counter create hit Henry VIII: The King and His Court - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Henry VIII: The King and His Court

Availability: Ready to download

Henry VIII, renowned for his command of power and celebrated for his intellect, presided over one of the most magnificent–and dangerous–courts in Renaissance Europe. Never before has a detailed, personal biography of this charismatic monarch been set against the cultural, social, and political background of his glittering court. Now Alison Weir, author of the finest royal Henry VIII, renowned for his command of power and celebrated for his intellect, presided over one of the most magnificent–and dangerous–courts in Renaissance Europe. Never before has a detailed, personal biography of this charismatic monarch been set against the cultural, social, and political background of his glittering court. Now Alison Weir, author of the finest royal chronicles of our time, brings to vibrant life the turbulent, complex figure of the King. Packed with colorful description, meticulous in historical detail, rich in pageantry, intrigue, passion, and luxury, Weir brilliantly renders King Henry VIII, his court, and the fascinating men and women who vied for its pleasures and rewards. The result is an absolutely spellbinding read.


Compare
Ads Banner

Henry VIII, renowned for his command of power and celebrated for his intellect, presided over one of the most magnificent–and dangerous–courts in Renaissance Europe. Never before has a detailed, personal biography of this charismatic monarch been set against the cultural, social, and political background of his glittering court. Now Alison Weir, author of the finest royal Henry VIII, renowned for his command of power and celebrated for his intellect, presided over one of the most magnificent–and dangerous–courts in Renaissance Europe. Never before has a detailed, personal biography of this charismatic monarch been set against the cultural, social, and political background of his glittering court. Now Alison Weir, author of the finest royal chronicles of our time, brings to vibrant life the turbulent, complex figure of the King. Packed with colorful description, meticulous in historical detail, rich in pageantry, intrigue, passion, and luxury, Weir brilliantly renders King Henry VIII, his court, and the fascinating men and women who vied for its pleasures and rewards. The result is an absolutely spellbinding read.

30 review for Henry VIII: The King and His Court

  1. 4 out of 5

    Caidyn (BW Reviews; he/him/his)

    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 thesis: My aim in this book is to draw together a multitude of strands of resea 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 thesis: My 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 more 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 more since I’m not a historian. But I care about academic rigor like a historian.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Pete daPixie

    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 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 more 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.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Arukiyomi

