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The Children of Henry VIII Paperback – July 8, 1997

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Editorial Reviews Review

The royal family may have its problems these days, but as Alison Weir reminds us in this cohesive and impeccably researched book, the nobility of old England could be both loveless and ruthless. Weir, an expert in the period and author of a book on Henry's VIII wives, focuses on the children of Henry VIII who reigned successively after his death in 1547: Edward VI, Mary I ("Bloody Mary") and Elizabeth I. The three shared little--living in separate homes--except for a familial legacy of blood and terror. This is exciting history and fascinating reading about a family of mythic proportions. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The tragedy of four accidental rivals to a throne, three of them children?by different mothers?of a much-married despot, seems to lose none of its drama by frequent retelling. Along with the royal siblings, Weir (The Six Wives of Henry VIII) includes their cousin, the doomed Lady Jane Grey. Guiltless of the intrigues committed in the name of religion, power and property, Queen Jane was forced at 15 to reign for nine days in a futile attempt to block the accession of the fanatically Catholic Princess Mary. The 300 burnings for heresy during the five years Mary ruled were eclipsed statistically by the hangings and beheadings for conspiracy and treachery. In the 11 years between the death of Henry VIII and the survival of his adroit daughter Elizabeth into the succession in 1558, rapacity had at least as much to do with the turbulence and the terror as religion. So many ennobled miscreants grasped for land, loot and legitimacy that readers will need a scorecard to match their names with their new titles. Weir adds nothing fresh to the story, but her sweeping narrative, based on contemporary chronicles, plays out vividly against the colorful backdrop of Tudor England. Illustrations not seen by PW.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st American Trade Pbk. Ed edition (July 8, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345407865
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345407863
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (198 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alison Weir is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Innocent Traitor and The Lady Elizabeth and several historical biographies, including Mistress of the Monarchy, Queen Isabella, Henry VIII, Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Life of Elizabeth I, and The Six Wives of Henry VIII. She lives in Surrey, England with her husband and two children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

109 of 112 people found the following review helpful By Ricky Hunter on December 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
Alison Weir has created another fine addition to her group of histories surrounding the Tudors. The Children of Henry VIII will fit quite nicely between the Wives of Henry VIII and The Life of Elizabeth. This particular volume covers the period from the death of Henry VIII to the beginning of the rule of Elizabeth. It is a wonderful period to study and read about as it covers the reigns of Edward and Mary and the almost reign of Jane Grey (not a child of Henry, of course, but a fine addition to this history). This tumultous period is seen through the eyes of the children themselves and the religion confusion occuring at this time is truly brought to life. Ms. Weir does no disservice to this rich tapestry she is given and in her usual readable and exiciting style brings all of this royal madness directly to the reader. A wonderfully entertaining read. I was sorry when it was over.
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79 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Muncy on January 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
The Children of Henry VIII was a wonderful book. Alison Weir gave accurate historical information while keeping the book on a personal level. She really got in touch with the relationships of Henry VIII's four heirs: Prince Edward, his only son; Princess Mary, his daughter by his first wife Katherine of Aragon; Princess Elizabeth, his daughter by his unfortunate wife Anne Boleyn; and Lady Jane Grey, granddaughter of Henry's sister Mary of France. Not only did the book show the relationships between the heirs, but it showed how they related to and got along with important men and women in the era of British history that took place during the reformation. The devoutly Catholic Mary and her faction was hardly a match for the protestant views of Edward, Elizabeth and Jane. The book also shows how the people of England felt about the changes taking place in their homeland while not leaving out the effects of foreign powers on the decisions of the kings, queens and powerful men in Britain at the time. Overall the book was easy to follow although Alison Weir called the same person by different names on several different occasions which made things a little confusing. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in British royalty, other royalty of the era, Holy Roman Popes of the era, and the reformation.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
A wonderful account of the eventful period between Henry VIII death and Elizabeth I succession. By focussing on the characters, their private lives and motivations, it read like a thriller and awoke a new interest in history for me! N.B. In response to other customer reviewers of this book who commented on its misleading title (as Jane Grey was not Henry VIII daughter) this only occurs with the American edition; my British edition is titled "Children of England; The Heirs of King Henry VIII".
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Cabbit - on September 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is history light, to be sure. A fusion of biography and history may be a more accurate description, but it is an engaging read. The writing is smooth and Weir keeps the story moving right along. She even manages to distinguish individuals sufficiently that it is easy to keep track of who played what role in each of the dramas, plots, and intrigues. That in itself is no small feat when discussing the history of England, given the tendency of English parents to name all of their sons Richard, Edward, or Henry.

This is not a serious piece of history, nor is it intended to serve as a comprehensice biography of any of the four monarchs discussed. it is strictly aimed at the casual reader, and serves that purpose quite well. If you have a casual interest in the era, but don't know much about it, it could serve as a good entry point before going on to more intensive biographies. If you know little more than that Henry VIII married a lot of women and would like to know a little more without getting bogged down in the doings of the various Richards, this is a good place to come. If your looking for intensive scholarship though, you should look else where.

Not everything in the book should be taken as doctrine (not intended as a pun, given the religious conflicts of the time, I just couldn't think of a more elegant way of phrasing it). Weir does have a tendency to rely on dubious sources, which I really wish she wouldn't do, though at least she does warn the reader that they aren't to be entirely trusted. Some times, you get the feeling that she thought the story they told was just too good to be left out even though she knew it wasn't true. Again, if you want a serious scholarly work where the author is too disciplined to give way to that impulse, look else where.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Anne L on June 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
The best quality of Weir's book on the period between Henry VIII's death and Elizabeth's accesion is its quick pace and accessible language. While hardly a "heavy" or "in-depth" work, it will provide most readers with a basic understanding of the personalities and motivations of Edward VI, Mary I, Lady Jane Grey, and Elizabeth I. The Tudors and their times are endlessly fascinating; Weir skillfully transports the royal intrigues and scandals of the sixteenth-century across the centuries. Readers will find that the Tudors make England's present royals look like the Brady Bunch.

My biggest complaint was lack of footnotes. Most of the time, Weir notes the source within the text, and there is an extensive bibliography; however, there are several unreferenced quotations and pieces of information for which I would have liked to know the source. Particularly since many of the diarists and witnesses had deep biases and axes to grind - they could stretch the truth quite a bit. Also, Weir is annoyingly repetive, both in rehashing assessments of individuals and her repitition of several phrases, WORD FOR WORD, several chapters after they first appeared. I admit this is mainly a pet peeve, but I was reading along when I realized the phrase "she was comely rather than handsome" looked suspiciously familiar. Flipping back to find its identical twin, I broke the flow of my reading. This may be more my fault than Alison Weir's, but be aware that once you make acquaintance with a sentence, you may meet it again a hundred pages down the road.

I received this book as a birthday gift from a friend. It was actually a sort of gag gift - my friend and I have a two-year-old debate on the "true" interpretation of the Tudor years.
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