The Lives of the Kings and
Queens of England

Antonia Fraser
Wanda McCaddon, Reader

(Audio Editions)
Part I
Famous inventors from England's early years include the Jutes who built the first jute-mill, the Angles who founded the right angle, the Picts who invented picture-shows and pixels, and the Saxons who discovered sax (and saxophones).

British royals have been in the news ever since the Queen Boudicca led the Britons of southeast England in the rebellion of 61 AD. Plutarch said that "the women charged the Romans with swords and axes and fell upon the men uttering the hideous outcry, Die dulci fruere..." (trans., lit. "Where's the beef?")

In general, the women had been incensed by the lousy commuter rail service, and so Boudicca and the other Kent suburbanites marched on Waterloo Station and ended up burning London to the ground.

Alarmed, the Romans withdrew their legions from Britannia, but it was too late: the Goths had already crossed the Danube, adopted nose-rings, and sacked Rome. They were followed close behind by the Vandals who spray-painted graffiti everywhere, thus bringing on the Dark Ages.

Once the Roman legions had gone, the Saxons crossed the channel under King Egbert to take over Brittania. He founded the House of Wessex which included such monarchs as Æthelbald the Bald, Æthelred the Unready, Æsthetic the Lovely, Æther the Færy, and finally, the endearing Eadwig the Earwig.

After disappearing for a time, the House of Wessex was reconstituted by Edward the Confessor who brought the very first Confessional to England, being a gift from Pope Urban Renewal. The lives of Edward and the Normans were chronicled in full by the Inevitable Bede.

The House of Wessex was succeeded by the Plantagenets --- the "Pleasant Gentlemen" --- which included William the Bastard, Richard the Hardhearted, Edward the Longshanks, and Richard the Improbable. The Plantagenets introduced centralized government, centralized heating, Gallic elegance, and poultry shears. They also sent armies over to their vacation properties in France to conduct war games, mow the lawn, and play cricket. In time, the Plantagenets came to be known for the rock group les Angevins ... French for The Eggplants.

Henry I was succeeded by Henry II, who "died from a surfeit of lampreys" which speaks volumes about English food. Henry II was succeeded by Henry III, Henry IV (Part 1) and finally Henry IV (Part 2).

Meanwhile, the 1000 Years War had come to an end because the networks refused to renew for another season. In compensation, the Earl of Airwick, Edward IV and Henry VI decided to start the Wars of the Roses. In 1475, it was extended to France because the restaurants of Burgundy had challenged the restaurants of Armagnac over ratings of vaut le voyage in the Guide Michelin. All was resolved ten years later when Henry came to town in a Tudor sedan and had a blowout at Tewkesbury.

Eventually, the Black Death reduced the population of Britain which led to an economic upturn. With the revival of commerce in the 1400s, the English captured the continental market in nappies and woolies. In exchange, French wine and German BMWs were imported into Britain and the Italians invented banking, insurance, and double-entry bookkeeping (familiarly known as antipasto).

Trade with Asia also resumed, permitting the merchants of Venice to bring controlled substances to land at Venice Beach. In time, these were distributed over all of Europe, bringing on the High Middle Ages. Art flourished, Henry VIII's wives quite lost their heads, which inspired the following Early Renaissance Glee:

    Poor Ann Boleyn was once King Henry's wife ---
    Until he made the Headsman bob her hair!
    Ah yes! he did her wrong long years ago,
    And she comes up at night to tell him so.

    With her head tucked underneath her arm
    She walks the Bloody Tower!
    With her head tucked underneath her arm
    At the Midnight hour.

    Along the draughty corridors for miles and miles she goes,
    She often catches cold, poor thing, it's cold there when it blows,
    And it's awfully awkward for the Queen to have to blow her nose
    With her head tucked underneath her arm!

    With her head tucked underneath her arm...&ct &ct

At last, in 1587, Sir Walter Raleigh introduced sweet potato pie to Ireland and smoking to Europe. This swelled his head so that he began to imagine that he had gone around the world. The Renaissance was on.

Go on to
Part II

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