    There, in a charity shop, completely unblemished as in a proper bookshop, lay Weir’s encylopaedic description of one of the most magnificent courts of English royalty. And it was mine for only 95p. I’ve not read any of Weir’s books before. She’s written about pretty much every Tudor monarch or individual connected with Tudor monarchy you can think of. I used to read books like this all the time but the 1001 list has my heart set on novels. Because this was immaculate and a tenth of the price it w There, in a charity shop, completely unblemished as in a proper bookshop, lay Weir’s encylopaedic description of one of the most magnificent courts of English royalty. And it was mine for only 95p. I’ve not read any of Weir’s books before. She’s written about pretty much every Tudor monarch or individual connected with Tudor monarchy you can think of. I used to read books like this all the time but the 1001 list has my heart set on novels. Because this was immaculate and a tenth of the price it was supposed to be, I snapped it up though. It sat well with my reading of Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies. There are plenty of reviews out there which complain that this book isn’t actually about Henry VIII at all. They complain that it’s hard to find the king, buried as he is under the detailed descriptions of the world he inhabited. Having read the book, I agree. This book should really be entitled The Court of Henry VIII. But that didn’t bother me too much. I wasn’t after a blow by blow description of his life. I was after a description of the times, and although the book was mis-named, I tried not to let this distract me from what is after all a good history. There’s not much narrative thread though, and readers should be forgiven for thinking that because the opening line starts with the death of Henry VII they’re going to get a chronicle of the next 40 years. They’re not. What they do get are just over 500 pages split into 63 chapters. This works out at just under 8 pages a chapter. While this seems quite short, the book is printed in something like 5pt font. And each of these chapters deals with a different facet of the court. I’ll admit, I found it slow going. But it wasn’t slow going in the way a plate of broad beans is slow going. This was slow going in the way treacle pudding with custard is slow going. You want to take your time. You want to gaze on the awesome jewel-encrusted splendour before you, to soak yourself in the sumptuous riches of cloth of gold, velvet and syphilis. Wait, no! He didn’t have syphilis! This is a common myth and one of many that Weir debunks in her attempt to get at the truth behind a man who was very much larger than life. In the end, he appears as one who ruled according to the beliefs of his day. Let’s not forget that these shifted like the sands of the Thames estuary and doomed many who attempted the passage. Henry was a magnificent statesman, of that there is no doubt. He may well have even been the preeminent one of his day. But he was a product of his time and Weir shows this very well. It is a flattering portrayal. However, like the wardrobes of the day, Weir’s writing is weighed down by almost ludicrous attention to detail. There are more characters in here than a Russian epic and it’s hard to keep track sometimes of who is central to the events described. There are long lists of things, clothes, purchases, buildings, gifts, animals, etc., etc. It’s all a bit too much sometimes. If you are a fan of the Tudors and not too much of a fan of Henry, you’re going to love this. If you are after a more traditional biography of Henry himself, be warned that this might be a frustrating read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    I always enjoy Alison Weir's books - she has a lively, engaging style and a knack for bringing both her subjects and the world they lived in truly to life, and this book is no exception. Henry VIII is a larger than life figure anyway: after all, every schoolchild grows up knowing 'divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived'. But there was a lot more to the man than the simple stereotype of a fat, bloated tyrant who chopped his wives' heads off. Charting his evolution from a handsome I always enjoy Alison Weir's books - she has a lively, engaging style and a knack for bringing both her subjects and the world they lived in truly to life, and this book is no exception. Henry VIII is a larger than life figure anyway: after all, every schoolchild grows up knowing 'divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived'. But there was a lot more to the man than the simple stereotype of a fat, bloated tyrant who chopped his wives' heads off. Charting his evolution from a handsome young prince with idealistic views of learning and governing to his latter incarnation as, yes, a fat bloated tyrant is truly fascinating. The sheer amount of detail in this book is incredible - from the food Henry and his court ate, the houses they lived in, to the clothes they wore, down to the very sheets of the beds, nothing is too small or insignificant to escape mention. It really serves to bring the Tudor court to full colour and vigour. My only quibble is that is perhaps focuses too much of Henry's life at court and not enough on his European relations; and the Reformation itself is somewhat skated over. But then, the title of the book is 'King and Court' and Henry's life within his English Court is the focus of the book, not his international relations with France, Spain and Rome.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Luv_trinity

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I love this book,and I find it a very easy read. Weir has a way of making the story of Henry VIII and his court come alive for her readers . Weir also have a knack for finding little known facts that most historian only skip over. Like the fact that prior to Anne Boleyn trial for treason, In April it was announce that Anne was pregnant. In May she was arrested,and she was beheaded on May 19. Weir ask the question, uh, what become of the pregnancy?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andre

    This is a maticulously researched history, not a novel. In fact, this books from its first pages points out how poorly researched are most novels about this great English king. If you want to know Henry the 8th, I would recommend reading and studying this book by Alison Weir.

