Mammoth Book of British Kings Queens: The Complete Biographical Encyclopedia of the Kings and Queens of Britain (The Mammoth Book Series)

ISBN 10: 0786704055 / ISBN 13: 9780786704057
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Synopsis: Organized chronologically, a uniquely comprehensive, illustrated record of the kings and queens of Britain and Ireland covers more than one thousand monarchs, rulers, nobles, and dignitaries and two millennia of history, along with genealogies showing the descent of all the leading royal dynasties."

From Booklist: The result of some 30 years of research by a prolific writer on British royalty, this chronology provides biographical information on more than 1,000 sovereigns from approximately 100 B.C. to Elizabeth II, a period of more than 2,000 years. The volume opens with "The Royal Book of Records," consisting of such lists as the longest and shortest reigns, the youngest monarchs to die, and the oldest monarchs to be married. Ashley points out that most chronologies of the British monarchy start with Egbert (802^-839). He believes, however, that there is sufficient credibility in Welsh legend to accept the authenticity of the Beli Mawr, a semi-legendary British king who was probably a historical figure, as the starting point for this survey, which is divided into three sections: "The Dark Ages" (from around 100 B.C. to around 900), "The Fight for Britain" (from around 900 to 1300), and "Uniting the Kingdom" (from 1300 to the present). Each section has numerous letter-coded subsections in order to cover all of the kingdoms and royal houses that by the Act of Union in 1707 formally brought Scotland, England, and Wales together into a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Biographical entries, supported throughout with time lines, maps, and family trees, vary in length from a line or two to several pages. They are current to at least August 1997 and the death of Diana. Longer entries critically assess the king or queen's reign. Concluding the chronological survey is a section called "The World Around Them," containing biographies of legendary or semi-historical kings of Britain and Scotland; and charts for other kingdoms in Europe whose rulers either had some dominion over Britain or vice versa. This is followed by a gazetteer of sites with a strong royal connection, a bibliography (current to 1997), and an index.

Written in a lively style and covering more than 2,000 years and 1,000 monarchs (more than any previous compilation), The Mammoth Book of British Kings and Queens will be a useful resource for academic and public libraries.

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