Lost your password?
Don't have an account? Sign Up

Unruly: A History of England’s Kings and Queens

Title: Unruly: A History of England’s Kings and Queens

Author: David Mitchell

In the pantheon of historical accounts, David Mitchell’s “Unruly: A History of England’s Kings and Queens” emerges not just as a chronicle but as a spirited, irreverent jaunt through the annals of English monarchy. Mitchell, with his characteristic wit and an undercurrent of scholarly rigour, takes us on a journey that is as educational as it is entertaining.

“Unruly” begins with the mythical King Arthur, promptly debunking the legend while setting the tone for a book that challenges historical narratives with gusto. Mitchell’s narrative is a reminder that history, particularly that of the English monarchy, is not just about the glorified recounting of rulers and their reigns but is peppered with characters who, despite their royal blood, exhibit all the fallibility, absurdity, and, at times, the sheer silliness of the human condition.

Mitchell doesn’t just recount historical events; he delves into the psyches of England’s monarchs, presenting them not as lofty figures ensconced in the annals of history but as real people, complete with flaws and idiosyncrasies. His exploration of figures like Elizabeth I and the Viking Cnut (infamously remembered in the English vernacular) is both enlightening and amusing, bridging a connection to the modern reader with ease and erudition.

What sets “Unruly” apart is Mitchell’s ability to interlace tales of excessive beheadings, uncivil wars, and the inevitable narcissism of power with a narrative style that is both informative and incredibly funny. It’s a rare history book that can cause outright laughter while also imparting a deep understanding of the societal transformations that led from marauding bands stealing crops to a centralised monarchy, divinely anointed yet distinctly human in its execution.

Mitchell also raises poignant questions about the relevance of these historical narratives in modern Britain. By highlighting the oddities and eccentricities of the past, he invites readers to reflect on the present, suggesting that perhaps not as much has changed as we might think. The evolution from a society at the mercy of the thug with the largest armed gang to one that pays taxes to a “divinely anointed king” is rendered not just as historical fact but as a commentary on the nature of power, governance, and human society.

In “Unruly,” Mitchell has crafted a book that is as much a history lesson as it is a mirror to the present, all delivered with a sharp wit and a keen eye for the absurd. It is a testament to his skills as a writer that he manages to balance humour with historical insight, making the past not only accessible but vibrantly alive. This is not just a book for history buffs but for anyone who appreciates the complexities, the folly, and the sheer unpredictability of human nature, especially when it is dressed in the garb of royalty.

“Unruly” is a delightful, insightful, and irreverently humorous journey through England’s royal past, with David Mitchell proving to be the perfect guide. It is a book that entertains as much as it educates, leaving readers with a deeper understanding of how England’s colourful history of monarchs shapes the country’s identity even today. A must-read for those who love their history served with a generous dose of laughter.

Author: The Editorial Team

More The Literary Corner