100 books like The First English Empire

By R.R. Davies,

Here are 100 books that The First English Empire fans have personally recommended if you like The First English Empire. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Conquests, Catastrophe and Recovery: Britain and Ireland 1066–1485

Marc Morris Author Of The Anglo-Saxons: A History of the Beginnings of England

From my list on medieval Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell into medieval history from the moment I arrived at university, when I looked at a lecture list that included the Norman Conquest, King John and Magna Carta, Edward I – in short, the subjects of the books I have gone on to write. The attraction for me was that the medieval centuries were formative ones, shaping the countries of the British Isles and the identities of the people within them. After completing my doctorate on the thirteenth-century earls of Norfolk I was keen to broaden my horizons, and presented a TV series about castles, which was a great way to reconnect with the reality of the medieval past.

Marc's book list on medieval Britain

Marc Morris Why did Marc love this book?

This is a fantastic introduction to what was going on in the British Isles during the medieval period. The scholarship is up-to-the-minute, the writing is witty and engaging, and it is teeming with original ideas. It’s not a political history, plodding predictably from one reign to the next, but a sweeping overview, covering diverse topics such as the decline of slavery, the rise of parliament, kingship and queenship, religion, education, leisure, crime, and chivalry.

By John Gillingham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Conquests, Catastrophe and Recovery as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Beginning with the Norman Conquest of England, these tumultuous centuries and their invasions shaped the languages and political geography of present-day Britain and Ireland.

The Irish, Scots and Welsh fought their battles against the English with varying success - struggles which, like the events of 1066 in England, produced spectacular upheavals and left enduring national memories. But there was still a common enemy: the Black Death - still the greatest catastrophe in their history.

There were significant advances, too. Hundreds of new towns were founded; slavery, still prevalent until the twelfth century, died out; magnificent cathedrals built, schools and universities…


Book cover of The Song of Simon de Montfort: The Life and Death of a Medieval Revolutionary

Marc Morris Author Of The Anglo-Saxons: A History of the Beginnings of England

From my list on medieval Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell into medieval history from the moment I arrived at university, when I looked at a lecture list that included the Norman Conquest, King John and Magna Carta, Edward I – in short, the subjects of the books I have gone on to write. The attraction for me was that the medieval centuries were formative ones, shaping the countries of the British Isles and the identities of the people within them. After completing my doctorate on the thirteenth-century earls of Norfolk I was keen to broaden my horizons, and presented a TV series about castles, which was a great way to reconnect with the reality of the medieval past.

Marc's book list on medieval Britain

Marc Morris Why did Marc love this book?

I was trained as a historian of the thirteenth century, and three of my books have been on thirteenth-century topics. One of the most influential figures in this period was Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, who first befriended and then rebelled against King Henry III, reducing the king to a cipher and effectively ruling in his place. Montfort was also highly controversial, driven by a mix of high-minded altruism and personal ambition that divided people at the time and still has historians arguing to this day. Sophie Ambler tells his tale in an exciting fashion, emphasizing the violence and the drama, but this is also a book with real academic ballast. In particular, it brings out how different Montfort was by virtue of being raised in southern France during the Albigensian crusade, and why political violence in England increased in the wake of Montfort’s own bloody demise.

By Sophie Thérèse Ambler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Song of Simon de Montfort as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A biography of one of the Middle Ages' most controversial, reckless, and heroic figures

Born in France in the early thirteenth century to a crusading father of the same name, Simon de Montfort traveled to England in his adulthood, where he claimed the earldom of Leicester and ingratiated himself into King Henry III's inner circles. Initially a trusted advisor, Simon's good relationship with the king did not last. Frustrated by the increasing injustice meted out to his subjects, Simon would go on to rebel against him, marching on the king's hall at Westminster and leading England's first revolution, and imposing…


Book cover of Citadel of the Saxons: The Rise of Early London

Marc Morris Author Of The Anglo-Saxons: A History of the Beginnings of England

From my list on medieval Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell into medieval history from the moment I arrived at university, when I looked at a lecture list that included the Norman Conquest, King John and Magna Carta, Edward I – in short, the subjects of the books I have gone on to write. The attraction for me was that the medieval centuries were formative ones, shaping the countries of the British Isles and the identities of the people within them. After completing my doctorate on the thirteenth-century earls of Norfolk I was keen to broaden my horizons, and presented a TV series about castles, which was a great way to reconnect with the reality of the medieval past.

Marc's book list on medieval Britain

Marc Morris Why did Marc love this book?

