Unruly: The Ridiculous History of England's Kings and Queens (Hardcover)
"The subtitle of this book is 'The Ridiculous HIstory of England's Kings and Queens', and it is certainly the ridiculous Mitchell focuses on, with hardly a glimpse of the sublime, as he doesn't really see anything truly redemptive in the various monarchs in England's long history. This is one of the unusual things at play, as royal history is often presented in a triumphalist way, but Mitchell sees nothing of the sort here, just a long line of violent bullies, ineffective fools, and everything in between. The other unusual thing is that he begins before 1066, as England did not suddenly come into existence with the Norman Conquest. Instead we have the legendary Arthur, and several notable Anglo-Saxon monarchs, before we even get to William the Conqueror. For anyone who enjoys a truly humorous and off the wall alternative to the usual way history is presented."--Reviewed by Andrew
“Clever, amusing, gloriously bizarre and razor sharp. Mitchell [is] a funny man and a skilled historian.”―The Times
Think you know the kings and queens of England? Think again.
In Unruly, David Mitchell explores how early England’s monarchs, while acting as feared rulers firmly guiding their subjects’ destinies, were in reality a bunch of lucky bastards who were mostly as silly and weird in real life as they appear today in their portraits.
Taking us back to King Arthur (spoiler: he didn’t exist), Mitchell tells the founding story of post-Roman England up to the reign of Elizabeth I (spoiler: she dies). It’s a tale of narcissists, inadequate self-control, middle-management insurrection, uncivil wars, and a few Cnuts, as the English evolved from having their crops stolen by the thug with the largest armed gang to bowing and paying taxes to a divinely anointed king.
How this happened, who it happened to, and why the hell it matters are all questions that Mitchell 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.
A funny book that takes history seriously, Unruly is for anyone who has ever wondered how the British monarchy came to be—and who is to blame.
“Mischievous . . . astute and distinctive.”—The Wall Street Journal
“David Mitchell brings a delightfully 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. Unruly is informative, illuminating, and very, very funny.”—Jesse Armstrong, writer and creator of Succession
“A sardonic, endlessly funny update to the classic 1066 and All That.”—Kirkus Reviews