  7. 5 out of 5

    April Spaugh

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This biography is very impressive. In general I think Alison Weir is a fabulous biographer. Her research is very thorough and her writing isn't so full of details that you get lost. However, she has completely outdone herself with this book. I have read several books about the six wives of Henry VIII, but never a biography of his own life so this was a treat. I always thought of Henry VIII as some egotistical monster that liked divorcing or beheading his wives so that he could move on to his nex This biography is very impressive. In general I think Alison Weir is a fabulous biographer. Her research is very thorough and her writing isn't so full of details that you get lost. However, she has completely outdone herself with this book. I have read several books about the six wives of Henry VIII, but never a biography of his own life so this was a treat. I always thought of Henry VIII as some egotistical monster that liked divorcing or beheading his wives so that he could move on to his next catch. Yes, he had an ego, a big one, but he wasn't a monster. He was influenced by so many things, his upbringing, his religious beliefs, and especially that of his personal counselors. I always thought of him as a one man show being king and head of the Church of England after he left the Catholic faith, but it wasn't that way at all. I didn't realize the impact that his counselors had on his decisions until I read this book. Anne Boylen wasn't taken down by Henry, she was taken down by his closest counselor, who didn't like her and wanted her gone. So he made her into an adulterer and a traitor, two things that she was not. I love how the author puts you into Henry's world by describing how the court worked, what he ate, where he slept, what his rooms were like, what the houses/castles he lived in were like and what he wore. His daily life is very well described and is easy to imagine. It was also interesting to find out more about what kind of person he was. He was extremely intelligent and talented. He was a marvel at sports of all kinds, played musical instruments, wrote music and poems and was very well educated. He was also a charmer and knew how to put on a good show. He had a big temper as well so everyone around him had to be careful about what they said or did in order to not incur his wrath. He was very fit and active until he started to have a recurring infection in his legs that would send him to bed for weeks on end and eventually took his life. After the infection began he started putting on weight and it made his condition even worse. They don't really know what happened to him the last few weeks of his life as he was in almost total seclusion and no one let any information out about what was going on. So the cause of death can only be speculated at. His death was kept a secret for two days after he died. Fabulous book. If you want to understand Henry VIII, read this. Definitely a different perspective than I had anticipated.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Steven Peterson

    In one sense, I am at a disadvantage in assessing this volume. I am not an historian of this era, so I cannot confidently judge well the accuracy of Alison Weir's rendering of events and people. That said, I am most impressed with this work. The author covers many aspects of English history--including day-to-day life--of the time. We read of medical practice (ugh), music, art, architecture, customs, drama, clothing, sports (e.g., hunting, archery, tennis, jousting, and so on), the internecine po In one sense, I am at a disadvantage in assessing this volume. I am not an historian of this era, so I cannot confidently judge well the accuracy of Alison Weir's rendering of events and people. That said, I am most impressed with this work. The author covers many aspects of English history--including day-to-day life--of the time. We read of medical practice (ugh), music, art, architecture, customs, drama, clothing, sports (e.g., hunting, archery, tennis, jousting, and so on), the internecine politics (when losers could lose their lives; politics was serious business), and the relationships among families in England of the era. This book is as much about the country at that time as about Henry VIII. Henry VIII is portrayed in great detail. This is not a Charles Laughton view of the king. It is much more nuanced. It is true that, if Weir be correct, Henry became more rigid and unforgiving and vain and distrusting and autocratic as he aged. He drove England close to financial ruin with his wars (which often had little effect, even though costing much) and with his incessant building projects (his own palaces as one key example).But this should not detract from other of his accomplishments. He supported the arts; he was one of the more educated and intellectually oriented monarchs of the time. It may be that Weir romanticizes him to some extent, and that ought to be noted. But his was not simply a dissipated period in English history. Of course, many would wonder about his rendering of the multitudinous wives of the monarch. Weir does spend time on this part of his life, including the Machiavellian politics associated with Henry's marriages (factions would use potential wives as pawns in power struggles). Weir's assessments of the various wives are pretty fair. We might be surprised to know of his affection for Katherine of Aragon; it is fascinating to watch the pas de deux between Anne Boleyn and Henry before their wedding; and so on. Then, the descriptions of the hard ball politics of the era--featuring actors such as Wolsey, Cromwell, More, Cranmer, and the nobles of the time. All in all, an accessible and very readable work on Henry VIII and his time. I'd strongly recommend. . . .

