The King and the Gentleman by Derek A. Wilson
Charles Stuart and Oliver Cromwell, 1599-1649

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The Palace of St. James', 1649. Night. Armed soldiers guard a coffin resting in a dimly lit room. In it lies the shattered corpse of Charles I, King of England, head crudely reattached to torso. Past the guttering torches glides a human shadow, wide-brimmed hat pulled down over the eyes, a cloak drawn around the lower part of the face. The visitor--Oliver Cromwell, soon to be named Lord Protector of England--gazes for several moments at the dead king's features. "Cruel necessity," he mutters, then retires to the darkness as stealthily as he came.

This scene--with all the trappings of Victorian melodrama--is possibly apocryphal. Nevertheless, any chronicle of seventeenth- century England is, in a very real sense, an account of the conflict between Charles Stuart and Oliver Cromwell and the beliefs that impelled them. Almost exact contemporaries (nineteen months separated their birth dates), King and subject were both possessed of a deep sense of divine mission; both were profoundly religious and immovably stubborn. Their ideals sent them on a course that would culminate in one of the most dramatic events in British history: the execution of a reigning sovereign on Tuesday, January 30, 1649.

In The King and the Gentleman, historian Derek Wilson details the parallel lives of a foreign-born aesthete-prince and a down-to-earth country squire. The passions the aroused and the conflict they unleashed would forever change the face of a nation.


About Derek A. Wilson

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Derek Wilson, one of our leading biographers and novelists, came to prominence thirty years ago, after graduating from Cambridge University, with "A Tudor Tapestry: Men Women and Society in Reformation England," This was followed by several critically acclaimed and best-selling books, such as "Rothschild: A Story of Wealth and Power; Sweet Robin: Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester; Hans Holbein: Portrait of an Unknown Man"; and, most recently, "The King and The Gentleman: Charles Stuart and Oliver Cromwell 1599-1649," He has also written and presented numerous radio and television programs. Now, after three decades of study and reflection, he returns to those themes he first explored in "A Tudor Tapestry."
Published January 1, 1999 by Hutchinson. 448 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel. Non-fiction

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Nonetheless, Wilson pens interesting portraits of the Scottish-born king whose religious and economic policies tore apart Great Britain and the zealous Protestant who rose from Member of Parliament to leader of the victorious “Ironsides” force and of the New Model Army, as well as signatory of Ch...

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Publishers Weekly

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In a full-blooded example of old-fashioned storytelling, biographer Wilson (Rothschild; Hans Holbein) attempts a dual biography of Charles I of England and his fatal nemesis. Hoping to free his subjec

Nov 29 1999 | Read Full Review of The King and the Gentleman: C...

Publishers Weekly

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Direct and accessible, often to the point of clumsiness, Wilson writes with impatient immediacy and a minimum of footnotes, intending ""to bridge the gap between the archive and the airline lounge, the study and the bedsit."" There are illuminating flashes of color: we learn that the aging Cromwe...

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