Crown & Sceptre: A New History of the British Monarchy, from Willam the Conqueror to Elizabeth II

Atlantic Monthly. Feb. 2022. 576p. ISBN 9780802159106. $32. HIST
Having previously written biographies of Tudor monarchs and their contemporaries, historian Borman (The Private Lives of the Tudors) expands her view in this general history of England’s monarchs, from the days before William the Conqueror’s rule, to the current reign of Elizabeth II. Borman’s ruler-by-ruler approach limits her to providing only a brisk summary of each, with several major high and low points of their rule; while the text provides a satisfactory amount of basic information, readers who find themselves interested in the fuller history of particular figures or events might be frustrated. More effective is Borman’s overall look at the development of English rulership in general, as the book’s organization allows readers to follow the changing roles of both the monarch and Parliament as well as the increasing importance of public perception of character and traditional pageantry in maintaining the monarchy as an institution. The extensive notes and biography offer starting points for further reading.
VERDICT Those already familiar with English history won’t find new material here but this would be a good introduction for others, and Borman’s bibliography leads to more focused biographies and histories.
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