations are excellent. Not something you read in one sitting but something to dip into and hold onto on your bookshelf. Highly recommend for history buffs.
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