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The Reign of King Stephen: 1135-1154 (Anglais) Broché – 24 janvier 2000

5.0 étoiles sur 5 1 commentaire client

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Revue de presse

 "This is quite the best study to have been devoted to a complicated and still somewhat mysterious period... (it) recasts an entire period of English history..."  Times Literary Supplement 'a useful and timely book...It goes probably about as far as we ever can with this neglected king' Speculum

Présentation de l'éditeur

 At last: an authoritative, up to date account of the troubled reign of King Stephen, by a leading scholar of the Anglo-Norman world. David Crouch covers every aspect of the period - the king and the empress, the aristocracy, the Church, government and the nation at large. He also looks at the wider dimensions of the story, in Scotland, Wales, Normandy and elsewhere. The result (weaving its discussions around a vigorous narrative core) is a a work of major scholarship. A must for specialist and amateur medievalists alike.

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Format: Broché
Stéphane se frotte à Mathilde..mais pas dans la perspective d'un coït heureux...non, il s'agit de savoir qui va régner, (l'Amie Galles ou les Paires Diadème) bref, ça bastonne et ça envoie du lourd...
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Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5 4 commentaires
12 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A Complex tale adequately told 3 octobre 2001
Par John Cragg - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
The reign of King Stephen was a complicated affair, with his control of his throne often highly problematic. Crouch tells the story well, painting a picture of a rather simple, and often only partially effective central government. Though very much an advocate for Stephen, Crouch also points out clearly some of his glaring weaknesses, and give a fairly balanced account of this period between two much more commanding figures. It is amazing how weak his claim to the throne was, and how to a very large extent he was able to frustrate the better claims of Matilda. The critical thing was that really the great lords were the central aspect of government, not any hereditary monarchy.
The book is not without its problems. Crouch is not that well able to handle coherently the very large cast of characters he deals with, and this is not aided by a tendency often to refer to the same individual by different titles or by partial names--some of which are inherently ambiguous since several characters have the same abreviated name. At times the work resembles those Russian novels where you can go for many pages thinking that there are two separate people when in fact they are the same individual. Second, Crouch is overly concerned to claim that Stephen's reign was not a period of anarchy, but of civil war. This is rather tiresome, especially as Crouch's account makes it quite clear that the great barons were very much a law unto themselves, could be arbitrarily destructive of civil order, were to a very large extent above the4 law, and that indeed the fighting largely ended when they were unwilling to participate enthusiastically. (It does not help that he starts by claiming that England had only two civil wars -- if what was going on in Stephen's reign was just a civl war rather than a breakdown of government, then what in the world does Crouch think the Wars of the Roses were all about? Finally, Crouch leaves largely unexplored the great mystery of the reign. That is why Stephen abandoned the claims of his younger son after his elder one died, when he had so vigorously tried to engineer the succession of his elder son. That abandonment led to the smooth transition to Henry II, but it is not well accounted for, since Crouch basically pictures Stephen as being in control at the critical time.
But these carping aside, over all the book paints a fascinating picture of conditions in the early middle ages, showing again to what extent the proper management of the great barons was the sine qua non of successful rule in England in the middle ages -- one whose mismanagement would lead repeatly to the problems of the weaker medieval kings.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Not “Anarchy” and not such a bad King 24 juillet 2016
Par JPS - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
This is an excellent, meticulously research and scholarly book on the reign of a somewhat maligned King who has been accused of being incompetent, in addition of having “usurped” the throne, and of having presided a period of “Anarchy” and disorder throughout the Anglo-Norman realm. The author’s purpose is to show that while Stephen’s reign was far from flawless, the accusations levelled against him are largely exaggerated and even inaccurate.

One of the numerous merits of the book and study of the reign is to emphasise Stephen’s qualities and limitations. He was brave, charming, a good and efficient ruler, and far from incompetent. However, David Crouch also shows that unlike his predecessor and successor, he seemed to have lacked ruthlessness. Above all, and while the author demonstrates that he was mostly a good judge of characters and managed to surround himself with competent and devoted servants, he seems to have lacked perseverance and sound political judgement. These character streaks, when associated with the difficult circumstances of his challenged reign, earned him a somewhat unfair reputation of being weak and of having presided over the so-called “Anarchy”.

As he author shows, he started his reign by continuing the policies of the strong Henry I, his predecessor on the throne. However, he alienated some of his most powerful magnates, and Robert of Gloucester, the bastard son of Henry I, in particular, who turned against him and sided with Mathilda the empress, his half-sister, and challenged Stephen’s right to be King, some three years after having accepted him. In this respect, David Crouch makes some crucial points. One is to show that Robert turned against Stephen and was his enemy more than his was his half-sister’s ally. In other words, and just like all the other magnates, he was fighting for his own interests, his supremacy and his survival against a King who had favoured his rivals. These included Henry bishop of Winchester (Stephen’s own brother) and the Beaumont twins (Waleran de Meulan and Robert of Leicester), the subject of a separate monograph from Crouch. A related point here is that all magnates took arms, chose sides and often changed sides as they sought to preserve their interests and their survival. Put differently, they struggled to be on the winning side to ensure the safeguard of their patrimony.

This did not lead to the so-called “Anarchy” and a total breakdown in law and order. What did happen, however, is that royal assets, including parts of the royal demesne, rights to levy taxes, royal castles and the right to build castles were alienated. This took place partly through usurpations and partly because the King sought to reward his supporters and retain the support of magnates that Mathilda and Robert of Gloucester were seeking to detach from him. Another related set of features was the usurpations of these magnates who started their own coinages and dispensed their own justice. In some cases, the King had authorised them to do so and devolved authority and power. While all this did amount to a weakening and a fragmentation of authority, it cannot be strictly speaking equated to “anarchy”. Perhaps one of the most convincing elements against such a view is the fact that some 170 religious foundations took place during the reign, with these coming from all sides.

Another fascinating aspect is to show that what amounted to a civil war petered out with both sides exhausted after a few years, although the King essentially succeeded in confining the rebellion to the South-West of the country. A consequence of this is that a growing number of magnates became what the author has termed “neutralists” and refused to actively support either side to preserve their interests. Another one, more lasting, is that Stephen neglected and did not make up for his losses in both Wales and, perhaps more importantly, in Normandy which finally fell to the competent and ruthless Geoffrey of Anjou (Henry II’s father). A third consequence is that this obliged a number of magnates to choose between the preservation of their lands in England or in Normandy, therefore beginning to sever the links that had united the cross-Channel interests of the Anglo-Norman nobility since the Conquest.

A final aspect that I would like to underline in this review (although there are a number of others) is that the resolution of the conflict and of Stephen’s succession was largely (and perhaps even mostly) brought by the same magnates who were nominally on the King’s side but refused to fight the young Henry and his Angevin and Norman supporters and forced the King to come to terms.

Five stars for an illuminating, original and superb account of the troubled reign of King Stephen who, more than anything else, had a very difficult times and has suffered from having a predecessor and a successor that were both more talented than him.
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Background to Brother Cadfael 29 avril 2013
Par J. Cyphers - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Ellis Peters fans should be interested in the historical backdrop to the Brother Cadfael series: the "anarchy" of King Stephen's reign (1135-1154) and England's first civil wars. There could be no better way to dig into the period. Crouch is a deft writer provides a well-footnoted narrative that is both impeccable from the scholarly standpoint but just plain a good yarn that beats most fiction in interest.
2 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A well written portrait on King Stephen's reign 4 août 2001
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Crouch's book on the reign of King Stephen should please the historian as well as those who love medieval history. It is well written, loaded with footnotes for further research, and provides an extensive bibliography.
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