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Stephen and Matilda: The Civil War of 1139-53 [Illustrated] [Paperback]

Jim Bradbury
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 Sep 2005
Stephen & Matilda

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press; New edition edition (15 Sep 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750937939
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750937931
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 185,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Jim Bradbury taught history at Brunel University College before taking early retirement to devote himself to writing. He has written widely on medieval military history.

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good book on the period 11 Feb 2011
By Martinf
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I struggled to find a book that covered this conflict. The only other ones I have seen were in hardback and expensive. There are lots of general histories of 12th century England but I wanted one devoted to the civil war.

So I bought it because it was the one that was available at the time, but was delighted when it proved to be a good read based on good research.

My assessment of the authors primary position is that Stephen deserves a higher reputation than is generally given to him by historians. He explains why some of the decisions that to us seem bad (like returning Maud to his enemies) where at the time understandable.

He also explains why there were only two battles of any size and covers the "castle war" very well.

So I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good introduction to "The Anarchy" (the Pillars of the Earth period)
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars `nothing but strife, evil and robbery' 26 Feb 2012
By BobH
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Jim Bradbury has produced a first-rate analysis of `The Anarchy', the period 1138-53 dominated by the struggle between Stephen and Matilda for the kingdom of England. `In the days of this king [Stephen] there was nothing but strife, evil and robbery' sums up the continuation of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle made at Peterborough.
Throughout the author makes shrewd comment on events of this tangled period. For example, regarding problems facing Stephen during the period 1138-9 along the Welsh Marches `given the geographical positioning of these places, and the political, feudal and personal links between most of them and Robert of Gloucester, ..... this was no accidental rash of rebellions, but a declaration in arms to accompany the defiance in words of their absent leader in Normandy'(P.66) . Stephen's apparent weakness in releasing Matilda when she'd been betrayed into his hands at Arundel is explained as being uncertain as to what to do with her and being more interested in dealing with her half-brother, Robert of Gloucester, whom Stephen saw as the main threat. That explanation appears totally acceptable - especially as Stephen had already outraged many by his arrest of the three bishops in 1138 and Western Europe was slipping into that idealised mythology, centred on Arthurian legend, which would mark the exalted place (in fiction if not reality) of NOBLE women in the High Middle Ages.
On the one hand, Bradbury sometimes looks at 12th century motivation and activity through 20th century eyes. So there is an excessive understanding of Stephen's failure to punish Robert of Bampton and Baldwin de Revers for their rebellions (PP. 27-31).
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rather dry 15 May 2008
This book presents a fairly persuasive case that the period of the civil war between these two was not quite the uniformly awful anarchy that is commonly depicted, and that Stephen was not the weak ruler with poor judgement that he is commonly held to be. However, I found the writing rather dry, with too much description of military manoeuvres, people switching sides and gaining or losing land, and not enough analysis, hence the relatively low rating for a non-fiction work about a period of history I am interested in.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stephen and Matilda. 13 Nov 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had to read up on Stephen and Matilda for a talk on the subject, so had to be quick, as i teach ancient history and was,nt too conversant with this period, i found it a little heavy going at times but accurate and well written, all in all i liked it and would buy from the same author.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very readable.. 20 April 2010
By Rufus
I like this period of history, the Dark Ages. My favourite king was always Stephen although I couldn't tell you why... I always believed him to be a weak, vacilliating king but Mr. Bradburys tome corrects this view, and many other inaccuracies as well. Information regarding the Dark ages is scant, and the research for this book must have taken a coons age to compile. Once the author is armed with the facts the reader has then to be entertained and informed in writing, and Mr. Bradbury does a more than an adequate job.
The battle of Lincoln is particually well covered but less so the White Ship saga which is glossed over rather too quickly considering the effect it had on the line of royal succession.
For anyone interested in Englands first (true) civil war, this is as good as it gets. Unless some Norman church throws up a hitherto unrevealed horde of ancient documents, Mr. Bradbury has written the last word on Stephen, Matilda and the conflict which so devasted England.
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