Crown & Sceptre: A New History of the British Monarchy, from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth II

Tracy Borman. Atlantic Monthly, $32 (576p) ISBN 978-0-8021-5910-6
Historian and novelist Borman (Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him) delivers an elegant and evenhanded chronicle of the British monarchy. Spanning from the Norman Conquest in the 11th century to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decampment to America in 2020, Borman’s capsule histories highlight achievements (e.g., Elizabeth I’s defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588), as well as scandals (e.g., Prince Andrew’s friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein), and lucidly explain court dynamics and political, religious, and military matters. Documenting the fates of Henry VIII’s six wives, Borman eschews sensationalism to track Henry’s “transition from carefree kingship to active monarchy” and the effects of his marriages on England as a whole. A brief chapter on “England’s shortest-reigning monarch,” Lady Jane Grey, who was queen for nine days after the death of Edward VI in July 1553, analyzes the Tudor era’s anxieties over female sovereigns, which helped shape the subsequent reigns of Mary I and her half-sister, Elizabeth I. Delving into the mystery of who killed the two sons of Edward IV in 1483, Borman suggests that Richard III may have been framed for the murders by Henry Tudor. Enlightening and accessible, this is a superb introduction to one of the world’s most enduring monarchies. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 09/29/2021
Release date: 12/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 978-0-8021-5911-3
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