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The Lives Of The Kings And Queens Of England
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The Lives Of The Kings And Queens Of England

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  1,282 Ratings  ·  74 Reviews
Updated with a new chapter on the Windsors, including the death of Diana, this reference offers a concise guide to the great dynasties of English royalty. Includes genealogical tables, coats of arms, and royal heraldry.
Hardcover, 360 pages
Published April 24th 1975 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson (first published January 1st 1975)
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Jan 30, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Amusingly, and hardly surprisingly, this became much more conservative as it got closer to the current day. One author even goes so far as to look back longingly at the golden age of the past when people didn’t get divorced and newspapers didn’t print stories about the love lives of the royals. I guess this book knows its audience – I mean, you are probably most likely to read a book by this title if you think the monarchy is a good thing and are a conservative old fool in a nursing home (or a c ...more
Sep 16, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-history
I'm still trying to find a very good reference guide for British monarchs - this isn't it. Though on line reviews of the book are usually favorable one person said this just doesn't work for someone who reads a lot on the subject and they we're right. They did avoid a lot of controversy and tried to see both good and bad in some reigns which I think is just too unbiased. Some reigns were utter failures. I don't know who wrote the section on the Tudors, but it was pretty bad. Especially the secti ...more
Jun 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
This was a really informative and enjoyable read. Story being the essence of history (of good history, at any rate), this collection of biographical essays chronicling the lives of each of England's rulers (post 1066 - pre Norman monarchs are not dealt with here) makes for a very engaging and illuminating tour of English history as a whole. I got this volume at a used library sale a number of years ago and have frequently skimmed various parts. But after watching The King’s Speech and being also ...more
Dec 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's very entertaining to learn about the highlights of the lives of every king and queen in England as written by a modern writer with a modern sense of humor. It also makes me feel really smart to be able to talk about the accomplishments made by random kings and queens like Edward III (Reign: 1327-1377) or Queen Anne (Reign: 1702-1714). There were gradual advances toward the establishment and reliance on parliament and a prime minister. It's also amazing how many gay kings there were. Within ...more
Aug 21, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anglophiles
Profiles of the personalities of each monarch from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth II. Historical details themselves, such as the American Revolution, are mentioned briefly in context of the overall reign (Cromwell is omitted entirely, for those wondering). I was pleasantly surprised at how much I learned; never did I find the material dry or boring - definitely recommended!
A sort of Cliff Notes for history of the British monarchy. Each king and queen is subject to a profile of main accomplishments and personality, usually with a choice quote. My ignorance was only mildly assuaged, but there was a nice sense of continuity over the centuries (with only gap the effective rule of Oliver Cromwell). The noble ones who loved their subjects interspersed with the ones who were power mad, or just mad, and other who only wanted to make and spend their money on luxury or sin. ...more
Clare Holman-Hobbs
This was a little more in depth than The Tudor Treasury, which was good but sometimes it was a bit dense, but maybe that's just me! Also I liked that it went beyond just the Tudor Monarchs because I wanted to read about James I and VI too as he's Mary, Queen of Scots' son, so that was pretty interesting. I would definitely recommend this if you're looking to read up on British Monarchs, as it goes from 1066 right up to Elizabeth II.
Nov 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Given to me by my grandparents, I remember reading it from cover to cover. Before essays were a part of my life. Ahh... Those were the days!
This book basically gives very brief accounts of the lives of the kings and queens of England from William the Conquerer to Elizabeth II. Unfortunately, the brevity of each biography leaves the reader feeling like something was missing in each story. It seems like if one is going to create a work that is so comprehensive, it should be contained in several volumes rather than one book. I also believe (not that I'm an expert) that this book may be a bit dated as some of the arguments brought up (t ...more
Scott Martin
Audiobook. A decent overview of the Kings and Queens of England from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth II. A notable technique is how the author interconnects the lives of the kings and queens, discussing how they interacted with their parents and children in the paths to succession. It a very sorted mix. The author does try to maintain an overall balance approach to discussing the royals, in some cases challenging conventional wisdom and sometimes reaffirming it. It is not the most in-depth wo ...more
I did enjoy parts of this book quite a bit, but it was mainly for the Kings and Queens that I had read about previously. I read Shakespeare's "Richard III," so the stuff surrounding the War of the Roses was interesting. Also, the House of Windsor, which brings us up to date with the current royalty. I watched the movie "The King's Speech," so it was interesting placing various people into a timeline that I recognized. I feel like in order to get the most out of a book like this, I'll first have ...more
Jan 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a riveting read. The only thing I hated was the size of the book- which was not very portable. The paintings and photos of the monarchy were wonderful. Every British monarch is covered here, from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth II. Antonia Fraser is wonderful at analyzing each monarch's strengths and their faults. This book is great at making them all seem unique and special, with lots of personal details. This book would be a great inspiration to help you choose a monarch to read a ...more
Aug 10, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, english
This book is a high level overview of the lives of the kings and queens of England. Do not expect an in-depth analysis of each King and Queen. A lot of characters, plots and events are mentioned, without any background explanation. Therefore, for someone who doesn't have much knowledge of the English history, it might be overwhelming while, on the other hand, for someone who possesses much more knowledge this book might be shallow. The writing style on the other hand is enjoyable, making the boo ...more
Katie Baltrush
This book is most useful as an overview of the key events involving or effecting the lives of Britain's monarchs. Starting with the Battle of Hastings and going right through to the current queen, Elizabeth II, it lies somewhere between comprehensive history and encyclopedia. If this is a topic of interest for you, then this book is a good place to start as a way to find which monarchs or periods are of the greatest interest you. Form here, you will definitely want to involve yourself in further ...more
This book is excellent - it has small but very informative biographies on all Kings and Queens of Britain since William I, wonderful images (pictures, paintings, photographs, etc, all in perfect quality) and it has many helpful genealogic tables. I've used it as a textbook (since it has all the most important details put together in a very easy to read-and-find text) at university many times too.
