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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A DECENT BIOGRAPHY AT LAST!!,
This review is from: Henry I (Yale English Monarchs Series) (Hardcover)This is the first major biography on this monarch, and it didn't disappoint. Henry I is one of the most important Kings of England, and the lack of information on this monarch has been unfortunate, but it has been rectified by this book. It is a thorough telling of his reign and the importance of it in the creation of England, and the establishment of the monarchy.
It covers the major aspects of his reign his family, the social aspect of the country at the time and financial policy followed by the King, which makes it an enthralling read. It's a real shame that the author died, he has made a major contribution to our understanding of the medieval world, and he will be sadly missed.
All I hope is that other historians are encouraged by this work to expand on the work of the author.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of outstanding scholarship,
This review is from: Henry I (Yale English Monarchs Series) (Paperback)The English Monarchs series has brought the highest standards of historical scholarship to the wide audience. Leading historians scrutinize the lives of the kings and queens of England and explore the cumulative impact of the longest permanent governing institution in Europe.
This engrossing biography on Henry I paints a new portrait of Henry I, son of William the Conqueror. Henry was less brutal, greedy, or repressive king as historic reputation suggests, but he was the ultimate pragmatist. C. Warren Hollister describes vividly Henry's life and reign in a time of fundamental change in the Anglo-Norman world.
For me this is the standard biography on King Henry I, a work of outstanding scholarship.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent account of Henry I,
This review is from: Henry I (Yale English Monarchs Series) (Paperback)This is a thoroughly enjoyable study of Henry I. It is both scholarly and highly readable at the same time, which is no mean achievement.
Hollister not only provides the biographical details of Henry I, but also firmly puts him the political background of post-Conquest England, and studies his relations with his magnates and the church (especially the Investiture controversy and Henry's patronage of Cluniac monasticism), as well as the growth of royal administration and centralisation (witnessed by the 1130 Pipe Roll). Henry comes across as a highly intelligent, pragmatic and firm - but also fair and loyal, even forgiving in some cases - ruler.
Unfortunately Hollister died before completing the book but the final three chapters are completed by Amanda Clark Frost based on Hollister's notes and previous thoughts on the topics at hand. For me, the most enjoyable and intriguing chapter was the chapter one, which discusses the sources available to the study of Henry I - such as Orderic Vitalis, William of Malmesbury, William of Jumieges and Henry of Huntingdon amongst many others. Hollister discusses the advantages and pitfalls of the sources, including unfortunately lost or incomplete manuscripts.
In conclusion, this is highly recommendable as a readable and authoritative account of Henry I.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Henry - Consolidator of the Anglo-Norman Monarchy,
This review is from: Henry I (Yale English Monarchs Series) (Paperback)Hollister's tome on Henry I of England is an impressive work in tribute to an impressive king. The essence of Henry's long reign is captured in great detail. Hollister places Henry's significance in twelfth century Europe. I found Hollister readable and knowledgeable. This is the third book I have read from English Monarch Series. I also highly recommend William William the Conqueror: The Norman Impact Upon England (English Monarchs) (English Monarchs Series) (Henry's father) by Davis Douglas and William Rufus (English Monarchs Series) (Henry's brother) by Frank Barlow. I also read Conqueror's Son: Duke Robert Curthose, Thwarted King by Katherine Lack which seems mostly unbalanced, but does provide an alternate perspective.
Hollister begins by discussing the source material for our knowledge of the era. He discusses the monastic chroniclers that wrote about England and Normandy describing their backgrounds. Hollister writes of Henry's youth and education. Henry's learned education being a much debated topic of historians. Hollister explores Henry's life and the history of England and Normandy before Henry becomes king. The battles between William Rufus (King William II of England) and Robert Curthose (Duke Robert II of Normandy) are briefly described. Henry's inheritance and his purchase of lands and title (Count of Cotentin) in Western Normandy are examined. Hollister argues that Henry's holdings were extensive. However, Henry soon runs afoul of Robert Curthose and his possessions are seized. His baronial friends desert him once William Rufus begins to support Robert Curthose.
