“The Man of Blood” to his opponents, a man who had killed the Lord’s People, and was tried and executed accordingly, emerges unusually sympathetically in The White King, Leanda de Lisle’s engaging and well-written biography of Charles I of England, king from 1625 until 1649. This biography is one that puts personality first, and, in doing so, devotes due and excellent attention to the role of women, particularly Charles’s dynamic French wife, Henrietta Maria. Indeed, Charles repeatedly appears in this account as the blinkered prey to the ambitions of others, notably the Duke of Buckingham; Henry, Earl of Holland; and Lucy, Countess of Carlisle. The king emerges as honorable and uxorious, but a withdrawn and rigid individual who lacked the flexibility and intelligence necessary to avoid the problems that stemmed from the...


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