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The Private Life Of Henry VIII: A Biography Of His Six Queens

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Few monarchs have had a private life so public as Henry VIII's. History and contemporary gossip have busied themselves with the stories of his wives. As a result he became not only the first sovereign to be looked on by succeeding generations as a person rather than just a name but also as an unrepentant womanizer. In this new biography, the author shows that this is far Few monarchs have had a private life so public as Henry VIII's. History and contemporary gossip have busied themselves with the stories of his wives. As a result he became not only the first sovereign to be looked on by succeeding generations as a person rather than just a name but also as an unrepentant womanizer. In this new biography, the author shows that this is far from being the whole truth. For almost 20 years, or half his reign, Henry led an almost untroubled married life with his first wife, and foreign diplomats, versed in the ways of continental royalty, found the English court almost Puritan by comparison. When Henry's habit changed, his private affairs were so overlaid by matters of state policy that any judgment attributing romance or lust to his behaviour is suspect.


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Few monarchs have had a private life so public as Henry VIII's. History and contemporary gossip have busied themselves with the stories of his wives. As a result he became not only the first sovereign to be looked on by succeeding generations as a person rather than just a name but also as an unrepentant womanizer. In this new biography, the author shows that this is far Few monarchs have had a private life so public as Henry VIII's. History and contemporary gossip have busied themselves with the stories of his wives. As a result he became not only the first sovereign to be looked on by succeeding generations as a person rather than just a name but also as an unrepentant womanizer. In this new biography, the author shows that this is far from being the whole truth. For almost 20 years, or half his reign, Henry led an almost untroubled married life with his first wife, and foreign diplomats, versed in the ways of continental royalty, found the English court almost Puritan by comparison. When Henry's habit changed, his private affairs were so overlaid by matters of state policy that any judgment attributing romance or lust to his behaviour is suspect.

30 review for The Private Life Of Henry VIII: A Biography Of His Six Queens

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bradley Scott

    A light, chatty survey of the personal life of its subject, unfortunately lacking in source documentation. Brysson Morrison's straightforwardly chronological approach subtly reminds the reader that, for all his infamous late-life whirlwind of divorces and remarriages, Henry VIII actually spent most of his adult life married to one woman, Katherine of Aragon. Her portrayal of his later life suggests that his motives for divorcing Katherine and marrying Anne Boleyn, and all that followed after, we A light, chatty survey of the personal life of its subject, unfortunately lacking in source documentation. Brysson Morrison's straightforwardly chronological approach subtly reminds the reader that, for all his infamous late-life whirlwind of divorces and remarriages, Henry VIII actually spent most of his adult life married to one woman, Katherine of Aragon. Her portrayal of his later life suggests that his motives for divorcing Katherine and marrying Anne Boleyn, and all that followed after, were more complicated than simple lechery or the desire for a male heir. The book's attention to Henry's contentious interactions with his fellow monarchs in France and Spain will shed new light on his personality for readers who have previously learned only of his late-life domestic turmoil. However, important English political figures like Cromwell and More seem to merely float in and out of the narrative with little background and even less attention to their lives outside of their immediate interactions with Henry and his domestic circle. The story ends, so far as this book is concerned, with Henry's death, and there is no followup regarding the complicated consequences of his life and decisions. A pleasantly readable survey of its subject, but should probably be supplemented with more recent and in-depth sources.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    Written in the 60s, it's out-of-date in many ways. Conventional wisdom has shifted, there are new theories, new interpretations, and even new facts have come to light since. Not a bad introduction to the wives, even if Katherine Parr has the weakest presence. (and in the interests of full disclosure, I have admit I'm team Boleyn for the most part, and this is old-school "Anne may have actually been guilty, but even if she wasn't, she was a mean, vicious woman and it was all her fault Henry became Written in the 60s, it's out-of-date in many ways. Conventional wisdom has shifted, there are new theories, new interpretations, and even new facts have come to light since. Not a bad introduction to the wives, even if Katherine Parr has the weakest presence. (and in the interests of full disclosure, I have admit I'm team Boleyn for the most part, and this is old-school "Anne may have actually been guilty, but even if she wasn't, she was a mean, vicious woman and it was all her fault Henry became a tyrant!" Which is mostly not true, especially in regards to her influence on Henry's disposition.)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Janet Wertman

