'The sun and the day darkened about the noon-tide. Men were very much struck with wonder ... they said openly that Christ and his saints slept... There was nothing but disturbance and wickedness and robbery.' (The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle)
Henry I had a great number of children, but his only legitimate male heir was drowned when the White Ship foundered. His daughter, Matilda, her father's choice to succeed, had some problems. She was a woman, for a start, and her cousin, Stephen, was, unlike her, in England and able to act.
This new book from Teresa Cole tells the story of what has become known as The Anarchy, when twelfth-century England was torn apart by the fight for the throne and the opposing forces of the Empress Matilda and King Stephen.
It's a complicated history, one which I only really know from having read fiction set in the period, but the author does a tremendous job of explaining the complicated family connections, the siege warfare and the politics of the time.
She has a lightness of phrase which makes the book easy to read, yet all the information is there, making this a volume full of well-researched information presented in an extremely readable way.
Making full use of the primary sources, the author presents the history of the period in an assured and measured way, allowing the story almost to tell itself.
I found this an easy yet informative read and would recommend it to anyone wishing to learn more about this turbulent period of history which led, ultimately, to the era of the Plantagenet rulers.
Find The Anarchy on Amazon and at Amberley Books
[I was sent an advance review copy by the publishers]
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