Foundation (The History of England, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Foundation (The History of England #1)

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  769 ratings  ·  138 reviews
Having written enthralling biographies of London and of its great river, the Thames, Peter Ackroyd now turns to England itself.

This first volume of six takes us from the time that England was first settled, more than 15,000 years ago, to the death in 1509 of the first Tudor monarch, Henry VII. In it, Ackroyd takes us from Neolithic England, which we can only see in the mos...more
Hardcover, 486 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Macmillan (first published January 1st 2011)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,822)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jeffrey Keeten
”The house of the Plantagenets, from Henry II to Richard III himself was brimming with blood. In their lust for power the members of the family turned upon one another. King John murdered, or caused to be murdered, his nephew Arthur; Richard II dispatched his uncle, Thomas of Gloucester; Richard II was in turn killed on the orders of his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke: Henry VI was killed in the Tower on the orders of his cousin, Edward IV; Edward IV murdered his brother, Clarence, just as his own tw...more
FOUNDATION: The History of England From Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors. (2012). Peter Ackroyd. *****.
This is obviously volume one in a projected series of books on the complete history of England. While reading this, I kept thinking that it would have been a wonderful text to have been assigned for my course in English History. There is not a dry page in the book. Ackroyd, a well-respected and prolific writer about various aspects of British history (along with a goodly list of novels an...more
While Ackroyd writes well and this book filled some gaping gaps in my knowledge of English medieaval history, I found it slightly lacking as a social history. There was too much focus on the power politics of the English plantagenet kings and not enough on the rest of society at large. Each individual story of the Kings is interesting in its own right and filled some gaps in my knowledge. But there are rather a lot of them and the book begins to feel like a procession of one damm King after anot...more
I picked this up on a whim without hearing anything about it, unfamiliar with Ackroyd's other books but with a general enjoyment of British history (currently stronger now that I've forsaken my homeland for one of the colonies!). My knowledge of pre-Tudor history is patchy at best though. Problem solved.

We are led from the very early days of the native peoples right through a series of conquests and colonisation, wars, famous battles and rivalries, mythical figures and folklore, up until the en...more
La definición corta del libro es que se trata de una historia de Inglaterra destinada al gran público. Y como tal no entra en circunstancias de organización social, sistemas económicos, desarrollo cultural o cualquier otra cosa que pudiera resultar ardua a un lector no familiarizado con la historia. En su lugar Ackroyd se centra en reyes, batallas, invasiones y otros hechos destacados de la historia de Inglaterra desde su fundación hasta el final de la Edad Media.

Y lo hace bien. Aunque el princi...more
Job van der Kooij
I was looking for a crash course history book, an outline of the history of England. Ackroyd has written exactly that kind of book: crash course history. In the process however he makes English history sound like a dull succession of kings and bishops. Every now and then there's a brief 'intermission' in which Ackroyd describes the more ordinary parts of English life: roads, livestock, position of women, money etc. But these separate mini-chapters actually do damage to the idea that the English...more
Victor Gibson
This is a very ambitious book, covering the period from prehistory up to the death of Henry VII, and really it would be a good ideas to have some sort of computer programme such as Visio to hand while reading it, because the relationships between the main players becomes confusing. But this is not really a fault. I was prompted to read this book after reading the author's version of the Canterbury Tales, and I'm pleased I did.