Jul 08, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
Initally picked up this book because of the portraits. But I read it as well. Not much info on earlier monarchies, but if you're interested in the House of Windsor, 1/4 of the book is devoted to them. Was somewhat disappointed that the periods of 1700 and 1800 focused on the political cartoons rather than real portraits. Still looking for a portrait of Henry VIII before he got fat, still haven't found one.
Oct 06, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was actually by Antonia Fraser, but it's really only edited by her, and all the essays in it are written by men. I was kind of disappointed in it because, of course, the medieval stuff was just about warfare. Because that's all anyone ever did in the Middle Ages - fight wars. Ugh. Anyway, it wasn't terrible, but it wasn't exactly what I was hoping for either. Better luck next time, I guess.
While not a book that you sit down and read, it's definitely a coffee table book for history buffs. I just liked reading a little bit here and there, looking at the pictures. I mostly got it because I had this small book on the kings and queens of England and I wanted something bigger and sturdier. It has beautiful portraits throughout and the quality is superb, my only complaint, is that I found several typos and printing errors.
Aug 29, 2008 marked it as didnotfinish  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I think I'm going to finally call this one a did not finish. I made it up to Queen Elizabeth I. I did enjoy what I listened to up to that point, but my audio from the library expired, and there were too many other books that I wanted to listen to. I haven't really had the desire to go back & finish this one.
Jan 15, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's as good as I expected it to be. Basically it's just short snippets of every monarch in English history starting with William the Conqueror. It's good to get information about all of them, but since each section was so short I'd have to hunt down actual novels about any of the kings or queens that peaked my interest. Which I suppose it the purpose.
Paul Dinger
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though she only edited this work, Fraser's lively spirit is over it all. This book is both informative and entertaining. My brother, no fan of the English Royals, listened to the audio CD of this with me and has since read most books he can find on the subject. This is an excellent introduction for the layman while still being informative for those who love reading about this subject.
May 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fairly brisk and readable run through the Monarchy, there is some variability in point of view, but nothing to frighten the horses. Useful if you just want to learn the chronology, some excellently chosen illustrations, and lots of heraldry (which I skipped.) I read the first edition which stops at the wedding of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips....I wonder what happened next.....
Oct 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The sections are short enough that you don't get bogged down but long enough to provide context when reading biography, history, and historical fiction, and readable on its own. I find myself reaching for this often enough that I've left it on the coffee table, haven't bothered to put it back into the bookshelf.
May 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful! This was VERY well read (audio book), her accent was great. It was edited by Antonia Fraser (one of my favorite history authors & historian), and each section was written by a (sometimes) well known historian. It was a brief overview of 1000 years of English history, focusing on the highlights of each of the monarchs. Not only a great history, but also a great story.
Aug 31, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
I read this purely to place each monarch in their era as it is my intention to take a closer look at various monarchs in my reading for 2014. Zippy and informative enough to hone my interest in certain eras.
Lynn Smith
Sep 13, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A good introduction to the history of the Kings and Queens of England and an enjoyable read. A good signpost for anyone interested in constitutional history to go on to read more in depth individual historical biographies of monarchs one becomes interested in.
Dec 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I really liked this book. It gives a fair amount of general information. Enough to give you an overall picture. If you want more specific info on a monarch get a book on them individually. I do wish it went back a bit further.
Simone Collins
I enjoyed Antonia Fraser's Love and Louis XIV so much that I just had to pick this up.
Overall, this book is a wonderful compilation of short histories, and acts as a good jumping off point for further, more detailed research.
Hurrah for history!
Katie D'Angelo
Jan 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book with 3-4 page synopsis and pictures for each king and queen starting with William the Conquerer. It is a perfect read to get a general background and decide which kings and queens to read more about!
Deanna Against Censorship
Interesting overview but unfullfilling. I wanted and expected more. I bought the book. I wish I had gotten from the library. It gave quick snapshots of people and time, but not as researched as it should have been.
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Antonia Fraser is the author of many widely acclaimed historical works, including the biographies Mary, Queen of Scots (a 40th anniversary edition was published in May 2009), Cromwell: Our Chief of Men, King Charles II and The Gunpowder Plot (CWA Non-Fiction Gold Dagger; St Louis Literary Award). She has written five highly praised books which focus on women in history, The Weaker Vessel: Women's ...more
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