Monday, November 27, 2023

Henry VIII: A History of his Most Important Places and Events by Andrew Beattie

Amazon Blurb: This book follows the life and legacy of the UK’s most famous monarch by exploring the places he built, lived in and traveled to.

The story of Henry VIII is well known: he is famed throughout the world as the charismatic king of England who married six wives (and executed two of them), who broke with Rome and dissolved England’s monasteries, and who grew from a Renaissance prince into a lustful, egotistical and callous tyrant. He is the subject of scholarly and popular biographies and of numerous fictional works, from John Fletcher and William Shakespeare’s jointly authored play Henry VIII to contemporary novels, films and TV series. But this book tells the story of Henry VIII in a very different way to any of these: through the places where the events of his life unfolded.

From Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London to the site of the Field of the Cloth of Gold near Calais where Henry met the French King Francis I for a week of pageantry in 1520, and from his lavish palaces in London to quieter manor houses in the English countryside which he visited during his annual summer “progress”, a whole new light is thrown on this most compelling of historical figures.

While some sites associated with Henry are now very ruinous – such as Woking Palace in Surrey, which Henry remodeled into a lavish royal residence but which is now little more than a few tumbledown walls, or Greenwich Palace, where he was born, of which only a few remnants from his era remain – others, most famously Hampton Court, are much more substantial; the book looks at Henry’s connections with each site in turn, along with the conditions that today’s visitors to the site can expect, beginning with the Thames-side palaces from Greenwich upstream to Hampton Court, before broadening its scope to include properties and sites outside London, in the West and North of England and in Northern France.

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Young Queens: The gripping, intertwined story of Catherine de’ Medici, Elisabeth de Valois and Mary, Queen of Scots by Leah Redmond Chang

Amazon Blurb: WATERSTONES’ BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: HISTORY
The boldly original, dramatic intertwined story of Catherine de’ Medici, Elisabeth de Valois and Mary, Queen of Scots - three queens exercising power in a world dominated by men.

‘Alluring, gripping, real: an astonishing insight into the lives of three queens’ ALICE ROBERTS
‘Takes us into the hearts and minds of three extraordinary women’ AMANDA FOREMAN
‘Conveys the vitality of the past as few books do. An enviable tour de force’ SUZANNAH LIPSCOMB

Sixteenth-century Europe: Renaissance masters paint the ceilings of Florentine churches, kings battle for control of the Continent, and the Reformation forever changes the religious organisation of society. Amidst it all, three young women come of age and into power in an era of empires and revolutions.

Catherine de’ Medici’s story begins in a convent stormed by soldiers intent on seizing the key to power in Florence - Catherine herself, a girl barely 11 years old. It ends with her as the controversial queen mother of France, a woman both revered and reviled.

Mary, Queen of Scots’ story begins in Scotland and ends in England. A queen turned traitor, from the confines of her English prison she longs for the idyll of her childhood in France.

Elisabeth de Valois’ story begins in France, where she is born the beloved daughter of a king. It ends tragically in Spain as a cherished queen consort and mother - one who must make the ultimate sacrifice for her kingdom.

Catherine, Mary and Elisabeth lived at the French court together for many years before scattering to different kingdoms. These years bound them to one another through blood and marriage, alliance and friendship, love and filial piety; bonds that were tested when the women were forced to part and take on new roles. To rule, they would learn, was to wage a constant war against the deeply entrenched misogyny of their time. A crown could exalt a young woman. Equally, it could destroy her.

Drawing on new archival research, Young Queens masterfully weaves the personal stories of these three queens into one, revealing their hopes, dreams, desires and regrets in a time when even the most powerful women lived at the mercy of the state.

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A Woman of Influence: The Spectacular Rise of Alice Spencer in Tudor England by Vanessa Wilkie

Amazon Blurb: This “engrossing, fast-paced, extremely well-researched biography” (Booklist) transports us to Tudor and Stuart England as Alice Spencer, the daughter of an upstart sheep farmer, becomes one of the most powerful women in the country and establishes a powerful dynasty that endures to this day. Perfect for fans of The Duchess Countess and Georgiana.

Alice Spencer was born in 1560 to a family on the rise. Her grandfather had amassed a sizeable estate of fertile grazing land and made a small fortune in sheep farming, allowing him to purchase a simple but distinguished manor house called Althorp.

With her sizable dowry, Alice married the heir to one of the most powerful aristocratic families in the country, eventually becoming the Countess of Derby. Though she enjoyed modest renown, it wasn’t until her husband’s sudden death (after he turned in a group of Catholics for plotting against Queen Elizabeth I) that Alice and her family’s future changed forever.

Faced with a lawsuit from her brother-in-law over her late husband’s fortune, Alice raised eyebrows by marrying England’s most powerful lawyer. Together, they were victorious, and Alice focused her attentions on securing appropriate husbands for her daughters, increasing her land ownings, and securing a bright future for her grandchildren and the entire Spencer family. But they would not completely escape scandals, and as the matriarch, Alice had to face an infamous trial that threatened everything she had worked so hard for.

Now, in “this riveting tale reads more like a legal thriller than historical nonfiction” (Beth Morrison, coauthor of The Lawless Land), the full story of the remarkable Alice Spencer Stanley Egerton is revealed. A woman both ahead of and part of her time, Alice’s ruthless challenging of the status quo has inspired future generations of Spencers and will change the way you view Tudor women.

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The King’s Pleasure: A Novel of Henry VIII (Six Tudor Queens) by Alison Weir

Amazon Blurb: The New York Times bestselling author of the Six Tudor Queens series explores the private side of the legendary king Henry VIII and his dramatic and brutal reign in this extraordinary historical novel.

“A delightful yarn . . . an all-around fun read about a king and a cad.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Having completed her Six Tudor Queens series of novels on the wives of Henry VIII, extensively researched and written from each queen’s point of view, Alison Weir now gives Henry himself a voice, telling the story of his remarkable thirty-six-year reign and his six marriages.

Young Henry began his rule as a magnificent and chivalrous Renaissance prince who embodied every virtue. He had all the qualities to make a triumph of his kingship, yet we remember only the violence. Henry famously broke with the pope, founding the Church of England and launching a religious revolution that divided his kingdom. He beheaded two of his wives and cast aside two others. He died a suspicious, obese, disease-riddled tyrant, old before his time. His reign is remembered as one of dangerous intrigue and bloodshed—and yet the truth is far more complex.

The King’s Pleasure brings to life the idealistic monarch who expanded Parliament, founded the Royal Navy, modernized medical training, composed music and poetry, and patronized the arts. A passionate man in search of true love, he was stymied by the imperative to produce a male heir, as much a victim of circumstance as his unhappy wives. Had fate been kinder to him, the history of England would have been very different.

Here is the story of the private man. To his contemporaries, he was a great king, a legend in his own lifetime. And he left an extraordinary legacy—a modern Britain.

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Anne Boleyn & Elizabeth I: The Mother and Daughter Who Forever Changed British History by Tracy Borman

Available as: Paperback, Hardback, Kindle, Audio

Amazon Blurb: Anne Boleyn may be best known for losing her head, but as Tudor expert Tracy Borman reveals in a book that recasts British history, her greatest legacy lies in the path-breaking reign of her daughter, Elizabeth

Much of the fascination with Britain’s legendary Tudors centers around the dramas surrounding Henry VIII and his six wives and Elizabeth I’s rumored liaisons. Yet the most fascinating relationship in that historic era may well be that between the mother and daughter who, individually and collectively, changed the course of British history.

