The reign of King Stephen (1135-54) is famous as a period of weak government, as Stephen and his rival the Empress Matilda contended for power. This is a study of medieval kingship at its most vulnerable. It also shows how individuals and institutions enabled the monarchy to survive. A contemporary chronicler described the reign as "nineteen long winters in which Christ and his saints were asleep". Historians today refer to it
simply as 'the Anarchy'. The weakness of government was the result of a disputed succession. Stephen lost control over Normandy, the Welsh marches, and much of the North. Contemporaries
noted as signs of weakness the tyranny of the lords of castles, and the break-down of coinage. Stephen remained king for his lifetime, but leading churchmen and laymen negotiated a settlement whereby the crown passed to the Empress's son the future Henry II. This volume by leading scholars gives an original and up-to-date analysis of these major themes, and explains how the English monarchy was able to survive the Anarchy of King Stephen's reign.
The centenary of the publication in 1882 of J H Round's Geoffrey de Mandeville was celebrated by a conference reviewing subsequent historical research into the Anarchy. each of the papers presented deserved publication and their very diversity makes this a valuable book.
`the liveliness of current research is fully demonstrated in this volume, which arises form a conferecne held in 1992. Edmund King leads off with a well- argued introucton that is of value to specialists and students alike... a most valuable volume that breaks new ground in its treatment of this puzzling reign'
`The centenary of the publication in 1882 of J H Round's Geoffrey de Mandeville was celebrated by a conference reviewing subsequent historical research into the Anarchy. Each of the papers presented deserved publication and their very diversity makes this a valuable book'
The Antiquaries Journal
`A collection of nine essays providing a lively analysis of medieval kingship at its most vulnerable.'
The Medieval World
`The chief value of this volume lies in providing a survey of the state of play to supplement and update the standard accounts by H.A. Cronne in The Reign of Stephen ... and the late R.H.C. Davis in King Stephen ... and it provides greater detail than the lively Lancaster pamphlet by Keith Stringer.'
Judith A. Green, The Queen's University, Belfast, EHR Feb. 97