Author Topic: Tales from the Tower of London.  (Read 1836 times)

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Offline Toki Bloodaxe

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Tales from the Tower of London.
« on: June 30, 2009, 01:40:04 PM »
     I scooped up this little gem of a book off of Amazon and am so glad to recommend it to others interested in British History. It is called  "Tales from the Tower of London" by Daniel Diehl and Mark P. Donnelly. What a great read! In fast and furious style, the reader is introduced to a bit of history and mystery surrounding the Tower of London. We learn of its earliest construction following the Roman era in Britain and its expansion under William the Conqueror. Now, this book doesn't actually deal with the architectural history of the Tower. There are plenty of tomes listed in the bibliography of the book that explore that area. What makes this book rather unique and enjoyable, is the biographic manner in which the story of the Tower is related through some of the more famous and notorious prisoners imprisoned or executed there.
    We first learn about the monk Brother Gundulf who designed the Tower to be so large and imposing that Norman rule of England would never be opposed by the conquered native Saxons. The stone was brought over from France because local English stone was considered inferior. It is also fascinating to learn that Brother Gundulf originally wanted to build a cathedral, but had to first design and construct the Tower before the Normans would let him lay one stone on his church.
     The story of the Wat Taylor peasant revolt of 1381 is detailed quite well, as the young King Richard II faced down a mob consisting of thousands of angry, destructive peasants bent on destroying the Church and Monarchy. The Royals and the ministers of government took refuge in the only place thought safe enough to protect them from the rampages of the commoners- the Tower- while London burned down around them.
     There is the tragic tale of the Princes in the Tower, who may or may not have been killed under the orders of the scheming King Richard III. And, in this book, the authors lay out some plausible scenarios concerning those other individuals who might have had a serious stake in seeing the young heirs to the throne vanish.
     To go on, there are the tales of Lady Jane grey, the Nine Days Queen; Katherine Howard, the doomed fifth wife of King Henry VIII ( reportedly, for the rest of his life, Henry was haunted in his dreams by Kathrine's pleas for mercy.); Sir Frances Walsingham and the Catholic Babbington plot against the life of Queen Elizabeth I; and, of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot to kill King James and Parliament with a giant stash of explosives placed in the cellar below the Parliament building. The stories continue up until World War II, when a fantastically inept German spy was tried and convicted in secret and executed on the grounds of the Tower. He was the last person to be executed there.
     I found this book to be a well-researched and fascinating light read for anyone who is interested in British History in general, and Tower of London tales in particular. Enjoy it as light summer reading.
     For those who do not want light summer reading concerning the history of Britain, I might recommend "Rule Brittania!" by Clive Cleeve, Dudley Nigel and Lt. Gen. Hawthorne Lambsbloode (ret.) O.B.E. This 38 volume series intricately details all of the myriad reasons why British culture is vastly superior to "Colonial American" culture. We are treated to very lengthy treatises on the vast superiority of British cuisine, superior British dental techniques, why British football is so much more exciting than "Colonial American" football, and how a British MGB roadster will certainly outperform a Corvette any day of the week. All you need to realize is that "Dr. Who" is more exciting and profound than "Star Trek", and then you will enjoy this monumental series of works. (Certainly suitable for holding open interior doors on breezy summer days).


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