David Carpenter

David Carpenter’s new translation of Magna Carta is published by Penguin. He teaches history at King’s College London.


Austin’s War

7 September 2023

Thomas Nagel’s piece about J.L. Austin prompts recollection of his role in Oxford’s 1938 ‘Munich’ by-election, in which the Conservative candidate was Quintin Hogg (LRB, 7 September). Austin coined the slogan ‘A vote for Hogg is a vote for Hitler.’ A.J.P. Taylor, his colleague at Magdalen College, remarked that this was the only one of Austin’s propositions he ever understood.

In England​ 1381 was the year of what has often been called the Peasants’ Revolt. The insurgency began in Essex in late May, spread quickly to Kent and on 13 June the rebels gathered on Blackheath, entering London the next day. Joined by many from the city, they sacked John of Gaunt’s palace of the Savoy and forced the king, the 14-year-old Richard II, to meet them at Mile End....

How to be a queen: She-Wolves

David Carpenter, 15 December 2011

Helen Castor describes She-Wolves as ‘an attempt to write the kind of book I loved to read before history became my profession as well as my pleasure. It is about people, and about power. It is a work of storytelling, of biographical narrative rather than theory or cross-cultural comparison.’ At the heart of the book are accounts of the careers of four women who ‘ruled...

Go to the Devil: Richard II

David Carpenter, 22 July 2010

By far the most striking image of Richard II is the one found in the great portrait of him, crowned and enthroned, which still survives in Westminster Abbey. Painted in the 1390s, when the king was in his twenties, it gives him a slightly boyish, even feminine appearance, with red cheeks, full lips and a small goatee beard. Much of this, however, is the work of 19th-century restorers: when...


Dead or Alive

7 June 2007

Ian Mortimer says that ‘no one has yet demonstrated a fault’ in his argument for Edward II’s survival (Letters, 5 July). I had thought my review of his book The Perfect King had demonstrated a series of them. I am at a loss to understand why it is illegitimate to consider what possible motive Roger Mortimer had for faking Edward’s death, especially as I was responding to Ian Mortimer’s own...

Frisking the Bishops: Poor Henry

Ferdinand Mount, 21 September 2023

Nothing could be less like the conventional idea of a pugnacious Plantagenet than the fair nine-year-old child who came to the throne in 1216, already weeping, in circumstances that would have taxed a...

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Back to Runnymede: Magna Carta

Ferdinand Mount, 23 April 2015

George Cony​, a London merchant, had once been a friend of Oliver Cromwell. But when the Lord Protector slapped a tax on silk imports without the consent of Parliament, Mr Cony protested that...

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