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The White Ship: Conquest, Anarchy and the Wrecking of Henry I’s Dream Kindle Edition
THE #2 SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
‘As gripping as any thriller. History doesn't get any better than this’ BILL BRYSON
’A brilliant read … Game of Thrones but in the real world’ ANTHONY HOROWITZ
PICKED AS A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR 2020 BY THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, THE GUARDIAN, THE DAILY MAIL AND THE DAILY EXPRESS.
The sinking of the White Ship in 1120 is one of the greatest disasters England has ever suffered. In one catastrophic night, the king’s heir and the flower of Anglo-Norman society were drowned and the future of the crown was thrown violently off course.
In a riveting narrative, Charles Spencer follows the story from the Norman Conquest through to the decades that would become known as the Anarchy: a civil war of untold violence that saw families turn in on each other with English and Norman barons, rebellious Welsh princes and the Scottish king all playing a part in a desperate game of thrones. All because of the loss of one vessel – the White Ship – the medieval Titanic.
‘Highly enjoyable’ Simon Heffer
‘Brilliant’ Dan Jones
‘Fascinating’ Tom Bower
The #2 Sunday Times bestseller on Sunday 18 June 2021
‘How a drunk teenager shipwrecked the monarchy … As colourful and racy narrative history goes, this absolutely gallops … Whips through a hundred years of complex history from the Norman Conquest to Henry II’ Daily Mail
“Vividly conjures up this half-forgotten medieval tragedy and its consequences”Daily Mail, Books of the Year
“An epic, gripping history of hubris, piety, treachery, happenstance, rebellion and slaughter.” Catholic Herald
‘Rooted in the medieval chronicles, but crafted like a Hollywood thriller. Spencer is one of the finest narrative historians around’
Mail on Sunday
‘Charles Spencer is a gifted storyteller … Pivoted on one single, tragic winter evening. It is an event and a period of history that should be better known, and now it will be’
'Spencer proves himself more than a match for the story. He guides the reader well through the dramatic twists and turns of these years, which first placed Henry on the throne, then seemed set to deny the succession of his progeny. Spencer has a particularly good eye for detail, enriching his account with vivid pen-portraits of the main players … Fast-paced and immensely enjoyable'
‘Neglected by popular historians, [Henry I] … has found a master storyteller in Charles Spencer … rooted in excellent historical research … a lyrical, vivid and compelling portrait. He succeeds in bringing to life huge characters from nearly a millennium ago’
‘An exhilarating narrative full of incident and insight. Here is the story, marvellously told, of the post-Conquest kings – and one almost-queen – of England: unpredictable, violently dramatic, and never less than compelling’
'Told with verve and an exceptional eye for detail, this is the story of how a single catastrophe changed the course of British history forever. Dramatic, compelling and utterly addictive’
About the Author
- ASIN : B084X4QP56
- Publisher : William Collins (17 September 2020)
- Language : English
- File size : 8723 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 353 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 0008296804
- Best Sellers Rank: 73,436 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
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Top reviews from other countries
This book deals with the lives of the sons of the Conqueror and the difficulties arising from the separation of England and Normandy under different rulers upon the death of the conqueror. The problem of the nobility owning land on both sides of the channel under different rulers giving rise to real and substantial conflicts of interest and loyalty. A problem (only temporarily) resolved by the succession of the first Plantagenet king, Henry II.
The book concentrates on the life of Henry I one of England’s more successful kings and the effects of the White Ship disaster. The comparison of having a strong or weak king is well made out. The anarchy that followed the death of Henry I leaving no male heir to the succession is clearly explained. I was pleased to find out that the first episode of Cadfeal is based on historical fact, namely, the siege of Shrewsbury by King Stephen.
This book ought to be read and be on the bookshelves of anyone interested in this period of a English history. The book is in a very readable style, a real page turner. If all history was written and explained in this way, there would be no difficulty in history being taught in every school in the land.
The Earl delivers: the book is in three essential parts: the historical backdrop to the White Ship's sinking; the accident itself; and the turbulent aftermath. The accident is very well done: reliable records and documentation are clearly there and Spencer avails of them to give a detailed and rounded picture. It's with what comes before and after that he has trouble. The records are just not there, beyond a list of battles, crownings, beheadings, imprisonments, royal marriages and so on and so on. It is simply not known what people 1,000 years ago looked like, what they thought or felt, what their moral struggles were, or what they said to each other. Without this, both the preliminaries and aftermath of the sinking become something of a litany or catalogue of disjointed events that, persevere as one may, is not exactly readable. It also leads to so many characters and personages being referred to that I, for one, tended to lose my way.
None of this is Spencer's fault. In my view, the book is as well done as it possibly could be for a non-specialist readership. It's just that not enough detail is known about the era. It's why historical fiction works in this context: with a novel, the author can fill in the (wide) gaps in knowledge with conjecture, provided that conjecture does not contradict known history. Still, recommended.
Set out into three sections, and also with copious notes, maps, pictures and so on this book will give you a very good idea of what went on from the taking of England by William the Conqueror and what happened next. Why Charles Spencer has excelled in this book is because not only does he give us the facts such as the rule of Henry I and the sinking of the White Ship, but he also brings into play the superstitions and perceived ways of doing things in this particular era. With Henry I gaining his lands and bringing peace and law so this was all to be brought to a shuddering halt with the drowning of his only legitimate son and his wishes for a successor. With his daughter named as the next monarch of the country, so we see here that this was not to be the ideal of many, and so war broke out giving rise to what is called The Anarchy, putting a halt on the nation’s peace and stability.
Taking in all the different elements, such as sides and legitimacy so we see here how the plans for royal succession started to alter, with just one incident and the accidental death of Henry’s son. Of such minor events so matters of great import can be altered, and as we see here these incidents can cause untold deaths and suffering for all. With backing for sides coming from the mainland continent so we see how what happened brought into play many outside influences and how this was to culminate. Because of what happened in these momentous events so England was to be ruled by the Plantagenets from Henry II through to Richard III, and within this period society was to become altered drastically, paving the way for our modern nation.
Reading and understanding this book will give you a very good grounding on a piece of history that was to lead to the making of modern Britain with all its good and bad bits, and with which we still have to live and contend with today.