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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monarchy, 31 Mar. 2010
This review is from: Monarchy: England and her Rulers from the Tudors to the Windsors (Audio CD)
Much of what has been written about Dr David Starkey is that he is rude, and opinionated and not afraid to tell publishers that he is worth every penny they have paid him. He has also made the suggestion that modern female historians have "feminised" history, and concentrated more on the social side and woman rather than on dates and facts of the more traditional teachings. However, despite these flaws, if you read any of the books he has written or watched any of the television programmes he has presented it is clear, that he is a man with a mission, and that is to inform the British public with the uninteresting facts we conveniently forgot when we left school, in a very appealing way. "Monarchy" was one the first book's that brought Dr Starkey to the publics attention, and he has since gone on to expand in other books on some of the themes introduced in "Monarchy".
The story of Monarchy is as old as the time itself, but this tale starts with the late middles ages and the court of the first Tudor Monarch Henry VII and follows the intricacies of court life as well as the political entanglements through to the end of the Queen Victoria's reign. This book is more than a story of Monarchs and their rulership it is also a story about the Imperial Crown that each wore for their coronations, and the changes each monarch made to it, to fit in with the alliances or political dominances of the time period. It is therefore surprising that there is a whole chapter dedicated to Oliver Cromwell, but then of course, Cromwell was one the signatories of Charles I's death warrant and went on to become the Lord Protector, which was a king, in all ways but without the title of King. The way, in which Dr Starkey writes, makes some of the very complicated issues of British politics and monarchy, easily understood, and he has a way of engaging with the reader, through using his own very down to earth analysis of events.
While this publication is aimed at the general public, it could be a useful starting point for anyone studying the history of the British monarchy and it would aid further enjoyment if, before reading the book, you had been able to watch the television series that accompanies it, as the introduction to each chapter tends to jump forward to an event that seem to be a conclusion rather than a beginning, yet this is only a minor criticism. Without a broad understanding of British history one could easily become confused as much of the story relies in the reader knowing who some central characters are, and a little of the religious struggles that influenced so many of the events during the Tudor and Stewart reigns.
Dr Starkey unlike many of his contempories has done much of the research for the book himself and it shows in the way that it is written. It is like he is "talking" to you and wanting you to argue or question some of the points he raises. Not only do you find your self answering the questions, but it seems to be able to create the spark that can easily take your mind off on a completely different tangent. Such as when Dr Starkey says "The unthinkable act of killing the king was drawing even closer". Had what Charles I done really so bad that he deserved to die, were not the Roundheads just as guilty?
In the same way that the content is not like that of many dusty old history books, the illustrations are not the usual ones you would find of Kings and Queens in most modern history books. Dr Starkey has been very carful in the selection, using portraits of ministers, and influential people of the age, as well as some very detailed drawings, such as the one of Charles II providing the kings sacred touch to cure the skin condition "Scrofula" in common folk. The illustration clearly demonstrates the belief that the kings could cure you, but in reality this had more do to with the faith that the monarch was chosen by God and as such had control over all.
As stated at the beginning, Dr Starkey is on a mission, and after reading "Monarchy", it is clear that he has achieved it, the very last pages of the Epilogue, bring the story right up to date with the birth of the "The Family Monarchy" and the media's role in keeping them headline news
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Monarchy: England and her Rulers from the Tudors to the Windsors
Monarchy: England and her Rulers from the Tudors to the Windsors by David Starkey (Audio CD - 17 Sept. 2007)
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