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Henry I (The English Monarchs Series) Paperback – September 1, 2003

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Product Details

  • Series: The English Monarchs Series
  • Paperback: 588 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300098294
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300098297
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #459,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Henry I (who reigned over England and Normandy from 1100 to 1135) is remembered primarily for "Conan's Leap," when he heaved the treacherous Conan Pilatus from a tower, and for his death from an alleged surfeit of lampreys. He deserves better from history, and Hollister's magisterial biography, 40 years in the making, accords him fuller regard. Begun in 1962, the long-delayed manuscript perished in a 1990 fire. Hollister began reconstructing the book but died in 1997, before its completion. Frost, his former Ph.D. student, finished the job. They persuasively cast Henry (youngest of William the Conqueror's three sons) as a major English monarch. Left no land by his father, Henry outwitted one brother; the other one died in a hunting accident. King at 31, Henry I rebuilt baronial alliances, established a charter rectifying governmental abuses, married twice and, having lost a legitimate son, left his kingdom to daughter Matilda. She, too, had to fight to hold onto it, because Henry's nephew Stephen, who suffered stomach problems ("his diarrhea probably determined the history of England... between 1135 and 1154"), initially kept her from the crown. Hollister spares nothing about Henry's reign, yet convinces that his rule was orderly and reasonable in the context of those turbulent times. He "surrounded himself with systematizers" and sought only to reconstruct his father's domains. The drama lay in sibling rivalries, church-state clashes and the ever-changing followers and opponents whom the astute king co-opted, outmaneuvered or crushed. Henry, writes Hollister, "transformed his court from a gang of itinerant predators into a company of well-controlled courtiers," but one almost needs a scorecard to keep track of the players. Illus. not seen by PW. (June)Forecast: Primarily for scholars, this may find a larger readership with its vivid portrait of unruly medieval England.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The posthumous magnum opus of prodigious medievalist Hollister (Univ. of California, Santa Barbara), this work was edited and completed by former student Frost after Hollister's death in 1997. In 1994, the final draft was destroyed by a fire, and Hollister spent his final years reconstructing a little over nine chapters. After an initial chapter on sources and settings, six chapters detail the monarch's life and reign (1100-35). A conclusion follows three thematic chapters on Henry's exemplary baronial and Church management, the foundations of efficient tax collection, and the courts. His coronation charter modeled the later Magna Carta. Hollister refutes misconceptions of Henry as violent, grasping, and tyrannical, arguing that peace and ordered administration were his accomplishments the latter achievement wrongly attributed to grandson Henry II. Henry I established the exchequer, stopped private wars and the ravishing of commoners, gave courts substantive power, and benefited religious establishments. His marriage to a descendant of Saxon kings unified rival lines. Hollister's prose employs good narrative flow; Frost's completion blends seamlessly. This first modern scholarly overview of Henry I's life and reign should become the standard. Highly recommended for academic libraries. Nigel Tappin, Lake of Bays P.L., Huntsville, Ont.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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See all 14 customer reviews
This is highlighted in great detail by monastic records and chronicles.
It was in pursuit of Guerard's First Hundred Years War that led me to this book by C. Warren Hollister on King Henry I of England (1100 C.E. until 1135 C.E.).
Brian Wayne Wells
I highly recommend this book to all who are interested in English history.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By J. Angus Macdonald on February 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I will admit right up front that I was a student of Warren Hollister and loved him dearly. That being said, this is a grand book that has come to light in the face of great adversity. Despite the destruction of many of his initial notes in a fire and despite his own untimely death, both his own research, his love of detail, and the kindness of his friends have surfaced in this volume.
The best book to compare this to is W.L. Warren's "Henry II". Like that book, this is an attempt to get down in concrete fashion all the hard facts of an incredible monarch; in some ways Hollister is arguing against Warren in that Hollister is showing that many of the significant legal changes generally credited to Henry II, such as the expansion of circuit courts, actually had their origins during the reign of Henry I.
This is a methodical work; it is not light reading nor is it meant to be. It is, literally, the work of a lifetime, one historian's ode to a great figure from history. Yet it is not truly a panagaeic either; Hollister shows Henry's warts as well as his glories. The point is that in many ways this is Old School History. It is about kings, courts, wars, laws, and all the rest. It is not a stylish book with a lot of witty turns of phrase (though there are some). First and foremost this is a book of careful argumentation, a book that pushes even more strongly than in the past C. Warren Hollister's unflagging belief in the 12th Century Renaissance.
Warren was a great and charming man, endlessly hospitable, always kind, and a man who had a true care for his students. In each of them he planted a respect for documents -- how much can be inferred, more importantly how much cannot, how to honestly show what you have learned, and how to both back that up and prove it.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This biography follows the typical outline of books in the
English Monarch series, namely a set of chapters describing
the life chronologically, followed by a set of chapters
discussing key topics (in this case, on topics such as
administrative reforms, and relationships with the church),
followed by a concluding chapter which discusses the end of the
monarch's life and sums up contributions.
What makes this biography outstanding is the tone: Hollister
kept the tone slightly informal and and active -- as a result
the chronological sections are lively and the topical sections
feel like an informed but informal seminar.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Putman on January 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
Henry I was written under extraordinary circumstances. As noted in other reviews. Warren Hollister had the bulk of his research, including his entire research library and all his research note cards, destroyed in a California fire and had to reconstruct his book almost from the beginning. Then he passed away with the book unfinished and his former student and later editor for the University of California Press, Dr. Amanda Clark Frost, completed the book for him based on Hollister's outline materials. Hollister himself wrote up through part of Chapter 9 on Law and Governance and Frost wrote Chapter 10 on King and Church and Chapter 11, the concluding chapter on Henry's reign. Hollister's work is brilliant, a masterpiece of combining historical details with clear and engaging writing. Hollister ultimately presents Henry as the Great Compromiser. This was especially true on the Lay Investiture controversy and with several of the important barons. I was struck by the difference in the way that the people themselves viewed "England" compared to just a generation earlier. A stronger sense of a unified country had emerged and Henry's ability to be flexible and inclusive had a great deal to do with this. The book includes a cast of interesting characters besides Henry such as his relationship with Archbishop Anselm in the first part of his reign when Anselm was torn between his loyalty to the king and his loyalty to an increasingly powerful papacy. Another memorable (if often disgusting) character is the sadistic Robert of Belleme who enjoyed torturing his prisoners to death and whose people were so abused that at one point they invited Henry to take over Robert's lands. Henry's relationship with his often cowardly brother, Robert Curthose, is also brought to life by Hollister.Read more ›
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Arch Stanton on March 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a superb biography on an unjustly forgotten king. King Henry I was king during an interesting time. The son of William the Conqueror, he was a very different ruler than his father and brother. Professor Hollister writes an extremely readable book that makes clear how just how much changed during Henry's reign. Henry was an educated king for starters. Or at least he was educated when compared to the previous Norman kings. It was even said that he could read. This book is divided into sections. The first 300 pages are basically a straight narrative of his reign while the last few hundred are dedicated to specific topics such as Kings and Magnates, Law and Governance, and King and Church. Unfortunately Hollister died before the book was completed and the last sections had to be completed by his assistant Amanda Frost Clark. These last sections are rather more stilted than the first but then the narrative was bound to be more interesting anyways. If you're interested in this little-known king then this book is for you. If you've never heard of him then pick this up now. It's that good.
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Henry I (The English Monarchs Series)
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