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Tudor Women: Queens & Commoners

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This volume gives an account of the women both behind the scenes and at the forefront of 16th-century English history, including Mary Tudor, Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, and Henry VIII's six wives. The women of the royal family are the central characters; what they ate, how they dressed, the books they read, and the letters they wrote are all addressed. Yet even the g This volume gives an account of the women both behind the scenes and at the forefront of 16th-century English history, including Mary Tudor, Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, and Henry VIII's six wives. The women of the royal family are the central characters; what they ate, how they dressed, the books they read, and the letters they wrote are all addressed. Yet even the greatest of these women suffered the universal legal and physiological disabilities of womanhood, and while some triumphed over them, others went under.


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This volume gives an account of the women both behind the scenes and at the forefront of 16th-century English history, including Mary Tudor, Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, and Henry VIII's six wives. The women of the royal family are the central characters; what they ate, how they dressed, the books they read, and the letters they wrote are all addressed. Yet even the g This volume gives an account of the women both behind the scenes and at the forefront of 16th-century English history, including Mary Tudor, Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, and Henry VIII's six wives. The women of the royal family are the central characters; what they ate, how they dressed, the books they read, and the letters they wrote are all addressed. Yet even the greatest of these women suffered the universal legal and physiological disabilities of womanhood, and while some triumphed over them, others went under.

30 review for Tudor Women: Queens & Commoners

  1. 5 out of 5

    Naomi V

    2-1/2 stars I was very excited by the title of this book because while I've read any number of Tudor histories, I know little about commoner's lives and was hoping that this book would open that chapter for me. Unfortunately, the chapter about commoners was all of five pages. Hence the rather low rating of 2-1/2 stars. The book starts with Margaret Beaufort, who I knew little about before this book. She was married at 12 to Edmund Tudor in 1455. Edmund died in November, 1456 and Henry (late Henry 2-1/2 stars I was very excited by the title of this book because while I've read any number of Tudor histories, I know little about commoner's lives and was hoping that this book would open that chapter for me. Unfortunately, the chapter about commoners was all of five pages. Hence the rather low rating of 2-1/2 stars. The book starts with Margaret Beaufort, who I knew little about before this book. She was married at 12 to Edmund Tudor in 1455. Edmund died in November, 1456 and Henry (late Henry VII) was born in January, 1457. Margaret was never to conceive again. The War of the Roses caused Margaret and Henry to be separated. Henry's wardship was sold to Yorkist Lord Herbert of Raglan. Margaret married Henry Stafford, the son of Duke of Buckingham. The resurgence of the house of Lancaster began in the 1470s. The Battle of Tewksbury in May of 1471 left Henry at 15 years old the sole surviving representative of the house of Lancaster. His Jasper Tudor took him to Brittany. Easter 1483, Edward IV died, and the 13 year old Prince of Wales succeeded. The King's brother Richard seized power, said his nephews were illegitimate and put them in the Tower. Once Richard was crowned, Henry was the only rival to the throne. This speculates that Margaret Beaufort instigated the Tudor claim to the throne. Margaret Beaufort enlisted support of Elizabeth Woodville, the widow of Edward IV, the mother of the boys in the tower. She had been stripped of her possessions by Richard III. Margaret Beaufort suggested marriage between Henry and Elizabeth's oldest daughter Elizabeth. At the battle of Bosworth, Henry won the Crown from Richard III. Margaret Beaufort became countess of Richmond and Derby, received the wardship of Edward Stafford, son of the Duke of Buckingham. Parliament of 1485 gave her the rights and privileges of a "sole person, not wife nor covert of any husband" which gave her control of her own fortune. Margaret Beaufort set down ordinances; rules about running the household. She managed her estates and the estates of her ward Buckingham. She gave large gifts to Cambridge and endowments to Christ's college and founded St. John's. The following chapters concentrated on the other queens: Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves (who I believe had the best situation of all the wives,) Katherine Howard, and then finally Katherine Parr. Then Mary I and Elizabeth I. Having read and reviewed a number of books on Henry’s wives, Mary and Elizabeth, I’ll gloss over these women here. When at last the final chapter is reached and the commoners are discussed, it’s quite amazing to discover what their lives were like. The authors lists some of the “opportunities” that were available for women in Elizabethan times: domestic service, which was often a stepping-stone to marriage, wet and dry nursing, tailoring, governess, ‘waiting gentlewoman’ in a ‘great household.’ A woman could do upholstery work, millinery, embroidery, innkeeping, laundry, brewing, baking. She could be a fishwife, an astrologer, or a midwife. Marriage to a member of a trade guild conferred certain rights to the woman, which she retained in widowhood and could pass on to a second husband. Wash day involved steeping, beating heavy linens with wooden bats, bleaching, smoothing, folding, etc. This was done “every three months or so.” This is just the beginning. A woman running her household must have worked from dawn to long after dark to accomplish everything that was required. It makes me grateful to be born in an age when we have so many machines to help do the work. Maybe I was expecting too much – maybe there was so much work to do that there wasn’t much else in a common woman’s life for this book to talk about.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Juliew.

