Monarchy (2003)

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Released 23-Jun-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 291:35 (Case: 294)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (24:14)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Mary Cranitch
David Hutt

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring David Starkey
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $39.95 Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The English Monarchy has been a source of fascination for people for many years, both as a source of gossip and as a fascinating slice of history. The long line of Kings and Queens who have ruled England have been involved in all sorts of skulduggery including invasions, wars, murder, patricide, usurping, attacks on the church and much much more. It is into this rich vein of historical stories that the host of this series, Dr David Starkey delves. He is a prominent historian who is obviously passionate about the subject matter. This series of six episodes covers the monarchy from its beginnings after the Roman empire crumbled up until the end of the Lancastrian rule of England with the War of the Roses resulting in Edward IV gaining the throne in 1461. One assumes that there will be a follow on series covering the Monarchy from 1461 to the present day.

    The six episodes included here (over two discs) are:

  1. A Nation State (49:25) - Covers the story from the end of the Roman Empire in 250AD, through the German invasions, the early regional kings who were elected by the people and then on into the early Anglo-Saxon Kings of various kingdoms within England. The show concludes with Alfred the Great and on to his grandson, the first king of all England, Edgar.
  2. Aengla Land (48:45) - This episode covers the Viking invasions and Ethelred, who marries a Norman princess to try and stop the Danes conquering England. Finally, the Dane, Canute, becomes king. It follows on with Edward the Confessor and then Harold and finally the Battle of Hastings in 1066 which results in the Normans taking over with William the Conqueror.
  3. Conquest (47:51) - This covers the brutal reign of William the Conqueror including the Harrying of the North where many Anglo-Saxons were killed. His son William Rufus becomes king after him and his younger brother then takes the crown after his death. The rise of knights and chivalry occurs in this period. When his son dies, his daughter Matilda is named as his heir, however Stephen his nephew takes the crown
  4. Dynasty (48:14) - Covers the reign of the charismatic Henry II. He crushes the power of the Barons and tries to control the church but ends up with problems with his appointed archbishop, Thomas Becket. He is followed by Richard the Lionheart, who spends most of his reign on crusades and John who makes enemies of nearly everyone and ends up having to agree to be a vassal of the Pope and sign the Magna Carta. Henry III becomes King at 9 years of age. When he was 25 he tried to break the control of the Barons but fails. His son, Edward, restores the Monarchy.
  5. A United Kingdom (48:34) - This episode is devoted to the reigns of the three Edwards (I, II & III). Edward I was the conqueror whose reign was great but brutal. Edward II, his son was a much weaker king who had some personal friendships which were not looked upon well by the Barons. Eventually his wife invades England, defeats him and puts Edward III, his son, on the throne. Edward II is murdered. Edward III is another warrior king but a gentleman and brings heraldry and chivalry back to England. He starts the 100 years war against the French.
  6. Death of a Dynasty (48:46) - After the death of Edward III, whose heir the Black Prince is already dead, the rightful heir Richard is usurped by his cousin Henry Bollingbrook and the next 100 years sees 7 kings and many civil wars. All this upheaval results in the end of the Lancastrian kings after the War of the Roses.

    This is a fascinating series with many facts and stories which I had not previously heard. It is not presented in a dry, textbook sort of way which is refreshing. The presenter is very academically enthusiastic although the show does have a deadly serious tone. Annoyingly, three of the six episodes did not display a time code when I played the disc. People with an interest in this period of history should definitely check this series out. It was recently shown on the ABC.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is good but has some issues.

    The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is probably the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was reasonably clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. The sharpness was affected by colour bleeding and some scenes included grain.. Shadow detail was reasonable but not quite what you would expect from a recent production.

    The colour was quite good generally with nice rich colours, however there was significant bleeding from light colours which I found somewhat annoying.

    The only noticeable artefact was aliasing which mostly seemed to effect pans over still photos such as rivers, buildings and other landscape shots.

    There are no subtitles.

    The layer change on disc one occurs at 24:14 in Episode 2 and caused only a slight pause. Disc Two's layer change occurs at 27:15 in Episode 5.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality is very good.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 384 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync.

    The score of this series by Andy Price is very good and adds to the very serious tone of the show.

    The surround speakers added some atmosphere when the disc was played using Dolby Digital ProLogic II.

     The subwoofer added bass to the music but this was a function of my amp's bass management rather than the soundtrack itself.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use




    The menu included a musical underscore and stills from the show.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The series has been released in Region 2 in what seems to be the same format, except that it is entitled David Starkey's Monarchy. It does not seem to be available in Region 1.


    A fascinating and well made history of the Monarchy in England.

    The video quality is good but has some issues.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The set has no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Saturday, August 06, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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