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Alison Weir is one of my very favorite historians. I do not at all recommend reading her historical fiction for many and varied reasons, but her straight history is great. Well-researched, well backed up, and she frequently has some pretty interesting new theories to throw in the mix to make her books even more fun to read. She specializes in Tudor history, which, you know, my crack, so naturally I was quite pleased to find a book of hers that I hadn't read. Sadly, it's not her best. Henry VIII: Alison Weir is one of my very favorite historians. I do not at all recommend reading her historical fiction for many and varied reasons, but her straight history is great. Well-researched, well backed up, and she frequently has some pretty interesting new theories to throw in the mix to make her books even more fun to read. She specializes in Tudor history, which, you know, my crack, so naturally I was quite pleased to find a book of hers that I hadn't read. 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.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Joyce

    5 stars This comprehensive covers just about everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Henry VIII. From his undergarments, weapons, food, servants and so on, it is a complete picture of a day in the life of this King. The book is far more detailed than any prospective reader can imagine. Ms. Weir briefly discusses the six wives, but this is primarily a book about Henry, not his wives. It speaks of the separate chambers and the servants both Henry and his wives had, and the rooms and rooms in wh 5 stars This comprehensive covers just about everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Henry VIII. From his undergarments, weapons, food, servants and so on, it is a complete picture of a day in the life of this King. The book is far more detailed than any prospective reader can imagine. Ms. Weir briefly discusses the six wives, but this is primarily a book about Henry, not his wives. It speaks of the separate chambers and the servants both Henry and his wives had, and the rooms and rooms in which they had to live. The book discusses the changes in the Privy Council and the various political machinations that occurred during Henry’s reign. The political infighting was very bad and the backstabbing and maneuvering for position went on constantly. It also covers the seven year journey to the break with the Catholic Church and the reasons behind it. Those who disagreed with the creation of the Church of England such as Sir Thomas More and Cardinal Fisher, among many others, were put to death. (Sir Thomas More was later declared a saint by the Catholic Church.) Ms. Weir’s writing is easily accessible to all readers. The book is brilliantly written and plotted. It moves linearly from one part of Henry’s life to another. It includes where one can see the surviving homes and castles, as well as papers, texts and other artifacts of Henry’s household and tells of those that did not survive. The book also includes quotes from people who lived with Henry, as much as could be found. I really enjoy reading Alison Weir’s books. I have read several now, and will continue to do so for as long as she writes.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This book did not take me as long as some other dense history books I've read, so I am overall proud of myself. In school I was told that I should steer clear of Alison Weir when doing research for a paper. For the life of me I can't understand why! This book was thoroughly researched and crafted, why should it be discredited because it's considered 'popular history.' Then I noticed while reading Lucy Worsley's "If Walls Could Talk," that in her acknowledgements she thoroughly thanked Weir for " This book did not take me as long as some other dense history books I've read, so I am overall proud of myself. In school I was told that I should steer clear of Alison Weir when doing research for a paper. For the life of me I can't understand why! This book was thoroughly researched and crafted, why should it be discredited because it's considered 'popular history.' Then I noticed while reading Lucy Worsley's "If Walls Could Talk," that in her acknowledgements she thoroughly thanked Weir for "Henry VIII: The King and His Court" as it provided great insight into Tudor England. If the amazing Worsley, who holds my dream job as Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, can use Weir as a source, why can't I?! I loved the in depth discussion of small, everyday facts of life for Henry VIII, it really made the past come alive for me. It painted a full picture of Henry VIII that is not often seen, a man of contradictions who loved greatly one moment then despised whole heartedly the next; a man who was brave and prideful, but also fearful and somewhat private and self conscious. His legacy both the good and the bad are not shied away from by Weir. There was so much about Henry Book's building projects, palaces, and houses. A slew of these old Tudor sites have now been added onto my list of places to visit in England. My wallet will surely suffer.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    This is the fourth book by Weir I've read on the Tudor dynasty and it did not disappoint. Her focus is on the people in Henry's life and goes into great detail about everything: the many departments in his court, his friends, family, enemies, protocol and etiquette, religious devotions, and the minutiae of everyday life in medieval England. This is the stuff that makes history rich and fascinating.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Hirondelle

