Hot Best Seller

Henry VIII: And the Men Who Made Him

Availability: Ready to download

Henry VIII is best known in history for his tempestuous marriages and the fates of his six wives. However, as acclaimed historian Tracy Borman makes clear in her illuminating new chronicle of Henry's life, his reign and reputation were hugely influenced by the men who surrounded and interacted with him as companions and confidants, servants and ministers, and occasionally Henry VIII is best known in history for his tempestuous marriages and the fates of his six wives. However, as acclaimed historian Tracy Borman makes clear in her illuminating new chronicle of Henry's life, his reign and reputation were hugely influenced by the men who surrounded and interacted with him as companions and confidants, servants and ministers, and occasionally as rivals--many of whom have been underplayed in previous biographies. These relationships offer a fresh, often surprising perspective on the legendary king, revealing the contradictions in his beliefs, behavior, and character in a nuanced light. They show him capable of fierce but seldom abiding loyalty, of raising men up only to destroy them later. He loved to be attended by boisterous young men, the likes of his intimate friend Charles Brandon, who shared his passion for sport, but could also be diverted by men of intellect, culture, and wit, as his longstanding interplay with Cardinal Wolsey and his reluctant abandonment of Thomas More attest. Eager to escape the shadow of his father, Henry VII, he was often trusting and easily led by male attendants and advisors early in his reign (his coronation was just shy of his 18th birthday in 1509); in time, though, he matured into a profoundly suspicious and paranoid king whose ruthlessness would be ever more apparent, as Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk and uncle to two of Henry's wives, discovered to his great discomfort, and as Eustace Chapuys, the ambassador of Charles V of Spain, often reported. Recounting the great Tudor's life and signal moments through the lens of his male relationships, Tracy Borman's new biography reveals Henry's personality in all its multi-faceted, contradictory glory, and sheds fresh light on his reign for anyone fascinated by the Tudor era and its legacy.


Compare

Henry VIII is best known in history for his tempestuous marriages and the fates of his six wives. However, as acclaimed historian Tracy Borman makes clear in her illuminating new chronicle of Henry's life, his reign and reputation were hugely influenced by the men who surrounded and interacted with him as companions and confidants, servants and ministers, and occasionally Henry VIII is best known in history for his tempestuous marriages and the fates of his six wives. However, as acclaimed historian Tracy Borman makes clear in her illuminating new chronicle of Henry's life, his reign and reputation were hugely influenced by the men who surrounded and interacted with him as companions and confidants, servants and ministers, and occasionally as rivals--many of whom have been underplayed in previous biographies. These relationships offer a fresh, often surprising perspective on the legendary king, revealing the contradictions in his beliefs, behavior, and character in a nuanced light. They show him capable of fierce but seldom abiding loyalty, of raising men up only to destroy them later. He loved to be attended by boisterous young men, the likes of his intimate friend Charles Brandon, who shared his passion for sport, but could also be diverted by men of intellect, culture, and wit, as his longstanding interplay with Cardinal Wolsey and his reluctant abandonment of Thomas More attest. Eager to escape the shadow of his father, Henry VII, he was often trusting and easily led by male attendants and advisors early in his reign (his coronation was just shy of his 18th birthday in 1509); in time, though, he matured into a profoundly suspicious and paranoid king whose ruthlessness would be ever more apparent, as Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk and uncle to two of Henry's wives, discovered to his great discomfort, and as Eustace Chapuys, the ambassador of Charles V of Spain, often reported. Recounting the great Tudor's life and signal moments through the lens of his male relationships, Tracy Borman's new biography reveals Henry's personality in all its multi-faceted, contradictory glory, and sheds fresh light on his reign for anyone fascinated by the Tudor era and its legacy.

30 review for Henry VIII: And the Men Who Made Him

  1. 4 out of 5

    Beata

    I requested this book for at least three reasons. The first one was that I enjoy Tracy Borman's ways of presenting history and having read some of her books, I am still a fan of hers. The second reason was my interest in the Tudor period and the need to extend my (not scholarly) knowledge. Full satisfaction after reading this book. And, last but not least, I thought that reading more about the men who stood behind Henry VIII, and not just the king himself, might be an insightful. I honestly admi I requested this book for at least three reasons. The first one was that I enjoy Tracy Borman's ways of presenting history and having read some of her books, I am still a fan of hers. The second reason was my interest in the Tudor period and the need to extend my (not scholarly) knowledge. Full satisfaction after reading this book. And, last but not least, I thought that reading more about the men who stood behind Henry VIII, and not just the king himself, might be an insightful. I honestly admit that I was absolutely right to request this particular book. It reads very, very well, and is a source of information which is often ommitted for different reasons in biographies of this famous Tudor monarch. The book concentrates on men who surrounded the king and who had influence on him in various ways, not only political. I definitely recommend this non-fiction to anyone interested in monarch were influenced ....... *Many thanks to Tracy Borman, Grove Atlantic and Netgalley for provong me with ARC in exchange for my honest review.*

  2. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    3.5 stars rounded up to 4. Thanx you Grove Atlantic for sending me this eARC through NetGalley. It is a solid biographical study of the men who served Henry the VIII. Most books about this period focus on his six wives or Henry the VIII. The author has done an impressive amount of research, quoting extensively from primary sources, letters, diaries, official records, etc. Henry the VIII was obsessed with producing a male heir to carry on his reign. His father had ended a civil war and Henry the V 3.5 stars rounded up to 4. Thanx you Grove Atlantic for sending me this eARC through NetGalley. It is a solid biographical study of the men who served Henry the VIII. Most books about this period focus on his six wives or Henry the VIII. The author has done an impressive amount of research, quoting extensively from primary sources, letters, diaries, official records, etc. Henry the VIII was obsessed with producing a male heir to carry on his reign. His father had ended a civil war and Henry the VIII worried that there would be another civil war without a male heir. A personal note: I just returned from a UK visit and toured Castle Howard, in the Howard family for more than 500 years. It is now owned by The National Trust. The last Howard turned it over to the Trust with the proviso that he continue to live there. He died recently, but used to give tours while he was alive. Castle Howard was a stately mansion and not a Castle. Actual castles in the UK have the town name first, as in Caernarfon Castle. Katherine Howard was one of Henry the VIII's wives. Interestingly, many of the men who served Henry the VIII were named Thomas-- Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Cranmer, and Thomas Howard. One complaint: Chapter 2 has 57 footnotes, but only two and a half are listed in the footnote section.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Orsolya

