Monday, April 16, 2018
The Conquering Family
From the introduction: It must be said at the outset that there is no need for another history of England unless it can be given popular appeal. History, on which people depended once for enlightenment and entertainment in reading, is now little read except in classrooms, and this is due to the stern limits which historians have set for themselves.
From chapter one: It was late in September, the year was 1066, and that section of the great north highway which crosses the Aire and the Wharfe and rolls on to the city of York was black with marching soldiers.
Premise/plot: Thomas Costain wrote four (nonfiction) books on the Plantagenets. This is the first in that series. It begins with William the Conqueror and ends with the death of King John. It is packed with drama and adventure. It is an entertaining read. Plenty of familiar details--of course--but I learned many things as well.
From chapter two: The strongest of the three men had won. Never in history, perhaps, have the qualities which make a successful dictator been combined more perfectly and completely in one vigorous frame and one keen brain. William was a great warrior as well as an astute general. (13)
From chapter three: There is only one good thing to be said about the reign of William II, called Rufus or the Red. It was brief. (30)
From chapter four: Good news travels fast, even in a land where most of the roads are no better than cow trails. The word which swept over England immediately after the accession to the throne of the youngest son of William the Conqueror was so good that it set the whole countryside ablaze with joyful expectations. Henry wanted to take a Saxon princess as his bride. (43)
From chapter five: Henry I was not a great man, but was in many respects a great king. (62)
My thoughts: I enjoyed this one very much! I would recommend it to anglophiles everywhere! I enjoyed the narrative style. I enjoyed the stories. It is written to be entertaining to the masses, if you will.
The overall 'so what' of the book is that Costain believes that England was ultimately better off because of the Norman invasion led by William the Conqueror. That it was the blending of Anglo-Saxons and Normans that made the English people GREAT. Yes, these turbulent years might have been bloody at times, unfair to some perhaps--but the ends justify the means.
© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews