Monday, February 13, 2023

Henry VIII and the Merchants: The World of Stephen Vaughan by Susan Rose

Available as: Kindle, Hardcover

Amazon Blurb: Drawing heavily from the State Papers of the King, Henry VIII and the Merchants traces Stephen Vaughan’s careers as a servant of Thomas Cromwell and of Henry VIII in the 16th century.

Stephen Vaughan, a Londoner with an international outlook, was a member of the Company of Merchant Taylors, as well as a Merchant Adventurer in the Low Countries. As a young man Vaughan was drawn into the employ of Thomas Cromwell and worked in his private office. Thus, Vaughan became heavily involved in the world of government and court politics at a time when the style, tempo and effectiveness of official life in London was changing rapidly and the world was quickly opening up as his travels to Europe drew him into the enticing world of business and finance.

For the first time, this notable study uncovers the secrets of Vaughan’s life from his relatively humble beginning to his high power career as an ambassador, spy, and financial agent of the crown on the Bourse at Antwerp. What is more, on a wider canvas this intimate tale shows how individuals were affected by and reacted to the drastic changes in religion, politics and everyday life under the tumultuous reign of Henry VIII.

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Friday, February 3, 2023

Anne Boleyn by Marie Louise Bruce

Available as: Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover, Audio Book

Amazon Blurb: An essential biography of Queen Anne Boleyn! Perfect for readers on Alison Weir, Eric Ives and John Guy.

‘A very readable account of all the strands in the complicated tapestry of politics, religion, and that very uncertain quality, the King’s love’ The Times

Few queens of England are as famous as Anne Boleyn.

Yet, who was this woman? What was her life like before Henry VIII became infatuated with her? And just how influential was she in reshaping English religious and political life during the early years of the Reformation?

Marie Louise Bruce’s engrossing account of Anne Boleyn charts the rise and fall of this remarkable young woman through the course of her short life, from her early days at Hever Castle to the luxurious courts of France and England to her terrifying last days in the Tower of London.

By utilising a wealth of primary sources, including the love letters between Henry and Anne along with innumerable documents written by courtiers and ambassadors, Bruce brings to life the splendour of the Tudor court and its most famous king and queen.

‘Traces sympathetically and in great detail the life of Henry VIII’s second queen. What a woman, and what a terrible time to be her kind of woman! Beautiful, clever, talkative and strong-willed, in this book Anne Boleyn lives and dies vividly, leaving behind the proud and inescapable fact that her daughter became England’s greatest queen’ She Magazine

‘A readable and balanced portrait.’ Kirkus Reviews

‘Eminently readable… Marie Louise Bruce is admirably fair (and) makes good use of Henry’s letters to Anne during their courtship’ The Sunday Telegraph

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Monday, January 30, 2023

Adventurers: The Improbable Rise of the East India Company: 1550-1650 by David Howarth

Available as: Kindle, Hardcover

Amazon Blurb: The unlikely beginnings of the East India Company—from Tudor origins and rivalry with the superior Dutch—to laying the groundwork for future British expansion

The East India Company was the largest commercial enterprise in British history, yet its roots in Tudor England are often overlooked. The Tudor revolution in commerce led ambitious merchants to search for new forms of investment, not least in risky overseas enterprises—and for these “adventurers” the most profitable bet of all would be on the Company.

Through a host of stories and fascinating details, David Howarth brings to life the Company’s way of doing business—from the leaky ships and petty seafarers of its embattled early days to later sweeping commercial success. While the Company’s efforts met with disappointment in Japan, they sowed the seeds of success in India, setting the outline for what would later become the Raj. Drawing on an abundance of sources, Howarth shows how competition from European powers was vital to success—and considers whether the Company was truly “English” at all, or rather part of a Europe-wide movement.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower: New Updated Edition by Sandra Vasoli

Available as: Kindle, Paperback

Amazon Blurb: The British Library Archives protects a fragile, burned fragment of an impassioned letter. The document concludes,

“From my doleful Prison the Tower, this 6th of May. Your most Loyal and ever Faithful Wife, Anne Boleyn.”

The year was 1536. This letter, possibly the final words from Queen Anne Boleyn to her husband, King Henry VIII, has mystified historians for centuries. Was it composed by Anne? How did it reach the British Library? Did the King ever see it?

In the definitive study on the ‘Tower Letter’, Sandra Vasoli begins to untangle the letter’s convoluted past, presenting a provenance spanning almost 500 years. Vasoli also reveals a little-known, startling deathbed admission by Henry VIII. The cryptic clue gives us a glimpse into Henry’s anguish over his second wife.

