Unruly: The Number One Bestseller ‘Horrible Histories for grownups’ The Times
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I can’t recommend this book enough. Very funny and interesting, it is above all a proper work of history’ CHARLIE HIGSON A funny book about a serious subject, UNRULY is for anyone who has ever wondered how we got here – and who is to blame.
Forget about an audiobook, Mitchell ought to do a video in which he, in character as Mark Corrigan from Peep Show, poshly declaims while pacing his shoebox Croydon flat. He might particularly enjoy reading this passage about why it’s unnecessary to decide between the awfulness of King Stephen and Queen Matilda: “They were both twats. They may not have been able to help being twats – the mores and values of their times and of their class may have made them twats. But they were twats and terrible things happened as a result.”CLEVER, FUNNY, MAKES YOU THINK QUITE DIFFERENTLY ABOUT HISTORY’ DAN SNOW, HISTORIAN AND BROADCASTER Discover who we are and how we got here in comedian, star of Peep Show and student of history David Mitchell’s UNRULY: A History of England’s Kings and Queens– a thoughtful, funny exploration of the founding fathers and mothers of England, and subsequently Britain. The divine right of kings, heraldry, primogeniture and porphyrogeniture (the hilarious rule of succession whereby the son born to a king in office has first dibs on the throne over older siblings born before daddy took office) are, to Mitchell, really devices to retrospectively justify power grabs by inbred sociopaths or their mums. Perhaps this is how history should be done: not by patient scholars, nor by the telegenic likes of Olusoga or Worsley but by free-swearing actor-comedians
Clever, amusing, gloriously bizarre and razor sharp.Mitchell [is] a funny man and a skilled historian.”― The Times
How this happened, who it happened to and why it matters in modern Britain are all questions David answers with brilliance, wit and the full erudition of a man who once studied history – and won’t let it off the hook for the mess it’s made. Perhaps the most undignified English king, though, was John. The extent of his indignity was a surprise to me when I was researching my new book about the kings and queens of England, because posterity has focused so much on how bad he was – bad as in dastardly. And he was dastardly – dishonest and brutal. During the reign of his predecessor, his elder brother Richard the Lionheart, he tried to steal the throne by pretending Richard was dead. Once Richard had genuinely died, he murdered the only rival claimant, his nephew Arthur, possibly with his bare hands, which feels like unnecessary attention to detail.