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The Hollow Crown: A History of Britain in…
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The Hollow Crown: A History of Britain in the Late Middle Ages (2005)

by Miri Rubin

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236275,624 (3.2)5
There is no more haunting, compelling period in Britain's history than the later middle ages. The extraordinary kings - Edward III and Henry V, the great warriors, Richard II and Henry VI, tragic inadequates killed by their failure to use their power, and Richard III, the demon king. The extraordinary events - the Black Death that destroyed a third of the population, the Peasants' Revolt, the Wars of the Roses, the Battle of Agincourt. The extraordinary artistic achievements - the great churches, castles and tombs that still dominate the landscape, the birth of the English language in The Canterbury Tales. For the first time in a generation, a historian has had the vision and confidence to write a spell-binding account of the era immortalised by Shakespeare's history plays. The Hollow Crown brilliantly brings to life for the reader a world we have long lost - a strange, Catholic, rural country of monks, peasants, knights and merchants, almost perpetually at war - but a world which continues to define so much of England's national myth.… (more)

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This is an ambitious historical overview of late medieval England, and as so often is the case, a number of topics are touched upon but little is explored with any depth. The tumultuous political history of this period (complete with deposed monarchs, usurping queens, murdered princes, shifting loyalties, and plenty of warfare) is considered alongside the social and cultural aspects of the age. The Black Death ravaged the population in the earlier part of this period and by the end, printed books were beginning to appear in England. While this book is a good introduction to late medieval England, readers more familiar with the period will likely find a lot missing and will crave more detail than this overview can provide. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Oct 26, 2014 |
The less you know, the better you will like this book.

That's an unfair summary, but it sums up my immediate reaction. That, or, "Who edited this thing?"

All authors make slips in writing. That's what editors and colleagues are for. They're supposed to catch the errors before the book goes to press. But this book really does not appear to have been edited. There are too many little slips (wrong names, wrong dates) for a finished product.

If you can live with that, the book is interesting for its view of a period in which the English monarchy was trying to decide just what form it should take -- what the rules of inheritance were, what the role of parliament was, what the rights of the people were. The period from the accession of Richard II (1377) to the overthrow of Richard III (1485) did much to shape the future of England, and with it, the world. This book, with its emphasis on the problems of the traditional monarchy, does much to bring that into focus. But read it for the overview. Individual facts in the text are far from reliable. ( )
1 vote waltzmn | Feb 29, 2012 |
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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