The White King

Charles I, Traitor, Murderer, Martyr
Narrated by: Graeme Malcolm
Length: 10 hrs and 43 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (75 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times best-selling author and master of narrative nonfiction comes the tragic story of Charles I, his warrior queen, Britain's civil wars, and the trial for his life.

Less than 40 years after England's golden age under Elizabeth I, the country was at war with itself. Split between loyalty to the Crown or to Parliament, war raged on English soil. The English Civil War would set family against family, friend against friend, and its casualties were immense - a greater proportion of the population died than in World War I.

At the head of the disintegrating kingdom was King Charles I. In this vivid portrait - informed by previously unseen manuscripts, including royal correspondence between the king and his queen - Leanda de Lisle depicts a man who was principled and brave but fatally blinkered.

Charles never understood his own subjects or court intrigue. At the heart of the drama were the Janus-faced cousins who befriended and betrayed him - Henry Holland, his peacocking servant whose brother, the New England colonialist Robert Warwick, engineered the king's fall; and Lucy Carlisle, the magnetic "last Boleyn girl" and faithless favorite of Charles' maligned and fearless queen.

The tragedy of Charles I was that he fell not as a consequence of vice or wickedness but of his human flaws and misjudgments. The White King is a story for our times, of populist politicians and religious war, of manipulative media and the reshaping of nations. For Charles it ended on the scaffold, condemned as a traitor and murderer yet lauded also as a martyr, his reign destined to sow the seeds of democracy in Britain and the New World.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2017 Leanda de Lisle (P)2017 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Leanda de Lisle uses hitherto unknown manuscripts to offer a sympathetic interpretation of the character of Charles I that is more nuanced than previous treatments thanks partly to a highly original account of his much-maligned queen, Henrietta Maria. The White King interweaves personal, national and international events in a vividly written account of his downfall and eventual execution in 1649." (Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy, professor of history, University of Virginia, and author of The Men Who Lost America)
"De Lisle paints a sympathetic portrait [and] skillfully places Charles's story within the context of religious, international, and domestic political rivalries.... Misogyny, religious prejudice, and prurient propaganda.... This fascinating look at a society in turmoil and the resilient, principled leader who tried to remain true to his religious and dynastic responsibilities will leave readers to determine for themselves the meaning of 'The White King'.... Engrossing." ( Library Journal)
"Charles I has long eluded even the most scholarly of biographers; his personal contradictions, attractive qualities and ludicrous blunders require a writer of rare talent to let us appreciate the long-hidden character of the king." (Andrew Roberts, visiting professor, King's College London, and author of Napoleon: A Life)

What listeners say about The White King

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Enlightening Stuart history

Stuart history is an area about which I know very little, which is one reason I turned to this book. It was without a doubt an incredibly entertaining and enlightening listen. As with Leonie Frieda's biography of Catherine de Medici, I found myself wanting to read still more biographies of some of the characters I met within the narrative. That's always a delightful surprise! I am in awe of de Lisle's extensive research. Her writing style is lively and accessible as well. Malcolm's narration was very well suited to the subject throughout. Highly recommended to those interested in the Stuarts, the English Civil War, or British history.

5 people found this helpful

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Superbly Written and Read Bio of Charles I

This book is clearly and vividly written. If anyone gives much thought to executed monarch King Charles I outside of professors of history, they probably think - oh yeah, he's the one who got his head chopped off because he insisted God had given him the divine right to do whatever he felt like doing. This book presents a much more complicated and meaningful portrait of Charles and the restless, violent world beset with religious and dynastic wars he was born into. The author's brilliant first chapter explains how this complicated world came to be clearly and more succinctly than anything I've read before on the subject (which is a lot.) Then, as Charles' life unfolds, we're presented with a man whose actions become understandable even in a modern context: he was ultimately fighting to preserve the Anglican form of Protestantism from extinction by Cromwell and other radicals, as well as to reassert the monarchy's right and duty to preserve and protect the commoners from domination and exploitation by the military and religious dictatorial forces. He had a flaw as King that was of Shakespearean proportions: he underestimated the ruthlessness of his adversaries.Courtly, loyal, physically brave, family-centered, but tending to a regal icyness in public, he comes across as a dignified king and tender father, rather than as a despotic knucklehead. He went to his death after his sham trial with great resolution and dignity. All this and more is engagingly told by the author. it's an easy and informative listen.

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Well told if slightly biased.

Good easy to follow story even if it is slightly biased to Charles's favor. The book was well written had a lot of detail, explained itself well, and the footnotes were entertaining and usually useful. I recommend this book for anyone intrested in the period.

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Rather dry

A thorough history of Charles I, but the writing is a bit dull, even while the narrator is talented.

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Great Read

I really enjoyed this book from beginning to end. The pace was just right and the detail deep enough to be interesting without becoming boring at any point. Interestingly, the more I read of this book the more I found myself sympathetic towards King Charles. I wonder whether that was the author’s intent. Yes, Charles had tremendous flaws and made terrible mistakes, but he was also a good husband, a caring father, and had plenty of good and very human qualities such as loyalty and even compassion. In the end, it seemed he was a king from another place and time who tried to rule England as an absolute monarch without truly understanding the people, history and traditions of the country he ruled. Had he been able to overcome his flaws and work with Parlament he might have become one of England’s greatest monarchs. In that respect, this is a sad story, and one that is not without modern implications given the divided and polarized opinions in much of the world today.

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Illuminating a reign no one wants to talk about.

A significant piece of the British Royal puzzle has been revealed in this unique telling of the life of Charles Stewart aka Charles the First, King of England.

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If you’re into English Kings, Treachery and Beheadings, this one’s for you.

Wonderfully researched and presented, “The White King” really drills down, mostly from personal writings and letters of the era, into great detail. The reader will wince when the King makes yet another decision that will lead to his ultimate end or he wins a battle that could get him back on the throne. I lost count of the times he skillfully escaped from his captors. That’s why I love this type of historical piece... no one could make this stuff up!

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