    All the stars! It was such an interesting read, I just couldn't put the book down. It helped me immensely with uni work. Bless you, Alison Weir. All the stars! It was such an interesting read, I just couldn't put the book down. It helped me immensely with uni work. Bless you, Alison Weir.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Freda

    2020 Popsugar Reading Challenge: A fiction or nonfiction book about a world leader

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This book actually rates 3.5 stars, but as before, I tend to round up. The main issue I had with this book is that it wasn't one where I could just sit down and start reading. The first several chapters dealt with the court and fashion and everything else, and so it seemed to me that the author expected her readers to have a more-than-passing acquaintance with things like architectural terms. She talks about donjons, Perpendicular architecture and so many other things that there were sections th This book actually rates 3.5 stars, but as before, I tend to round up. The main issue I had with this book is that it wasn't one where I could just sit down and start reading. The first several chapters dealt with the court and fashion and everything else, and so it seemed to me that the author expected her readers to have a more-than-passing acquaintance with things like architectural terms. She talks about donjons, Perpendicular architecture and so many other things that there were sections that I just skimmed until it finally dawned on me to look up images on the internet. This does present a good portrait of Henry VIII, his court and the times in which he lived. I learned quit a bit about him, but I find the more I learn about him, the less I like him. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, but it was difficult in his case. The author doesn't focus much on his wives (she has another whole book devoted to them), but what she does tell of them is, well, telling. I found myself sympathizing with Katherine of Aragon, and to a certain extent, Katherine Parr, but the others really didn't earn my sympathy at all. I mean, there's something to be said for mercy and all, but most of his wives had lived for quite some time at court, and basically they should have been smarter about things. But that's just me. A good read, with a lot of new insights.

  16. 4 out of 5

    LibraryCin

    This book is not only a biography of King Henry VIII, but it also takes a close look at the culture of the royal court in 16th century England. I really liked this. Often, Weir's nonfiction books read like fiction and I would say this is one that did. I really enjoyed all the extra behind-the-scenes look at court life. This included detailed information on all the people at court, their positions, their pay, as well as the design of the palaces, food, fashion and probably more that is just not c This book is not only a biography of King Henry VIII, but it also takes a close look at the culture of the royal court in 16th century England. I really liked this. Often, Weir's nonfiction books read like fiction and I would say this is one that did. I really enjoyed all the extra behind-the-scenes look at court life. This included detailed information on all the people at court, their positions, their pay, as well as the design of the palaces, food, fashion and probably more that is just not coming to mind as I write this review. I will say that it can be tricky to remember who's who sometimes; I've read enough of this time period that I'm mostly ok with it, but at the end of Henry's reign it got a bit trickier. What made it tricky for me is when someone's title is used rather than their name. I do mostly remember names, but sometimes remembering titles is a bit more difficult (especially, when those titles “move” from person to person sometimes!). Overall, though, this is a really good biography of Henry that includes many behind-the-scenes details of court life and culture.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Pierre