In my own writing I’ve recently ventured into the Anglo-Saxon period, so I know how hard it is to conjure the history of these early medieval centuries from the meagre source material that survives. Rory Naismith manages this brilliantly in his highly engaging history of London in the centuries between the end of Roman Britain and the Norman Conquest. Naismith’s earlier books are on coins and coinage, but he does not allow his specialism to pull the book off balance. It’s a comparatively short volume, but it provides a comprehensive overview of the emerging capital, and it wears its considerable learning lightly.

By Rory Naismith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Citadel of the Saxons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With a past as deep and sinewy as the famous River Thames that twists like an eel around the jutting peninsula of Mudchute and the Isle of Dogs, London is one of the world's greatest and most resilient cities. Born beside the sludge and the silt of the meandering waterway that has always been its lifeblood, it has weathered invasion, flood, abandonment, fire and bombing. The modern story of London is well known. Much has been written about the later history of this megalopolis which, like a seductive dark star, has drawn incomers perpetually into its orbit. Yet, as Rory…


Book cover of Stephen: The Reign of Anarchy

Marc Morris Author Of The Anglo-Saxons: A History of the Beginnings of England

From my list on medieval Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell into medieval history from the moment I arrived at university, when I looked at a lecture list that included the Norman Conquest, King John and Magna Carta, Edward I – in short, the subjects of the books I have gone on to write. The attraction for me was that the medieval centuries were formative ones, shaping the countries of the British Isles and the identities of the people within them. After completing my doctorate on the thirteenth-century earls of Norfolk I was keen to broaden my horizons, and presented a TV series about castles, which was a great way to reconnect with the reality of the medieval past.

Marc's book list on medieval Britain

Marc Morris Why did Marc love this book?

The reign of King Stephen (1135–1154) was characterized by chaos and disorder, as he and his cousin Matilda fought over the succession to the English throne. This makes it a challenge to offer a coherent account, but Carl Watkins succeeds where others have failed in his short history of Stephen’s reign. The whole book, minus its academic endnotes, runs to under 90 pages, but it packs a considerable punch, thanks to Watkins’ elegant and enviable prose style. 

By Carl Watkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stephen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Stephen risked being seen as a man who never quite transcended the essential flawed-ness of his claim to be king. His actions betrayed uneasiness in his new skin'

Remembered as a time in which 'Christ and his saints slept', Stephen's troubled reign plunged England into anarchy. Without clear rules of succession in the Norman monarchy, conflict within William the Conqueror's family was inevitable. But, as this resonant portrait shows, there was another problem too: Stephen himself, unable to make good the transition from nobleman to king.


Book cover of The Midwife's Apprentice

Nancy McConnell Author Of Into the Lion's Mouth

From my list on kids who love a medieval quest.

Why am I passionate about this?

Before I could start writing Into the Lion’s Mouth, I spent a lot of time researching the medieval and renaissance Venice. I was astounded to see how relevant that history is to today. Not only are there many parallels that can be drawn between the past and today there is so much to learn about the consistency of human nature. I find myself currently gravitating towards books that mix history and fiction and these are some of my favorites.

Nancy's book list on kids who love a medieval quest

Nancy McConnell Why did Nancy love this book?

This book was a Newberry Award winner and it’s easy to see why. It is hard not to love Alyce and root for her as she grapples with the difficulty of learning midwifery under the not to tender tutelage of Jane the Midwife. The story is at times funny, poignant and fascinating. I was moved by the courage and persistence Alyce shows. This book transported me to another era and left me wanting more. 

By Karen Cushman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Midwife's Apprentice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

A poor girl in medieval England gains a name, a purpose, and a future in this “delightful”* and beloved Newbery Medal-winning book. Now with a new cover!

* “A truly delightful introduction to a world seldom seen in children’s literature.” —School Library Journal*, starred review

* “A fascinating view of a far distant time.” —Horn Book, starred review

* “Gripping.” —Kirkus, starred review

A girl known only as Brat has no family, no home, and no future until she meets Jane the Midwife and becomes her apprentice. As she helps the short-tempered Jane deliver babies, Brat—who renames herself Alyce—gains knowledge,…


Book cover of Britain in the First Millennium: From Romans to Normans

Rory Naismith Author Of Early Medieval Britain

From my list on Britain in the Early Middle Ages.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Professor of Early Medieval English History at the University of Cambridge. I also work on relations with the rest of Britain, and between Britain and its European neighbours, especially from an economic and social point of view. My interest in early medieval history arose from the jigsaw puzzle approach that it requires: even more so than for other periods, sources are few and often challenging, so need to be seen together and interpreted imaginatively. 

