The White Ship: Conquest, Anarchy and the Wrecking of Henry I's Dream (Paperback)Charles Spencer (author)
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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: 280 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 23 mm
'Charles Spencer is a gifted storyteller ... Pivoted on one single, tragic winter evening. It is an event and a period of history that should be better known, and now it will be' - The Times
'How a drunk teenager shipwrecked the monarchy ... As colourful and racy narrative history goes, this absolutely gallops ... Whips through a hundred years of complex history from the Norman Conquest to Henry II' - The Daily Mail
'Rooted in the medieval chronicles, but crafted like a Hollywood thriller. Spencer is one of the finest narrative historians around' - The Mail on Sunday
'Spencer proves himself more than a match for the story. He guides the reader well through the dramatic twists and turns of these years, which first placed Henry on the throne, then seemed set to deny the succession of his progeny. Spencer has a particularly good eye for detail, enriching his account with vivid pen-portraits of the main players ... Fast-paced and immensely enjoyable' - The Literary Review
'Neglected by popular historians, [Henry I] ... has found a master storyteller in Charles Spencer ... rooted in excellent historical research ... a lyrical, vivid and compelling portrait. He succeeds in bringing to life huge characters from nearly a millennium ago' - The Spectator
'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
'Told with verve and an exceptional eye for detail, this is the story of how a single catastrophe changed the course of British history forever. Dramatic, compelling and utterly addictive' - Tracy Borman
'An epic, gripping history of hubris, piety, treachery, happenstance, rebellion and slaughter.' - The Catholic Herald
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“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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