    The life of Henry VIII concerning his court, wives, and politics is widely known and is certainly no secret. However, Henry was surrounded by ambitious men in both his political and personal spheres which are somewhat lesser discussed. How did these men and their personalities shape Henry’s own? Tracy Borman explores this question in, “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him”. “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him” curtails a traditional recap biography and focuses more on the interactions between He The life of Henry VIII concerning his court, wives, and politics is widely known and is certainly no secret. However, Henry was surrounded by ambitious men in both his political and personal spheres which are somewhat lesser discussed. How did these men and their personalities shape Henry’s own? Tracy Borman explores this question in, “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him”. “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him” curtails a traditional recap biography and focuses more on the interactions between Henry and key figures such as Thomas Wosley, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Cranmer, and Charles Brandon alongside such noteworthy names as Will Somers (Henry’s court fool) and Sir Nicholas Carew (to name some examples covered in the text). Borman’s presentation is a cocktail mix of chronological biography infusing an almost mini-bio of each figure as they respectively enter Henry’s life. This is where the key issue with “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him” arises: the text doesn’t meet Borman’s thesis and attempt to portray the effect these relationships had on Henry that makes sense being we don’t have a diary or psyche breakdown of Henry’s mind. This, however, means that the text is basically a biography of each figure and the political and/or personal events/connections to Henry. Despite the theme of the text not being met; the angle is still unique focusing more on the masculine relationships rather than just politics, wives, or the overall reign of Henry VIII. Elaborating on this note, it is clear beyond measure that Borman is well-educated on the subject and has conducted massive amounts of research. Even those readers familiar with the subject will encounter information either not expressed at all in other texts or simply not explored making for an intriguing reading. That being said, Borman has the habit of including speculative statements, including opinions as fact without backing arguments, and repeating facts. Occasionally, “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him” must be taken with a grain of salt. Borman’s writing style meshes together an academic style with a smooth narrative educating readers while ensuring a storytelling arc that engages and excites. This doesn’t mean that “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him” doesn’t have a slow pace at times with a repetitive density: it does. Overall, though, the text is strong enough to be readable and encourage page-turning. Notably affecting the flow of “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him” are the consistently long chapters offering insufficient breaks for material to soak in and being heavily clumsy with over-saturated, run-on content. This mars readability and dampers the text. The progression of “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him” brings an advancement to the meeting of the thesis at hand. Although Borman still fails to truly portray how the discussed figures affected Henry; she does offer a unique view of the webs between the men themselves and therefore shows hidden behind-the-scenes happenings surrounding such events as the King’s “Great Matter” and the Reformation. In this way, readers do get a rare glimpse into the King and are able to self-decide how these men contributed to his actions and personality and of what consequence each entailed. Although Borman had the habit in her previous works to quote Shakespeare as though he was a historian; she luckily only does this once in “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him”. Borman does, however, constantly refer to Henry VIII’s weight and boasts him as ‘gigantic’ and ‘huge’. We get it: Henry was obese in the later years of his reign. It is not necessary, though, to continuously mention such a superficial note in this context. The ending of “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him” feels somewhat rushed and incomplete resulting in a conclusion that is less than memorable and doesn’t fully encompass the entire text. Borman includes a section of full-color photo plates, bibliography (with an adequate amount of primary sources) and notes (although hardly annotated). Borman’s “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him” doesn’t fully meet the aim of her thesis yet it is notably interesting, unique, and get stronger throughout the course of its progression. There are some facts and revealing material that is new even to those familiar with the topic and despite its flaws; “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him” is suggested for all readers interested in Henry VIII and the Tudor period.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Juli

    My first thought when I think about King Henry VIII is this: Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced Beheaded, Survived. It's almost automatic to think of Henry in terms of his disastrous marriages....and the effect those dramas had on English history, religion, and the monarchy. Tracy Borman wants to redirect the focus from the women in Henry's life to the men -- his father, his older brother who died, his advisors, councilors, friends, frenemies, servants -- all the men surrounding Henry from childho My first thought when I think about King Henry VIII is this: Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced Beheaded, Survived. It's almost automatic to think of Henry in terms of his disastrous marriages....and the effect those dramas had on English history, religion, and the monarchy. Tracy Borman wants to redirect the focus from the women in Henry's life to the men -- his father, his older brother who died, his advisors, councilors, friends, frenemies, servants -- all the men surrounding Henry from childhood, helping form his character and behavior. From Hans Holbein, the court painter who created the portraits we still see today, to the powerful Dukes of Buckingham and Norfolk, all the way down the court pecking order to Will Somer the Court Fool...Henry was surrounded by men all his life from his birth to his death at 55. And those men had a profound effect on Henry, his decisions, his personality....and his cruelty. I enjoyed this book! I read it slowly over a two week period, letting the history and information soak into my brain. I came to this conclusion...if Henry VIII was truly fickle, paranoid, vain, obsessed with a male heir, cruel and horribly misguided at times....who made him that way? The men who surrounded him -- giving advice, scrounging for power and favor, practicing deceit to influence Henry's decisions, always watching, always waiting, always wanting.... No wonder Henry was paranoid. No wonder he was obsessed with leaving an heir to the throne. No wonder he turned on faithful advisors, friends, and nobility when it pleased him to have them executed. The treatment of Henry's wives was brought about not only by Henry's obsessions and fickle nature, but also by the advisors that surrounded him. They whispered the lies. They arranged the trials. They pushed their daughters in front of him. They gave Henry what they told him he wanted. They created the king who has a high spot on the list of worst monarchs in history. So while Henry VIII is responsible for his own behavior (as are we all), the men around him that helped mold him are also partially (maybe even mostly) to blame. Awesome book! I thoroughly enjoyed this look at Henry VIII, the men in his life and court, and how they molded the king. This book is non-fiction and contains a lot of names, dates, historical facts, etc. Great for those who love reading about the Tudors....not so great for those who don't enjoy non-fiction or pure history. Those who enjoyed Borman's earlier book -- The Private Lives of the Tudors -- will also enjoy this book. I enjoy Borman's writing style. She presents the facts in an interesting way. I never feel like I'm reading a stuffy textbook. Great information -- I loved it! **I voluntarily read an advanced readers copy of this book from Grove Atlantic. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. No advisors or spouses were beheaded in the writing of this review.)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Juliew.