Rory's book list on Britain in the Early Middle Ages

Rory Naismith Why did Rory love this book?

Most books covering the early Middle Ages in Britain start with the fifth century and end around the tenth or eleventh. Edward James’s Britain is different, in that it embraces the Roman period too. Breadth on this level is stimulating, especially when (as here) it is accompanied by elegant and insightful prose that takes care to pay attention to diverse constituencies in society. 

By Edward James,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Britain in the First Millennium as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ideal for undergraduates, this survey of medieval Britain is a coherent narrative of events between the two great invasions from continental Europe. It is unique both for its broad historical perspective and for its wide geographic coverage: it spans the 'long' millennium from the first century BC through the Norman conquest and covers events across the whole of Britain, from Cornwall to the Shetlands. Edward James provides the European context for events in England while also examining the many ways Britain differed from the rest of Europe. Students of medieval Europe will find his book an invaluable synthesis.


Book cover of Crusaders and Revolutionaries of the Thirteenth Century: De Montfort

Sharon Bennett Connolly Author Of Defenders of the Norman Crown: Rise and Fall of the Warenne Earls of Surrey

From my list on histories of medieval families.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by history my whole life and have now published 4 non-fiction history books. My fourth and latest book, Defenders of the Norman Crown: Rise and Fall of the Warenne Earls of Surrey, tells the story of the Warenne earls over 300 years and 8 generations. A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, I have studied history academically and just for fun. I even worked as a tour guide at a castle! I also write the highly popular history blog History... the Interesting Bits, and I am also a feature writer for All About History magazine. My TV work includes Australian Television's Who Do You Think You Are?

Sharon's book list on histories of medieval families

Sharon Bennett Connolly Why did Sharon love this book?

There are so many reasons to love Crusaders and Revolutionaries of the Thirteenth Century: De Montfort by Darren Baker. The foremost reason is that it is a fabulous, enjoyable, and entertaining read. Darren Baker has fast become the ‘go-to’ historian for all things De Montfort. His research is thorough, and the story is recounted in an accessible manner that draws the reader in. Told in chronological order, the narrative flows freely, drawing the reader into the lives of this incredible family.

The second reason is the cover. If there ever was a cover to attract a reader, this is it. It is stunning! And the artwork was done by a de Montfort descendant, Rosana de Montfort. It epitomises the ethos of the medieval barons, their sense of duty, and dedication to the crusading ideal. It is a wonderful book for anyone interested in medieval history, either for leisure, research,…

By Darren Baker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Crusaders and Revolutionaries of the Thirteenth Century as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the families that dominated the thirteenth century were the de Montforts. They arose in France, in a hamlet close to Paris, and grew to prominence under the crusading fervour of that time, taking them from leadership in the Albigensian wars to lordships around the Mediterranean. They marry into the English aristocracy, join the crusade to the Holy Land, then another crusade in the south of France against the Cathars.

The controversial stewardship of Simon de Montfort (V) in that conflict is explored in depth. It is his son Simon de Montfort (VI) who is perhaps best known. His…


Book cover of 1415: Henry V's Year of Glory

Gordon Corrigan Author Of A Great and Glorious Adventure: A Military History of the Hundred Years War

From my list on the Hundred Years' War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I decided to write this book because while there are many works on the Hundred Years War, they tend to dwell on the political and diplomatic, rather than the military aspects. I considered that this period marked a real revolution in military affairs, led by England. It was England that had the world’s only professional army since the collapse of the Roman Empire in the west in the 5th Century, that used technology (the longbow) as a force multiplier, and while moving on horseback did its fighting on foot. It was these three legs of the revolution that allowed tiny English armies to defeat far larger French feudal ones.

Gordon's book list on the Hundred Years' War

Gordon Corrigan Why did Gordon love this book?

Henry of Monmouth, Henry V, was the second king of the disputed Lancastrian dynasty, and in my opinion the greatest Englishman who ever lived.

He was king at 25, slaughterer of the nobility of France at 27, regent and acknowledged heir to the French throne at 32, and dead at 34. Had he lived, the history of Europe might be very different. He was a man who shaped English history and who still affects Anglo-French relations to this day.

