Carl Watkins

Stephen (Penguin Monarchs)
  • Stephen (Penguin Monarchs)

  • 'Stephen risked being seen as a man who never quite transcended the essential flawed-ness of his claim to be king. His actions betrayed uneasiness in his new skin'

    Remembered as a time in which 'Christ and his saints slept', Stephen's troubled reign plunged England into anarchy. Without clear rules of succession in the Norman monarchy, conflict within William the Conqueror's family was inevitable. But, as this resonant portrait shows, there was another problem too: Stephen himself, unable to make good the transition from nobleman to king.

Carl Watkins is Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Cambridge, and a fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge. His books include History and the Supernatural in Medieval England and, most recently, The Undiscovered Country: Journeys Among the Dead. He appears regularly on BBC radio and television.

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