The White Ship: Conquest, Anarchy and the Wrecking of Henry I's Dream

The White Ship: Conquest, Anarchy and the Wrecking of Henry I's Dream

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'A terrific book ... written like a thriller ... Once you start reading it you're completely gripped' BILL BRYSON

'A brilliant read ... Spencer has a real facility for getting these characters to leap fully formed from the page. I'm loving every word of it ... Game of Thrones but in the real world' ANTHONY HOROWITZ

'Highly enjoyable' Simon Heffer, Daily Telegraph Best Books of the Year 2020
'Brilliant' Dan Jones, Daily Express Best Books of the Year 2020
'Fascinating' Tom Bower, Guardian Best Books of the Year 2020

The sinking of the White Ship on the 25th November 1120 is one of the greatest disasters that England has ever suffered. Its repercussions would change English and European history for ever.

King Henry I was sailing for England in triumph after four years of fighting the French. Congregating with the king at the port of Barfleur on that freezing November night was the cream of Anglo-Norman society: three of his children, including the only legitimate male heir to the throne, as well as the flower of the aristocracy, famous knights, and mighty courtiers. By 1120, Henry was perhaps the most formidable ruler in Europe, with an enviable record on the battlefield, immense lands and wealth, and unprecedented authority in his kingdoms. Everything he had worked so hard for was finally achieved, and he was ready to hand it on to his beloved son and heir, William AEtheling.

Henry I and his retinue set out first. The White Ship - considered the fastest afloat - would follow, carrying the young prince. Spoilt and arrogant, William had plied his comrades and crew with drink from the minute he stepped aboard. It was the middle of the night when the drunken helmsman rammed the ship into rocks. There would be only one survivor from the gilded roll call of passengers...

Written to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the shipwreck, Charles Spencer evokes the harsh and brutal story of the Normans from Conquest to Anarchy. With their heir dead, a civil war of untold violence erupted, a game of thrones which saw families turned in on each other with English and Norman barons, rebellious Welsh princes and the Scottish king all playing a part in a bloody, desperate scrum for power.

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