Profiling the mediaeval superstar, King Henry II of England, whose dominion stretched from the moors of Scotland to the foothills of the Pyrenees.
The first series of Dr David Starkey’s history of the British monarchy takes us from Alfred the Great, who helped drag a barely formed England out of the Dark Ages, to Shakespeare’s powerful and illustrious hero kings.
Where have I been? What have I been doing? Well, actually, perhaps surprisingly, a lot. I spent 6 weeks at home in the States, eating ice cream, doing research, and working at the Capital Fringe Festival in DC. [During my trip I saw an interminable production of Merry Wives and a fascinating one-man show linking Tupac Shakur to Richard III – more on that anon.] Then I came back to England for a whirlwind of Macbeth rehearsal and performance at ISC. [I have two more performances for two very different crowds, so… more on this anon, too.] Last night I saw a really wonderful Russian adaptation of MSND (/Pyramus and Thisbe). [I don’t even know where to begin there, but I think it’ll be absorbed into thoughts on Maccers, so, again, Francis, anon.]
My sort of academic cool-down tonight has been watching the 4oD series ‘Monarchy’ episode on Henry II. If you’re interested in a big-brush-stroke-review of the H2 fam, or if you really like the way Dr Starkey says ‘years’, I’d recommend it.
Also, a couple quotes I couldn’t resist transcribing:
1. ‘…but to praise John for being a royal filing clerk is historians looking after their own with a vengeance. For John’s obsession with record-keeping was a sign, not of strength, but of weakness’. [ouch. historian burn.]
2. In response to an interdict laid on England by Pope Innocent III, John ‘resorted to one of Margaret Thatcher’s favourite weapons against the unions, and confiscated all the property of the church, which amounted to almost a third of the land in England’. [did… he just… Thatcher? King John? wow.]