Medieval Lego, by Greyson Beights
This is the kind of book that someone might judge as being suitable only for ridicule and amusement but that would be an injustice. This book deserves some serious respect on at least two grounds. For one, the book contains some amazing lego constructions of the history of medieval England. As someone who has spent many hours in my youth playing with legos personally, I can recognize the skill and effort that went into constructing the historical scenes. But what is even more astonishing and unexpected is the quality of the history in this short volume that provides a solid historical foundation to a wide variety of sometimes obscure matters of medieval English history that are well worth knowing, from people like Eleanor of Aquitaine, the first English prince of Wales, William Wallace, Queen Anne of Bohemia, and writers like Margery Kempe and Geoffrey Chaucer, but also events like the great famine of 1315-1317, the battles of Falkirk, the standard, as well as some of the battles of the Wars of the Roses, and various treaties and their importance in English and Scottish history. This is a book that could teach aspects of medieval history to many adults, and that is astonishing given its cover and title.
The King Is Dead: The Last Will And Testament Of Henry VIII, by Suannah Lipscomb
This book demonstrates many of the most praiseworthy aspects of contemporary historical approach, and that is the way that it can shine attention through a close study of neglected and obscure historical texts–in this case the last will and testament of King Henry VIII. What this book does, and I think does well, is to demonstrate that however racked with pain the king was during the last few months of his life that he was sufficiently in control of events while he lived to craft a will that sought to establish the rule of his young son on a sound footing. To be sure, none of us can hope to control events after we are dead even to the limited degree we can control events during our lives, no matter how powerful we are, but the author’s close examination of the text of Henry’s will demonstrates that he desired to ensure the survival of his dynasty’s rule through establishing the support of a wide group of the English elites and that if these plans were ultimately frustrated it was not for lack of effort on his part. If you have an interest in Tudor history this is a short volume of less than 200 pages (including the full text of the will itself) that is well worth reading.