Castle, royal palace, prison, torture chamber, execution site, zoo, mint, treasure house, armoury, record office, observatory and the most visited tourist attraction in the country, the Tower of London has been all these things and more. No building in Britain has been more intimately involved in our island's story than this mighty, brooding stronghold in the very heart of the capital, a place which has stood at the epicentre of dramatic, bloody and frequently cruel events for almost a thousand years. Now historian Nigel Jones sets this dramatic story firmly in the context of national- and international - events. In a monumental history drawn from primary sources he pictures the Tower in its many changing moods and a bewildering array of functions. Here, for the first time, is a thematic portrayal of the Tower of London as more than an ancient structure. The fortress is a living symbol of the nation itself in all its kaleidoscopic colour and rich diversity. Incorporating a dazzling panoply of political and social detail, TOWER puts one of Britain's most important buildings firmly at the heart of our national story.
Built by William the Conqueror beginning in 1078 as a super-castle, the Tower of London has been variously the kingdom's primary palace, a prison and execution site, a zoo, the Royal Mint, and home to the crown jewels. Henry III expanded and transformed the Tower into an opulent palace, and by the end of Edward I's reign in 1307, it had assumed today's outlines, with 20 towers and a 100-foot-wide moat. At the Tower, captured foreign kings were pampered prisoners; Richard II's mother was nearly raped by a drunken army of rebellious peasants; and candidate knights in Henry IV's new Order of the Bath took actual baths in the Tower as part of the ceremonies. Edward IV gorged on food and mistresses while his predecessor and prisoner, Henry VI, lived a harsh existence only a couple of walls away. The Tower was the site of the execution of two wives of Henry VIII and Mary Tudor's nemesis, Jane Grey,; and briefly the prison of Nazi chief Rudolf Hess. Jones (Rupert Brooke) provides more than the history of an famous tourist site, creating a marvelous, authoritative, and entertaining history of England, tightly focused and richly detailed. 8 pages of b&w photos, 1 map. Agent: Charlie Viney, the Viney Agency (U.K.). (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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St. Martin's Press
October 02, 2012
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