This book, by Ian Mortimer, one of the very best authors of the period, looks at the year 1415, the year when the young Henry led a sick, exhausted, and starving English army to a stunning victory over a far larger French force at Agincourt, in an example of leadership and military professionalism of the highest order.  

By Ian Mortimer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 1415 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Henry V is regarded as the great English hero. Lionised in his own day for his victory at Agincourt, his piety and his rigorous application of justice, he was elevated by Shakespeare into a champion of English nationalism for all future generations. But what was he really like? Does he deserve to be thought of as 'the greatest man who ever ruled England?'

In Ian Mortimer's groundbreaking book, he portrays Henry in the pivotal year of his reign. Recording the dramatic events of 1415, he offers the fullest, most precise and least romanticised view we have of Henry and what…


Book cover of The Stone Rose

Lee Swanson Author Of Her Dangerous Journey Home

From my list on medieval fiction with fierce female protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first recollection of a fascination with medieval history occurred while watching Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood. I soon exhausted our school library’s limited selection of tales of kings and castles. Much later, a history degree and decades spent in Germany and England allowed me to delve deeply into historical research, gaining a specialized knowledge into the areas in which I was most interested. I am particularly fascinated with the lives of women, most of whom medieval chroniclers relegate to a brief mention as wives and mothers. There are clearly stories here yet to be told and I am always excited to learn of new scholarship.

Lee's book list on medieval fiction with fierce female protagonists

Lee Swanson Why did Lee love this book?

How can I write about fierce women of the Middle Ages and not include the woman referred to by the sobriquet She-Wolf of France?

Carol McGrath’s The Stone Rose presents the story of Queen Isabella’s strength and determination framed around her ill-fated marriage to King Edward II in a beautiful tapestry threaded with both painstakingly researched historical fact and masterfully imaginative fiction.

The author’s extensive knowledge of the time period is evidenced by the accuracy of detail that is interwoven into the narrative. Since Edward’s reign forms the backdrop for my series, my own interest is obvious; however, the tale of Isabella’s struggle to protect herself and those she loves in the face of rampant intrigue and treachery will appeal to all.

By Carol McGrath,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Stone Rose as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A real tour de force of gripping writing, rich historical detail and complex, fascinating characters. Superb!' NICOLA CORNICK on The Stone Rose
_________________

EARLY READERS ARE GRIPPED BY THE STONE ROSE!

* 'Springs to vivid life for the reader . . . A compulsive read' ANNE O'BRIEN

* 'An enticing and intriguing tale of a woman who is driven to desperate and ruthless lengths to protect those she loves' ALEXANDRA WALSH

* 'Carol McGrath really got into Isabella's head . . . Enlightening' SHARON BENNETT CONNOLLY

* 'Bold and compelling' JENNY BARDEN

* 'A novel that's a definite page-turner' LIZ…


Book cover of The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England

T.M. Rowe Author Of A Viking Moon

From my list on transporting you back through time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have three lifelong passions, the first was reading, then writing, and then archaeology/history. To this end I studied and trained as an archaeologist before I sat down and decided to write stories set in the past as a way of bringing it to life. Of course, there had to be an adventure, a bit of a mystery, and a dash of magic to bring it all together. The books on my list are just a few of those that I have enjoyed reading during my hunt to get to know the past in intimate detail – on my own time travelling journey.

T.M.'s book list on transporting you back through time

T.M. Rowe Why did T.M. love this book?

I have read a lot of history and archaeology books and more often than not they can be a little dull, dry and in some cases work better than a sleeping tablet.

Not with this book, here you learn about parts of medieval England you just wouldn’t think about, written from a more personal point of view its less about political stuff like kings, queens, and those pesky archbishops and much more on the practicalities of living in medieval England.

Would you know what to eat, wear, or where to go to the toilet? Would you know how to address a lord or lady? Would you know what to do if you got sick? This is a vital guide for all time travelers!

By Ian Mortimer,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The past is a foreign country. This is your guidebook. Imagine you could get into a time machine and travel back to the fourteenth century. What would you see? What would you smell? More to the point, where are you going to stay? Should you go to a castle or a monastic guest house? And what are you going to eat? What sort of food are you going to be offered by a peasant or a monk or a lord? This radical new approach turns our entire understanding of history upside down. It shows us that the past is not…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Middle Ages, imperialism, and the United Kingdom?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Middle Ages, imperialism, and the United Kingdom.

The Middle Ages Explore 415 books about the Middle Ages
Imperialism Explore 66 books about imperialism
The United Kingdom Explore 574 books about the United Kingdom