Grove Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press

Crown & Sceptre

A New History of the British Monarchy from William the Conqueror to Charles III

by Tracy Borman

On the eve of Queen Elizabeth II’s historic 70th anniversary on the throne, Tracy Borman’s sweeping narrative of the British monarchy illuminates one of history’s most iconic and enduring legacies

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 576
  • Publication Date February 28, 2023
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6232-8
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $22.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 576
  • Publication Date February 22, 2022
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5910-6
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $32.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Publication Date February 22, 2022
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5911-3
  • US List Price $32.00

Since William the Conqueror, duke of Normandy, crossed the English Channel in 1066 to defeat King Harold II and unite England’s various kingdoms, forty-one kings and queens have sat on Britain’s throne: “shining examples of royal power and majesty alongside a rogue’s gallery of weak, lazy, or evil monarchs,” as Tracy Borman evocatively describes them in her sparkling chronicle, Crown & Sceptre. Ironically, during very few of these 955 years has the throne’s occupant been unambiguously English—whether Norman French, the Welsh-born Tudors, the Scottish Stuarts, and the Hanoverians and their German successors to the present day.

Acknowledging the intrinsic fascination with British royalty, Borman lifts the veil to reveal the remarkable characters and personalities who have ruled and, since the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, more ceremonially reigned—a crucial distinction explaining the staying power of the monarchy as the royal family has evolved and adapted to the needs and opinions of its people, avoiding the storms of rebellion that brought many of Europe’s royals to an abrupt end. Richard II; Henry VIII; Elizabeth I; George III; Victoria; Elizabeth II: their names evoke eras and the dramatic events Borman recounts. She is equally attuned to the fabric of monarchy: royal palaces; the way monarchs have been portrayed in art, on coins, in the media; the ceremony and pageantry surrounding the crown.

In 2024, Elizabeth II would eclipse France’s Louis XIV as the longest reigning monarch in history. Crown & Sceptre is a fitting tribute to her remarkable longevity and that of the magnificent institution she represents.

Praise for Crown & Sceptre:

An Amazon Best History Book of the Month

“Engaging and perceptive . . . Given its extensive timeframe and diverse cast of characters, Crown & Sceptre could easily have become little more than a potted history of Britain from 1066 to the present. But while Ms. Borman offers deft and thoughtful assessments of every reign . . . the chronological approach is enriched by details that help to humanize her subjects.”—Stephen Brumwell, Wall Street Journal

“Tracy Borman’s Crown & Sceptre brings us in short, vivid chapters from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth herself, much of it constituting a dark record of bumping off adversaries, rivals and spouses, confiscating vast estates and military invasions . . . Though dynastic troubles are woven into the fabric of British history, it is only one element in this lucid, character-rich book. Throughout, Borman traces the changing relationship between a weakening crown and the growing power and makeup of Parliament, the country’s true ruler since the 17th century.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Tracy Borman packs nearly 1,000 years of royal history into this look at the men and women who have ruled Britain. It’s a wide-ranging crew—sometimes worthy, sometimes not so much. And yet the monarchy has endured. Borman’s deep understanding of English royalty shines.”—Amazon Book Review

“An entertaining one-volume compendium of the conquests (political and amorous), successes, failures, triumphs, skullduggeries, and follies of 41 monarchs dating from 1066 to the present . . . An effective, quick walk through the players and their times.”—Arts Fuse

“Prolific British historian Borman outdoes herself in this expansive survey. Writing with a fluidity and grace matched by her authority on the subject, the author makes the stories of each monarch, from the incompetent to the sadistic to the praiseworthy, interesting and memorable . . . Borman observes that the British monarchy has prevailed because it understands that its power is largely symbolic, shaping and supporting British culture and an enormous tourism industry. After reading this splendid book, readers may bet on its survival, at least in this century. A superb synthesis of historical analysis, politics, and top-notch royal gossip.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“[Borman] convincingly argues that the British crown survived when others did not because it adapted to changing times . . . [She] brings the royals to life in all their triumphs and tragedies using their stories to unpack complex issues of governance, succession, and geopolitics . . . Crisp, clear writing, insightful character sketches, and unifying themes keep the narrative moving along. Compact chapters organized by dynasty and reign, notes, and an extensive bibliography make it suitable for reference.”—Booklist

“An elegant and evenhanded chronicle of the British monarchy . . . Enlightening and accessible, this is a superb introduction to one of the world’s most enduring monarchies.”—Publishers Weekly

Praise for Henry VIII:

“[Borman’s] beautifully perceptive and dynamic reassessment of Henry VIII places emphasis, as the book’s subtitle indicates, not on the monarch’s infamous marriages but rather on the kaleidoscope of male figures both high- and middle-born who were drawn to the king throughout his life as moths circle a bright flame . . . Here in this highly engrossing biography, the notoriously larger-than-life English monarch, seen from an original and revealing perspective, lives anew in full and in the epic proportions he so well deserves. For all Tudor enthusiasts.”Booklist (starred review)

