Volume one is an in-depth examination of how the English monarchy came into being, and how England became a nation state. It begins with Rome, the 'fount' from which all modern western European countries spring. The importance of the contrasting cultural and intellectual heritage of the Anglo-Saxons is underlined. Wessex, round which England coalesced in the ninth and tenth centuries, was a participatory society which balanced an effective monarchy at the centre with institutions of local governement which required - and got - the active involvement of most free men. It was this combination which enabled Wessex to survive and absorb the Viking invasions, and finally to thrive.
Then came the crisis of the Norman invasion when, as one contemporary put it, 'God ordered that the English should cease to be people'. But - as David Starkey demonstrates - the English proved resilient, and within forty years of the battle of Hastings had conquered Normandy. The values and practices of Anglo-Saxon politics had triumphed and the English nation state had been reborn.
This is popular history of the most exciting and challenging kind.
©2004 David Starkey; (P)2004 Harper Collins UK
It's absolutely great when you think you know a little about a subject but then realise you know nothing, your perspective of historical events widens and world appears a little different. This book is about the evolution of the British Monarchy, but it is also as much about the development of the principles of modern parliamentry democracy, the English langauge and so much more. I loved it, and the narration was excellent!
Not a purely factual history but a detailed assessment of the effects changes in monarchy had on the life and times of Britain. Fascinating!! Read by the author himself which gives the audiobook a greater impact.
"A superb introduction to audible"
An excellently read enthralling review of early English history and the development of what the monarchy has come to mean. The characters vividly came to life and it was difficult to pause when ever anything interupted my listening. I wasn't sure how it would compare to David Starkey's excellent television programmes but it exceeded all expectations. The only problem was the story came to an end - what happens next will take me to the next book and I look forward to many hours of further listening.
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