    I have to confess I love Borman's writing just not a particular fan of some of her research or her point of views on certain people within the Tudor sphere.I'm giving points though for her topic of focusing on just the men who influenced Henry VIII rather than focusing on the much written about and discussed wives.This was basically a very long,detailed who's who of the Tudor court.Not only rehashing old favorites such as Charles Brandon,Thomas Moore and Thomas Cromwell but going deeper into the I have to confess I love Borman's writing just not a particular fan of some of her research or her point of views on certain people within the Tudor sphere.I'm giving points though for her topic of focusing on just the men who influenced Henry VIII rather than focusing on the much written about and discussed wives.This was basically a very long,detailed who's who of the Tudor court.Not only rehashing old favorites such as Charles Brandon,Thomas Moore and Thomas Cromwell but going deeper into the court to find the stories of William Blount,William Fitzwilliam,Hans Holbien,Henry Guilford,Ralph Sadler,Thomas Heneage and many other lesser know men.Following them on their many years of service to the king or in some cases their brief service.But as much as I did enjoy this some research was just off to me.With every Boleyn insult with no source note I found myself rolling my eyes.Not to mention her thoughts on Katherine Howard.Using sources such as eighteenth century librarians or Elizabethan courtiers who had never even been to Henry VIII's court has its drawbacks,I suppose.Nevertheless,very much enjoyed this and it is my favorite book of hers to date.

  6. 5 out of 5

    BAM Endlessly Booked

    Thanks go to Grove Press and Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for my unbiased review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Melisende

    Much to the ire of Tudorphiles everywhere - I did not find this especially enlightening. And like Oliver Twist - I wanted more and was left wanting.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    Rating: 3 stars Tracy Borman’s most recent entry into the history of the Tudors, “Henry VIII and the men who made him: The secret history behind the Tudor throne” is a good solid work of non-fiction. It joins her previous book about the Tudor dynasty, “Elizabeth's Women: Friends, Rivals, and Foes Who Shaped the Virgin Queen” and it does a serviceable job of painting the picture of Henry’s court and the myriads of men surrounding him throughout his life. Unfortunately for me, it paints the pictur Rating: 3 stars Tracy Borman’s most recent entry into the history of the Tudors, “Henry VIII and the men who made him: The secret history behind the Tudor throne” is a good solid work of non-fiction. It joins her previous book about the Tudor dynasty, “Elizabeth's Women: Friends, Rivals, and Foes Who Shaped the Virgin Queen” and it does a serviceable job of painting the picture of Henry’s court and the myriads of men surrounding him throughout his life. Unfortunately for me, it paints the picture in fits and starts. Due to how it is structured, I often had a hard time keeping track of all the significant players in Henry’s court. The book is told in chronological order from the beginning to the end (and a bit beyond) of Henry’s life. It focuses on how Henry used to his men in often impetuous and petulant ways. He was nothing if not mercurial. There is no better illustration of this than by seeing the multiple times those close counselors and nobility swung rapidly from boon companions and confidants, to traitors on trumped up charges where the best outcome that could be hoped for was a swift death by beheading. I have read quite a bit about all the Tudors, so I am familiar with Henry’s story. This book did shed new light on how capricious Henry could be, and suggests some of the reasons why that was. While the book did provide good information, it was a bit long. At times I found it either tedious or hard to follow. I’m not sure what suggestion I’d make to help organize it a different that would have enlightened me in a more entertaining way. Currently, it’s just a bit too fragmented for my reading taste. I think it’s suited to a reader with a fairly good knowledge of Tudor history. The casual reader might soon be daunted or discouraged by all the details. ‘Thank-You’ to NetGalley; the publisher, Grove Atlantic; and the author, Tracy Borman; for providing a free e-ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mary Lawrence

    An exhaustive study of the men in Henry VIII's life. From the not so warm relationship with his father to his tutors as a young boy and man, Borman sniffs out every possible influence on Henry's life. Illuminating at times, overly detailed at others, this is an interesting angle into England's most brutal king. I can't imagine the hours this must have taken to research. An exhaustive study of the men in Henry VIII's life. From the not so warm relationship with his father to his tutors as a young boy and man, Borman sniffs out every possible influence on Henry's life. Illuminating at times, overly detailed at others, this is an interesting angle into England's most brutal king. I can't imagine the hours this must have taken to research.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    “Most gracious Prince, I cry for mercy, mercy, mercy.” While I typically prefer books about Henry VIII’s poor wives, I can’t resist a biography by Tracy Borman. This is an incredibly thorough yet accessible look at Henry and his “minions,” most of whom were named Thomas. There are literally so many Thomases that I can’t remember them all, but the main players are Wolsey, Cromwell, Cranmer, and Wriothesley. Somewhat on the sidelines you’ve got Thomas Wyatt, Thomas Boleyn, Thomas Seymour, Thomas He “Most gracious Prince, I cry for mercy, mercy, mercy.” While I typically prefer books about Henry VIII’s poor wives, I can’t resist a biography by Tracy Borman. This is an incredibly thorough yet accessible look at Henry and his “minions,” most of whom were named Thomas. There are literally so many Thomases that I can’t remember them all, but the main players are Wolsey, Cromwell, Cranmer, and Wriothesley. Somewhat on the sidelines you’ve got Thomas Wyatt, Thomas Boleyn, Thomas Seymour, Thomas Heneage, and somewhat out of sync, Charles Brandon. The book starts with Henry VII and chronicles the death of Prince Arthur, causing young Henry VIII to shoulder the burden of the Tudor Dynasty, a transition which pitted him directly against his father, who we see was perhaps not the most loving parental figure. Borman asserts that this need to “do better than” Henry VII is what drove some of Henry VIII’s mania around his male progeny. Henry surrounded himself with men who would help him achieve greatness, but at various points we see that he felt he vested too much power in one person (Wolsey), trusted that his counselors would have his best interests at heart rather than their own (Cromwell), and at the end of his life realized that he had led the realm into chaos and stoked the infighting of courtiers who no longer knew how to manage his changeable nature, but all wanted to gain his favor. I certainly would have been executed if I were a 16th century advisor to Henry VIII. Borman shows that it’s a delicate dance that few managed to survive, either due to Henry’s own fickle beliefs, or the lies and campaigns of other nobles looking toward advancement. Definitely give this a read if you’re a fan of Tudor history and looking to learn more about court politics. See more of my reviews: Blog // Instagram