Henry later becomes reconciled with William Rufus and they work together to outmaneuver Robert Curthose. Hollister then writes of Henry taking the throne of England after William Rufus's death. Hollister defers to Barlow and does not examine the differences in the chroniclers on the death of William Rufus. Hollister states that Henry's ascension to the monarchy is not usurpation of the throne. This is a point I disagree with. To me this was clearly an usurpation of the throne. Henry was better suited to be king, but that doesn't make stealing the throne from Curthose any less underhanded. Henry was supported by magnates who had been supporters of William Rufus and had a vested interest with keeping Robert Curthose from obtaining the throne. Hollister then tells of Robert Curthose's return to Normandy (he was on route from Jerusalem after completing the First Crusade) and his invasion of England to recover the throne. Hollister describes the strange story of Robert Curthose's overwhelming coalition which lands in England and waits for Henry to arrive instead of attacking the treasury at Winchester. The peace treaty that Robert then agrees to is his downfall as it strongly favored Henry. Hollister examines the potential causes, but the true story will never be known.
Hollister then follows Henry's efforts to consolidate England. Henry's amiable split with Anslem the Archbishop of Canterbury over lay investiture and ecclesiastic homage are explored throughout the book. Henry disseised the lands and titles of Robert Curthose's supporters in England. This is another subject that is much debated. Henry's methods were definitely effective, but they seem to reflect a master plan of consolidation in preparation for the invasion of Normandy. Hollister points out that Henry was exploiting loopholes in the peace treaty with Curthose. Henry's justification for invading Normandy were equality flimsy pretenses. He was essentially attacking Curthose for the same activities Henry was engaging in England. Here again, I think Hollister is too nice to Henry. Hollister sticks to the narrative of the story while discussing the conquering of Normandy.
Hollister continues to follow Henry's reign over England and Normandy. This includes the suppression of the Normandy rebellions of 1111-1113, 1118-1119, and 1123-1124, Henry marrying off his offspring (including illegitimate) to form alliances with neighbors, the White Ship disaster (death of his heir William Adelin), the Canterbury / York primacy battle. Henry victorious in Normandy is frequently at conflict with his neighbors and rebel barons until the death of William Clito, Robert Curthose's son and heir. These interruptions to Henry's peace are limited to Normandy as England enjoys over thirty years of safety except from taxes.
Hollister also describes Henry's succession planning after his son's death on the White Ship. He discusses the claimants and their supporters during Henry's reign and afterward. Henry's selection is challenged after his death and what results is civil war between Stephen of Blois, his favored nephew, and Empress Maud, his daughter and selected heir.
The final chapters examine Henry's handling of his magnates, execution of law and justice during the reign, and his treatment of the Catholic Church. These chapters draw on the earlier material and focus on specific topics. Hollister explains that Henry was on better terms with his magnates than William Rufus based on appearance of major magnates on Henry's charters. He gives further backing to his position with reference to the Pipe Roll of 1130, monastic chronicler stories, etc.
What I thought really stood out was Henry's treatment of the church. His contributions to monasteries, particularly of Cluny alignment, and churches are extraordinary. This is highlighted in great detail by monastic records and chronicles. Hollister shows he was a defender of the Church and remained an interested party to ecclesiastic activities.
What results is a great historical record of a king that may not have been politically correct in all his actions, but was certainly effective in consolidating the Anglo-Norman monarchy.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book on King Henry I Anywhere,
This review is from: Henry I (Yale English Monarchs Series) (Hardcover)This is a superb biography on an unjustly forgotten king. King Henry I was king during an interesting time. The son of William the Conqueror, he was a very different ruler than his father and brother. Professor Hollister writes an extremely readable book that makes clear how just how much changed during Henry's reign. Henry was an educated king for starters. Or at least he was educated when compared to the previous Norman kings. It was even said that he could read. This book is divided into sections. The first 300 pages are basically a straight narrative of his reign while the last few hundred are dedicated to specific topics such as Kings and Magnates, Law and Governance, and King and Church. Unfortunately Hollister died before the book was completed and the last sections had to be completed by his assistant Amanda Frost Clark. These last sections are rather more stilted than the first but then the narrative was bound to be more interesting anyways. If you're interested in this little-known king then this book is for you. If you've never heard of him then pick this up now. It's that good.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History book.,
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This review is from: Henry I (Yale English Monarchs Series) (Paperback)delivered on-time & in good condition. Eldest Son wanted this book as he loves history of Royal families. Enjoyed it immensely & will probably be asking for books in the same series.
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Henry I (Yale English Monarchs Series) by C Warren Hollister (Paperback - 15 Aug 2003)