Sadly, it s not her best Henry VIII The King and His Court tries to be, as the title says, a biography of the king and a snapshot of the Tudor court at the same time, and it doesn t succeed terribly well The first half of the book is heavily weighted towards the court, describing how it was organized, how it worked, and the people who attended it, while the second half covered Henry s reign in greater detail than the first half There wasn t a lot of overlap so we didn t get much about how the court was affected by the events of Henry s reign and vice versa We also didn t get to hear a lot about what Wolsey and Cromwell were doing to actually run the kingdom, which is perhaps understandable but still frustrating Plus, the first half was very difficult to get through because it was a lot of names and details without a lot of context Weir did also leave out a lot of the turmoil surrounding Henry s various marriages, but as she wrote an entire much better book specifically about them, I ll cut her some slack on that It seems to have been a deliberate choice anyway I don t think I would recommend this book unless you have a deep and abiding interest in the nitty gritty everyday world of the Tudor court In that respect it s an invaluable resource, but there are other and better biographies of Henry VIII if that s all you re after.
I have to rate Alison Weir s Henry VIII King and Court a five star read You get exactly what it says on the tin A vast and fully comprehensive work, covering over five hundred pages, along with the obligatory sixty pages of notes.
As the author states in her introduction, this is not a political history of the reign, her brief here is to record the events that help to build up a picture of the life and ethos of the King and the court The reader of Tudor history may well have to go elsewhere for greater depth and detail of Henry s six wives, or of the many monumental events that effected the cultural, social or political climate of the age Instead the olde worn caricature of Henry VIII is dusted off and given a realistic treatment illuminated with the light of modern research Therefore this book is filled with a myriad of detail of court life from the Privy Chamber to the culinary creations of the royal kitchens down to the names of the pet dogs.
Other Tudor writers like Hutchinson or Starkey do disagree with Weir on various points, but in the main that does not detract from my enjoyment of this fascinating book We have certainly come a long way from the portrait created by Charles Laughton.
This review can also be found here What can I say about this book Oh yeah.
I hated it.
I fucking hated this book I would insert the Instagram picture of how I annotated every single page, but GR won t let me and I m lazy so you can click the link to my blog if you really want to see it I mean, look at all of those sticky notes Look at those annotations Look at the pure rage that I have for it.
Let s start with the thesisMy aim in this book is to draw together a multitude of strands of research in order to develop a picture of the real Henry VIII, his personal life throughout his reign, the court he created, and the people who influenced and served him p 2 To do this, she uses anecdotal evidence No joke She uses anecdotal evidence to show how the life was and how things were in the court That s horrendous For a woman who bills herself as a historian, she comes across like Philippa Gregory None of them studied history, but they pretend to be them without the same academic rigor.
So, what s wrong with using anecdotal evidence From my line of research aka psychology anecdotal evidence is a no no because it holds no scientific basis It has no grounding in fact It s just a story that someone told, one that can t be verified by other sources.
A brief example of one of these anecdotes A rumor went around the court that Anne Boleyn was the product of an affair Henry had with Anne s mother, Elizabeth Boleyn nee Howard This rumor could be used to show what was going on in court and what people were whispering in the conservative i.
e Catholic faction.
But, no Weir goes ahead and literally hashes out the rumor She says that Henry couldn t have fathered Anne, but that it might be possible that he had sex with Lady Boleyn when he was a teenager And that it can t be ruled out When there s no evidence to support something of that nature.
Which brings me to my second issue The lack of citations.
The above anecdote and her conclusion did not have a citation to show that others have thought about this or spoken about it or that there were any sort of primary sources that hinted to this same thing It felt like every few pages I was writing down source citation because there was none.
Weir makes claims without supporting them That s just what she does Or she doesn t use citations correctly I was always taught to cite early in the paragraph, as early as possible, when the same source is used She cites at the last second, making it confusing Then, she just makes claims without citing anything.
Then, Weir s biases come into play Especially against anyone in the Boleyn family I ve already written extensively about this in my review of her fiction book Anne Boleyn A King s Obsession It was also discussed in the comments over on Goodreads, so I ll also link that here.
This is best illustrated in Weir s use of biased primary sources I m talking about Eustace Chapuys While I will agree that Chapuys is a rich source to use to look at a very Spanish viewpoint of The Great Matter aka the annulment of Henry s marriage to Anne , he can t be used as a verifiable source since he bought into any rumor or hint of slander against Anne Boleyn and her family Yet, in one breathe, Weir said that historians have called him untrustworthy but she s going to use him because he s worth it.
So, you already know that with her use of a biased source, you re not getting a real picture of what was going on and what the court was really like.
My last I lie but the last gripe I feel like expanding on is that Weir doesn t focus on important power shifts The rise of Cromwell was barely mentioned and he created the court Wolsey s fall was also barely talked about Same with Anne Boleyn s fall and the rise of the Seymours Or the rise of the conservatives Weir was far interested in the properties that Henry owned, bought, and modified than actually telling me about the power factions in the court that he created.
So, what parting words do I have for all of you who stuck around to read this Don t read this There are far better books on this topic than this And if you do read it, constantly remember that Weir is literally banned from certain universities because of the issues that I ve brought up and probably since I m not a historian But I care about academic rigor like a historian.
Un exhaustivo y soberbio trabajo sobre la corte de Enrique VIII, uno de los personajes m s controvertidos de la historia de Inglaterra y de la historia Universal sin lugar a dudas Sus castillos, sus costumbres, la moda, los alimentos y hasta detalles de la higiene o la falta de ella que se practicaba en esos entonces.
Los primeros cap tulos abordan minuciosamente todo lo escrito arriba El resto de la obra es una radiograf a de cada personaje cercano al Rey y su corte Por fortuna, no se enfoca espec ficamente al tema de l y sus esposas Ya hay mucho de ello en otros libros y la misma Alison Weir ya se ocup de ello en un libro especial.
La lectura es a veces cansada por tanto y tanto detalle Tomen nota de los tapices, los muebles y otras banalidades del interior de sus palacios pero no por ello desmerece un trabajo que no es otra cosa que una fotograf a en alta definici n en escrito, tanto as que uno puede palpar la poca, las pasiones y la vida social y pol tica de una Inglaterra que decidi caminar sola partiendo de la soberbia y a la vez, magnificencia de un hombre como Enrique Tudor.
Lean todo lo que tengan que leer, resuelvan sus pendientes, pidan vacaciones, pues un libro con medio centenar de p ginas dedicadas a la bibliograf a, merece respeto y tiempo Al menos, respeto al trabajo de la autora, indudable experta en el tema.