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Bryson

    Tracy Borman’s book on Henry VIII was a refreshing look at one of England’s most controversial Kings. So often when books examine the life of Henry VIII they study the King through his relationships with this many wives and his children, but Borman’s book takes a very different approach. She studies the life and reign of Henry VIII through the men that served him. Through the courtiers and friends whom lived with the King, men who served his most intimate needs as well as those that carried out Tracy Borman’s book on Henry VIII was a refreshing look at one of England’s most controversial Kings. So often when books examine the life of Henry VIII they study the King through his relationships with this many wives and his children, but Borman’s book takes a very different approach. She studies the life and reign of Henry VIII through the men that served him. Through the courtiers and friends whom lived with the King, men who served his most intimate needs as well as those that carried out the daily, very hectic and heavy, duties of keeping the Kingdom running. Some of these men were closer to the King than his own wives and it was these men that helped to inform and ultimately shape Henry VIII’s thoughts, views and decisions. There was no better way to the King than through those closest to him - his friends and the men that served him. If one wished to gain access to the King, to receive help or petition the King, it was best done through those that held his ear. It was these men that Borman studies and gives details about their lives. She discusses who these men are, some low born who raised to great heights such as Thomas Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell and others coming from great and influential families such as the Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham and John Howard, Duke of Norfolk. There were also men who Borman details who history has glossed over such as William Butts, physician to the King and Anthony Denny who had the grievous task of informing the King he was dying. To learn about these men helped to gain an understanding of who Henry VIII was, why he made the decisions he did during his life as well as his fears and desires. I thoroughly enjoyed Tracy Borman’s book. It is clear Borman’s book was well researched and I found it fascinating to see learn about Henry VIII through the eyes of the men that surrounded him. I learnt a great deal about Henry and how he was influenced at times and how, especially in his earlier years as King, relied heavily upon these men that served him. Borman also explains what a difficult position it was to serve the King. To be honoured and favoured meant great rewards, but to fall from the King’s grace could mean death and ruin. This is one book I highly recommend people read!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Joyce

    5 stars I read the Kindle edition. “You shall, in your counsel-giving unto his grace, ever tell him what he ought to do…For if (a) Lion knew his own strength, hard were it for any man to rule him.” – Sir Thomas More This is a wonderful history of the men who surrounded King Henry VIII. Born both high and low, these men surely shaped the king’s reign through their influence with him. They were advisors, courtiers, friends, servants – and even his rivals. While most often remembered for his split wit 5 stars I read the Kindle edition. “You shall, in your counsel-giving unto his grace, ever tell him what he ought to do…For if (a) Lion knew his own strength, hard were it for any man to rule him.” – Sir Thomas More This is a wonderful history of the men who surrounded King Henry VIII. Born both high and low, these men surely shaped the king’s reign through their influence with him. They were advisors, courtiers, friends, servants – and even his rivals. While most often remembered for his split with Roman Catholicism and his six wives, it was these men who perhaps had more influence on Henry than his wives. The Duke of Suffolk Charles Brandon was probably Henry’s closest friend and sometimes advisor. The scheming and ambitious Cardinal Wolsey whose drive to wealth and control of his king overrode his good sense and essentially drove him to ruin, Sir Francis Bryan who was another friend and confident of the king, Sir Thomas More…Thomas Cromwell…The poet Thomas Wyatt , Hans Holbein the painter who immortalized Henry in his famous painting, Thomas Boleyn, Francis I who was the King of France, Charles V of Spain and the Holy Roman Empire who Henry ultimately didn’t trust but forged on and off again alliances with Charles and many, many others. Ambassador to King Charles V Eustace Chapuys was very intelligent and a keen observer of human nature. His frequent writings and reports back to Spain were insightful and often noted the changeable nature of the king. Cardinal Wolsey took an immediate and intense dislike of Sir Thomas More for his closeness to the king. It’s no wonder that after Wolsey’s fall, More’s name appeared at the top of the list of forty-four charges against the Cardinal. Most of the charges were outlandish and clearly made up, but the drive by his detractors had gained momentum and there was no turning back. It is believed that Wolsey’s failure to gain an annulment or divorce from Queen Catherine was his final downfall. Henry wanted to marry Anne Boleyn. Wolsey was long-time trusted advisor to Henry, but he overstepped his bounds one time too many. Thomas Cromwell was a protégé of Wolsey’s and carried many messages between Wolsey and the king during Wolsey’s exile. Wolsey also believed that being a Cardinal protected him against a charge of treason. He was sadly mistaken. Henry could and would do anything he desired to do. His wives also had a great influence on Henry’s demeanor. As time passed he grew more fractious, mercurial and vindictive. Some of this must have been down to his wives’ influence and their perceived “wrongs” against Henry. Henry was passionate about sports of all kinds: hunting, tennis, dancing, shooting and especially jousting and so on. He was also drawn to intelligent, educated men such as Sir Thomas More and Desiderates Erasmus. He was easily manipulated as Cardinal Wolsey was to discover and very changeable. In his later years he became more paranoid and suspicious of his ministers and confidants. He would profess undying affection one moment and utterly destroy them the next, sometime even having them beheaded – as he did to so many people. He was also a raging hypochondriac. Upon Wolsey’s fall from grace, Thomas Cromwell came to the king’s notice. He was not formally educated, but he was intelligent and quick to learn. He was more intelligent and articulate than most of the nobles at the court even though he was a lowly son of a blacksmith and bar owner. Cardinal Wolsey died of dysentery on his way to (probably) the Tower of London. While some believed that he committed suicide, this has largely been disproved. The Cardinal was known to be very ill on his journey southward. Thomas Cromwell, Cardinal Wolsey’s protégé, quickly ascended a rise to power as the king’s newest counselor and confident. Cromwell had reasons of his own to promote the annulment of Henry’s marriage to Catherine and to make Henry the richest King in Europe. He secretly desired a break with Roman Catholic Church as he was a protestant. Cromwell was witty and humorous, and spoke the bald truth, even to his detractors. These were qualities that the king appreciated. While Archbishop Cranmer and Thomas Cromwell did much to further their Protestant agenda, Sir Thomas More, as now the Lord Chancellor, was horrified. He was firmly opposed to King Henry’s move to annul his marriage to Catherine and any break with Rome. His sympathies clearly lied with Catherine. When the clergy of England formally announced the Submission to the King in religious affairs, More resigned his office as Lord Chancellor. He promised never to speak publicly of King Henry’s “Great Matter” or speak openly of his criticism of the upcoming break with Rome. But More did not keep silent. When Thomas Cromwell ran afoul of Queen Anne, he was put on dangerous ground with the King in spite of garnering him millions (in today’s money), of pounds to add to his treasury. When Henry’s displeasure with Queen Anne became obvious Cromwell then schemed to get rid of Anne and install Jane Seymour as the new Queen. He knew he must be careful, however, for Anne was both astute and vindictive. He carefully constructed a plan whereby he could have Anne accused of adultery. Her love of flirting with men in her chambers was well known, for she did not surround herself with ladies, but preferred the company of men. Thus Cromwell was not only the architect of Anne’s marriage to King Henry, he was also the planner of her ultimate downfall. Within ten days of her death, King Henry was betrothed to Jane Seymour. She was to give Henry his much longed-for son. Henry was overjoyed and named him Edward. Jane, sadly, was to die only a few days following the birth of Edward. The Pilgrimage of Grace caused another serious threat against Cromwell. Started by those staunch Catholics who lived in the North of England against what they saw as the unfair dismantling of their monasteries and abbeys. They mostly directed their ire against Cromwell and his councilors; this also was to affect the king mightily. Henry’s fourth wife was Ann of Cleves. He disliked her from the start and claimed he only married her to assure him an alliance with Cleves against the new treaty signed by the Emperor Charles V and Francis I of France. For his part in the marriage, Cromwell was arrested and sent to the Tower. He demanded that Cromwell, from prison, find a reason to annul the marriage. A reason was found. Ann was content to live in England as Henry’s “sister” from that time until her death. At first Henry did not mourn Cromwell’s death, but later he came to realize that Cromwell ran his offices so smoothly and efficiently that Henry didn’t even realize how much he relied on him. He then missed him. Henry’s fifth wife was Katherine Howard. She was very young and she failed to disclose her former love relationships to Henry. But worse was the fact that Henry was now getting to be elderly by 1500’s standards, and he by this time was also obese and his leg pained him almost all of the time. Katherine started up a love affair with Thomas Culpeper, a young man who was of questionable virtue. He raped a young woman in the village, but Henry pardoned him. He was controlling and mean and perhaps Katherine, once ensnared, couldn’t see a way out of the relationship. For whatever reason, she was soon found out and suffered the ultimate punishment, along with her lovers. Henry’s sixth wife was Catherine Parr. She was about thirty when they married and since one doesn’t refuse the King, had to marry him in spite of the fact that she was in love with Thomas Seymour, the late Queen Jane’s brother. Catherine was to outlive Henry. She did much to bring the family together – Mary, Elizabeth and Edward and they more often came to court. Stephen Gardiner who was then a Bishop and a staunch Catholic contrived to have Queen Catherine arrested on charges of treason because of her Protestant beliefs. However, his plan backfired when Henry put his foot down and told Gardiner to get lost. After Henry’s death on January 28, 1547, there was a great deal of fighting over the Protectorate of his son, Edward, then aged just nine. Also, the arguments over the interpretation of Henry’s will went on and on. Edward Seymour grabbed the opportunity to name himself Lord Protector and shut out everyone else. However, he was to get his. Some amendments were made to Henry’s will following his death of which Henry would not have approved. This was a period in time that I would not like to live. Or if I did, I would want to remain as far from the court as possible. It was filled with backbiting and treachery. The level of scheming and fabrications created by those closest to Henry were astounding. There was no one be they high or low who escaped Henry’s wrath and mercurial temperament – save his good friends Charles Brandon and Thomas Wyatt. This is a very well-written told tale of the men who were closest to King Henry VIII. It is very well researched and thought out. I am in awe of Ms. Borman’s attention to detail and the patience with which she pens her books. I have read many of her books, and have very much liked them all. I tip my hat to the author and will read any more of her future writings. I want to thank NetGalley and Grove Atlantic/Atlantic Monthly Press for forwarding to me a copy of this most interesting and well-written book for me to read, enjoy and review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Katie.dorny

