India Black and the Widow of Windsor by Carol K. Carr (bought)
Black is back! Her Majesty’s favorite spy is off to Scotland in this new adventure to ensure the Queen doesn’t end up getting killed.
When Queen Victoria attends a séance, the spirit of her departed husband, Prince Albert, insists she spend Christmas at their Scottish home in Balmoral. Prime Minister Disraeli suspects the Scottish nationalists plan to assassinate the Queen-and sends the ever resourceful India and the handsome British spy, French, to the Scottish highlands.
French will take the high road, looking for a traitor among the guests-and India will take the low road, disguised as a servant in case an assassin is hiding among the household staff. India is certain that someone at Balmoral is determined to make this Her Majesty’s last Christmas…
Charlemagne and Roland by Allan Massie (bought)
A truly European monarch, Charlemagne was king of the Franks from 768 to 814 and for some of that time king of the Lombards, too. From 800, when at Mass on Christmas day in Rome, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne Imperator Romanorum (Emperor of the Romans) he became the renewer of the Western Empire, which had expired in the 5th century. His dual role as Emperor and King of the Franks provided the historical link between the Imperial dignity and the Frankish kingdoms and later Germany. Today both France and Germany look to him as a founding figure of their respective countries. His nephew, Roland, was also renowned for his prowess in battle and was the inspiration for the Chanson de Roland which recounts the story of the battle of Roncesvalles, in which he died.
The Wars of the Roses: Peace and Conflict in 15th Century England by John Gillingham (bought)
It was the period when the French beat the English and the English fought among themselves. Traditional historians have glossed over it, considering it the time that wrecked Britain’s military greatness. But Gillingham elegantly separates myth from reality, arguing that, paradoxically, the wars actually proved how peaceful the country was.
The Kings & Queens of Scotland by Richard Oram (bought)
The history of the Scottish monarchy can be presented as a long tale of triumph over adversity, characterized by the personal achievements of its truly remarkable rulers who transformed their fragile kingdom into the master of northern Britain. This volume charts that process, tracing it through the lives of the men and women whose ambitions drove it forward on the often rocky path from its semi-mythical foundations to its integration into the Stewart kingdom of Great Britain. It is a route filled with such towering personalities as Macbeth, Robert the Bruce, and Mary Queen of Scots, whose lives have made an indelible imprint in world history, but directed also by a host of less well-known figures, such as Causantin mac Aeda, who challenged the heirs of Alfred for the mastery of Britain; David I, who extended his kingdom almost to the gates of York; and James IV, builder of the finest navy in northern Europe. Their will and ambition, successes, and failures not only shaped modern Scotland, but have left their mark throughout the British Isles and the wider world.
The Battle of Hastings: The Fall of Anglo-Saxon England by Harriet Harvey Wood (bought)
1066 remains the most famous date in English history. Harriet Harvey Wood’s original and fascinating book tells a story that few of us know. She shows that, rather than bringing culture and enlightenment to England, the Normans’ aggressive and illegal invasion destroyed a long-established and highly developed civilization, far ahead of other European societies in the sophistication of its political institutions, art and literature. Harvey Wood explores the background and lead-up to the invasion and the motives of the leading players, the state of warfare in England and Normandy in 1066, and the battle itself. Judged before the event, King Harold ought to have won the Battle of Hastings without difficulty and to have enjoyed a peaceful and enlightened reign. That he did not was largely a matter of sheer bad luck. This gripping and entertaining book shows how he came to be defeated, and what England lost as a result of his defeat and death.
Margaret the Queen by Nigel Tranter (bookmooch)
The story of the mild and saintly Margaret of Scotland. A young refugee Saxon princess, 24 years old when she arrived north of the border, she gained the throne of Scotland and tamed her wild and warlike people. Single handed, she changed the nation’s destiny and won their lasting love.