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.