April in Podcasts: History of England (also John Julius Norwich’s Four Princes)

A long time ago, I posted on David Crowther’s History of England podcast.  Since then Crowther has went from strength to strength, with at least another hundred episodes and two more centuries.  He has also explored ways of expanding the podcast – with a patreon platform and additional members podcasts – though I think he does still record in his shed.  I faded out of listening to it a year ago, as he reached the Tudors (a topic that has never really been close to my heart).

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I’ve picked it up again in the last month or two and actually quite enjoyed the topic.  Although Crowther still loved to quote from the Ladybird Book of kings and queens, Sellar and Yeatman, and Winston Churchill (though the latter mostly just to wheel out an impression), he really seems to have dug into the historiography on the Tudors.  His coverage of Henry VII finds a surprisingly light and positive tone, different to many popular histories, and his coverage of Henry VIII finds him exploring academic opinion over time.  It’s detailed without getting bogged down – very well done.

Tacking a different tack on the subject, I recently re-read John Julius Norwich’s Four Princes.  A quadruple biography of Henry VIII, Charles V, Francis I and Suleiman the Magnificent.  Norwich is as opinionated as ever – writing offhand comments on topics that Crowther agonised over for episodes – but he is still a very entertaining writer.  There may not really be much new material there, even the focus on the relationships between the princes and their effect on foreign policy, but the inclusion of Suleiman is a good touch.  Norwich does show how the Ottomans could drive the politics of Europe that the other three fought to rule, and it feels good to have them in their proper place in a history of Europe.

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