I’ve just divvied up (courtesy of Amazon Prime) for Andrew Gimson’s Kings and Queens: Brief Lives of the Forty Monarchs since 1066. The selling points here are just two:
- Gimson is a Tory, but a decent, liberal one (which means he must be severely distrusted by many in that Party). More than that, he is one of the better, human and humane centre-right bloviators who are readable.
- The illustrations are by the excellent Martin Rowson, who is a long urban mile away from anything right-of-centre.
@MartinRowson (hint! hint!) is generously sharing his illustrations through the social media. Here are the first two: Self-evidently Guillaume le Bâtard, the only contemporary image of whom I know is from his seal: Then comes the curious Guillaume-le-Ros, a.k.a. William Rufus — apparently the cognomen was from his ruddy face, while William of Malmesbury (writing a score of years after Rufus’s sad end) reckoned he had sandy hair: Rufus seems to have become King of England by a bit of sleight-of-hand. On his death-bed (and it was a long five weeks of dying) Guillaume le Conquérant sent his third (and second surviving) son to Lanfranc, along with the royal baubles and the English hostages. Once in England Rufus seized the treasury at Winchester, and within the fortnight had himself crowned by Lanfranc at Westminster Abbey.