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Royal Panoply: Brief Lives of the English Monarchs
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Royal Panoply: Brief Lives of the English Monarchs

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  636 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
With her trademark blend of probing scholarship, lively prose and psychological insight, Carolly Erickson focuses on each monarchs entire lifefrom the puny, socially awkward Charles I, to the choleric, violent William the Conqueror, to the well-meaning, deeply affectionate Queen Anne, who was so heavy she had to be carried to her coronation. Royal Panoply recaptures the ev ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published 2003 by History Book Club
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(showing 1-30 of 1,806)
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Oct 04, 2008 Nick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read many books about the English monarchy, being an Anglophile and all that, but this is the best, most entertaining one-volume summation of all the Kings and Queens in order. There's just the right amount of information on each for an overview, and Carolly gets into the psychology and early lives (to the extent possible) about many of them, rare in most histories. Highly recommended if you want to get a walking familiarity with a thousand years of English history.
This is an extremely handy reference book for the Royal Monarchs from William II to Elizabeth II.
I started reading this book because I have a few ancestors who were medieval British monarchs and wanted to learn more about them. (I can't say that I am proud of this heritage now that I know more about them.) I liked that the author gave a brief summary of each king or queen's life. Short enough to fit in an average of 8 pages, but detailed enough to give some insight into their personalities. By the last third of the book I was getting pretty bored. Not so much a reflection of the author or h ...more
Charlene Vickers
Feb 23, 2014 Charlene Vickers rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of historical blunders here, and some jarring quirks in diction and syntax. For example, Ericksen confuses the words "homosexual" and "homoerotic"; although this is often deliberate among the Pat Robertson/Rick Santorum crowd, here it seems (or at least I hope it is) inadvertent. That's the most striking (and the post potentially teeth-grinding) example, but there are others.

As for the factual errors I mentioned, here's a bunch from one biography: Richard I wasn't gay. He's known to have ha
Great for anyone intersted in learning about the English Monarchs, but not wanting to spend an eternity reading all the biographies that are out there about them. Each one has a 5-10 page summary. Having read other bios on a few of them, Carolly Erickson pointed out other aspects of their lives and reigns that other biographers didn't mention. She was decent to Richard III. That's why she got three stars. If she had been better, it would have been higher.
Jun 14, 2010 Kristina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I checked this out at the library just to skim and use as a source of reference. But when I started reading it, I couldn't stop and didn't want to even skip a paragraph. The author took British History that could be so dull and gave it life. If you are interested in the monarchy, I highly recommend this book.
Mar 04, 2011 Roberta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, nonfiction
A fairly interesting group of short bios of British kings from William I to Elizabeth II.
Mar 29, 2009 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-books
This book gives thumbnail sketches of the kings and queens of England, from William the Conqueror to the current Elizabeth II. If you're looking for a book to teach you about English history through the lives of the monarchs, you should look elsewhere. Although the important events of each reign are mentioned, this book is really about the monarchs themselves. What Erickson does best is make them all human. Whether they've been vilified (i.e., King John of Robin Hood fame and Richard II) or lion ...more
Sep 18, 2009 Lucy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’d love to start off this review by giving you an all-around basic idea about what the book is about, but there’s a lot more to this read than meets the eye. Unlike many of the other books that I enjoy for the pure pleasure of reading, Royal Panoply served much more than just this purpose.

Besides its impressive array of English monarchs beginning with William I all the way to Elizabeth II, this book features impressive details that go beyond simply describing royal lives, conquests and fates. C
Glimpses of the lives of each of the British monarchs from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth II. A great book for getting a basic idea of the highlights of each reign and popularly held opinions regarding each monarch and his/her life plus a few less well-known tidbits (to me) (little facts like when George I came to rule England all the general public knew of him was that he was a German general who had locked his beautiful wife in a tower for twenty years and killed her lover after he discove ...more
Mar 14, 2011 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History nerds. I mean, buffs. ;D
For starters, I went in to the bookstore hoping to find a book about the extremely dysfunctional Habsburgs on the bargain book shelf. That was a fail; it seems that Barnes and Noble's bargain section is now filled to the brim with asinine, vapid trash - 400 page books about American muscle cars, self-help garbage, and craft books for kids (because when I was a kid, nothing excited me more than origami). They do, however, also carry an adequate selection of history books, though many of them focu ...more
Apr 08, 2013 Sara-Ellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am loving this book! I can't remember when I bought it or where I found it-I suspect in a homeschool catalog. It has an entry on each of the English monarchs and it is helping me tie the eras and their history together into an integrated whole! The only drawback that just glared at me was the last chapter on Queen Elizabeth. I really dislike history of current figures because they are still living their history. The section on Elizabeth II was written early to mid 2000's and is dated in its an ...more
Marcia Huntting
It's one I will refer back to from time to time. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about each monarch in an abbreviated way but there is no way I can retain all that info. But the way Carolly has arranged the book, I can refer back as needed. It's also a great thing to accompany users who have family from the British Isles. It really helps understanding.
Dec 23, 2008 Mindy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Being interested in history, and especially the history of the British monarchy, this was a areally helpful book. It was comprised of essays on each monarch, but the flow was great and easy to follow. It's crazy how the deaths of the eldest sons have affected the way the royal line has worked, as alluded to by Erickson herself in her introduction. There were so many deaths of "heirs to the throne" that it makes you wonder if destiny really does have a hand in things. What if Henry VIII's older b ...more
Feb 22, 2013 Krystal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm actually really interested in this book. It has came at quite the surprise because other than the mandatory reading in my british literature class I had never before shown an interest in the monarchs of England. That being said, Carolly Erickson's brilliant modern writing style and ability to to grasp the reader from page one has made this read quite enjoyable.

