Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Monday, June 04, 2012


I'm not a monarchist, but reading about the British Queen at Thinking Faith (The Diamond Jubilee by Anthony Symondson SJ) reminded me of how much I once liked historical novels about Britain and her monarchs. Some I remember reading ....

* Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott ....

Ivanhoe is the story of one of the remaining Saxon noble families at a time when the English nobility was overwhelmingly Norman. It follows the Saxon protagonist, Wilfred of Ivanhoe, who is out of favour with his father for his allegiance to the Norman king, Richard I of England. The story is set in 1194, after the failure of the Third Crusade, when many of the Crusaders were still returning to Europe. King Richard, who had been captured by the Duke of Austria on his way back, was believed to still be in the arms of his captors. The legendary Robin Hood, initially under the name of Locksley, is also a character in the story, as are his "merry men." The character that Scott gave to Robin Hood in Ivanhoe helped shape the modern notion of this figure as a cheery noble outlaw.

* Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett ....

The Lymond Chronicles is a series of six novels, set in mid-sixteenth century Europe and the Mediterranean, which follows the life and career of a Scottish nobleman, Francis Crawford of Lymond, from 1547 through 1558. The series is a suspenseful tale of adventure and romance, filled with action, intense drama, poetry, culture and high comedy. Meticulously researched, the series takes place in a wide variety of locations, including France, the Ottoman Empire, Malta, England, Scotland and Russia. In addition to a compelling cast of original characters, the novels feature many historical figures, often in important roles.

* Katherine by Anya Seton ...

Anya Seton's Katherine is a historical novel based largely on fact. It tells the story of the historically important, 14th-century love affair in England between the eponymous Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the third surviving son of King Edward III. In 2003, Katherine was ranked 95 in the BBC's Big Read survey of Britain's best-loved novels.[1] It is commonly regarded as a prime example of historical fiction.

* The Brother Cadfael mysteries by Edith Pargeter ...

Cadfael is an unusual monk, only entering the cloister in his forties after being both a soldier and a sailor .... The stories are set between about 1135 and about 1150, during The Anarchy, the destructive contest for the crown of England between King Stephen and Empress Maud.

* Twenty Years After by Dumas .....

The novel follows events in France during La Fronde, during the childhood reign of Louis XIV, and in England near the end of the English Civil War, leading up to the victory of Oliver Cromwell and the execution of King Charles I.


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