    This focused on some of the most famous women in the Tudor era.Among them Margaret Beaufort,Catherine of Aragon,Anne Boleyn,Katherine Parr and Elizabeth I.For the most part the book follows the lives of these amazing queens.They set the example in their times for dress,education,entertainment,social and religious life.Each chapter follows one queen and gives us a look at her history and explains how they coped with the possibilities,demands and limitations of every day life.A small section in th This focused on some of the most famous women in the Tudor era.Among them Margaret Beaufort,Catherine of Aragon,Anne Boleyn,Katherine Parr and Elizabeth I.For the most part the book follows the lives of these amazing queens.They set the example in their times for dress,education,entertainment,social and religious life.Each chapter follows one queen and gives us a look at her history and explains how they coped with the possibilities,demands and limitations of every day life.A small section in the back provides a glimpse at the life of the common Tudor woman.Her life revolved around the business of the household and everything that it entailed.From making their own milk and cheeses to running the whole establishment in their husbands absence.Apart from domestic life,these women also took up occupations such as tailoring,embroidery,inn keeping,laundresses,brewers and many others.Well researched and very readable.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lesley

    I thought this book would be about Queens & Commoners... the book was mostly about the wives of Henry 8th & already well documented. I would like to have ready more about the ‘common’ woman of the time. I thought this book would be about Queens & Commoners... the book was mostly about the wives of Henry 8th & already well documented. I would like to have ready more about the ‘common’ woman of the time.