    A phenomenal breadth of men and their impact upon history and Henry VIII. This was more an incredibly detailed summary than a deep dive into one man or one aspect of Henry’s reign. Immensely enjoyable and rich in detail, looking at a different angle than that of Henry or his many wives - Tracy also looked at more men than Cromwell and Wolsey.

  14. 4 out of 5

    =^.^= Janet

    I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher --- Henry VIII is best known in history for his tempestuous marriages and the fates of his six wives. However, as acclaimed historian Tracy Borman makes clear in her illuminating new chronicle of Henry's life, his reign and reputation were hugely influenced by the men who surrounded and interacted with him as companions and confidants, servants and ministers, and occasionall I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher --- Henry VIII is best known in history for his tempestuous marriages and the fates of his six wives. However, as acclaimed historian Tracy Borman makes clear in her illuminating new chronicle of Henry's life, his reign and reputation were hugely influenced by the men who surrounded and interacted with him as companions and confidants, servants and ministers, and occasionally as rivals--many of whom have been underplayed in previous biographies. These relationships offer a fresh, often surprising perspective on the legendary king, revealing the contradictions in his beliefs, behaviour, and character in a nuanced light. They show him capable of fierce but seldom abiding loyalty, of raising men up only to destroy them later. He loved to be attended by boisterous young men, the likes of his intimate friend Charles Brandon, who shared his passion for sports, but could also be diverted by men of intellect, culture, and wit, as his longstanding interplay with Cardinal Wolsey and his reluctant abandonment of Thomas More attest. Eager to escape the shadow of his father, Henry VII, he was often trusting and easily led by male attendants and advisors early in his reign (his coronation was just shy of his 18th birthday in 1509); in time, though, he matured into a profoundly suspicious and paranoid king whose ruthlessness would be ever more apparent, as Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk and uncle to two of Henry's wives, discovered to his great discomfort, and as Eustace Chapuys, the ambassador of Charles V of Spain, often reported. Recounting the great Tudor's life and signal moments through the lens of his male relationships, Tracy Borman's new biography reveals Henry's personality in all its multi-faceted, contradictory glory, and sheds fresh light on his reign for anyone fascinated by the Tudor era and its legacy. I admit it – I am a Tudor freak and I thought that I knew everything about Henry VIII and his legacy. I was wrong! Usually, when you read a book about Henry VIII you hear all about the women and wives in his life: it is interesting to see the relationships with the men in his life explored. (They didn’t necessarily keep their heads either 😊 ) This is a fascinating read that any history fanatic will love: book clubs would gobble this up as well. GREAT book!!!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Could not stick with this one. There was no clear outline, and there was a ton of rambling. I thought at one point, ok, let’s talk Wolsey, but after a few pages of good material, the author moved onto another subject. I couldn’t tell if the goal was to describe the men in Henry’s life chronologically or to describe one man at a time. Either way, it was painful reading although I am very much a Tudor fangirl.

