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Description de l’éditeur
Having written enthralling biographies of London and of its great river, the Thames, Peter Ackroyd now turns to England itself. This first volume of six takes us from the time that England was first settled, more than 15,000 years ago, to the death in 1509 of the first Tudor monarch, Henry VII. In Foundation, Ackroyd takes us from Neolithic England, which we can only see in the most tantalizing glimpses - a stirrup found in a grave, some seeds at the bottom of a bowl - to the long period of Roman rule; from the Dark Ages when England was invaded by a ceaseless tide of Angles, Saxons and Jutes, to the twin glories of medieval England - its great churches and monasteries and its common law. With his extraordinary skill for evoking time and place, he tells the familiar story of king succeeding king in rich prose, with profound insight and some surprising details. The food we ate, the clothes we wore, the punishments we endured, even the jokes we told are all found here, too.
This first in a projected six-volume history by ber-prolific novelist and literary biographer Ackroyd (London: The Biography) starts with the Stone Age, devotes most of its pages to the Middle Ages, and ends with the death of the first Tudor king, Henry VII, in 1509. Beginning with the earliest archeological remains dating to 900,000 years ago, Ackroyd continues from the first to the 13th centuries. when England was continually colonized and exploited by foreigners, including various Germanic tribes such as the Angles and Saxons, Vikings, and Normans. Ackroyd's parade of monarchs includes mostly ruthless abusers of England's resources, while the author also outlines gradual steps toward democracy. The first Plantagenet king, Henry II, imposed a system of national justice and destroyed Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket; King John was forced to guarantee his barons' rights through the Magna Carta; and Edward I established the Parliament, but brutalized Scots and Jews. Although the storytelling is witty, provocative, and highly readable, the history is flawed too many years are stuffed into one volume to be truly satisfying, and Ackroyd's repeated claims about deep continuity often feel forced, such as linking the Kentish uprising against Richard III to a modern-day Kentish miners' strike as a sign of the people's fierce independence. 51 illus.