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The Oxford Illustrated History of the British Monarchy (Oxford Quick Reference) Paperback – December 17, 1998

17 customer reviews

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Paperback, December 17, 1998
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Editorial Reviews


"What a feast....A sumptuously illustrated volume that like all good works of reference lends itself to browsing." --Sunday Telegraph (London)

"Lovely to look at, wonderfully helpful as a source of specific information, a delight to read straight through."--ALA Booklist

About the Author

About the Authors:
John Cannon is Professor of History at the University of Newcastle. Ralph Griffiths is Professor of History at University College of Swansea.

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Quick Reference
  • Paperback: 744 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (December 17, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019288073X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192880734
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,684,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 44 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The Oxford Illustrated History of the British Monarchy is a uniquely complete book. This is a book very worthy of Oxford, consisting primarily of chapters on royal and political history generally, interspersed throughout with boxed essays on each monarch, special topics, maps, photographs and paintings.
This book begins with the murky beginnings of royalty in Britain, arising out of the chaos of the post-Roman world. Here we encounter names such as Aethelberht, Raewald, and Hywel Dda -- this book doesn't just concentrate as so many do on the English monarchies, but also on Welsh and Scottish clans, lines, and kingdoms. Here we find that King Eric Bloodaxe, the Viking King of York was followed not too many years later by Edgar the Peacable, king of Mercia and the Danelaw.
With the inclusion of this extensive pre-Norman section, the book is a must for any British history library. Apart from that, the history is fairly basic -- well written, interesting, but no grand and new insights, more of an encyclopedia writ as an essay rather than articles on particular subjects (for which I am grateful--nothing so disjointed and unsatisfying in many ways as reading an encyclopedia). This however can make looking up topics a bit more difficult, but I've found as I've sought out one piece of information (using the very good index) I find much more (which is always to be desired).
The final sections include chapters on Royal Residences and Tombs, Genealogies, and Lists of Monarchs, including Scottish as well as English monarchs.
This book is filled with little bits of interest--for instance, an example of 17th century propaganda: 'In the absence of newspapers, radio, and television, other means of representing events and influencing opinion assumed greater importance.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 19, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is a must for those readers interested in the history of the British Monarchy. The authors and editors have masterly created both an historical perspective of the institution as well as a personal viewpoint which is both critical and sentimental. Some may be turned off by the length of this book, but once you begin reading, you'll wonder where the time goes. And the wonderful photographs and illustrations bring their words to life.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The history of Great Britain since the 5th century is largely the history of its sovereigns, and vice versa, and this fat volume is a success on both scores. Beginning with the early Celtic kings who brought some form of organization to early British (and Welsh and Irish) society, Cannon escorts the reader through the island's history, reign by reign, from Rædwald of the East Angles to Elizabeth II, tracing the waxing and waning of the monarch's personal power, noting royal marriages and interments, wars and treaties, glorious victories and humiliating failures. A great deal of the personal is included along with the politics, as when the young Edward VI coolly notes the execution in 1552 of his uncle, the Duke of Somerset, and the exasperated Queen Anne's attempts in 1703 to reason with her Whig ministers. The numerous illustrations, many in color, add to the flavor of the narrative as well as the reader's understanding. This book may be the only general history of the British monarchy that any student would ever need.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Classics Lover on June 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
The reader of this book will learn a lot about the British (and, before that, the English) monarchy, from the dark ages to today. Each monarch and dynasty are treated objectively and respect, trying to stay as close to their own time as possible and without dogmatic judgements. Hence the "villans" of the Monarchy (Richard III, Henry VIII, George IV) are shown to have a more positive side than one usually gives them credit for, while the "saints" (Henry V, Richard the Lion-Hearted, etc.) are shown to have their dark side as well.

But the book isn't revisionist for the sake of being revisionist--it does acknowledge that, in the final accounting, history's judgement of the good or bad monarchs seems rather justified (e.g., while George IV did promote the arts, he was a debt-ridden bankrupt who treated his wife abominably). Furthermore, it doesn't judge the monarchs by our standards--by how "multicultural" or "feminist" or "anti-colonialist" they were, for instance. It correctly sees such judgement as distorting--as distorting as the Victorians' tendency to judge the past monarchs by *their* standard (e.g., which monarch won the most battles or gained the most colonies.) It does its best to assess the facts objectively--taking account of both the prejudices of the monarch's time and of our own.

Take, as a typical example from the book, the case of George III. Having been unfortunate enough to preside over Britian's loss of the American colonies, as well as suffer from insanity in his old age, he was ridiculed by many contemporaries (especially American contemporaries) as a "tyrant", and "psychonalayzed" by our own generation--"proving" his insanity was (you guessed it) due to repressed sexual urges.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ahmed Terzi on April 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am glad I was able to purchase the first edition of one of the best, if not the best, book on the history of British monarchy.
Read it in three days!
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