  16. 4 out of 5

    G. Lawrence

    Good approach to the subject, and written well. Interesting

  17. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    The blurb was very promising, but the book did not meet all my expectations. It was a pleasant read, it’s the Tudors after all, but I had hoped for a more comprehensive work. The focus is indeed on the men surrounding Henry, an approach that I found very intriguing. Though interesting, informative and obviously well-researched, I disliked the author's at times too subjective, strongly expressed or oversimplified conclusions. I prefer more historical background information and nuance in a biograph The blurb was very promising, but the book did not meet all my expectations. It was a pleasant read, it’s the Tudors after all, but I had hoped for a more comprehensive work. The focus is indeed on the men surrounding Henry, an approach that I found very intriguing. Though interesting, informative and obviously well-researched, I disliked the author's at times too subjective, strongly expressed or oversimplified conclusions. I prefer more historical background information and nuance in a biography as well as a better clarification of the sources used, with their bias and the agenda of the narrator always clearly kept in mind. The author often quotes from the Spanish Chronicle, which I didn’t much care for since it is considered a rather unreliable source, feeling more like a gossip mag at times. Occasionally, she used sweeping statements herself, without giving a source or the reasoning behind her conclusion. I also feel that the author made far too light of Henry VIII’s religious scruples and his genuine and legitimate concern regarding the importance of an heir for his dynasty and the benefits of a peaceful succession to the nation itself. I don’t mean to imply that he was a stand-up guy, but perspective and nuance are so crucial for any historical research. Well-known aspects of Henry’s life like his being conferred the title of Defender of the Faith for writing his Defense of the Seven Sacraments, his genuine grand passion & love for Anne Boleyn, the reformation of the Church of England etc. are only touched upon in the briefest manner, or even made light of. The women are understandably relegated to the background in this book on Henry and “the men who made him”, the author didn’t stop at shifting focus in this way, however, but went a bit too far the other way, diminishing their actual importance in Henry’s life and their worth as people in their own right. She treats Henry’s wives almost like mere puppets on a string being moved about by the men in their lives and doesn’t give them enough credit for their many qualities like piety, loyalty, intelligence, courage, political acumen and resourcefulness, to name a few. The e-book didn’t have any pictures in it, which really should go hand in hand with a biography. A pity.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    3.5 stars rounded up to 4. This book: "I have therefore focused the narrative upon those men who wielded the greatest influence upon Henry's life, or who illustrate different aspects of his character and reign." Me: "That sounds like a good decision!" This book: "... I will however throw all the names of every man Henry ever employed of even just talked to at you!" Me: "Wait, what?" This book: ":D" See, if you asked me whom the most important male people in Henry VII's life were, I'd have said: Henry 3.5 stars rounded up to 4. This book: "I have therefore focused the narrative upon those men who wielded the greatest influence upon Henry's life, or who illustrate different aspects of his character and reign." Me: "That sounds like a good decision!" This book: "... I will however throw all the names of every man Henry ever employed of even just talked to at you!" Me: "Wait, what?" This book: ":D" See, if you asked me whom the most important male people in Henry VII's life were, I'd have said: Henry VII, Thomas Wolsey, Thomas More, Charles Brandon, Thomas Cromwell and Edward IV. I'm pleased to know that this book mostly agrees, but also ads people like Hand Hohlbein (whom I honestly should have thought of), Thomas Cranmer (same), Will Somers, Norfolk and several others to the mix... but the focus was clearly on three of those: Henry VII (who was actually portrayed as not a tyrant for most of his life for once), Wolsey and Cromwell (both of which I felt the author liked a great deal, while a dislike for Thomas more seemed to seep through). A predictable choice, but a very understandable one. BUT while the main focus was on these men - and Henry VIII of course - I thought the author felt like she still had to cram everything she researched into this book. It was never enough to just mention a person's function like: "and then he talked to his servants about..." and go on with the actually point that was tried to me made. Every man needed to be named and have a sentence or two to himself no matter how unrelevant to the chapter/topic it was. It's a bit of a pity because when there wasn't a list of names for me to go cross eyed over, it was an engaging read. Stick those things into the notes in the end in my opinion! I also thought it would have been better to either leave out some claims that have been brought into doubt or are simply speculation - oddly enough mostly regarding the women, namely Anne Boleyn being a sort of harpy, Jane Parker being jealous of her sister in law and hating her husband and Anne of Cleves physical appearance/smell or go into them further to explain them better (For example how Hohlbein never suffering for drawing that beautiful portrait of Anne of Cleves could mean that it was a pretty accurate portrayal and Henry just went the "She's ugly!" route out of hurt pride). We all appreciate Chapuys, the "weathervane of the Tudor court" (loved that description) for all the tea he spilled in his letters/reports, but we also know he was biased. The book illustrated well how dangerous Henry VIII's court became even for people he professed to love and how scary he could be especially in his latter years. I knew that he had many people who served him executed and not "just" two wives and Cromwell, but I honestly didn't know HOW MANY there were. Why people always schemed for more power all day every day when they had already a considerable amount of it is simply beyond me after reading this book. (Anne of Cleves remains the ultimate winner)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Shoshana

    Over the last few years I have come to rely on Tracy Borman’s books about Tudor England. She is an excellent historian, and has a clear-eyed and fresh approach to this well-traveled subject. In this book we do not spend the majority of our time on Henry’s wives, interesting though they are, nor on his split with Rome, momentous as that was. This book is a look at the men with whom Henry surrounded himself, men great and small, and their influence on the king. Henry was not meant to be king, as th Over the last few years I have come to rely on Tracy Borman’s books about Tudor England. She is an excellent historian, and has a clear-eyed and fresh approach to this well-traveled subject. In this book we do not spend the majority of our time on Henry’s wives, interesting though they are, nor on his split with Rome, momentous as that was. This book is a look at the men with whom Henry surrounded himself, men great and small, and their influence on the king. Henry was not meant to be king, as the second son he was the spare of the “heir and a spare.” He became king after his brother Arthur’s death, upon the death of their father. He was only eighteen, and who knows how this affected his personality? Borman makes the case that it is hard to grapple with Henry as he was so changeable over the course of his life, and she is very persuasive. Notwithstanding his marriages, I have always thought of Henry VIII as, in that old-fashioned phrase, a man’s man. Although much-married, Henry was surrounded by men after he left the nursery, and had them as his friends and mentors. These men ranged from the high-born to the low, and from those in positions of grandeur and power to those of lower estate. The interesting biographies of many of these men, drawn from a number of sources, are fascinating, and for many of them would be even without their connection to the king. I am glad to say that this book is as readable as Borman’s other writings. Without in any way compromising her solid scholarship, “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him” is never dry nor dull which is another mark in her favor. All in all, for anyone interested in Henry, or one of the major figures covered therein, or for anyone interested in the period in general, this is an excellent work to add to one’s interest, and is highly recommended. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    3.5 stars I've always known a fair amount about the women of Henry VIII's life, the Queens who in their own ways helped shape him into the monster he became. But until now I didn't know very much about the men, who probably did more to shape Henry. They jousted, feasted, swayed and convinced him. Back stabbing, conniving and loyal only to themselves for the most part they helped shape Henry into the tyrant he became in his later years This book only really covers the main players, because to inc 3.5 stars I've always known a fair amount about the women of Henry VIII's life, the Queens who in their own ways helped shape him into the monster he became. But until now I didn't know very much about the men, who probably did more to shape Henry. They jousted, feasted, swayed and convinced him. Back stabbing, conniving and loyal only to themselves for the most part they helped shape Henry into the tyrant he became in his later years This book only really covers the main players, because to include all the men would make the story many thousands of pages long, and dilute the message. Some of them such as Cromwell, Wolsey and Cranmer I knew about already but others I didn't know about at all This book was fascinating because it really shed a light on how mercurial Henry could be. One second a companion would be close to his heart and his boon companion the next they would find themselves in the Tower on trumped up charges hoping for a swift death by beheading. I did find it a bit confusing in places, and a bit fragmentary which is why it has received only 3 stars from me

