The White Ship: Conquest, Anarchy and the Wrecking of Henry I's Dream (Hardback)Charles Spencer (author)
With echoes of a real-life Game of Thrones, Spencer’s account of the sinking of the White Ship and the loss of Henry I’s heir opens into a riveting saga of civil war, regal plotting and familial betrayal.
The sinking of the White Ship on the 25th November 1120 is one of the greatest disasters that England has ever suffered. Its repercussions would change English and European history for ever.
King Henry I was sailing for England in triumph after four years of fighting the French. Congregating with the king at the port of Barfleur on that freezing November night was the cream of Anglo-Norman society: three of his children, including the only legitimate male heir to the throne, as well as the flower of the aristocracy, famous knights, and mighty courtiers. By 1120, Henry was perhaps the most formidable ruler in Europe, with an enviable record on the battlefield, immense lands and wealth, and unprecedented authority in his kingdoms. Everything he had worked so hard for was finally achieved, and he was ready to hand it on to his beloved son and heir, William AEtheling.
Henry I and his retinue set out first. The White Ship - considered the fastest afloat - would follow, carrying the young prince. Spoilt and arrogant, William had plied his comrades and crew with drink from the minute he stepped aboard. It was the middle of the night when the drunken helmsman rammed the ship into rocks. There would be only one survivor from the gilded roll call of passengers...
Written to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the shipwreck, Charles Spencer evokes the harsh and brutal story of the Normans from Conquest to Anarchy. With their heir dead, a civil war of untold violence erupted, a game of thrones which saw families turned in on each other with English and Norman barons, rebellious Welsh princes and the Scottish king all playing a part in a bloody, desperate scrum for power.
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Number of pages: 352
Weight: 600 g
Dimensions: 240 x 159 x 33 mm
'Out of a 900-year-old moment of heart-stopping tragedy, Charles Spencer conjures an exhilarating narrative full of incident and insight. Here is the story, marvellously told, of the post-Conquest kings - and one almost-queen - of England: unpredictable, violently dramatic, and never less than compelling.' - Helen Castor
Praise for Charles Spencer's To Catch A King:
'Authoritative narrative history with the pace of a Jason Bourne film' - Books of the Year, Evening Standard
'A truly thrilling tale which Spencer, a natural storyteller, delivers with erudition and wit ... an exhilarating read' - Daily Telegraph
'A book of quite extraordinary period atmosphere, the most diligent research and an appropriately cracking pace' - Sunday Express
'It's a wonderful tale, and Spencer tells it with journalistic flair' - The Times
'Riveting...To Catch a King is as gripping as any thriller' - Sunday Telegraph
'One of the joys of this book...is just how close the reader gets to the action. The day-by-day account of the fugitive's doings provide delicious details. Charles Spencer is the perfect person to pass the story onto a new generation. His pacey, readable prose coasts elegantly through the great tale. To Catch a King is a cracking read and those who come to it knowing little of the famous tale will find they have a treat in store' - Literary Review
'In this pacey slice of narrative history Charles Spencer...constructs this spare but atmospheric account of six weeks that changed the course of English history' - Mail on Sunday
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ReviewsView all Sign In To Write A Review
“Cannot believe this isn't fiction!”
Who knew history was so interesting? Rather than dull statistics and dates, Spencer fully details this piece of history so that it reads more like a thriller or a Game of Thrones plot line. It's quite seriously... More
“Historical non-fiction at its finest”
This really is historical non-fiction at its finest. Spencer goes beyond a mere presentation of the facts of this chaotic period in the English monarchy by bringing to life the key personalities, turning them from... More
Bought for me as a present but on my list. This really is like Game of Thrones. I knew next to nothing about this period of history but Charles Spencer is up there with Christopher Hibbert in writing history in a very... More
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