  4. 5 out of 5

    John Bonilla

    Me gustó mucho conocer a cerca de esta dinastía, una de las más famosas. Y claro tenía que ser por Enrique VIII aunque la historia se remonta más atrás de Enrique VII. Este libro junto con la serie de Historias Horribles se complementan mucho ya que los datos son semejantes en ambos y por lo tanto se puede entender que es verdad, aunque en una lo pongan más chistosa que en el libro, pero aun así es la misma historia. Lo que más me confundió de este libro fue el hecho de que mencionaran los títulos Me gustó mucho conocer a cerca de esta dinastía, una de las más famosas. Y claro tenía que ser por Enrique VIII aunque la historia se remonta más atrás de Enrique VII. Este libro junto con la serie de Historias Horribles se complementan mucho ya que los datos son semejantes en ambos y por lo tanto se puede entender que es verdad, aunque en una lo pongan más chistosa que en el libro, pero aun así es la misma historia. Lo que más me confundió de este libro fue el hecho de que mencionaran los títulos completos de los duques y duquesas que aquella época, no estoy tan habituado a las casa de los nobles ingleses, pero los que conocía hacía que tuviera una mayor relevancia. Por otro lado, como el libro se llama Las Mujeres Tudor, lógicamente se enfocó más a las mujeres y lo malo es que en lo que respecta a historia uno tiene más presente a los hombres que gobernaron, entonces ese fue un punto a disfavor mía ya que igual no conocía a muchas que mencionaban, aunque en realidad las que más resaltaban eran las 7 esposas de Enrique, Isabel, Maria y Juana. Metió mucho duquesas, plebeyas, damas de compañía y nobleza y algunas de plano ni me acuerdo de quienes eran. Pero muy buen libro, me gusta aprender más sobre la historia de Inglaterra ya que estoy más familiarizado que con la de mi propio país pero nunca esta demás conocer otras culturas.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    As a brief study of the women in Henry VIII's life this works very well. It manages to be entertaining and enjoyable, while also being informative. It gives some sense of the trials faced by these royal women. There are times when the opinions of the author are expressed with very little evidence as to how these opinions were formed or what they were based on, and at times this leads to book to be highly dismissive of some figures. However my main gripe is with how the book is presented. The edi As a brief study of the women in Henry VIII's life this works very well. It manages to be entertaining and enjoyable, while also being informative. It gives some sense of the trials faced by these royal women. There are times when the opinions of the author are expressed with very little evidence as to how these opinions were formed or what they were based on, and at times this leads to book to be highly dismissive of some figures. However my main gripe is with how the book is presented. The edition i read, published in 2002, gives the subtitle as 'Queens and Commoners', there is one six page chapter devoted to 'commoners' and even this focuses mainly on very great ladies such as Bess of Hardwick. Throughout the rest of the book there are fleeting mentions of ordinary folk, but always in relation to how the actions of Henry's queens was representative to an accepted attitude or norm. Ultimately this is an acceptable read if you are looking for a somewhat basic guide to the women in Henry's life, if you want something that will give you any insight into ordinary Tudor women read something else!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    FanTABulous. I haven’t read a history book that’s this much fun in years. This is a great introduction to or refresher in the Tudor monarchs. It’s focused on women—King Henry VIII’s death and his son Edward VI’s reign get only a few sentences each—which provides a nice, tight focus to a turbulent era. The title is only half right; no commoners are mentioned by name in the book, although their mob-like reactions to moral issues or political events are recorded. (The very last chapter is a fun, fa FanTABulous. I haven’t read a history book that’s this much fun in years. This is a great introduction to or refresher in the Tudor monarchs. It’s focused on women—King Henry VIII’s death and his son Edward VI’s reign get only a few sentences each—which provides a nice, tight focus to a turbulent era. The title is only half right; no commoners are mentioned by name in the book, although their mob-like reactions to moral issues or political events are recorded. (The very last chapter is a fun, fast look at the basic mores and customs of women, whatever their social status, but it's an afterthought.) The book is instead about the highest ranking women in the land from Henry VII through Elizabeth I, starting with Margaret Beaufort. The writing style is taut, yet it leaves room for lots of judiciously chosen tidbits from the women’s personal lives. I've read at least a dozen of Plowden's English history books, and this read like the distillation of all that If anyone’s looking into getting into Tudor history, I would recommend this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    My copy was titled: Tudor Women: Queens and Commoners. It's an older version by the author and had precious little about common women of the period. Easy-to understand language about the important Tudor women (i.e. Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, Anne Boleyn, etc) but I wish the book had been longer (only 168 pages) and more detailed about ALL the women of that time period.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mira Waters

    This was so pleasant. Learning about how women of Tudor England lived in the absence of tragedy is too rare a thing. Some of the information is outdated, of course, because of the age of the book, but I recommend it to all fascinated by Henry VIII's court.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michal

    3.5. A short, informative read, but really just a glossing over. A few notable errors, mostly in erroneously attributed quotes. Decent book for a lukewarm Tudor-phile.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Aberforth

    It's okay. I actually checked this book out of the library where they have an older copy of it titled "Tudor Women: Queens and Commoners" and the back markets the book as a study on the everyday life of women in Tudor England. The author does throw a bit of that in every once in awhile in the midst of explaining the lives of the wives of King Henry, but there's not much on anyone else... in other words, it wasn't at all what I was looking for nor how it's marketed on this older copy. The updated It's okay. I actually checked this book out of the library where they have an older copy of it titled "Tudor Women: Queens and Commoners" and the back markets the book as a study on the everyday life of women in Tudor England. The author does throw a bit of that in every once in awhile in the midst of explaining the lives of the wives of King Henry, but there's not much on anyone else... in other words, it wasn't at all what I was looking for nor how it's marketed on this older copy. The updated description here on goodreads is much more accurate. It's a great basic guide to Henry VIII's queens, but not precisely what I needed. I suggest you go elsewhere if you need information on non-royal Tudor women.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    I'm deeply concern I have crossed the line of diminishing returns on reading about Tudor history. There's only so many books out there and so only so many things I don't know and of those things only so many things I actually care about. This book would be wonderful for a beginner. New to English history? READ THIS! Never cracked a book about Catherine of Aragon? READ THIS! Anne Bolwho? READ THIS! Otherwise. Don't. Because it's just rather boring really. You know all this. You've read all this in i I'm deeply concern I have crossed the line of diminishing returns on reading about Tudor history. There's only so many books out there and so only so many things I don't know and of those things only so many things I actually care about. This book would be wonderful for a beginner. New to English history? READ THIS! Never cracked a book about Catherine of Aragon? READ THIS! Anne Bolwho? READ THIS! Otherwise. Don't. Because it's just rather boring really. You know all this. You've read all this in its original Latin. You've read the book, saw the movie, and even powered through the poorly acted PBS special on the Secret Lives of Henry's Queens. You will learn nothing from this...except maybe that you need to expand your genre focus.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Helene Harrison

