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Monarchy Complete Collection

4.5 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

 “Delightful and informative” —San Francisco Chronicle

See this U.K. broadcast edition with episodes not seen on PBS documenting a 1,500-year history of power, passion and glory.

Over more than a millennium, the British monarchy has survived brutality, betrayal, and bloodshed to emerge as the oldest functioning political institution in Europe. Join eminent historian David Starkey (The Six Wives of Henry VIII) as he probes the personalities of the men and women who wore the crown. Meet the Anglo-Saxon king Offa, who ruled more like a mafioso than a monarch; Henry VIII, who cultivated celebrity like a modern rock star; and Victoria, who remade the monarchy into the model of middle-class morality. Through it all, visit the very sites where history happened: Hastings, Bosworth Field, the Tower of London, and more.

In this captivating 16-part series, Starkey advances a unifying narrative—the dynamic tension between authoritarian order and rule by consent of the governed—that makes Britain unique among the world’s nations.

An honorary fellow at Cambridge University and a member of London’s Society of Royal Antiquaries, David Starkey (CBE) has taught history at the London School of Economics, written more than a dozen books, and presented many acclaimed television documentaries.

Special Features

16-page booklet including:

  • Timeline,

  • Powers Behind the Throne

  • Background on Westminster Abbey (the shrine of British monarchy)

  • Royal Trivia

Biographies of 20th-century monarchs

David Starkey biography

Gallery of royal palaces

Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Athena
  • DVD Release Date: August 3, 2010
  • Run Time: 776 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003AND1SM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,851 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Harold Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWER on July 5, 2010
MONARCHY provides excellent history of Britain as well as the Monarchy. Military history played a great part in both politics and the Monarchy--often one and the same. The 16 episodes (about 48 min. each) provide a chronological picture of kings, queens and other royalty from the Saxons (year 802) to Queen Victoria (1901).

Athena's "Monarchy" is to the student of British royal history, what "Playing Shakespeare" is to Shakespearean actors. It's a sophisticated, upper-level, educational experience, not unlike British Monarchy presented in a university study. The SUBTITLES help on many words--unusual, seldom used vocabulary such as "regicide" [killer of kings] and fratricidal" [killing of relatives]. Your mind will expand! I impatiently awaited the Monarchy role as it related to the USA history beginning with the 18th century. The final 2 episodes did not disappoint in this aspect.

This series has beautiful footage that shows off Great Britain's countryside as well as any travelogue. Many interiors of ancient buildings are included--primarily churches. Visuals come in the forms of live footage, reconstructions, dramatizations, computer imagery, maps, art productions, artifacts, archeological sites, aerial footage, and ancient manuscripts.

The narrator, Dr. David Starkey, is quite expressive in facial gestures, expressions, and his manner of speech. His speech comes in bursts of 1 to 5 syllables. He is a memorable personality, providing extensive history of the royal personal lives, politics, war, and enterprise. His manner and the visuals make this a compelling lecture series. Subtitles are available, but not needed for Starkey's accent.

"Monarchy" is a documentary, but oh so entertaining as well as educational.
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The Episodes as brought to us by David Starkey (A great starting point from which to explore more English/British history).

Series 1
1. A Nation State (From the Dark Ages & Alfred the Great to the creation of England.)
2. Ængla Land (The Anglo-Saxons, 1066 and all that!)
3. Conquest (The Normans arrive)
4. Dynasty (Episode Focuses on Henry II, Thomas Becket)
5. A United Kingdom (Edward I, Edward II & Edward III, grandson of Edward I.)
6. Death of a Dynasty (Follows the reigns made famous by Shakespeare)

Series 2
1. The Crown Imperial (1450s to the birth of the Tudors)
2. King and Emperor (The days of Henry VIII)
3. The Shadow of the King (Henry 8's children: Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I)
4. The Stuart Succession
5. Cromwell The King Killer

Series 3
1. The Return of the King (Birth of the world's first modern state)
2. The Glorious Revolution (1688/1689)
3. Rule Britannia (1688 + 25 years to being a world power)
4. Empire (1714+ the emergence of the Prime Minister & modern doings)
5. Survival (1789+ & the French Revolution)

Series 4
1. The Windsors (Queen Victoria to today)
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History buffs who are addicted to dramatic reenactments will be gravely disappointed. This production is more of a scholarly university lecture, performed by Professor David Starkey, but without the Zzzz factor. Starkey talks with a heavy British accent while he looks into the camera and talks about whatever monarch he is covering. He stands by old court paintings or fading Old English documents, walks through old palaces, royal gardens or abandoned fortresses, all the while keeping the narrative flowing. You may get a dramatic eyebrow roll, or a empathetic lip pout for emphasis, but you're not going to be able to start day dreaming.

The viewer gets a modern version of where history took place as Starkey travels around England to show off historical places. The misty, lush English countryside is so beautiful... Actors may appear in the background in era clothing, but they do not speak. They are more like ghosts in the background.

This unique style works because the information is packed into precise sentences. Starkey doesn't talk in flowery prose, he talks like a professor should, with emphasis on all the facts. There is no conjecture; everything Starkey mentions is spoken without emotion or bias. It is all facts. And there are so many facts in this video!

There are five disks to this set. Each disk is around 140 minutes long. Anyone watching this production will be inundated with information. Pay attention as there is no time to fall asleep.

Lovers of English history will enjoy this production. No time is wasted with cheesy reenactments. Instead the viewer walks away with a head full of royal knowledge.
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The product and Amazon's listing shows this as the "complete series", but it is not. I watched all five discs and it ends quite abruptly with Queen Victoria, not even mentioning who succeeds her. This is actually stated right on the box in Amazon's product image. The original UK broadcast went all the way to the present. Though I was extremely disappointed in this because I wanted to see how the current Windsor family descended and impacted monarchy (and why I gave 4 stars instead of 5), I never-the-less highly recommend this for US fans of historical biography who cannot get the UK versions.

The series is quite thorough, literally covering every monarch from before Alfred the Great (when there was no "England") to Queen Victoria, and how each shaped the institution of monarchy as government. The entire series is narrated by the historian David Starkey. While at times he comes across as overly dramatic (even a bit pompous), and occasionally presents modern interpretations of historical figures as fact, he does have an engaging quality that keeps a viewer interested. I would have enjoyed having him as a professor in college. He does not shy away from sharing historical gossip and outlandish tales spread during the times described, which increases the entertainment quality of the series. The documentary alternates between him narrating, images of royal regalia and art and architecture throughout England (and sometimes abroad), and mini reenactments. Paintings of the actual monarchs and key figures are also shown. I found it to be an added bonus to see so many castles and historical places, like Westminster. The series is so exhaustive, viewers get a good background in art and architecture as well, since many of the sites were built, or owned by monarchs.

Overall, this was an amazing series to anyone with an interest in royals, or the British monarchy in particular.
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