Susan Crosland

Great Tales From English History

Great Tales From English History

By

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Best-selling author Robert Lacey begins his fascinating history with Cheddar Man, who lived 9,000 years ago when England was still joined to Europe. He ends with the discovery of DNA and thus creates a frame for some entertaining historical tales. We are told how Julius Caesar first glimpsed England, with armed men standing along the white cliffs. When the Romans broke their treaty, raping an English King’s daughters, tawny-haired Queen Boadicea reaped vengeance on them. Finally defeated, she slew her daughters and herself. Four sword blows were needed to kill the Archbishop of Canterbury, ‘spilling blood white with the brain and the brain red with the blood’. ‘This fellow won’t be up again,’ remarked one of the assassins. We learn that King John was known for his cleanliness: he took a bath every three weeks. Edward II enjoyed enduring homosexual love affairs and was murdered by a spit in his posterior. Sir William Collingbourne, executed for writing doggerel mocking Richard III, retained his sense of humour to the end, Lacey tells us. Having just been castrated, when the executioner reached inside his body to draw out his intestines, he sighed: ‘Oh, Lord Jesus. Yet more trouble.’

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