“Capably intuiting the personalities of both Henry and his influencers, the author concentrates not on the worn path of brutality and numerous marriages, but on the political landscape, the emotional pulls, and insecurities of Henry’s decisions. Choosing to illuminate Henry’s environment and his vulnerabilities, Borman’s writing style is easily accessible, and she succeeds in delivering a uniquely intimate portrait.”Historical Novel Society

“Borman essentially puts aside Henry VIII’s notorious and well-hashed relationships with women in favor of showcasing stories of the advisers and servants who surrounded the intelligent, mercurial king . . . Borman’s astute analysis of Henry’s personality demonstrates how both low-born and noble advisers affected his reign. It’s generally agreed to that to be a woman in Henry’s circle was to throw caution to the wind in hopes of great reward; Borman’s ambitious narrative shows that being a man in Henry’s court can be just as fraught.”Publishers Weekly

“Borman skillfully shows Henry maneuvering his men like chess pieces; when they opposed him, they suffered violent downfalls. Henry eventually assumed control of his realm, but it was too little, too late. Tudor fans will enjoy this outside-in biography as a different view of a complicated monarch.”Kirkus Reviews

“Fascinating . . . Borman’s deep background knowledge serves her—and the reader—well. The pages and years fly by, and one has the feeling of stepping into an engaging historical lecture by a master of the subject . . . For readers curious about royal history or fascinated by the styles of leaders in our own time, Henry VIII makes for a compelling read.”BookPage 

Praise for The King’s Witch:

“The incredibly detailed and vivid narrative transports readers to a time when women were seen as no more than a commodity to be traded, and conspiracy loomed in every corner. This engaging page-turner is enhanced by flawless prose and an absorbing plot, making it a perfect choice for fans of historical fiction and post-Tudor England.”Library Journal (starred review)

“Historian Borman embeds a fictional character in the royal court of James I in her promising debut novel . . . By introducing Tom Wintour, a real-life figure, as Frances’ love interest, Borman adds a little historical heft and a lot of spice to her tale. The action culminates with the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, as the stage is nicely set for volume two of this projected trilogy.”Booklist

“Tracy Borman’s debut historical novel has it all: conspiracy, betrayal, dark intrigues, bloody deeds, a poignant love story—and the most famous plot in English history. In the debauched court of James I, nothing is as it seems, loyalties are torn, and danger is all around. At the centre of it all, Borman has created an engaging and courageous heroine, and her highly accomplished writing ensures that the reader is swept along to a shattering and shocking climax.”—Alison Weir, author of The Six Wives of Henry VIII

“Exquisitely written, sumptuous in detail and thrillingly plotted, The King’s Witch takes you deep into the darkness of the early Jacobean Court and into the heart of the wonderful, unforgettable Lady Frances. The first of what promises to be a magnificent trilogy.∏—Kate Williams, author of Becoming Queen Victoria and Young Elizabeth: The Making of the Queen

Praise for The Private Lives of the Tudors:

A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice

“Borman’s passion for the Tudor period shines forth from the pages of this fascinatingly detailed book.”—Alison Weir, author of The Six Wives of Henry VIII

“For Borman, the intimate particulars of everyday life are what help the past come bracingly, stirringly alive. Her full-quivered social history of the Tudor monarchs . . . furnishes readers with a ‘Hey, did you know . . . ?’ on almost every page . . . [An] authoritative work.”New York Times Book Review

“Like Alison Weir . . . Borman is an authoritative and engaging writer, good at prising out those humanising details that make the past alive to us.”Guardian

“[Written] with effortless verve . . . [A] riveting history.”O, The Oprah Magazine

“[A] fascinating new book . . . No royal family is better known . . . But there’s still much to learn from The Private Lives of the Tudors thanks to the expertise and persistence of Borman . . . The most captivating moments of Private Lives, and there are plenty of them, bring the reader into other personal Tudor moments of strength, weakness, and heartache.”Christian Science Monitor

“Comprehensively researched and compulsively readable . . . The potions, plots, liaisons and marriages described in this book are thoroughly entertaining . . . A bloody good read.”Minneapolis Star Tribune

Praise for Thomas Cromwell:

“An intelligent, sympathetic, and well researched biography.”Wall Street Journal

“Excellent . . . This deeply researched and grippingly written biography brings Cromwell to life, probing into his complex personality and exposes the Henrician court in all its brutal, glittering splendor.”Independent (UK)

“Should be catnip to fans of Hilary Mantel’s best-selling Wolf Hall novels about Cromwell.”USA Today