My only grievance thus far is with every chapter a new monarch is introduced and for the most part their heir (or in the case of a fe
Jessica Merrill
This one is good if you want surface level details of the English royals, but that's not to say there aren't some really juicy ones in there, like James I's straight-up bad attitude throughout his entire reign and Edward VIII supporting Nazism, apparently (which, ew). Other than that, it's neither great nor terrible as far as non-fiction on the English royals goes. Just an interesting read to pass some time.
Jun 20, 2012 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun to read, but kind of uneven. Each king or queen gets a brief entry, and there's a lot of interesting and sometimes scandalous facts included. However, sometimes things like exactly how the succession came to be aren't clear, assuming I think that the reader would already know. The author also seems pretty opinionated, saying things like that during the current queen's reign, regard for the monarchy was at the lowest level ever. That seems debatable---what about times like when Oliver Cromwel ...more
Mary Rokosz
like the history and being able to place people and timeframe.
Dick Edwards
Dec 05, 2013 Dick Edwards rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very useful and interesting book. Ms. Erickson has managed to include most of the relevant facts about each monarch, and made it very readable. My main criticism is that there should have been descendency charts covering all the monarchs. I also think that there was not enough emphasis on the importance of the Civil War that took place in the mid 17th century and the revolution that took place in 1688. Nevertheless, I plan on keeping this volume handy during future readings in English ...more
Jun 12, 2014 Victoria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference
In 331 pages the author covers every monarch from William the Conquerer to the present Queen. Although the bios are brief, I never had the sense that they were abridged versions of longer works. Each has a personal and illuminating aspect to it. 'They' say that it is much more difficult to write something succinct nuch as a short story than something longer such as a novel. In the non-fiction world, Carooly Erickson has succeeded inj producing 39 excellent short 'stories.'
Ahmed Aleem
May 02, 2015 Ahmed Aleem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Highly enjoyable. Serves as a great introduction to lesser-known figures in the English monarchical history. Also, a relatively easy read if English isn't your native language.
Truthfully 3.5 stars.

A quick easy read. I like the fact that I could easily sit down for ten minutes and finished a section or two.

What I disliked was the fact that the author often repeate information. For example, in the section on Edward VIII Erikson said how he was often called David. Then, in the section on George VI Erikson said that Edward VIII was often called David. This happened throughout the book, and was quite an annoyance.
Nov 03, 2015 Gretchen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
This book was extremely helpful to me in my nonfiction project of investigating British monarchs. Thorough overview of each monarch with analysis included in the account. Probably too general for someone more expert, but a good fit for someone like me who wanted less than a full length biography.

The art in the book reflected the phases of history and art development and accentuated the content in a relevant and colorful manner.
Feb 16, 2016 RumBelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This book was fascinating, easy to read and really enjoyable. It was mini-biographies of every English ruler from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth the II. I learned so much that I never knew, and saw the monarchs in a whole new light.
Jul 31, 2010 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Royal Panoply is a good book that I enjoyed reading. The author, Carolly Erickson wrote a 10 page summary of each Monarch and detailed their lives and reign. It was informative book, although the author provides very little proof/reference for her subjections, causing the average reader to wonder how precise the book. The book opened my eyes to the lives of the monarchs and I would like to read more about them.
Erickson's book is an enjoyable series of short personal histories (roughly 10 pages each) of every British monarch from William I to Elizabeth II. It is, however, too skewed towards these monarchs' personal lives. A more balanced approach that gave more detailed treatment to the professional lives and accomplishments of Britain's Kings and Queens would have made for far more interesting reading.
Susan Trofatter
Sep 02, 2014 Susan Trofatter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's the People magazine version of monarchs' bios in the order of their reigns. It provides key information at a glance. Each bio will take only a few minutes to read, but info is detailed without being cumbersome. I liked that it had them arranged in order of their reigns, because it was easy to see how monarchs were aided or impaired by their predecessors' beliefs and actions.
Jan 06, 2015 Meaghan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: English history buffs
An excellent book -- the bios are reasonably thorough, but brief enough so that this book makes good bedtime reading -- you can read a biography while you're waiting to get sleepy. I would recommend it as a supplement to other books on English royals, since ten- or twenty-page biographies are no substitute for full-length works.
Jane Apperley
Dec 26, 2013 Jane Apperley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book I bought a while ago and am re reading. I think it's an excellent book for children as well as adults. The author gives interesting details about the life and rule of each Monarch without overloading the reader. It's the sort of book you can dip in and out of if you need to.
David Hurst
May 05, 2013 David Hurst rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Excellent and chatty summary of the lives of English Monarchs since 1066. I doubt the author will be getting a knighthood. I am glad that my life is not subject to the sort of harsh scrutiny... but then I guess I am unlike to become a head of state. So perhaps the author is right to judge coldly.
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Distinguished historian Carolly Erickson is the author of The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette, The First Elizabeth, Great Catherine, Alexandra and many other prize-winning works of fiction and nonfiction. She lives in Hawaii.
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