• Biography: historical, political & military

      Union of Crowns

      The Forging of Europe's Most Independent State

      by Crawford. Little

      Today, when many are asking if it's time to end the 400-year-old union and look increasingly to a united Europe, this books prompts a greater understanding of the warts-and-all origins of Scotland's ancestral legacy. Did the Scots really cower in the shadow of their powerful, aggressive English neighbour? This book reveals a very different picture.;Scottish armies repeatedly invaded English-held territory, defying generations of Anglo-Norman kings, and it took many centuries to finally decide the fluid Border frontier. The author spells out the financial and military factors that helped to ensure Scotland's independence from the time of the Romans in Britain through Saxon, Norse and Norman invasions, the ravages of Edward Longshanks and the savagery of Henry VIII's "rough wooing".;How did the English people react to the Union of Crowns? Were the Scots incorporated against their will? This book explodes the myth that the crowns of England and Scotland were united in some sort of constitutional coincidence. It uncovers associations between many Scots and the English court and its secret service - lifting the lid on a murky underworld of collaborators, spies and assassins.;Did the French love the Scots as much as they hated the English? The author reveals the implications of the Auld Alliance between Scotland and France, and the legacy of England's foreign wars. The mutually sacrificial and loveless marriage of England and Scotland, arranged by Protestant pragmatists, secured independence for both countries which might otherwise have become Catholic dominions of France or Spain.;Who gained most from Britain's independence? Britain was just a small corner in a huge power struggle raging throughout Europe. The author reveals the ruthless, secular and political nature of religions that tortured and massacred men, women and children in their hundreds of thousands. Divided they might have fallen or been pushed into obscurity, but united the two countries stood as Europe's foremost independent Protestant state, the seat of democratic government and the foundation stone of much social and legal reform.

    • Memoirs
      March 2010

      25 Chapters of My Life

      Memoirs of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna

      by Olga Alexandranova, Paul Kulikovsky, Karen Roth-Nicholls, Sue Woolma

      The Grand Duchess Olga wrote her memoirs as a personal account of the final years of Imperial Russia. The youngest daughter of Alexander III and sister of Nicholas II, Olga was brought up in a happy and loving environment, where the wealth and majesty of the Russian court seemed forever assured. With an artist's eye for detail, she records her life against the background of the historical events, which shook the world. Her marriage to Prince Peter of Oldenburg failed, and she saw at first hand the horror and suffering while nursing in a field hospital during The Great War. At the onset of the Revolution in 1917, Olga and her new husband Nicholas Kulikovsky moved first to The Crimea and in early 1919 to the Caucasus, which was under White Russian control. When the Red Army moved in, Nicholas and Olga, with their two children, managed to escape to Denmark, and her mother's home. After the end of WWII the family emigrated to Canada to avoid the dangers posed by Soviet occupation of Danish territory. They settled in Toronto and Olga died there in 1960, the last Grand Duchess of the Imperial family. Grand Duchess Olga's account is all the more poignant for her matter-of-fact narrative, which fails to hide her deep humanity towards those less fortunate than herself. Containing many letters and pictures this is the first time her personal account has been fully published in English

    • Biography: royalty

      A Brief History of the Private Life of Elizabeth II

      Life behind the Palace Doors – A celebration of the 60-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II

      by Michael Paterson

      Elizabeth II is within a few years of becoming the longest-reigning British monarch. A personally quiet, modest and dutiful person, she is far better-informed about the lives of her subjects than they often realize. She has known every Prime Minister since Winston Churchill and every American President since Eisenhower.Yet what of the woman behind the crown?The book seeks to take a new look at this exhaustively-documented life and show how Queen Elizabeth became the person she is. Who, and what, have been the greatest influences upon her? What are her likes and dislikes? What are her hobbies? Who are her friends? What does she feel about the demands of duty and protocol? Is she really enjoying herself when she smiles during official events? How differently does she behave when out of the public eye? Examining the places in which she grew up or has lived, the training she received and her attitudes to significant events in national life, it presents a fresh view of one of recent history's most important figures.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      October 2017

      Richard II

      A True King's Fall

      by Kathryn Warner

      Richard II is a figure famous in England's national myths – the king who went insane, the narcissist, the tyrant of Shakespeare's play. History regards his rule either as that of a superhuman monarch or a crazed and vicious ruler. But Richard II was a complex and conflicted man – a person with faults and shortcomings thrust into a role that demanded greatness. In this book, Kathryn Warner returns with the first modern biography of Richard II in decades, to paint a portrait of the king with all of his strengths and imperfections left in the picture. An aesthete and patron of the arts as well as a person troubled by a much-maligned ‘personality disorder’, Richard II here emerges from behind the mask of a theatrical character.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      March 2019

