Calamities and Catastrophes: The Ten Absolutely Worst Years in History

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It is a story of religious factions, scholarly disputes, archival adventures, scientific challenges and intricate problems of translation from ancient languages. It is an intriguing and exciting story which tells us a lot about our language, our ethics and our way of life — even in the secularised 21st C. The Tudor period was a time of massive social change in England with growing cities, increasing trade, and growing stability after the chaos of the Wars of the Roses.

Despite military preparations in every county, and the establishment of a new navy, the country was generally at peace, and England and Wales were becoming more closely integrated.

Mrs Luther and Her Sisters – Women of the Reformation*

Religious changes affected every person, with the Reformation bringing change to most corners of the country, and the dissolution of the monasteries allowing those with cash to build new estates, and removing the traditional schools and hospitals. This book offers insights into the world of Tudor England — revealing what it was really like to live in a period of great growth, and the difference between living in the city and the country. War, terror, economic collapse Britain has been there before. And for the likes of the Celts, or the Tudors, or the Georgians, these catastrophes were much harder to bear.

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Try the black death , or the year the king went mad The fact is that rat for rat, recession for recession, gory death for gory death, the ten really rotten years featured in this book beat our current travails hands down. It is a fantastically readable leapfrog through British history which takes us, via the interesting bits, from the misery of the Roman invasion of AD60 when 50, foreign thugs arrived on our shores to the Thatcherite year of discontent of — the ideal gift for anyone who needs cheering up Tyrant, reformer, exhibitionist, patriot, sexual athlete — there are lots of words used to describe one of the best known and controversial Kings of England.

But what do we really know about him?

One of the Worst Man-Made Disasters in History

This challenging and highly accessible biography probes the inner man and reveals, beneath the jewelled and aggressive exterior an insecure ruler haunted by the memory of a successful father and by his own sexual inadequacy. This highly readable study corrects the distortions produced by television and some popular biographies.


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There has never been a more remarkable national leader in modern history than Peter the Great He created a new city on marshland by the sea called St Petersburg and made his courtiers shave their beards and wear western dress. He destroyed Sweden, then the greatest force in northern Europe, and made Russia master of the Baltic.

European leaders did not know what to make of this eccentric, unsophisticated tsar who loathed pomp and ceremony and served as a junior officer in his own army. He took a peasant girl as his own wife but married members of his family into the royal houses of Europe.


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  5. Russia was profoundly changed by this extraordinary man. So was Europe.

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    Calamities & Catastrophes: The Ten Absolutely Worst Years in History - Derek Wilson - Google Books

    This is a book that had to be written in order to adjust the balance of our understanding of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Walsingham was not just the 'dour Puritan' or 'Machiavellian spymaster' of legend. And Elizabeth was very far from being the 'Gloriana' of TV documentary and popular fiction.

    Queen and minister were both fighting a 'war on terror' and sometimes they were fighting against each other. This rounded biography of the great Elizabethan diplomat and statesman is the first to explore fully Walsingham's religious motivation and his extraordinary relationship with the queen. It also highlights the perilous situation in which England found itself in the period when unscrupulous foes at home and abroad were frantically trying to destroy the Protestant state.

    Derek Wilson throws fresh light on this somewhat enigmatic figure, bringing the polished courtier and spymaster to vivid life.

    Calamities & Catastrophes: The Ten Absolutely Worst Years in History

    It is 50 years since the last popular English biography of the great reformer. This new study, taking notice of all the latest research, gives a vivid, warts-an-all, word portrait of this larger-than-life figure. The book depicts his personal struggle for faith and his intimate relations with family and friends as well as his public life. Luther's challenge of papal authority and his enormous literary output especially his German translation of the Bible changed the whole course of Europe and world history.

    Hans Holbein the Younger is best known to us from his masterly portraits of Henry VIII and members of his court but he was so much more.

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    He lived and worked at the epicentre of the Reformation and was influenced by its revolutionary ideas. This fresh biography traces him from his early years in Augsburg and his removal to Basel to his establishment as Henry VIII's court painter. We may 'only' know Holbein from his fabulous paintings and engravings but, if we read them aright, we see him not as an enigmatic 'unknown man' but as someone closely tied into the exciting times in which he lived.

    He writes with great conviction and a breathtaking attention to the kind of personal detail that makes his books such compelling reading. There is little available in English about the man who was has been called the 'Father of Europe' and who has had a profound effect on the development of the Continent.

    Calamities and Catastrophes

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