Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tudors: The History of England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I by Peter Ackroyd (2012)

"Mercy was not a commodity... in which the king traded."  Henry VIII was a tyrant, that's for sure.

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I came into this book not expecting very much.  For one thing, I wasn’t sure how four Tudors – and Jane Grey – could possibly be crammed into one book.  Another thing, there are so many books about the Tudors, fiction and nonfiction, that I just wasn’t sure how I could learn anything new.  I was happily mistaken.  Tudors by Peter Ackroyd was wonderful! 

He does a tremendously good job of “cramming” Henry VIII, Edward VI, Jane Grey, Mary I, and Elizabeth I in one volume.  He skates back and forth over the line between fun pop history (Elizabeth purchased Hungarian horses, and then had their manes and tails died orange) and social history and religious history and political history.  Everyone who is anyone in Tudor times makes an appearance of some sort.  Ackroyd’s tome felt deep for a book that, by its very nature, has to be somewhat shallow (or you’d end up with a 3,000 page book). 


Apparently, this is part of three volume (or more?) series – so I’m going to seek out Foundation, the first in the series and read backwards through time.  


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I came into this book not expecting very much.  For one thing, I wasn’t sure how four Tudors – and Jane Grey – could possibly be crammed into one book.  Another thing, there are so many books about the Tudors, fiction and nonfiction, that I just wasn’t sure how I could learn anything new.  I was happily mistaken.  Tudorsby Peter Ackroyd was wonderful! He is tremendously able to "cram" Henry VIII, Edward VI, Jane Grey, Mary I, and Elizabeth I in one delightfully readable volume.  He skates back and forth over the lines  between fun pop history (Elizabeth purchased Hungarian horses, and then had their manes and tails died orange) and social history and religious history (lots of Reformation history, which is sort of a "duh" statement) and political history (I guess he's skating a figure eight).    Everyone who is anyone in Tudor times makes an appearance of some sort.  Ackroyd’s tome felt deep for a book that, by its very nature, has to be somewhat shallow (or you’d end up with a 3,000 page book). 


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