    ISBN? - 9780689109447 General Subject/s? - History / Gender History / Women / Tudors Title? - It covers a lot of women but not in a lot of detail - more of a beginner's book. General Analysis? - I found Plowden's writing style quite easy going. Her chapters were lacking in detail - this could have been so much better than it was. Anne Boleyn's time as queen was only a few pages, her fall just 2. Jane Seymour had one thin chapter, as did most of the other women. I felt it was a bit of a letdown, but ISBN? - 9780689109447 General Subject/s? - History / Gender History / Women / Tudors Title? - It covers a lot of women but not in a lot of detail - more of a beginner's book. General Analysis? - I found Plowden's writing style quite easy going. Her chapters were lacking in detail - this could have been so much better than it was. Anne Boleyn's time as queen was only a few pages, her fall just 2. Jane Seymour had one thin chapter, as did most of the other women. I felt it was a bit of a letdown, but I did enjoy what she had written. Recommend? - No, it's very vague.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Nobuta

    Sí, este libro me gusto mucho. No es una novela, ni nada por el estilo, es un libro donde habla de mujeres en la época de los Tudors y me gusto mucho leer. Todo el libro habla como bien lo dice de las reinas y plebeyas que entraron en la historia gracias a este hombre, cruel y amoroso Enrique VII. Es un excelente libro para entender varios factores de aquella época y más entender a estas dos de estas mujeres tan importantes para la historia Inglesa, esa Madre e hija que cambiaron a un país enter Sí, este libro me gusto mucho. No es una novela, ni nada por el estilo, es un libro donde habla de mujeres en la época de los Tudors y me gusto mucho leer. Todo el libro habla como bien lo dice de las reinas y plebeyas que entraron en la historia gracias a este hombre, cruel y amoroso Enrique VII. Es un excelente libro para entender varios factores de aquella época y más entender a estas dos de estas mujeres tan importantes para la historia Inglesa, esa Madre e hija que cambiaron a un país entero.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    A quick read, very concise and understandable. The truth of this book is that the Tudor Dynasty belonged in a large part to its women--one reason being the untimely death of more than a few Tudor boys. For those who enjoy the Tudor period by recent mainstream literature and media, this book is a good reference to set the record straight where artistic license pays less heed to the true history.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jatzhiri

    ¡4,5! Me encanto, es muy interesante. La manera de escribir de la autora es muy amena y a pesar de la cantidad de información que trae el libro no se hace pesado ni tedioso. En fin un libro que me ha encantado y espero leer más de este tema (que me encanta y se me hace bastante interesante) y probar más de esta autora.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rolando Hernández Torres

    Muy buen libro. Me encantó. Está muy bien documentado y se lee muy rápido por la forma tan ligera de escritura. Me agrada como presenta a cada una de las mujeres Tudor y quedé maravillado con las reinas Catalina de Aragón y María de Tudor. Reacias defensoras de la fe y del derecho divino. Desde ya quiero leer más libros de Alison Plowden.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    This is a good book but it didn't tell me anything new about Tudor women. Also, it did not focus on the commoners, mainly Henry VIII's wives and his daughters. It is interesting and very easy to read but doesn't have any new information in it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Susannah

    Very well-written, personal look at the lives of Tudor women. Very little is said about commoners - the focus is on queens and noblewomen. I was particularly inspired by Margaret Beaufort, King Henry VII's mother.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Janine Kovac

    was hoping for a little more on the commoners, but enjoyed it all the same.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Candy

    Nothing I didn't already know

  21. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Blocksdorf

    The lives of Tudor royalty and aristocracy are covered are countless other books, so I felt in the end, while enjoyable, I did not really learn anything new from this one.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mark Gibbs

    Good introduction to the subject - but this book should not be read if the reader wishes for a detailed analysis!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda Usselman

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sommer Streett

  26. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Lambourn

  27. 4 out of 5

    Fak

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mary Beth

  29. 4 out of 5

    Hrefna

  30. 4 out of 5

    anne judd

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