    Not a good book. This is an incredibly long and dull look at a most fascinating monarch that rarely flirts with being interesting, and when it does is not at all due to the author. The first 200 pages or so are spent detailing the minutiae of 16th century court life, from the types of entertain to the food served to everything in between, in excruciatingly dull detail. Once the actual biography gets going, the author still sees fit to interject with yet more superfluous information about anythin Not a good book. This is an incredibly long and dull look at a most fascinating monarch that rarely flirts with being interesting, and when it does is not at all due to the author. The first 200 pages or so are spent detailing the minutiae of 16th century court life, from the types of entertain to the food served to everything in between, in excruciatingly dull detail. Once the actual biography gets going, the author still sees fit to interject with yet more superfluous information about anything and everything remotely connected to Henry VIII and his court. It is entirely unclear as to who the audience is; this is awful history as nothing is argued and nothing debated, boring biography as the life of the subject is merely a narrative framework and not the narrative itself, and a terrible story because it's so dull to read. The only people who should read this in detail are those who wish to write historical fiction about Henry VIII; everyone else, steer clear. I only award the second star because at least nothing was incorrect.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This was quite interesting once I was 1/2 way in. The beginning was v e r y slow, giving lists of all the properties Henry inherited, how many men had the right to empty his chamberpot at different times, etc. Once the (long) first chapters were over, the reading got better and focused more on Henry's reign, as opposed to Tudor court life. A major critique for the casual reader is that Weir was not consistent enough in using people's names. Sometimes she would use a first name, sometimes a last This was quite interesting once I was 1/2 way in. The beginning was v e r y slow, giving lists of all the properties Henry inherited, how many men had the right to empty his chamberpot at different times, etc. Once the (long) first chapters were over, the reading got better and focused more on Henry's reign, as opposed to Tudor court life. A major critique for the casual reader is that Weir was not consistent enough in using people's names. Sometimes she would use a first name, sometimes a last name, other times a title... This lead to lots of confusion and difficulty in following the story, especially as there were multiple people associated with most names or titles. Very well researched.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    It took me a while to get into this book - maybe 80 pages (and when I say "a while" I mean several months.) There is just SO much detail, which is great, but it can make it drag in the beginning. It gets better when Weir stops detailing how many men watched Henry VIII sleep at night and starts talking about the actual history, but still weaves those details into it. I guess you could consider it a biography of Henry VIII, but the focus is really on the surrounding elements of his reign - his pro It took me a while to get into this book - maybe 80 pages (and when I say "a while" I mean several months.) There is just SO much detail, which is great, but it can make it drag in the beginning. It gets better when Weir stops detailing how many men watched Henry VIII sleep at night and starts talking about the actual history, but still weaves those details into it. I guess you could consider it a biography of Henry VIII, but the focus is really on the surrounding elements of his reign - his properties, the warring factions at court, customs, fashion, art, etc. It's an interesting perspective on the Tudor court, and I think once you get over that initial hump, it makes for a very interesting and relatively quick read. Definitely recommend.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    I liked this book because it concentrates on how Henry VIII fashioned England from a Medieval Kingdom into a modern Nation State; with all the good and bad that this entails. Many do not realize that Henry VIII was the founder of the British Royal Navy. The divorce from Catherine of Aragon is chronicled for the impact it had on the Reformation and England's relations with Europe. Would this modernization have taken place without the Great Matter? When you read this book you will have an opinion. I liked this book because it concentrates on how Henry VIII fashioned England from a Medieval Kingdom into a modern Nation State; with all the good and bad that this entails. Many do not realize that Henry VIII was the founder of the British Royal Navy. The divorce from Catherine of Aragon is chronicled for the impact it had on the Reformation and England's relations with Europe. Would this modernization have taken place without the Great Matter? When you read this book you will have an opinion. The various functions of oddly named courtiers could be a book in itself. We learn how important the Master of Horse was to a monarch. If you were ever wondering what the Silver Stick in Waiting for King/Queen is; this is the book to get your answers.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    This comprehensive biography of Henry VIII was so much fun to read. Weir has a real knack for making historical figures come to life, and making true events read like the events of a novel. And Henry VIII is a person whose very life seems fictitious: especially in regards to his six wives, the beheading of two of them, and his unstable temperament in later life. Through extensive research, however, Weir gives us a fuller picture of Henry VIII, and the period in which he ruled. Very, very interes This comprehensive biography of Henry VIII was so much fun to read. Weir has a real knack for making historical figures come to life, and making true events read like the events of a novel. And Henry VIII is a person whose very life seems fictitious: especially in regards to his six wives, the beheading of two of them, and his unstable temperament in later life. Through extensive research, however, Weir gives us a fuller picture of Henry VIII, and the period in which he ruled. Very, very interesting, and highly recommended.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Emerald Dodge