The future Queen Elizabeth was not yet three when her mother, Anne Boleyn, was beheaded on May 19, 1536, on Henry’s order, incensed that she had not given him a son and tired of her contentious nature. Elizabeth had been raised away from court, rarely even seeing Anne; and after her death, Henry tried in every way to erase Anne’s presence and memory. At that moment in history, few could have predicted that mother and daughter would each leave enduring, and interlocked, legacies. Yet as Tracy Borman reveals in this first-ever joint portrait, both women broke the mold for British queens and for women in general at the time. Anne was instrumental in reforming and reshaping forever Britain’s religious traditions, and her years of wielding power over a male-dominated court provided an inspiring role model for Elizabeth’s glittering, groundbreaking 45-year reign. Indeed, Borman shows how much Elizabeth—most visibly by refusing to ever marry, but in many other more subtle ways that defined her court—was influenced by her mother’s legacy.

In its originality, Anne Boleyn & Elizabeth I sheds new light on two of history’s most famous women—the private desires, hopes, and fears that lay behind their dazzling public personas, and the surprising influence each had on the other during and after their lifetimes. In the process, Tracy Borman reframes our understanding of the entire Tudor era.

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Friday, May 26, 2023

Kings & Queens of England 1400 to 1649 Stuarts & Tudors: Fascinating facts and word searches

Available as: Paperback

Amazon Blurb: INFORMATIVE, FACT-FILLED AND ENTERTAINING. MORE THAN JUST A WORD SEARCH

Discover the History, Reigns, and Lives of England’s Kings and Queens 1400 to 1649

Each King or Queen is introduced with a biography and historical context, followed by a word search puzzle that will test your knowledge and keep you entertained. This book is the perfect way to immerse yourself in England’s rich history while also honing your word search skills. Whether you are a history buff or just looking for a fun and educational way to pass the time, this word search book is sure to satisfy.
Includes; Henry V, Henry VI, Edward IV & V and The Princes in the Tower, Richard III, Henry VIII, Lady Jane Grey, Bloody Mary, Elizabeth I and up to the beheading of Charles I.
A page of facts on the political and social happenings of the reign of the Monarch
Interactive fun learning with a Word Search for every monarch
All of Henry VIIIs wives have their own page of facts and word search
Includes separate facts on the Dissolution of the Monasteries
Charles I’s reign split into 2 periods to capture the English Civil War
Solutions to all puzzles at the back of the book

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Monday, April 3, 2023

England’s Other Countrymen: Black Tudor Society (Blackness in Britain) by Onyeka Nubia

Available as: Paperback, Kindle, Hardcover

Amazon Blurb: The Tudor period remains a source of timeless fascination, with endless novels, TV programmes and films depicting the period in myriad ways. And yet our image of the Tudor era remains overwhelmingly white. This ground-breaking and provocative new book seeks to redress the balance: revealing not only how black presence in Tudor England was far greater than has previously been recognised, but that Tudor conceptions of race were far more complex than we have been led to believe.

Onyeka Nubia’s original research shows that Tudors from many walks of life regularly interacted with people of African descent, both at home and abroad, revealing a genuine pragmatism towards race and acceptance of difference. Nubia also rejects the influence of the ‘Curse of Ham’ myth on Tudor thinking, persuasively arguing that many of the ideas associated with modern racism are in fact relatively recent developments.

England’s Other Countrymen is a bravura and eloquent forgotten history of diversity and cultural exchange, and casts a new light on our own attitudes towards race.

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Tudor Children by Nicholas Orme

Available as: Kindle, Hardcover

Amazon Blurb: The first history of childhood in Tudor England

What was it like to grow up in England under the Tudors? How were children cared for, what did they play with, and what dangers did they face?

In this beautifully illustrated and characteristically lively account, leading historian Nicholas Orme provides a rich survey of childhood in the period. Beginning with birth and infancy, he explores all aspects of children’s experiences, including the games they played, such as Blind Man’s Bluff and Mumble-the-Peg, and the songs they sang, such as “Three Blind Mice” and “Jack Boy, Ho Boy.” He shows how social status determined everything from the food children ate and the clothes they wore to the education they received and the work they undertook.

Although childhood and adolescence could be challenging and even hazardous, it was also, as Nicholas Orme shows, a treasured time of learning and development. By looking at the lives of Tudor children we can gain a richer understanding of the era as a whole.

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