In Vikings to Virgin – The Hazards of Being King Trisha Hughes provides the reader with a pacey introduction to the many pitfalls faced by the ambitious as they climbed the dangerous ladders of royalty. It is easy to think that monarchs are all powerful, but throughout the Dark and Middle Ages it was surprisingly easy to unseat one and assume the crown yourself. But if it was easy to gain … it was just as easy to lose.
From the dawn of the Vikings through to Elizabeth I, Trisha Hughes follows the violent struggles for power and the many brutal methods employed to wrest it and keep hold of it. Murder, deceit, treachery, lust and betrayal were just a few of the methods used to try and win the crown. Vikings to Virgin – The Hazards of Being King spans fifteen hundred years and is a highly accessible and enjoyable ride through the dark side of early British monarchy.
As a student of history from across The Pond, I’ve always found the line of monarchs in Britain a confusing subject, and no wonder given a. that it’s not a subject given much attention in American history classes, and b. it is a rather confusing subject. So many changes in royal lines, so many with the same name, so many familial connections (I swear that John of Gaunt must have been related to the whole population of the British Isles 🙂 ). So, it was a pleasure to read a book that not only was informative, shedding light, unraveling the confusion, but did so in a very entertaining fashion. One of my pet peeves is those who present history in a dry, witless fashion. Vikings to Virgin is a far cry from those boring texts as the author does a fine job in bringing this long and complicated history to life with a vibrant narrative. Detailed research is evident throughout the book giving the reader a full picture of the events and the larger than life people who sought for the crown of a kingdom seemingly in constant turmoil and uncertainty. A fascinating tutorial of the period of Cnute to Elizabeth, I’m looking forward to book 2. 5 stars