Author(s): Leanda de Lisle
Less than forty years after the golden age of Elizabeth I, England was at war with itself. The bloody, devastating civil wars set family against family, friend against friend. At the head of this disintegrating kingdom was Charles I. His rule would change the face of the monarchy for ever.
Charles I's reign is one of the most dramatic in history, yet Charles the man remains elusive. Too often he is recalled as weak and stupid, his wife, Henrietta Maria, as spoilt and silly- the cause of his ruin. In this portrait -- informed by newly disclosed manuscripts, including letters between the king and his queen -- Leanda de Lisle uncovers a Charles I who was principled and brave, but also fatally blinkered. He is revealed as a complex man who pays the price for bringing radical change; Henrietta Maria as a warrior queen and political player as impressive as any Tudor. Here too are the cousins who befriended and betrayed them- the peacocking Henry Holland, whose brother engineered the king's fall; and the magnetic 'last Boleyn girl', Lucy Carlisle.
This is a tragic story for our times, of populist politicians and religious war, of a new media and the reshaping of nations, in which women vied with men for power. For Charles it ended on the scaffold. Condemned as a traitor and murderer, he was also heralded as a martyr- his reign destined to sow the seeds of democracy across Britain and the New World.
"Leanda de Lisle has approached one of the great icons of history with understanding and compassion. She takes her readers through the twists and turns of the English Civil war so that they understand the enormity of the regicide and the foolishness and courage of the king" -- Philippa Gregory "A splendidly colourful read ... an enthralling and resonant story of populist politicians, and religious war, and the reshaping of nations" * The Bookseller * "Charles I has long eluded even the most scholarly of biographers; his personal contradictions, attractive qualities and ludicrous blunders require a writer of rare talent to let us appreciate the long-hidden character of the king... very well-researched and beautifully written" -- Andrew Roberts "Leanda de Lisle uses hitherto unknown manuscripts to offer a sympathetic interpretation of the character of Charles I which is more nuanced than previous treatments thanks partly to a highly original account of his much maligned queen Henrietta Maria. The White King interweaves personal, national and international events in a vividly written account of his downfall and eventual execution in 1649" -- Professor Andrew O'Shaughnessy, author of The Men Who Lost America "Charles I has always received bad press... veteran British historian de Lisle delivers a more generous portrait... De Lisle's parliamentarians are an irascible group, resembling not so much freedom fighters as the tea party; on the other hand, the author's Charles often seems the voice of reason. Recent elections in Britain and the United States have produced surprisingly dysfunctional governments. De Lisle's fine, revisionist view of Charles may arouse nostalgia for a time when national leaders, elected or not, looked out for the nonzealous majority" * Kirkus Reviews *
Leanda de Lisle is the highly acclaimed author of three books on the Tudors and Stuarts, including the bestselling The Sisters Who Would Be Queen and Tudor- The Family Story. A former weekly columnist on the Spectator, Guardian and Daily Express, she contributes to numerous national publications. She lives in Leicestershire.