    It's rather sad that such a large personality and long life can be captured in such a small book, but I suppose that's a lesson for all mortals. In the end, there's nothing that can't be reduced to a few lines of text. Weir writes ably about Henry VIII's life and court in this biography, giving a clean background to the marriages, wars, and political turmoil of the reign. She treats him fairly, discussing his vices and virtues in equal measure, and offered explanations when one was needed. Of all It's rather sad that such a large personality and long life can be captured in such a small book, but I suppose that's a lesson for all mortals. In the end, there's nothing that can't be reduced to a few lines of text. Weir writes ably about Henry VIII's life and court in this biography, giving a clean background to the marriages, wars, and political turmoil of the reign. She treats him fairly, discussing his vices and virtues in equal measure, and offered explanations when one was needed. Of all Weir books, this volume is among my favorites.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amanda pepos

    i always want to know more about this time in history and this book is full of information about what happened during this time. it begins before henry is king and ends with his death and covers everything in betweens and gives the reader a better understanding of who henry VIII was and you begin to see how his madness began and who was behind it. its a good read full of details, and descriptive in every sentence.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Did you know that Anne Boleyn had an extra pinky nail growing out of the side of her finger (thus the rumors about being six fingered and a witch)? Or that it was hard to get the courtiers to stop pissing anywhere they pleased and to focus on certain specific wall areas inside the palace? An exhaustive and fascinating history.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rick Hautala

    I usually love Alison Weir's books, but this one was a bit "chewy" for me ... Lots of good stuff ... but too much about clothes and houses and meals, and not enough about the actual history ... Interesting, but not her best ...

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Huston

    A rather different look at Henry VIII, focusing instead on his courtiers and servants. Very much recommended, and worth the effort to find. For the complete review, please go here: http://www.epinions.com/content_22044... A rather different look at Henry VIII, focusing instead on his courtiers and servants. Very much recommended, and worth the effort to find. For the complete review, please go here: http://www.epinions.com/content_22044...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Sengele

    Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Forget everything you knew about Henry VIII and his six wives - this tale of his life shows how he was truly a king to be admired - and occasionally feared. Brilliantly detailed. Full of political intrigue and drama of the Court.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Férial

    No rating as I didn't finish this book. I expected something else. Not just a description of Henry VIII's court or an account of its habits and customs and such (I should have had a closer look at the title). Ah well...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Very interesting..but..very..long.. Not a fast reading book.. Update..could not finish it..

