Royal Panoply Brief Lives of the English Monarchs

Carolly Erickson

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

368 Pages



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In the minds of many readers, the English monarchs exist only as conventional images—Elizabeth I as the Virgin Queen, Victoria as an icon of prudery, Edward VIII as the romantic king who gave up his throne for love—while lesser-known rulers such as William IV or Henry VI are mere names. Royal Panoply: Brief Lives of the English Monarchs replaces these stereotypic images with multifaceted portraits, bringing each of England's rulers to life. Here is the puny Charles I, nervous, tense, and socially awkward; the frail, slight Richard II, melancholic and sad; the homosexual James I with his handsome favorites; the stuttering William II and the stammering George VI. Here also is the choleric, violent William I (William the Conqueror), bred among the chaos of constant warfare in his native Normandy, ceaselessly embattled once he became King of England. The unkingly Henry III, mild and charitable, despised by his barons for his weakness. And the well-meaning, deeply affectionate Queen Anne, whose many children all died before they could reach adulthood and who was so heavy and gout-ridden that she had to be carried to her coronation. Each ruler's life has a unique story, and Royal Panoply tells that story with award-winning historian Carolly Erickson's characteristic blend of scholarly authenticity, engaging prose, and psychological insight. The focus is not merely on the tale of each reign, but on each king's or queen's entire life, for some rulers did not come to the throne until middle age, and had already led full lives before their accession.


Praise for Royal Panoply

"After her first venture into fiction, Erickson returns to the familiar turf of royal biography. From William of Normandy, who seized the English throne in 1066 and became the formidably galvanizing William I, to the remote Elizabeth II, Erickson covers centuries of British monarchy in knowledgeable . . . biographies . . . [A]n accessible source for readers who can't get enough of kings and queens."—Kirkus Reviews
"Erickson, author of several royal biographies, offers an entertaining history of English rulers from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth II that proves why this rather old-fashioned genre is still popular. Erickson devotes about 10 pages to each monarch—as much to Queen Anne as to Queen Victoria. Each chapter stands independently: material is often repeated about transitions in reign, convenient for use as a reference . . . [T]hese accounts remain fascinating and, in the end, great stories."—Publishers Weekly

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Distinguished historian Carolly Erickson is the author of Rival to the Queen, The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots, The First Elizabeth, The Hidden Life of Josephine, The Last Wife of Henry VIII, and many other prize-winning works of fiction and nonfiction. Her novel The Tsarina’s Daughter won the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction. She lives in Hawaii.
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  • Carolly Erickson

  • A Ph.D. in medieval history from Columbia University led Carolly Erickson to six years as a college professor, then to a career as a full-time writer. Her many prize-winning biographies, including The First Elizabeth, Her Little Majesty and Alexandra, have reached a wide international audience. The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette is her first novel. Her second, The Last Wife of Henry VIII, will be published by St .Martin's Press in fall 2006. Carolly Erickson lives in Hawaii.
  • Carolly Erickson Photo: Brian Reed