      Louis XIV

      The Real King of Versailles

      by Josephine Wilkinson

      An intelligent, authoritative, and often surprising biography of the most famous of French monarchs. A fresh perspective on one of the most fascinating kings in European history. Praise for Josephine Wilkinson: 'An impressive revisionist biography.' The Times 'The writing is incisive, rigorous and academic whilst also being accessible and engaging.' Huffington Post Most recently the subject of a lavish primetime BBC historical drama, Louis XIV’s story has all the ingredients of a Dumas classic: legendary beginnings, beguiling women, court intrigue, a mysterious prisoner in an iron mask, lavish court entertainments, the scandal of a mistress who was immersed in the dark arts, and a central character who is handsome and romantic, but with a frighteningly dark side to his character. Louis believed himself to be semi-divine. His self-identification as the Sun King, which was reflected in iconography by the sun god, Apollo, influenced every aspect of Louis’s life: his political philosophy, his wars, and his relationships with courtiers and subjects. As a military strategist, Louis’s capacity was ambiguous, but he was an astute politician who led his country to the heights of sophistication and power—and then had the misfortune to live long enough to see it all crumble away. As the sun began to set upon this most glorious of reigns, it brought a gathering darkness filled with the anguish of dead heirs, threatened borders, and a populace that was dangerously dependent upon - but greatly distanced from - its king.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      September 2019

      Four Queens and a Countess

      Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I, Mary I, Lady Jane Grey and Bess of Hardwick: The Struggle for the Crown

      by Jill Armitage

      When Mary Stuart was forced off the Scottish throne she fled to England, a move that made her cousin Queen Elizabeth very uneasy. Elizabeth had continued the religious changes made by her father and England was a Protestant country, yet ardent Catholics plotted to depose Elizabeth and put Mary Stuart on the English throne. So what was Queen Elizabeth going to do with a kingdomless queen likely to take hers? She had her placed under house arrest with her old friend Bess of Hardwick, then married to her fourth husband, the wealthy and influential Earl of Shrewsbury. The charismatic Scotswoman was treated more like a dowager queen than a prisoner and enjoyed the Shrewsbury’s affluent lifestyle until Bess suspected Mary of seducing her husband. But for sixteen years, with the never-ending threat of a Catholic uprising, Bess was forced to accommodate Mary and her entourage at enormous cost to both her finances and her marriage. Bess had also known the doomed Jane Grey and Mary Tudor, Queen of France. She had been in service in the Grey household and companion to the infant Jane. Mary Tudor had been godmother to Bess’s fifth child. Four Queens and a Countess delves deep into the relationships of these women with their insurmountable differences, the way they tried to accommodate them and the lasting legacy this has left. The clash of personalities and its deadly political background have never been examined in detail before.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      August 2019

      Richard II

      A True King's Fall

      by Kathryn Warner

      Richard II is a figure famous in England's national myths – the king who went insane, the narcissist, the tyrant of Shakespeare's play. History regards his rule either as that of a superhuman monarch or a crazed and vicious ruler. But Richard II was a complex and conflicted man – a person with faults and shortcomings thrust into a role that demanded greatness. In this book, Kathryn Warner returns with the first modern biography of Richard II in decades, to paint a portrait of the king with all of his strengths and imperfections left in the picture. An aesthete and patron of the arts as well as a person troubled by a much-maligned ‘personality disorder’, Richard II here emerges from behind the mask of a theatrical character.

    • Autobiography: royalty

      Britain's Television Queen

      by Bob Crew

      Focusing purely on Queen Elizabeth II's relationship with television, this book shows how she was ahead of the game in helping to change the face of British television from the outset of her reign in 1953 when she let the cameras into Westminster Abbey. The Queen embraced television at a time when Winston Churchill and her government advisors recommended that she should keep them out - on the grounds that the cameras would destroy her royal mystique - right through the 1950s which was Britain's television decade (for reasons that are not generally understood today), when Britain became the first nation in the world to have public service television. In 1969 the Queen opened the doors to the cameras once again for the invention of Britain's first family-reality-TV, fly-on-the-wall programme, showing how she and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh and their children, Charles and Anne, went about their daily lives, thereby giving the seal of royal approval to reality-TV, ahead of the first programmes in the United States and the UK that followed in her wake. Queen Elizabeth II can accurately be described as a television queen, the first monarch to understand and embrace television and, in particular reality-TV, which is why she was light years ahead of other royals and her government ministers. Television was for her a right of passage and, not until she ran into bad and stormy weather with Princess Diana in the 1980s and 1990s, did she have any image problems with television. These problems no longer remain today, evidently, as once again the television arrangements are in full swing for her Diamond Jubilee celebrations this June. Queen Elizabeth II remains the most televised and visualised person in the world.

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