This research may well alter the accepted view of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII’s doomed marriage…

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Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Troubled Queen (The Marwood Family Tudor Saga) by Amy Licence

Available as: Kindle, Paperback

Amazon Blurb: Two powerful women are vying for the king’s attention…


Escaping from her family’s scandalous involvement with Anne Boleyn’s circle, Thomasin Marwood is beginning a new life in the service of Queen Catherine of Aragon.

Thomasin is trying to forget Rafe Danvers, the man who stole her heart and then betrayed her, and when a group of Venetians arrive at court, she is drawn to the sophisticated Nico.

But a great danger is lurking. The dreaded sweating sickness has returned, which claimed the life of Catherine’s first husband, Prince Arthur, many years ago.

Catherine and her ladies are forced to flee, and their shared isolation with King Henry brings the couple closer again.

But Anne Boleyn will not let herself be forgotten.

Thomasin finds herself torn between new friends and old loyalties as Rafe comes back into her life.

Who will win Thomasin’s heart? Will she survive the dreaded sickness?

And will Anne Boleyn become victorious in her quest for the throne?

TROUBLED QUEEN is a page-turning historical drama set at the court of King Henry VIII and featuring Anne Boleyn. It is the second book in the Marwood Family Tudor Saga Series.

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Urban Society and Monastic Lordship in Reading 1350-1600 by Joe Chick

Available as: Kindle, Hardcover

Amazon Blurb: Interrogates the standard view of turbulent and violent town-abbey relations through a combination of traditional and new research techniques.

The power of the medieval Church stretched far beyond the religious sphere. Bishops and monasteries held lordship over vast areas of the realm, often wielding political and judicial powers beyond those of secular lords. Early twentieth-century scholarship tended to view towns with monastic lords as highly distinctive, characterised by robust lordship and violent town-abbey relations, and though subsequent studies have done much to modify this view of relationships between towns and their monastic lords, the shadow of this dramatic interpretation still colours our understanding of these situations.

Conversely, through a detailed examination of the governmental, guild, parish, and testamentary records of Reading, one of the more populous monastic towns of the period, this book presents a view of town-abbey relations as largely non-violent, thus problematising the more traditional characterisation and interrogating its universality. Uncovering a remarkably swift transition from monastic lordship to self-government, it illuminates how urban society functioned under two very different regimes, both before and after the dissolution of the monasteries. By combining traditional research methods with Social Network Analysis, the author moves beyond a focus on the political elites and institutionalised bodies, such as the corporation, to look at lower-status members of society and how they interacted with the successive governing authorities. In particular, it investigates what continuities and changes to local governance they experienced during this turbulent period.

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Armada: The Spanish Enterprise and England’s Deliverance in 1588 by Colin Martin and Geoffrey Parker

Available as: Hardcover

Amazon Blurb: In July 1588 the Spanish Armada sailed from Corunna to conquer England. Three weeks later an English fireship attack in the Channel―and then a fierce naval battle―foiled the planned invasion. Many myths still surround these events. The genius of Sir Francis Drake is exalted, while Spain’s efforts are belittled. But what really happened during that fateful encounter?

Drawing on archives from around the world, Colin Martin and Geoffrey Parker also deploy vital new evidence from Armada shipwrecks off the coasts of Ireland and Scotland. Their gripping, beautifully illustrated account provides a fresh understanding of how the rival fleets came into being; how they looked, sounded, and smelled; and what happened when they finally clashed.

Looking beyond the events of 1588 to the complex politics which made war between England and Spain inevitable, and at the political and dynastic aftermath, Armada deconstructs the many legends to reveal why, ultimately, the bold Spanish mission failed.

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Friday, December 9, 2022

The Woodville Women: 100 Years of Plantagenet and Tudor History by Sarah J Hodder

Available as: Hardcover

Amazon Blurb: Elizabeth Woodville, queen to Edward IV and mother of the Princes in the Tower. Elizabeth of York, daughter of Elizabeth Woodville and the first Tudor queen of England. Elizabeth Grey, granddaughter of Elizabeth Woodville and Countess of Kildare, whose life both in England and across the Irish sea was closely entwined with the Tudor Court. This is the tale of three generations of women, linked by their name, Elizabeth, and by their family relationship. The story begins in the reign of the great Plantagenet Kings with the life of Elizabeth Woodville and ends in the reign of perhaps England’s most famous dynasty, that of the Tudor kings and queens. Through the life of Elizabeth of York, the first Tudor queen and Elizabeth Grey, cousin to Henry VIII and Mary Tudor, we explore the Tudor court and its dealings with the Earls of Kildare. From the birth of our first Elizabeth to the death of our last, these three women lived through wars and coronations, births and deaths, celebration and tragedy and between them they experienced some of the most exciting and troubled times in English history. Mother, daughter and granddaughter: individually they each have their own fascinating story to tell; together their combined stories take us on a journey through a century of English life.

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