Publication Date: 17/09/2020 ISBN: 9780008296803 Categories: ,
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The White Ship

Charles Spencer

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: 17/09/2020 ISBN: 9780008296803 Categories: ,


Out of stock


‘As gripping as any thriller. History doesn’t get any better than this’ BILL BRYSON

‘A brilliant read … Spencer has a real facility for getting these characters to leap fully formed from the page … Game of Thrones but in the real world’ ANTHONY HOROWITZ

‘The medieval Titanic … Charles Spencer explores with brilliance … the gripping, tragic story of the White Ship … and brings it to vivid and thrilling life in this superb book’ KATE WILLIAMS


‘Highly enjoyable’ Simon Heffer
‘Brilliant’ Dan Jones
‘Fascinating’ Tom Bower

The sinking of the White Ship on the 25th November 1120 is one of the greatest disasters that England has ever suffered. Its repercussions would change English and European history for ever.

King Henry I was sailing for England in triumph after four years of fighting the French. Congregating with the king at the port of Barfleur on that freezing night was the cream of Anglo-Norman society, including the only legitimate heir to the throne. By 1120, Henry was the most formidable ruler in Europe with an enviable record on the battlefield, immense lands and wealth and unprecedented authority in his kingdoms. Everything he had worked for was finally achieved, and he was ready to hand it on to his beloved son, William AEtheling.

Henry I and his retinue set out first. The White Ship – considered the fastest afloat – would follow, carrying the young prince. Spoilt and arrogant, William had plied his comrades and crew with drink from the minute he stepped aboard. It was the middle of the night when the drunken helmsman rammed the ship into rocks. There would be only one survivor from the gilded roll call of passengers…

Charles Spencer evokes this tragic and brutal story of the Normans from Conquest to Anarchy. With the heir dead, a civil war of untold violence erupted, a game of thrones which saw families turn in on each other with English and Norman barons, rebellious Welsh princes and the Scottish king all playing a part in a bloody, desperate scrum for power.

Publisher Review

Praise for The White Ship

‘Out of a 900-year-old moment of heart-stopping tragedy, Charles Spencer conjures an exhilarating narrative full of incident and insight. Here is the story, marvellously told, of the post-Conquest kings – and one almost-queen – of England: unpredictable, violently dramatic, and never less than compelling.’ Helen Castor

Praise for Charles Spencer’s To Catch A King

‘Authoritative narrative history with the pace of a Jason Bourne film’, Books of the Year, Evening Standard

‘A truly thrilling tale which Spencer, a natural storyteller, delivers with erudition and wit … an exhilarating read’ Daily Telegraph

‘A book of quite extraordinary period atmosphere, the most diligent research and an appropriately cracking pace’ Sunday Express

‘It’s a wonderful tale, and Spencer tells it with journalistic flair’ The Times

‘Riveting…’To Catch a King’ is as gripping as any thriller’ Sunday Telegraph

‘One of the joys of this book…is just how close the reader gets to the action. The day-by-day account of the fugitive’s doings provide delicious details. Charles Spencer is the perfect person to pass the story onto a new generation. His pacey, readable prose coasts elegantly through the great tale. ‘To Catch a King’ is a cracking read and those who come to it knowing little of the famous tale will find they have a treat in store’ Literary Review

‘In this pacey slice of narrative history Charles Spencer…constructs this spare but atmospheric account of six weeks that changed the course of English history’ Mail on Sunday

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