It would be difficult to find a more informative and entertaining volu...more
For someone like myself, who knows patches of English history but has never had an opportunity to grasp the wider picture, Foundation is the perfect remedy. It's a remarkable achievement of historical writing, somehow cramming in thousands of years of history without seeming overwhelming - creating a bold, enjoyable narrative from a complex and multi-faceted history. Ackryod carefully balances out his own enthusiasm and narrative flair with a solid respect for the history he's describing, and is...more
Pete daPixie
I have to say that I tend to grab at any Ackroyd book that I come across. I found 'London:The Biography' and 'Thames:Sacred River' to be wonderful reads. 'Shakespeare:The Biography' was another highly entertaining book. I have also sampled his 'Brief Lives' series with 'Poe:A Life Cut Short'.
I knew nothing of this one before my neighbour kindly popped round and handed it to me. Published in 2011 'The History of England-Volume 1 Foundation' encompasses a vast swathe of time. Ackroyd begins his na...more
Katharine Ott
"When the first sarsen stone was raised in the circle of Stonehenge, the land we call England was already very ancient." Peter Ackroyd's "Foundation: The History of England From its Earlist Beginnings to the Tudors" is a well-told narrative taking us from interglacial periods hundreds of thousands of years ago to just before Henry VIII comes into view. While the trials and tribulations of England's rulers draw the most attention, Ackroyd does an admirable job of highlighting other topics of inte...more
This is of necessity something of a survey history of England from prehistoric times through the reign of Henry VII, the first of the Tudors. It's well, although somewhat eccentrically, written, and alternates chapters narrating the political/military history with chapters about culture, religion, contemporary beliefs, etc. This alternation is a bit awkward; it has the effect of disrupting the momentum of those sections of political history which are particularly interesting. However, I would ce...more
Quit after 130 pages. Simply couldn't stand the unending gross and unsupported generalizations and the occasional outright error of fact. This may well improve as he moves beyond the Normans to better-documented eras, but there are no notes at all I have no confidence in the author's authority. I'm not the sort who reads every foot note, but when I have a question about a statement I do like to know how the author came by his information. And not a single map in the entire book! A history withou...more
From the paleolithic period to the beginning of the Tudor dynasty - this first volume in Ackroyd's history of England is engaging and thorough. The best sections deal with daily life and those aspects of the English life and character which have spanned the centuries. One particularly memorable passage recounted the first known personal correspondence written in the English language, exchanged between members of the Paston family in the 1400s. As much as the world has changed since then - family...more
Athena Ninlil
Merits a two star review but because of the rich details of every day life from Ebgland's prehistoric beginnings to the late fifteenth century it earns a three stars. That is how far however as it will garner any praise from me. The book reads like a JFK conspiracy theory nut-work becaususe the author is always ready to dismiss ALL sources, contemporary especially *except* when it suits him. He is sure Edward II didn't die based on a dubious ridiculous letter from a man claiming to be him from I...more
Rob Adey
Peter Ackroyd is especially good at bringing out the deep, near-geological layers of history in a single place - here, England is his historical lasagna, and like Garfield, he inhales its rich and ancient scents. He uses more semi-colons than Jim Davis, though.

Simon Schama is Nermal in this analogy.
A very good overview of British history that covers a wide area in just 440 pages. It may be a bit cursory at times, but I found the constant jump between king-related historical countdown and interesting "this is how daily life was" chapters to be very intriguing.
David Bales
An amazing and very thorough--but eminently edited and readable--history of England from prehistoric times to the late fifteenth century.
Very entertaining, easily read, romp through English history following the royal line.
James Clark
An EXCELLENT book! I like Ackroyd's style of writing one chapter about a particular king and then the next chapter explaining about what was going on in England with the people, business, religion, etc...I find his work a delight to read, captivating and enriching. I am now reading Book 2, Tudors. I am also reading the Thomas More at the same time. I am hoping Mr. Ackroyd will keep it up and write Book 3 on English History. PLEASE keep writing until you have completed the entire history of Engla...more
Fiona Robson
“Having written enthralling biographies of London and of its great river, the Thames, Peter Ackroyd now turns to England itself. This first volume of six takes us from the time that England was first settled, more than 15,000 years ago, to the death in 1509 of the first Tudor monarch, Henry VII. In it, Ackroyd takes us from Neolithic England, which we can only see in the most tantalising glimpses – a stirrup found in a grave, some seeds at the bottom of a bowl – to the long period of Roman rule;...more
Knightpanda Lees
Initially, I thought this book would be a hard slog. 446 pages of English history, not even covering the Tudors? But it was a fascinating read. Ackroyd has an unusual and interesting authorial voice, ironic and dry. English, in a sense, which suits the subject matter to a tee.

However, the first couple of chapters are far from engaging, arrow head and burial mounds, oh my! But it establishes this idea of extended nationhood, a continual occupation of land, with ancient traditions, which is the co...more
Lively written account of early English/British history, from the Mesolithicum to the usurpation of the English crown by the Tudors. The most positive aspect of the book is the fact that chapters that center on a specific king/queen and his or her antics are alternated by chapters providing insight into the daily life of the English commoners (the seasonal year, games, origin of names, etc.). However, the enormous amount of information presented in this book, the actions of all the different kin...more
History in snippets. I am interested in English history, but I found it difficult to get through this book. Ackroyd's writing style is to go from one factoid/snippet to another with no flow. For example, after discussing self-sufficiency and barter after the Romans left, his next paragraph jumps to:

"The Confession of St. Patrick, who was taken by Saxon slavers at the end of the fourth century, shows that the affluent life of the villa owner continued into the early decades of the fifth century."...more
Mickey Phillips
I received this book through a Giveaway and I'm currently doing my best to work my way through it.

