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HISTORY

The English Monarchs

1.
Charles Ross
Edward IV

In his own time Edward IV was seen as an able and successful king who rescued England from the miseries of civil war and provided the country with firm, judicious, and popular government. The prejudices of later historians diminished this high reputation, until recent research confirmed Edward as a ruler of substantial achievement, whose methods and policies formed the foundation of early Tudor government.

This classic study by Charles Ross places the reign firmly in the context of late medieval power politics, analyzing the methods by which a usurper sought to retain his throne and reassert the power of a monarchy seriously weakened by the feeble rule of Henry VI. Edward’s relations with the politically active classes—the merchants, gentry, and nobility—form a major theme, and against this background Ross provides an evaluation of the many innovations in government on which the king’s achievement rests.

2.
Ragnhild Hatton
George I

In 1714 George Ludwig, the fifty-eight-year-old elector of Brunswick-Luneburg, became, as George I, the first of the Hanoverian dynasty to rule Britain. Until his death in 1727 George served as both elector of Hanover and British monarch. An enigmatic figure whose real character has long been concealed by anti-Hanoverian propaganda, George emerges in this groundbreaking biography as an impressive ruler who welcomed the responsibilities the accession brought him and set out to bring culture to what he considered the unsophisticated English nation.

Ragnhild Hatton’s biography is the only comprehensive account of George’s life and reign. It draws on a wide range of archival sources in several languages to illuminate the fascinating details of George’s early life and dynastic crises, his plans and ambitions for the British nation, the impact of his rationalist ideas, and his accomplishments as king. The book also examines the king’s private life, his family relationships in both Prussia and England, his private interest in music and the arts, and the improvement of his British and Hanoverian properties.

3.
E.A. Smith
George IV

This biography of George IV, king between 1820 and 1830, provides a full and objective reassessment of the monarch’s character, reputation and achievement. Previous writers have tended to accept the unfavourable verdicts of the king’s contemporaries that he was a dissolute, pleasure-loving dilettante and a feeble and ineffective ruler responsible for the decline of the power and reputation of the monarchy in the early nineteenth century. Now E.A. Smith offers a new view of George IV, one that does not minimise the king’s faults but focuses on the positive qualities of his achievement in politics and in the patronage of the arts.

4.
Bertram Wolffe
Henry VI

In this widely acclaimed biography, Bertram Wolffe challenges the traditional view of Henry VI as an unworldly, innocent, and saintly monarch and offers instead a finely drawn but critical portrait of an ineffectual ruler. Drawing on widespread contemporary evidence, Wolffe describes the failures of Henry s long reign from 1422 to 1471, which included the collapse of justice, the loss of the French territories, and the final disintegration of his government. He argues that the posthumous cult of Henry was promoted by Henry VII as a way of excusing his uncle s political failures while enhancing the image of the dynasty. This edition includes a new foreword by John Watts that discusses the book and its place in the evolving literature.
Reviews of the earlier edition: A brilliant biography that brings us as near as we are ever likely to come to this elusive personality. Sunday Times (London)
A powerful, compulsively readable portrait. Observer
Much learning, skillfully deployed as here, evokes pleasure as well as admiration. R.L. Storey, Times Literary Supplement”

5.
S. B. Chrimes
Henry VII

Founder of the Tudor dynasty, Henry VII was a crucial figure in English history. In this acclaimed study of the king’s life and reign, the distinguished historian S. B. Chrimes explores the circumstances surrounding Henry’s acquisition of the throne, examines the personnel and machinery of government, and surveys the king’s social, political, and economic policies, law enforcement, and foreign strategy. This edition of the book includes a new critical introduction and bibliographical updating by George Bernard.

6.
David C. Douglas
William the Conqueror

In “William the Conquerer, ” Professor Douglas analyzes the causes and the true character of the Norman impact upon England in the eleventh century. The work is both a study of Anglo-Norman history and a biography of a man whose personal career was spectacular, and as reviewers have remarked, it is distinguished by a wealth of scholarship linked to a lucid and agreeable style.

7.
Sarah Foot
Aethelstan: The First King of England

The powerful and innovative King Æthelstan reigned only briefly (924-939), yet his achievements during those eventful fifteen years changed the course of English history. He won spectacular military victories (most notably at Brunanburh), forged unprecedented political connections across Europe, and succeeded in creating the first unified kingdom of the English.

To claim for him the title of “first English monarch” is no exaggeration.
In this nuanced portrait of Æthelstan, Sarah Foot offers the first full account of the king ever written. She traces his life through the various spheres in which he lived and worked, beginning with the intimate context of his family, then extending outward to his unusual multiethnic royal court, the Church and his kingdom, the wars he conducted, and finally his death and legacy. Foot describes a sophisticated man who was not only a great military leader but also a worthy king. He governed brilliantly, developed creative ways to project his image as a ruler, and devised strategic marriage treaties and gift exchanges to cement alliances with the leading royal and ducal houses of Europe. Æthelstan’s legacy, seen in the new light of this masterful biography.


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