The thrilling launch of David Starkey's new mammoth venture - MONARCHY: 3 books linked to 18 hours of Channel 4 TV on the Kings and Queens of England, starting October 2004. Popular history of the most exciting, readable and challenging kind. The first of 3 volumes, which taken together under the overarching title of MONARCHY, will form a new groundbreaking history of England as told through the lives of its Kings and Queens. 'The Beginnings' is an in-depth examination of how the English monarchy came into being, and how England became a nation state. This is a history of ideas and ideals, as well as colourful characters brought to life by David Starkey's outstanding gifts as a communicator. His scholarship combines with engaging style and story-telling skills to produce another winner. The underlying theme is the link between the people and the monarchy which is more or less unique to England. This volume begins with Rome, the 'fount' from which all modern western European countries spring. The importance of the contrasting cultural and intellectual heritage of the Anglo-Saxons is underlined.
Wessex, round which England coalesced in the ninth and tenth centuries, was a participatory society which balanced an effective monarchy at the centre with institutions of local government which required - and got - the active involvement of most free men. It was this combination which enabled Wessex to survive and absorb the Viking invasions, and finally to thrive. Then came the crisis of the Norman invasion when, as one contemporary put it, 'God ordered that the English should cease to be a people'. But - as David Starkey demonstrates - the English proved resilient, and within forty years of the battle of Hastings had conquered Normandy. The values and practices of Anglo-Saxon politics had triumphed and the English nation state had been reborn.
Dr David Starkey is Bye Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. He is a winner of the W. H. Smith Prize for Biography (for Elizabeth) and the Norton Medlicott Medal for Service to History presented by the Historical Association.