Unruly: The Ridiculous History of England’s Kings and Queens

Books on Tape. Oct. 2023. 11:39 hrs. ISBN 9780593826775. $95. HIST
Comedian and author Mitchell (Back Story) offers a hilarious yet well-researched history of England’s earliest rulers. He begins with King Arthur, who, he contends, may have never even existed. And if he did, he certainly wasn’t the King Arthur of legend. From there, he traverses the nation’s history from Roman state to global powerhouse, taking listeners up to the final Tudor monarch, Elizabeth I. The author covers how royalty came into being and the importance they placed on having a male heir. He examines monarchs such as Henry VIII as well as lesser-known rulers, some of whom wore the crown only for days. His sardonic yet lighthearted commentary is enhanced with his own perfectly timed narration, ensuring that sarcastic asides and jokes land just as intended. Mitchell’s most important takeaway? Royal family members are no different from anyone else—they historically just decided that they were better and would not accept opinions to the contrary.
VERDICT An absurdist history of English monarchs that entertains as it informs. Pair with Stephen Bates’s The Shortest History of the Crown.
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