e before it had been purchased by a publishing company whose aim is to sell books, said the book was meticulously researched but a bit dry So unfortunately, I put it off until now I did not find it in the least dry The book s content is based on meticulous research, but in that Alison Weir, author and historian of British Royalty, is so very knowledgeable in her field, she has the ability to present information clearly and engagingly It is this that is her great talent A person who really knows what they are talking about can explain the complicated simply Such a person also has the ability to throw in tidbits that engage and capture one s interest Lots of books have been written about Henry VIII, his six wives, the Tudors and Thomas Cromwell, but I recommend this because I have found it clear and captivating and not hard to follow even for those with little previous knowledge of Tudor history Weir knows how to explain This isn t always easy when so many are given the same name Mary or Edward or Catherine or Elisabeth or Jane Which Mary, Edward, Catherine, Elisabeth or Jane must be crystal clear Nor is it easy when these very same individuals are also referred to as counts or admirals or duchesses of this or that place I never got mixed up, and I am no expert, so I don t think you will either There is that rhyme divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived to help you keep the six wives straight Catherine of Aragon 1485 1536 born in Alcal de Henares, SpainA staunch woman of principle Anne Boleyn c.
1501 1536 born in Blickling, EnglandVivacious, ambitious, ruthless with a penchant for vengeance Sex appeal Jane Seymour c.
1508 1537 born in Wiltshire, EnglandObedient, pious Strong minded matriarch in the making Anne of Cleves 1515 1557 born in Dusseldorf, GermanyLevel headed, clear thinking and valued independence Catherine Howard 1523 1542 born in LondonA licentious wanton Catherine Parr 1512 1548 born in LondonErudite, intellectual and wise, but knew where her heart lay.
The rhyme tells only the end of their respective stories there is so much to who they were I have a good feeling now for Henry s, his six wives and their children s temperaments, backgrounds and religious leanings I particularly appreciated that religious and political views are focused upon, showing how the Reformation and the shift from Catholicism to Protestant beliefs began in Britain This is as much a central theme of the book as are the facts about the wives and children Mary, Elizabeth, Edward and the acknowledged but illegitimate son Henry FitzRoy Life of the royalty in the 1500s, for example customs, traditions, sports, childbirth and deaths, clothing, festivals, foods and illnesses are documented in vivid detail You know a book is a hit when the first thing you do is pick out books to read by the author.
books I have read by Alison Weir The Six Wives of Henry VIII 4 stars The Life of Elizabeth I 4 starI want to read The Children of Henry VIII Queens of the Conquest England s Medieval Queens which is the beginning of a series As well as Queen Isabella Treachery, Adultery, and Murder in Medieval England and Eleanor of Aquitaine A Life because these two queens are not covered in Queens of the Conquest England s Medieval QueensInnocent Traitor I have also read, but only gave it 2 stars It is fiction I do not recommend the author s fictional books Her non fiction is much better ETA I should add this I tried to read The Wars of the Roses and gave up It read as a string of names people who meant nothing to me Simon Prebble reads the audiobook wonderfully It could not have been improved upon 5 stars for the narration.
Weir Has Tirelessly Made Her Way Through The Entire Labyrinth Of Tudor History To Tell The Collective Story Of The Six Wives of Henry VIII A Vivid, Full Blooded Portrait Of Six Very Different Women In A Work Of Sound And Brilliant Scholarship Illustrations Extensively researched and fascinating a must read for anyone interested in the women behind Henry VIII, aka the patron saint of man whores I just made that up on the spot, but it works so I m keeping it Weir isn t completely unbiased in her description of Henry and his various women, but I can t blame her With this family, it s hard not to take sides This is especially clear when Weir describes the way Henry felt about Anne of Cleves, his wife for about ten minutes Weir talks about how Henry whined that Anne was fat and ugly and then, no doubt with a wicked grin on her face, Weir goes on to describe how gross Henry had gotten by that point You can just tell she s dying to call Henry a fat bastard, and I m proud of her for resisting that urge.
I ve read some Phillipa Gregory and Hillary Mantel titles about Henry VIII and was totally entranced Which is weird because I m Afrikaans, live in South Africa, and never even had history at school The only problem with the historical fiction titles, is that they only deal with one or two wives at a time, so I could never get a complete picture I also wasn t sure how much of the stories I ve read was fictionalized So I decided to try a non fiction, and I was very impressed by Alison Weir Her research was extremely thorough, but the book never comes across as academic I have a much better understanding of Henry and why he made the choices he did I thought it would be a fun idea to share a fact about each wife instead of doing a review 1 Catherine of Aragon The queen had conceived six, possibly eight times, yet all she had to show for it was one daughter Divorced2 Anne Boleyn thus effectively crowning her as queen regnant, as no other consort has been before or since Executed3 Jane Seymour When Henry VIII died, he left instructions that he was to be buried with Jane Died4 Anne of Cleves Her handling of a difficult and potentially dangerous situation shows that she was, perhaps, the wisest of Henry s VIII s wives Divorced5 Catherine Howard Henry married Catherine when he was 49 and she somewhere between the ages of 15 and 19 Executed6 Catherine Parr She wrote and published two books Widowed Where I got the book purchased on UK.
