Cover image for The Oxford illustrated history of the British monarchy
The Oxford illustrated history of the British monarchy
Cannon, John, 1926-2012.
Personal Author:
Repr. with corrections.
Publication Information:
Oxford [England] ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1996.

Physical Description:
ix, 727 pages : illustrations (some color), color. maps ; 26 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DA40 .C29 1988C Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



This is the most authoritative account ever published of that most envied of British institutions: the monarchy. With over 400 illustrations - no less than one third of them in colour - it tells the full story of the monarchy, presenting a vivid picture not only of the lives of individualkings and queens, but also of the monarchy as a political and social force from Anglo-Saxon times to the present. The story begins in the fifth century; progressing through the Dark Ages, Ralph Griffiths describes the emergence of recognizable kingdoms in Scotland, Wales, and England. He then goes on to discuss the continental role of English monarchs from William the Conqueror to King John, and the refocusingof royal power in Britain from the thirteenth century with the extension of English rule to Wales, the consolidation of the Scottish kingdom, and the forging of a new relationship between monarch and nation. He also explains the way in which key traditions evolved, including the right of succession,coronations and marriages, oaths of loyalty and military service, the granting of lands and titles, and the propagation of a powerful image of royalty. John Cannon takes up the story from the reign of Henry VIII, and continues the exploration of these crucial themes. Guiding the reader through the governing monarchy of the Tudors and Stuarts and the changes that followed the loss of the throne in the Civil Wars, he goes on to look at theHanoverians and the combination of personal rule and government by Parliament. Finally, he describes the emergence of the constitutional role of the crown in Queen Victoria's reign, and the enduring basis this has bestowed upon today's popular symbolic monarchy. Alongside this colourful and eventful tale of power and government, the book also looks at the many ways in which our social and cultural history has been shaped by monarchs and the image of royalty - as landowners, builders, sportsmen and women, patrons of the arts, and as the focus of court life,whether idealized or profane. The main account is interspersed with individual panels which focus in vivid detail on each monarch and on key general themes, such as the peerage, chivalry, and coronation rituals. The book is lavishly illustrated throughout, and the text is accompanied by a comprehensive body of reference material, including colour maps, an illustrated section on royal residences and tombs, a consolidated list of monarchs, genealogies, suggestions for further reading, and a fullindex.

Author Notes

John Cannon is Professor of History at the University of Newcastle. Ralph Griffiths is Professor of History at the University College of Swansea.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Big and beautiful, this lushly illustrated volume traces the history of the millennium-old British monarchy from the immediate post-Roman period, when the concept of kingship was still vague at best, to the present day, with Queen Elizabeth II occupying a secure place on the throne and in the hearts of the people. In a swiftly moving but comprehensive narrative, the authors, both British professors of history, examine the evolving character of kingship, always keeping in mind that the monarchy is an institution stamped at every turn by the individual personalities of the men and women who wear the crown. This book is perfectly suited to the general reader: lovely to look at, wonderfully helpful as a source of specific information, a delight to read straight through. Without being cumbersome, it gives a distinct feel of the nature of Britain's hallowed monarchy through all its epochs. Appended: photographs and textual descriptions of all royal residences and all royal burial places; family trees; bibliography; and index. BH.

Choice Review

Cannon and Griffiths's splendidly illustrated book is a survey of the development of the British monarchy since the fifth century. It has six chapters: "Diverse Origins, c. 400-1016"; "The Age of Empires', 1016-1216"; "Monarch and Nation, 1216-1509"; "Governing Monarchy, 1509-1689"; "Mixed Monarchy, 1689-1820"; and "Popular Monarchy, 1820-1988." Drawing upon secondary sources, the authors (both professional historians) tell a familiar story but do so with good sense, clarity, and conciseness. Equal attention is given to the personalities of the monarchs and to the evolution of the institution of monarchy. There is little discussion of mystique, perhaps because the authors are determinedly unsentimental about their subject. The illustrations, some 400, depict more strikingly than the text the glamor and changing character of monarchy. The book has an illustrated section of royal residences and tombs, a consolidated list of monarchs, and an excellent annotated bibliography. As a survey, the work is without peer. Highly recommended for general and undergraduate readers. -J. A. Thompson, University of Kentucky

Table of Contents

1 Diverse Origins, c.400-1016
2 The Age of `Empires', 1016-1216
3 Monarch and Nation, 1216-1509
4 Governing Monarchy, 1509-1689
5 Mixed Monarchy, 1689-1820
6 Popular Monarchy, 1820-1997 Royal Residences and Tombs Genealogies of Royal Lines List of Monarchs
Further Reading
Illustration Sources