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Unruly: The Number One Bestseller ‘Horrible Histories for grownups’ The Times

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Worryingly the country was better governed during that year than at any other time during the reign. The intensity of intra-familial hatred in many periods of royal history makes the William and Harry rift look like a tersely raised eyebrow over a Boxing Day game of Trivial Pursuit.

But this ruthlessness, while showing ambition and vigour, was no barrier to incompetence or vainglorious delusion. How this happened, who it happened to and why it matters in modern Britain are all questions David answers with brilliance, wit and the full erudition of a man who once studied history – and won’t let it off the hook for the mess it’s made. Perhaps his most ridiculous moment came in 1205 when, having lost most of his French lands, he organised a massive expedition to try to get them back which, at the 11th hour, the entire English aristocracy refused to join.It would be entirely inappropriate if today’s constitutional monarchy – which is there as a picturesque reminder of our action-packed past, of the wrong-headed chaos the country emerged from – didn’t faintly reflect that. He might particularly enjoy reading this passage about why it’s unnecessary to decide between the awfulness of King Stephen and Queen Matilda: “They were both twats.

Throughout the middle ages, our rulers supposedly had the endorsement of God, which made their failures all the more humiliating. It was something more along the lines of ‘What sort of a bunch of saps have I surrounded myself with that they let me get treated like shit by this fucking oik?David brings a delightfully contrary and hilariously cantankerous eye to the history of the English Monarchy.

David Mitchell brings adelightfully contrary and hilariously cantankerous eye to the history of the English monarchy, offering a jewel of an insight or a refreshing blast of clarifying wit on every page.Everyone on the ship died except for a solitary Norman butcher, and among the watery dead was the heir to the throne. BBC One), the host of The Unbelievable Truth on Radio 4 and one of the Observer's most popular columnists. Had he, as an ambitious minor prince, not suffered a sudden, violent bout of food poisoning while on board a ship in Barfleur harbour in 1120, he wouldn’t have disembarked before it headed into the Channel and sank.

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