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lissa00

    It is hard to find new history books on Henry VIII that explore any new instances in his life. What this book does different is focus on his male relationships and those that were exploited for power and those that suffered from them with their lives. I am ceaselessly fascinated by the Tudor reign and this book does a great job of exploring the relationships between the men such as Wosley, Cromwell and Cranmer and the mercurial king. I have done quite a bit of reading about the Tudors so am fami It is hard to find new history books on Henry VIII that explore any new instances in his life. What this book does different is focus on his male relationships and those that were exploited for power and those that suffered from them with their lives. I am ceaselessly fascinated by the Tudor reign and this book does a great job of exploring the relationships between the men such as Wosley, Cromwell and Cranmer and the mercurial king. I have done quite a bit of reading about the Tudors so am familiar with most of the players so since the mass quantity of names and title didn’t trip me up, I found this thoroughly enjoyable. I received a digital ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Hill

    Great read, and highly enjoyable! I am not the biggest Henry VIII fan, but this book was fun and well done. It was a hard book to put down! We see Henry VIII as never before - through the male relationships that he had in his life. Most of the time we are focused on the six wives - not the friendships and political acquaintances that would have shaped the young king and molded him as he grew older. Worth a read!

  23. 4 out of 5

    ken

    Quality writing, not a bombardment of dates, and contains the subtle kind of courtly humour that cracks me up (you know, the kind of humour that you have to imagine or read too much into). Endorsed by Alison Weir who’s a leading Tudor historian, I look forward to reading more of Borman’s work. Especially The Private Lives of Tudors.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gladys

    I have read many books on Henry VIII -- all very good, but Ms. Borman's book is exceptional in that she was able to bring new light on Henry VIII through the men that surrounded him. It is the best depiction of how the court function through these men. For those like myself that are fascinated by Henry VIII and his world I highly recommend this book -- every page was fascinating! I have read many books on Henry VIII -- all very good, but Ms. Borman's book is exceptional in that she was able to bring new light on Henry VIII through the men that surrounded him. It is the best depiction of how the court function through these men. For those like myself that are fascinated by Henry VIII and his world I highly recommend this book -- every page was fascinating!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Barb

    Well researched, well written book about a king who for most people is a one dimensional character. I only gave it 3 stars because I thought it was very dry and"facty" in spots. Well researched, well written book about a king who for most people is a one dimensional character. I only gave it 3 stars because I thought it was very dry and"facty" in spots.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rosa

    2.5 stars, rounded up.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Hannio J

    3.5 stars

  28. 5 out of 5

    Helen Carolan

    An excellent read as usual from Ms Borman detailing the men who shaped Henry 8th. Many men passed through his life some more important than others. Statesmen, tutors,friends and his father all played a part in shaping the man and king.Henry in his youth was loyal but as the years passed he became more bullying and suspicious of those around him and his loyalty counted for nothing. This was a man who was happy to demonstrate that he could raise men up, but he could also bring them down again. A f An excellent read as usual from Ms Borman detailing the men who shaped Henry 8th. Many men passed through his life some more important than others. Statesmen, tutors,friends and his father all played a part in shaping the man and king.Henry in his youth was loyal but as the years passed he became more bullying and suspicious of those around him and his loyalty counted for nothing. This was a man who was happy to demonstrate that he could raise men up, but he could also bring them down again. A fascinating read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sam Law