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Bryson

    Before you read any book about Henry VIII or his wives I would strongly recommend that you stop and read this book first. Throughout this book Weir not only looks at who Henry VIII was, the man and the life he lead, but she also paints a detailed, intricate picture of the world in which he lived. Weir starts her book at the death of Henry VII in 1509 and then begins to paint a portrait of the world in which Henry VIII ascended to the throne. She spends the first part of the book intricately deta Before you read any book about Henry VIII or his wives I would strongly recommend that you stop and read this book first. Throughout this book Weir not only looks at who Henry VIII was, the man and the life he lead, but she also paints a detailed, intricate picture of the world in which he lived. Weir starts her book at the death of Henry VII in 1509 and then begins to paint a portrait of the world in which Henry VIII ascended to the throne. She spends the first part of the book intricately detailing every aspect of life in the Tudor period under Henry VIII. She looks at those who were privileged enough to be part of the Privy chamber, the Grooms and pages whom were honoured to spend much of their time with the King. Not only were they able to serve his Majesty, but they were able to spend long hours playing cards with him, hunting, gambling, hawking, listening to music etc. etc. Weir describes what life was like for these men, the clothing they wore, their responsibilities and the ups and downs of being so close to the King. On one hand it might be a great honour and privilege to spend so much time with the King - being so close to his ear and being able to influence his decisions. But on the other hand those members of the Privy chamber were also susceptible to the King’s outbursts of violent rage; beatings and factions about court which sought to bring them down and oust them from their roles. Weir goes onto to describe all the roles of those at court - pages, servers of food, members of the kitchen staff, cooks, gardeners, those that looked after horses and other animals, people who controlled the Kingdom’s money and ran offices, builders, project designers, painters, artists, musicians… the list goes on and on. Each role and position within the court, from the lowliest to the highest is described in intricate detail. Weir writes with such beautiful portrayal that when one reads amazing images of splendour and horror flood the mind. There is so much detail that I would advise anyone whom reads this book to take their time, re read sections if needed so that you can gain a full and clear understanding of each job role. Also within the pages of this book are details about the expectations at court, again from the King whom sits above all, down to the lowest boy who turns the spits to roast meat. Everything from the way the King ordered his food, what he ate and when, how food was prepared, who served him food and how, is described in intricate detail. There were so many rules during Henry’s reign that I am utterly stunned how anyone could remember them all. So many expectations, social rules, different standards for different people that it literally must have been a mind field to try and organise the whole court! It is amazing to me that not only did every member of court know their roles and responsibilities, but was also able to adhere to them to keep a court of literally hundreds upon hundreds of people running effectively! As she goes through Henry’s reign, Weir talks about those men and woman whom came in and out of Henry’s life. She talks about Henry’s wives – although not in as great detail as other authors have. The reason I presume for this is that Weir has written a book devoted to Henry VIII’s wives entitled “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” (which is an absolutely excellent and incredibly detailed book in its own right!). Weir also talks about the men (and few women) at court who all played roles in Henry’s life, both positively and negatively. I love the relationships between Henry and his companions. Through these intricate and sometimes volatile relationships we can see what sort of man Henry was. In his youth he was the happy go lucky King; full of life and zest, loving sports, gambling and women. His friendships and those whom he included at court reflected this with an influx of ‘new men’ – men who did not necessarily have noble blood running through their veins. Through his friendships we are able to see how as Henry aged he relied less and less on others to make decisions for him, how his anger, jealousy and sense of self importance grew. Throughout Henry VIII’s life men came and men went, some with great honours and dignity, some without their heads. It seems as though that to be at court was to put one’s life at risk! On a personal note I was greatly pleased to read more about Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. This is a man whom has captured my interest. Here is a man whom had been friends with Henry since their youths. He grew in favour and importance at court, committed treason by marrying Henry’s sister without his permission, was forced to pay an exuberant amount of money in compensation (which was greatly reduced after Mary died), yet received more and more titles, land and responsibilities throughout his life. When he died Henry stated that ‘for as long as Suffolk had served him, he had never betrayed a friend or knowingly taken unfair advantage of an enemy’ (Weir 2001, p. 485). Henry Tudor, especially in his later years, could be a volatile, unpredictable, temperamental and yet despite this Charles Brandon managed to not only keep his King’s friendship but to grow in favour – to me this is amazing! Weir covers the last ten years of Henry VIII’s life in about one hundred pages. I found myself wishing that these years were expanded upon in a little more detail. During this period Henry went through four wives, built the lavish palace of Nonsuch, continued the reformation, laid siege to France, executed people for heresy, had failing health, faced his mortality, wrote his will and departed the world. There is so much that happened to Henry, his family, friends, the English court and England in general during this period that on a personal note I would have liked these events to have been covered in some more detail. As I stated at the beginning of this review, I would strongly recommend that one read ‘Henry VIII King & Court’ before they read any other book about Henry VIII or his wives. Throughout the pages of this book Weir constructs vivid and beautiful images of the world and life that was Henry VIII. The reader is left with a strong understanding and knowledge not only about the larger than life Henry Tudor, but also about the people in his life, social expectations, his court and his country. This is another stunningly written book by Alison Weir and it was a joy to read.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.