Foundation: The History of England Volume I
About this deal
If you’ve ever wondered about the origins of mistrusts and hatreds between Catholic and Protestants in England, this is a good place to start. This is a very ambitious book, covering the period from prehistory up to the death of Henry VII, and really it would be a good ideas to have some sort of computer programme such as Visio to hand while reading it, because the relationships between the main players becomes confusing. But this is not really a fault. I was prompted to read this book after reading the author's version of the Canterbury Tales, and I'm pleased I did. Hawksmoor, winner of both the Whitbread Novel Award  and the Guardian Fiction Prize, was inspired by Iain Sinclair's poem "Lud Heat" (1975), which speculated on a mystical power from the positioning of the six churches Nicholas Hawksmoor built. The novel gives Hawksmoor a Satanical motive for the siting of his buildings, and creates a modern namesake, a policeman investigating a series of murders. Chatterton (1987), a similarly layered novel explores plagiarism and forgery and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. London: The Biography is an extensive and thorough discussion of London through the ages. In 1994 he was interviewed about the London Psychogeographical Association in an article for The Observer, in which he remarked:
The author offers thoughtful new insights into age-old discussions of English history. I particularly enjoyed the way the chapters alternate between narratives about the people in power, and descriptions of everyday life. No surprises: A king dies or is killed just to be replaced by another one and this goes on for centuries. Each of the Tudor monarchs approached religion in different ways. Henry’s son Edward VI ruled only for a few years, but during that time England shifted significantly to the Calvinist position. A new Treason Act was introduced in 1563, passed specifically to protect the religious changes; it was a ‘considered a serious offence question the royal supremacy or to dissent from the articles of faith that the English Church now enjoined’.I put those words in quotes because I think they're imaginary, foul concepts. Obviously, I recognize that such classes were created and had a monumental impact, and I'm fascinated by them, but I sure don't recognize them as "noble," much less royal.) He recounts the foreign wars, the civil strife and warring kings. He also offers a vivid sense of how life was in England from the jokes people told, the houses they built, the food they ate and the clothes they wore.
I've never really 'done' any history - my ideas of the Tudors until recently were Henry VIII = a sort of half-timbered shouting Brian Blessed and Elizabeth I = Miranda Richardson - so I guess I'd probably have liked any book which told their crazy stories fairly competently.I truly believe that there are certain people to whom or through whom the territory, the place, the past speaks. ... Just as it seems possible to me that a street or dwelling can materially affect the character and behaviour of the people who dwell in them, is it not also possible that within this city (London) and within its culture are patterns of sensibility or patterns of response which have persisted from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and perhaps even beyond?  He takes his readers from the construction of Stonehenge to the establishment of cathedrals and common law, which were two of the great glories of medieval England. He takes us to the most distant past of England to a medieval manor house, a Saxon tomb, a Roman fort and a Neolithic stirrup that was discovered in an ancient grave. The 'great theme' of this book is the Reformation of the church in England. At the beginning of Henry VIII's reign (1509-1547) the Church in England was entirely Catholic, its forms of organisation and worship essentially medieval. The Pope in Rome held supreme authority, the Church lords and institutions held great lands and treasures, thousands of men and women lived religious lives as monks and nuns, and the monasteries and convents provided what we would now call social services like relief for the poor and medical care.
When the first sarsen stone was raised in the circle of Stonehenge, the land we call England was already very ancient. Close to the village of Happisburgh, in Norfolk, seventy-eight flint artifacts have recently been found; they were scattered approximately 900,000 years ago. So the long story begins."
All across the USA, people are showing up dead. The deaths don't appear to be connected in any way until one particular death occurs and gets the Secretary of Defense's attention. He arranges for a task force to investigate. This book covers from Stonehenge to the end of the Plantagenet rule with the death of Richard III in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth Field. I also had a relative that fought on the side of the Tudor usurpers (well how they are referred to in my household anyway) he was knighted on the battlefield by Henry VII for his role in helping to slay Richard.