Ah, I do enjoy an Alison Weir I am not enough of a historian to have Opinions about history, so my comments are about the writing rather than historical merit, and the writing is good Weir is always lively and entertaining, perfect for a recreational history reader like me, and I found myself zipping through this as if through a novel, even though I knew how each character s story ended It s strange, though, that my interest is always greatest up to the point where Anne Boleyn dies I always think that the real Henry VIII story was that of the Henry Catherine Anne triangle, and the rest of the wives never seem to match up to the cut and thrust of the Great Matter Once Henry won the point that he could marry and dispose of at will, the other wives stories seem to be those of ambition overcoming common sense with the possible exception of Anne of Cleves, who really did quite well out of the deal granted, it s a bit trickier, politically speaking, to behead a foreign princess so she had some guarantees going in.
Perhaps this is why I felt that the book started off as an account of the wives but ended up as the standard Henry 6 story Catherine and Anne dominate the first part of the book, and then the wives get less interesting Still, if you re looking for a good recap or just a bit of Tudor entertainment with real life characters, read this one It also has a good chronology, very useful if you need to check dates.
This prodigiious work on the wives of King Henry the 8th of England is so well written It reads like a novel of suspense, passion, treachery, European History, betrayal, obedience, faith, God and love It did what I really enjoy in books made me want to read about other characters mention such as Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots Also to review maps and learn of the royalty of Spain, France, and Germany Many words to be looked up to enhance your vocabulary as well Learn about the first theatrical musicals and how the masked ball came to be In the end, decide for yourself if Henry was evil, tyrannical or the greatest King of England.
I started this book rather late in May as part of my Kings and Queens theme that month but didn t end up reading very much of it for lack of time Despite every intention of finishing it in June, I got caught up with challenge and group reads and didn t pick this up at all but then again at the beginning of this month finally picked up from where I d left off and completed it Though I would have read it anyway, this also fit into my theme of this month doorstoppers at 600 pages This book, my first by Alison Weir, as is pretty evident from the title is about the six women whom Henry VIII married But as Katherine of Aragon, Henry s first queen came to England much before his was crowned, and two other wives Katherine Parr and Anne of Cleves outlived him, it also is the story of Henry s reign albeit restricted to a telling of those aspects of his life and reign that was related to his queens among them of course, his break with Rome, and his ultimate takeover of all power in England, something that emerged from issues relating to his marriages but went on to become and affect much And even though it doesn t tell us the history of the entire Tudor dynasty, all six of its monarchs even Lady Jane Grey are here, and we learn something of each of them as well.
This book certainly took me a while to read the one month break in the middle apart , but it was very readable and interesting, keeping my attention throughout I have read accounts and stories, and historical fiction about Henry s wives before but never a collective biography, and didn t know the stories of all his queens, particularly Anne of Cleves and Katherine Parr, so these parts were fairly new to me, but I also learnt a fair bit about the stories of the wives I knew about things like just how long it took for both Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn s marriages to go through, just how strong of a fight Katherine of Aragon put up and how long that lasted , and what became of Anne of Cleves after her divorce annulment and of Katherine Parr, among other aspects What also stands out in the book, besides the issues of succession and love lust that surrounded Henry s marriages is also the politics around them, and how it impacted not only how each marriage was brought about, how it ran its course, and came to an end I also enjoyed learning about their intellectual pursuits I knew Henry was well educated and had composed songs but had no idea that he d written books as well, nor that Katherine Parr was also the author of a couple of volumes That Henry didn t object to these pursuits in his wives Anne Boleyn too was well read and read some fairly heretical matter openly and with Henry s knowledge, and Katherine of Aragon in a manner of speaking was well educated , even though this may have led to some serious differences at times particularly for Katherine Parr, who averted some serious danger very cleverly and although his word was of course law, I thought reflected in his favour In the book, one also gets to see Henry s gradual descent from jovial charming King to an ill tempered tyrant of sorts, but also somewhat his point of view on things which makes one a little sympathetic towards him his health issues particularly, as well as how rarely he was really able to have a family life something likely common to all monarchs and also understand him a lot better even if one can t defend his actions even by the standards of his time, perhaps As with reading different accounts of the same time and people and by different people there were things that were different from other accounts I d read among them the impression I d formed of Lady Rochford and her role in Katherine Howard s trial, of Anne Boleyn herself, and of some facts like Katherine Carrey s age when she attended Anne in the tower Interesting, informative, and enjoyable I shall probably try some of Weir s Tudor fiction also soon.
This review also appears on my blog at i have never before spent so long reading a book and having less to say about it at the end before reading this book, what i knew about henry VIII came mostly from one pbs week long special and the herman s hermits song, which turns out to be historically inaccurate and not actually about henry VIII at all kids, don t get your historical information from novelty songs what i know henry may be one of history s shittiest spouses after reading this, i find myself able to cut warren zevon some slack henry really wanted a son and he was willing to bend tradition, religion, social conventions, public opinion and personal reputation and chop off some heads to get one spoiler alert henry sucks at making a son but he s great at getting women, even if he has to manipulate competition out of the way into different countries to free up a path it s great to be king.
my new favorite man in all of history is eustace chupuys, henry s much harried ambassador whose name i adored saying aloud every time i encountered it in the book i pronounce it kind of like t pau when he eventually died spoiler i felt sadder than i did at any of henry s wives deaths.
this book was just chosen at a bad time for me long book, end of semester mania, too much to do and too little sleep meant i was frequently drowsing over it but it s not the fault of her writing which is clear and interesting i was just too yawn for it but at the very least, it made me want to read biographies of lady jane grey and katherine howard the minx , and at some point i m sure i will be reading wolf hall so a springboard book for me.