HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Quarrel with the King by Adam Nicolson
Loading...

Quarrel with the King (2008)

by Adam Nicolson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
155877,049 (3.3)10

None.

None
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 10 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
This book was a bit stuffy and eclectic but it did have some wonderful insight into the wealthy Pembroke family as well as some vivid descriptions of some of the larger estates in England. It was quite dry and textbookish so it was a bit difficult to push on to the end. Overall it was just ok. ( )
  RandyHarper | Apr 1, 2017 |
Given the number of titles under which this book has been released, clearly there's a bit of confusion about the focal point of the study, something made pretty clear when reading. It's not really so much about the Pembroke family's "quarrel with the king" as with the changing fortunes of the great families in the decades leading up to the Civil War, and about the concept of the "Arcadian ideal." Not a perfect book, but perfectly good for an afternoon's reading. ( )
  JBD1 | Dec 30, 2016 |
Fascinating book, let down by three things. First, the author strains too hard to link everything about Wilton and the Herberts into his thesis on the impact of the 'Arcadia' concept on the people and events of the period. Second, although much of the writing is fine, there are two many lapses into complex and elaborate sentence and paragraph structure, possibly a side effect to the need to make everything relate to 'Arcadia'. Third - at least in my copy - the dire monochrome reproduction of the many portraits - these are so bad that I'd have preferred to do without them altogether. ( )
  NaggedMan | Jun 18, 2014 |
Nicolson traces the family history of the Herberts from the court of Henry VIII through the Catastrophe of the Civil War in the 1640s. He details the power plays and court intrigues in which the Herberts indulged, but it is ultimately the Arcadian ideal that Nicolson is most interested in. Mary Sidney, sister to Sir Philip Sidney, author of Arcadia was married to Henry Herbert, the 2nd Earl of Pembroke and mother to William and Philip Herbert, successively the 3rd and 4th Earls of Pembroke.

Nicolson tries to define the Arcadian ideal as expressed both in Sidney's book and Mary's continuations and revisions of it after his death, and in the life at Wilton Castle, the Herbert estate:

This Arcadian heartland is a mysterious place for us; consciously elitist but fiercely Protestant in religion; prepared -- just -- to countenance the overthrow of kings, but courtly to a degree in manner and self-conception; political in its removal from the political world; aristocratic, community-conscious, potentially rebellious, literary, martial, playful, earnest, antiquarian, English, Italianate, and nostalgic. But this is the essence: Arcadia sees an aristocracy not as an element of a controlling establishment but as an essential organ in a healthy state, a check and balance on the centralizing power of the crown and the true source of authority and care in the lands it owns. The vision of Arcadia is not far from the desire for wholeness that the communities of the chalkland valleys wished to embody in their elaborate ancient constitutions.

Nicolson is not naive about the contradictions and disconnect from the daily life of ordinary townspeople and laborers, but he does reveal a certain nostalgia himself for an ancient pastoral England in which the rights and duties and positions of each member of society were understood and mutually dependant on the others -- reminiscent of William Blake and William Morris. Perhaps this is entirely understandable coming from the son of Nigel Nicolson and grandson of Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West. He and his wife Sarah Raven are Resident Donors, in partnership with the National Trust, of Sissinghurst Castle and Gardens.

The book is certainly a fascinating peek into the rise and fall of the Herbert fortunes in a turbulent period in English history. ( )
3 vote janeajones | Nov 10, 2013 |
While Nicolson's well-researched history focuses on the Pembroke family, his true subject is the shifting English power politics and economic base in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Earls of Pembroke are the perfect representation of the rapidly changing social and political structures at court and in the countryside. The first earl was a 'made man' from Wales who rose through the ranks on the merits of his rather shady talents (he was both a spy and a murderer), and once he arrived, he sought to legitimize his title and his legacy by tying his allegiance to the old manorial system--a system that was already beginning to crumble as the country shifted from a land-based to a money-based economy, and as the London became increasingly centralized. Much of Nicolson's study focuses on the third earl, William Herbert, who perhaps most successfully straddled the fences between two worlds and two eras, working to extend the pastoral ideal of his uncle, Sir Philip Sidney, into the heart of the Jacobean court itself. But the Pembrokes fared less well under Charles I, who so firmly believed in the divine right of kings that he ignored the old chains of reciprocity between king and lords, lords and tenants. Treating the rest of the country as if its sole purpose was to provide the luxuries of an isolated, effete court and cannon fodder for ill-conceived wars was an attitude that disturbed the third earl--and one that eventually led to the outbreak of civil war, the dissolution of the monarchy, and the loss of Charles's head. The family fortunes fell under Oliver Cromwell's Commonwealth, and by the time the monarchy was restored, both it and the ideals of the Pembrokes had drastically changed forever--as had England itself. Nicolson's afterward points out how the gap between rich and poor expanded drastically in the 18th century, affecting in particular those who lived in the outlying counties, where farmers who were once self-sufficient, able to feed and clothe their own families from the direct results of their own labor, were now forced to focus on producing goods for sale and rarely earned enough coins to sustain them.

I found this approach to be an interesting and clever way to address familiar issues in a new way, one that put a more human face on them. Nicolson includes descriptions of well-known portraits of the Pembrokes by VanDyke, Lely, and other famous painters, includes quotes from letters and literature of the day, and provides just enough personal anecdotes about the family and members of their circle to keep the narrative engaging. I do wonder, however, if those less familiar with this period in history and the many persons mentioned in the book might be a bit overwhelmed. While it is indeed an interesting look at history, I wouldn't recommend it as an introduction to English court politics. ( )
1 vote Cariola | Jun 3, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Quarrel with the King is the title of the American edition. In Britain the book has been published both as Earls of Paradise and Arcadia.
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061154318, Hardcover)

Spanning the most turbulent and dramatic years of English history—from the 1520s through 1650—Quarrel with the King tells the remarkable saga of one of the greatest families in English history, the Pembrokes, following their glamorous trajectory across three generations of change, ambition, resistance, and war. With vivid color and fascinating detail, acclaimed historian Adam Nicolson recounts the story of a century-long power struggle between England's richest family and the English Crown—a fascinating study of divided loyalties, corruption, rights and privilege, and all the ambiguities involved in the exercise and maintenance of power and status.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:21 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Spanning the most turbulent and dramatic years of English history -- from the 1520s through 1650 -- Quarrel with the King tells the remarkable saga of one of the greatest families in English history, the Pembrokes, following their glamorous trajectory across three generations of change, ambition, resistance, and war. With vivid color and fascinating detail, acclaimed historian Adam Nicolson recounts the story of a century-long power struggle between England's richest family and the English Crown -- a fascinating study of divided loyalties, corruption, rights and privilege, and all the ambiguities involved in the exercise and maintenance of power and status. - Publisher.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
15 wanted3 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.3)
0.5
1
1.5
2 4
2.5 3
3 5
3.5 3
4 5
4.5
5 3

Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 115,195,800 books! | Top bar: Always visible