I have always been a fan of history. Learning about the lives of those who lived before us is both interested and important. That being said, I do struggle with books like this as they remind me of trudging through the assigned readings I would get in university for those classes that I thought SHOULD be great but made me want to shrivel up and die.

I love to read about how people lived their day t...more

For a country where words like “stodgy,” “quaint,” “stiff,” and “civilized” are tossed about to describe the people, it appears to have a history absolutely soaked through in blood.

Ackroyd tackles an ambitious project, perhaps overly ambitious, covering English history from the arrival of the first [i]homo sapiens[/i] circa 900,000 BC to the death of Henry VII in 1509. He covers so much ground that he is forced to gallop along at a break neck speed, rushing through events and having to move on j...more
Alanna Mooney
I recently watched a documentary about how they found Richard III buried under a modern day car park, it was a fascinating show and it really put me in the mood to do some reading up about the history of England (a subject that has always caught my attention and my imagination). I knew I had the perfect book stored up ready to read on my Kindle – now seemed like the perfect time to read it. Foundation by Peter Ackroyd was something I found when watching BBC Breakfast one morning; the author spok...more
I certainly learnt from this book as it does provide a good overview of English history however I found it incredibly hard to read until I was about two thirds of the way through.
The book jumps awkwardly between chapters about the elite classes or monarch and chapters about rural life. The way these chapters are separated is particularly confusing because chronology is not well maintained in this structure; new monarchs are introduced before we're prepared for their arrival.
The conclusions dra...more
David Powell
A wonderful, exciting history of England from its prehistory to the coming of the Tudor dynasty that should be placed in the "must read" list for anyone even vaguely interesting in England. For Americans, it should be read as a precursor to our own history. Be aware that this is merely the first volume with, I assume, another in the works. Two seemingly contradictory themes emerge in the book--stability and violent change. For the mass of the inhabitants from the prehistoric peoples to those sta...more
Robert Berg
Overall, a fantastic history, filled with fascinating stories, excellent prose, and some excellent insight. I'd probably actually give it a 4 1/2. I'm detracting the point/half-point only because at times, Ackroyd makes only passing references to certain things, because he expects the reader to already have a working knowledge of it...which I find a little strange. For example, he doesn't ever really explain why the Wars of the Roses were called the Wars of the Roses. I happened to already have...more
In this worthy, eminently readable retelling of an oft-told tale, novelist/poet/journalist/historian Peter Ackroyd recounts the history of England from prehistoric times to the reign to Henry VII. He successfully conveys the growth of a sense of national unity in this island nation, with a mixture of amused matter-of-factness toward the often stunning brutality of medieval life and engagement in a long, colorful pageant of tradition, layer piled upon layer. Toward the end of the book, when Ackro...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 94 95 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England
  • A History of Ancient Britain
  • Monarchy: England and Her Rulers from the Tudors to the Windsors
  • The Children of Henry VIII
  • Blood Sisters:  The Women Behind The War Of The Roses
  • Young Henry: The Rise of Henry VIII
  • The King's Grave: The Discovery of Richard III's Lost Burial Place and the Clues It Holds
  • Tower: An Epic History of the Tower of London
  • Restoration London: Everyday Life in the 1660s
  • A Gambling Man: Charles II and the Restoration
  • A History of Britain: At the Edge of the World? 3500 BC-AD 1603 (A History of Britain, #1)
  • The Wars of the Roses: Through the Lives of Five Men and Women of the Fifteenth Century
  • Tudor: The Family Story
  • The Watchers: A Secret History of the Reign of Elizabeth I
  • Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy
  • The Royal Stuarts: A History of the Family That Shaped Britain
  • The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England
  • The Anne Boleyn Collection: The Real Truth about the Tudors
Peter Ackroyd CBE is an English novelist and biographer with a particular interest in the history and culture of London.

Peter Ackroyd's mother worked in the personnel department of an engineering firm, his father having left the family home when Ackroyd was a baby. He was reading newspapers by the age of 5 and, at 9, wrote a play about Guy Fawkes. Reputedly, he first realized he was gay at the age...more
More about Peter Ackroyd...
London: The Biography Hawksmoor London Under: The Secret History Beneath the Streets Shakespeare: The Biography Chatterton

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“The ordinary routines of life are never chronicled by the historian, but they make up almost the whole of experience.” 5 likes
“It was a business that engaged a significant part of the nation; the wool was given to village women to comb and to spin before being sent to the weaver; to this day, an unmarried woman is known as a spinster.” 0 likes
More quotes…