THE MONARCHS OF ENGLAND by Jean Morris

THE MONARCHS OF ENGLAND

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A King is more than a ruler; he can be no ruler at all, and not for that cease to be a King. His secret is that he is hallowed as King. . . . What else is required of him varies from time to time. . . . "" This then is the author's loose but inclusive focus for her roll call of the hallowed rogues, rajahs and deadbeats who occupied the throne of England--from Alfred's negligible descendant William the Confessor, through Elizabeth II. And the author's biases reflect contemporary (sometimes cliched) scholarly estimates, although her hyperbolic style certainly does not: Richard III was ""hardworking, generous, honorable, etc., etc.""; the Hanoverians were en masse, ""gross, vulgar, humorless, etc., etc."" There is also a tendency to rather meaningless generalizations: ""The Normans were not altogether an attractive people."" And although we have no reason to dispute the statement that Henry II ""tore his mattress to pieces with his teeth"" we ought to be told just who stood by appalled--later to record the episode. The author has kind words for King John and William IV and she presents an entertaining view of Victoria: ""It is one of history's ironies that an era. . . suppressing women's sexuality was inaugurated by the downright sexual absorption of its first lady."" Before each portrait there is a brief statement of lineage, marriages, children and death dates. This collection of royal profiles has a dash more breadth and energy than Jane Murray's The Kings and Queens of England (1974)--but only a dash.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1975
Publisher: Charterhouse