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4.2 out of 5 stars17
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 6 August 2007
David Starkey's Monarchy, or Monarchy by David Starkey, has been a fine series, detailing the history of the English Monarchy from the first Anglo-Saxon kings, to the present day.

This is the first of four series, the last of which, as of 6 August 2007, has not been shown. It is composed of six episodes, to the second and third series' five, which cover the Anglo-Saxon, Norman and Plantagenet periods.

1. A Nation State: The Heptarchy, Redwald, Offa, Alfred
2. Ængla Land: Ehtelred, The Vikings, Canute, Edward the Confessor
3. Conquest: The Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror, the Normans
4. Dynasty: Henry II, Richard the Lionheart, John, Magna Carta
5. A United Kingdom: Edward I, II and III
6. Death of a Dynasty: Richard II, Henry IV-VI, The Wars of the Roses

David Starkey is a renowned historian, and thanks to Radio 4s 'Moral Maze' a well known public figure. He is primarily, though, and expert in the Tudor period. He has produced several series for Channel 4 on that subject, namely 'Elizabeth', 'Edward and Mary' and 'The Six Wives of Henry VIII'. He has personally admitted that pre-Tudor England is not particularly familiar to him and he had to research it much more for this series. This does not affect his competence in presenting this series as it is, naturally, only a passing glance at each period. However, his lack of passion for particular topics is occasionally evident.

None the less this is still an entertaining trek, or should that be sprint, through English history and is a good starting point for a casual viewer, especially as it may lead one to investigate a particular subject further.
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on 4 October 2009
David Starkey's Monarchy is an enjoyable romp through English political and monarchical history. My education left huge gaps in the history of England's Kings and Queens, and Starkey series provides an entertaining and informed guide which helps to fill in those gaps.

As other reviewers point out, Starkey can be quite opinionated and often states theories as if they were fact, but historians commonly do this and a historian who presents facts with no opinions would be dull.

There is an imaginative use of locations to avoid having to stare at Starkey's face for too long, although the occasional use of soft focus and colour filters can be annoying.

Overall highly recommended and a fine example of how TV can really bring history to life and make it entertaining as well as informative.
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on 17 June 2011
Having seen, and greatly appreciated Simon Schama's A history of Britain, the comparison between that series and Monarchy is inevitable. Certainly David Starkey is less complex and deep in his approach, but he is more thorough, no Richard or Henry or Edward is left out, with all the key events of their reigns, all the critical moments and gruesome deaths. The language is also less difficult (if slightly monotonous)so teachers of English as a foreign language can use Monarchy even with classes that wouldn't understand professor's Schama rapid speech and learned vocabulary, and also to their own benefit, when a quick revision is needed. I think I will buy the rest of the series.By the way, it would have been useful to know the time span this dvd covers: it goes from the Conquest to the Wars of the Roses
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on 28 May 2010
What a refreshing change to have a knowledgeable presenter recount and interpret the facts as supported by documentary evidence rather than rely on ham fisted re-enactments as is the case with too many historical documentaries.

David Starkey is on top of his game and presents a revealing story of the development of the British monarchy.
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on 3 December 2011
Dr David Starkeys first series on the British Monarchy from the end of Roman Britain to just before the beginning of The Wars of The Roses.

Starkeys approach and presentation to history is dynamic and fast moving, he enjoys the political intrigues and often complicated personal lives of the protagonist's.

Above all Starkey makes the History come to life and you can sense the passion he has for his subject. Although his speciality subject The Tudors is discussed in series 2, this series isn't to be missed and is a good introduction to early english history.

Episode Guide:

1. A Nation State: Dark Ages how Alfred the Great stood against the Viking invasion, which led to the creation of England.

2. Engla Land: The rise of the Anglo-saxons, the wars against the Vikings and 1066.

3.Conquest: Following the Battle of Hastings and subsequent Norman Conquest.

4. Dynasty: The time of Henry II of England

5. A United Kingdom: The reigns of three Edwards:

6. Death of a Dynasty: Follows the reigns of Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V and Henry VI.
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on 27 December 2012
Here David Starkey absolutely excels himself-with this brilliant documentary showing us how riveting English history can be. With the aid of maps, old paintings. artefacts and castles, landscapes and acting etc, Starkey brings us through to a deeper understanding of England from the Anglo-Saxon invasion/settlement in the sixth and seventh centuries after the demise in the fifth century of Roman rule until the exciting period of the Wars of the Roses culminating in the defeat Richard III by Henry VII.

He reminds us that the Anglo-Saxon invasion was an even more pivotal turning point in British history than the Norman Invasion several centuries later, as the Saxons imprinted an entire new culture and language in the land they would name England, though since there. Since he illustrates that the Saxons were far fewer in number than the indigenous Celts they conquered, it is obvious to surmise that the Saxons did not substantially displace the Celts but rather formed a ruling elite over them as the Normans would later.
The first king whose reign Starkey deals with is King Offa of Mercia but focuses more on the reign of King Alfred who unified England and defeated the Danish invaders. He reminds us that in nearly every reign from Harold until Elizabeth I there was some sort of civil war or rebellion going on.

He illustrates well King William I's cruel and bloody butchering of the peasants of Northern England from 1068 to 1070 known as the Harrying of the North. the civil war between Empress Matilda and King Stephen are known as the time 'when Christ and his Saints slept' is illustrated quite succinctly and colourfully, as is the reign of bad King John forced to sign the first document of human rights in medieval times known as the Magna Carta and how going back on everything he agreed in this charter led to a rebellion which ended his rule. Similarly with Henry III and the Simon de Monfort rebellion but Henry crushed that one and de Monfort killed. Succeeded by one of England's strongest and most ruthless kings Edward I who hammered Wales into the English crown and persecuted and blodily supressed the Scots, certainly not a respecter of national self-determination.

Unfortunately in one passage he says that unlike today where the lower classes are lawless, in the middle ages it was the nobility that were lawless and belligerent, a rather unfortunate example of British snobbery showing through in that statement. What about university student yobs who took part in the Tottenham riots on 2011 and the various acts of anarchy by middle class radicals we witness in England today?
But I digress , he takes up through the wars and political machinations up to The War of the Roses of which he then provides a really engaging, educational account of a really exciting set of events in English history.
At a time when English history is being downscaled in schools and universities in order not to offend certain groups, the English children and young people are being robbed of a central part of their heritage and identity. It is thanks to great historians like Mr Starkey that we can keep England's great history alive.
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on 2 January 2010
A big 'congratulations' to David Starkey for this Monarchy series. I have bought all three of them and his attention to detail as well as his easy-listening style of narration make this a series to be enjoyed over and over.
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on 12 February 2012
I am delighted with this purchase. If you want to know about history get this series
David Starkey at his best.
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on 13 April 2011
the 1st of the monarchy series you must buy the other 2 as well. a fantastic taster to wet the appitite for more.
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on 26 July 2013
David Starkey presents the history of the Monarchy in Britain in clear and concise commentary, unravelling for the viewer the intrigues and the machinations which had gone on; and the complicated lines of successions.
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