    Read More Book Reviews on my blog It's Good To Read Summary: “Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived” Thus goes the old mantra on how to remember what happened to Henry VIII’s six wives. It is accepted as fact that his marital intrigues were all about begetting a male heir, to bolster and shore up the shaky claim the Tudors had on the throne. Most books on Henry deal with the man’s marital status, but this one is different. The author looks at the king from a viewpoint rarely Read More Book Reviews on my blog It's Good To Read Summary: “Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived” Thus goes the old mantra on how to remember what happened to Henry VIII’s six wives. It is accepted as fact that his marital intrigues were all about begetting a male heir, to bolster and shore up the shaky claim the Tudors had on the throne. Most books on Henry deal with the man’s marital status, but this one is different. The author looks at the king from a viewpoint rarely if ever considered – that of the men who served him, entertained him, fought and died for him, and most of whom were betrayed by him. Main Characters: - Henry VIII: He is the colossus in this book, and is the hub around which the other characters circle. - Thomas Wyatt: The man who introduced the sonnet to England, he was also in and out of favour. He luckily escaped execution along with Anne Boleyn’s lovers. - Charles Brandon: A life-long friend of the king, temporarily under a cloud when he married the King’s sister without permission, but soon restored to favour. Brave, a womaniser, and the King’s equal in jousting. - Thomas Cromwell: A protégé of Wolsey’s, and highly intelligent in his own right. He was bluntly spoken, and had a wit that even his enemies admired. See my summary of Wolf Hall for more detail on this most complex of men. - Cardinal Wolsey: A faithful servant for over twenty years, he fell from favour when he couldn’t arrange the annulment of Henry’s first marriage, and died on his way to trial. Minor Characters: See below. Plot: Henry VII married Elizabeth of York in 1486 to put an end to the War of the Roses, and create peace in a country torn by civil strife. Elizabeth did her duty, and produced a brood of children, among them Arthur and Henry. Arthur was the heir apparent, and from an early age was schooled in all of the kingly arts, and needed skills. Henry was the spare, and was allowed more freedom than Arthur. Arthur married Catherine of Aragon, but died shortly after without producing an heir. He was a frail boy, and he official cause of death was phthisis. Unbeknownst to everyone, this was to spell a lot of trouble for millions of people for centuries afterwards. Henry was thrust into the spotlight as the heir apparent, and being a gregarious youth took to it like a duck to water. He soon surrounded himself with “lusty bachelors”, and though he did seem to have retained a fear of his father (even after the King’s death), he was refused nothing that he asked for. He married Catherine, his brother’s widow, and in time they had only Margaret who survived to adulthood. Henry was highly intelligent, physically impressive, war-like, and was every inch the Renaissance prince. He could speak two or three languages extremely well, and has at his court the likes of Erasmus, John Skelton, Colet, and Hans Holbein, amongst others. He had at his beck and call the nobility of the land, and the sumptuousness of his court had international renown. He also had a coterie of servants drawn from all other ranks of society. It is the story of all these men that makes up this book. His “minions’ (from the French “mignons”) served his every desire. The author believes the monster king was actually very insecure, and why he was relatively easily manipulated (more so earlier in his life, than later when he took more control over affairs of state). This allowed “low born” but highly capable men such as Wolsey to rise in his service, to attain great heights of power and wealth. It seems it also helped to have Thomas as your first name! Thomas More spent many years at court, sometimes precariously so, but survived and in time he headed the list of forty-four charges that were levelled against Wolsely. He of course was firmly Catholic, and resisted all attempts at Reformation. Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, led the Reformation of the English Church, supported Royal Supremacy, but eventually ended as a Protestant martyr in the pyre upon the accession of Mary I (to be covered in “The Burning Time” by Virginia Rounding, which I am reading). Thomas Cawarden, master of revels, his was the responsibility to remind the king of his former glories by arranging masterful displays and pageants, etc. Upon Henry’s death, Cawarden received a generous sum “in token of special love” William Butts was Henry’s personal physician, and I was surprised to learn he served the Tudors for over twenty years. I was also surprised to learn of the potential influence this relatively unknown man had over the king, in particular his religious views which could have prompted Henry towards splitting with the Catholic Church. George Boleyn  was brother to Anne and Mary, both of whom were lovers of Henry. He comes across as arrogant and scheming, he did act as ambassador for Henry, but was ultimately accused of and executed for treason. While many of those who surrounded Henry were bred to it, and took it as their right to have this level of access to the King, Henry did seem to favour those who were somewhat of the outsider [maybe, the author suggests, he saw something of himself in them]. The author likes to give examples of his heretofore unknown kindnesses [e.g. his treatment of his court jester Somer]. What I Liked: - The freshness of this perspective. - The level of research was excellent. - The book was written with a lay reader in mind, so no special knowledge needed of the various characters. The author made an excellent job of keeping the flow seamless. What I Didn’t Like: - The breadth of characters is both a strength and weakness. Some deserved more depth and coverage than others, I think. Overall: The world shows no signs of tiring of all things Tudor, and this is a good book which will stoke interest. It gives an original insight into the very male world of Henry. It does make you think of the huge anxiety levels that must have been so prevalent, as this court was literally a nest of vipers, with constantly shifting loyalties, favours and alliances. Henry’s own fickleness is thrown into greater relief, as we see how callously he treated those around him. He raised people up, and as quickly threw them down, and they were never certain of whether what he asked for was what he really wanted. It is well-researched, and would make a great Christmas stocking filler! Acknowledgements: Thanks to NetGalley for sending me a free copy of this book, in return for an honest and objective review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Clem

    This was a great book about a terrible man. I’m convinced that if Henry VIII would have been a ruler in the twentieth century with bombs and tanks at his disposal, he would have been remembered as more diabolical and evil than Hitler and Stalin combined. Most people know Henry VIII as the king who had “all of those wives”. They then ask “Didn’t he kill them all or something?” Well, not all of them. Anyway, I bring this up because the subtitle of this book “and the men who made him” was probably This was a great book about a terrible man. I’m convinced that if Henry VIII would have been a ruler in the twentieth century with bombs and tanks at his disposal, he would have been remembered as more diabolical and evil than Hitler and Stalin combined. Most people know Henry VIII as the king who had “all of those wives”. They then ask “Didn’t he kill them all or something?” Well, not all of them. Anyway, I bring this up because the subtitle of this book “and the men who made him” was probably added because this book doesn’t mainly focus on the man’s hapless romances. Yes, we read about them, but they don’t take center stage. This book is more about the man’s life as a whole, and there were an awful lot of men in the background making things happen. Most found themselves playing the politics game, frequently switching alliances and many ended up beheaded. Henry VIII was not a fun man to have as your king. He was not the first in line to be crowned. He was the second son of Henry VII. The kingdom was supposed to be passed on to his much more responsible older brother Arthur. As was very common in those days, Arthur died very young and the throne then went to his impulsive irresponsible little brother. We read an awful lot of these early days, which I found very rewarding; perhaps because this was the era that I knew about the least. The biggest problem with Henry VIII is that he was obsessed with producing a male heir, which in effect he was never actually able to do – one that lived anyway. Essentially, one could argue that it was his repeated failures to achieve this goal that essentially turned him into the madman he eventually became. He didn’t produce a son until wife #3, and she died in childbirth (at least he didn’t kill THAT wife). Sadly, his son never lived to maturity either. Then there was the fact that he wanted to divorce his first wife since she couldn’t give him a son (you could argue that the real reason was he had the hots for future wife #2). Since the Pope refused to annul the marriage, Henry basically decided that he (and all of England) would leave the Catholic church and he started his own religion. With himself at the head of it, of course. Side note: This is where the Church of England originated. Well, it just so happened that this was occurring around the same time Martin Luther was seriously questioning the mother church, so a lot of religious squabbling was already going on. I mention all of this, because this was a big factor of Henry VIII’s reign; the fact that there were so many divided loyalties to one of the two sides of the same faith, and many lost their lives during this period due to persecution from one side or the other. And yes, many were put to death by Henry VIII as well. You easily lose track of how many people he had beheaded and/or ended up confined to “The Tower”. There are an awful lot of individuals in these pages, and yes, most are men. Many of the consequential ones ended up dead, and you have to wonder if it really was worth it to be a prominent member of the king’s court. It seems like a place one would want to stay far away from considering the king’s bloodthirsty reputation. It can be a bit confusing trying to keep up with all of the different advisors, distant family members, clergy, rival kings, emperors, allies and adversaries. I kid you not, there are probably at least 50 different people in this book with the first name “Thomas”. The author also refers to some people by their names at times, yet their titles at others. This could be confusing as well. We read about good friend Charles Brandon often early in the book, and at some point he became the Duke of Suffolk. So later in the book, we never read about “Charles Brandon” anymore, yet instead we read about the “Duke of Suffolk”. If your memory isn’t as good as mine, this can cause you to forget who was who, and what everyone’s motivation was as well as with whom they were aligned. It didn’t help that these alliances changed throughout the reign. I don’t blame this on the author though. She did as good of a job as any trying to keep the narrative as straightforward as possible. This was really a very thorough enjoyable account even though the subject matter was rather grim. It makes one feel not quite as bad wherever they may reside in today’s tumultuous world. Yes, there were times in our history far far worse than what is happening today.

Add a review

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

Loading...