    Read it ages ago and thought it authoritative - but in glancing through it now, two things really bother me. First, Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn consume 180 pages of the book while the other four wives have to share the last 66 pages - that shows where her real interest lies! Second, I happened to notice a glaring error in those 66 pages: the claim that Anne of Cleves was 34 when she married Henry (she was 24). Still, I enjoyed it. if you're looking for a good read about the Katherine/Ann Read it ages ago and thought it authoritative - but in glancing through it now, two things really bother me. First, Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn consume 180 pages of the book while the other four wives have to share the last 66 pages - that shows where her real interest lies! Second, I happened to notice a glaring error in those 66 pages: the claim that Anne of Cleves was 34 when she married Henry (she was 24). Still, I enjoyed it. if you're looking for a good read about the Katherine/Anne days, it's a fine choice.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Victor

    This was a decent book, but I would have liked to have been able to read more details about some of the battles that King Henry VIII was in before the situation concerning his marriages. Yes, some would say that his marriages are what made him such a popular figure, but I have read about those, and am now looking for other details. Still, the information here about Anne Boleyn is quite interesting. I did feel like I learned much more about the personality of King Henry VIII than before reading t This was a decent book, but I would have liked to have been able to read more details about some of the battles that King Henry VIII was in before the situation concerning his marriages. Yes, some would say that his marriages are what made him such a popular figure, but I have read about those, and am now looking for other details. Still, the information here about Anne Boleyn is quite interesting. I did feel like I learned much more about the personality of King Henry VIII than before reading this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kristin Sinclair

    I love this book. It was the very first book on Henry VIII I ever read, and it was the spark that lit my passion for the Tudor period. I first read it as a child, and it has remained as a part of my library up until the present day. The pages are now brown, and the cover is missing, but I still treasure it as much now as I did when I first read it. My emotional attachment to the book aside, it is also extremely informative and a very easy read. I highly recommend it, particularly for those who h I love this book. It was the very first book on Henry VIII I ever read, and it was the spark that lit my passion for the Tudor period. I first read it as a child, and it has remained as a part of my library up until the present day. The pages are now brown, and the cover is missing, but I still treasure it as much now as I did when I first read it. My emotional attachment to the book aside, it is also extremely informative and a very easy read. I highly recommend it, particularly for those who have not previously read much on Henry VIII.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    A bit slow, but still interesting and informative. You'll enjoy the book if you enjoy studying this period in history. A bit slow, but still interesting and informative. You'll enjoy the book if you enjoy studying this period in history.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Arlene Allen

    Another lifelong obsession. When I toured the Tower of London the first time, this little American girl was able to correct her tour guide on matters of the wives.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nisha

    nothing new here...informative for a Tudor beginner

  9. 5 out of 5

    Carol Cole

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jess

  11. 4 out of 5

    HalKid2

  12. 5 out of 5

    Heather

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

  14. 4 out of 5

    Girl From the North Country

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kiri

  16. 4 out of 5

    Karen

  17. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    This answered alot of questions I had about him. It's a great book! This answered alot of questions I had about him. It's a great book!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rhianny Munro

  19. 5 out of 5

    Monique

  20. 5 out of 5

    Shawna McKinnis

  21. 5 out of 5

    Orinshi

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joanne Baines

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kristi

  24. 5 out of 5

    Julie Defilippi

  25. 5 out of 5

    Julie

  26. 4 out of 5

    ``Laurie

  27. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Zeidl

  28. 5 out of 5

    Denise

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lori Seppala

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