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Henry VIII: The King and His Court + The Six Wives of Henry VIII + The Children of Henry VIII
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Product Details

  • Series: Ballantine Reader's Circle
  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (October 29, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034543708X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345437082
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Contemporary observers described the young king in glowing terms. At over six feet tall, with rich auburn hair, clear skin, and a slender waist, he was, to many, "the handsomest prince ever seen." From this starting point in Henry VIII, the King and His Court, biographer extraordinare Alison Weir reveals a Henry VIII far different from the obese, turkey-leg gnawing, womanizing tyrant who has gone down in history. Henry embodied the Renaissance ideal of a man of many talents--musician, composer, linguist, scholar, sportsman, warrior--indeed, the Dutch humanist Erasmus (not a man inclined to flattery) declared him a "universal genius." In scholarly yet readable style, Weir brings Henry and his court to life in meticulous, but never tedious, detail. Weir describes everything from courtly fashions to political factions and elaborate meals to tournament etiquette. Along the way she offers up charming--if all too brief--glimpses of Henry's court: tiny Princess Mary, still a very young girl, at her betrothal ceremony saying to the proxy, "Are you the Dauphin of France? If you are, I want to kiss you"; Henry weeping with joy as he held his long-awaited son and heir for the first time; Henry showing off his legs to the Venetian ambassador ("Look here! I have also a good calf to my leg"); Henry's courtiers dressing in heavily padded clothes to emulate--and flatter--their increasingly stout monarch. She also reveals some surprises, for example, that Henry and Katherine were still hunting together as late as 1530, even though Henry was desperately trying to have their marriage annulled. Weir also describes surprisingly happier times in their relationship; Henry loved to dress up in costume, and "was especially fond of bursting in upon Queen Katherine and her ladies in the Queen's Chambers.... Henry took a boyish delight in these disguisings and Katherine seemingly never tired of feigning astonishment that it was her husband who had surprised her." Henry's queens receive relatively little attention here (for them, see Weir's excellent Six Wives of Henry VIII), but this book is fascinating and a joy to read. Alison Weir has done it again. --Sunny Delaney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In a succession of books on medieval and early modern monarchs, Weir has established her credentials as one of the most evocative of popular historians. In Eleanor of Aquitaine (which will be reissued in paperback to tie in with this publication), she brushed aside a forest of scholarly debate in favor of fully rounded human portraits. She now turns to the colossal figure of Henry VIII, aspiring chivalric hero and accidental spearhead of the Reformation. In the age's luxurious ceremony, Weir is thoroughly in her element. She revels in the Field of Cloth of Gold, an elaborate showpiece where Henry met his French counterpart; in the zesty supporting cast; and even in the less appetizing duties of the Groom of the Stool. Henry's passions were many and charming: his beloved dogs Cut and Ball were evidently so prone to getting lost that he would pay some œ225 to their finder. Weir's fondness for her character has its difficulties. While admitting that the king proved to be "an imperious and dangerous autocrat who became mesmerised by his own legend," she too is seduced by the myth. Given to romantic hyperbole, she concludes with the largely unsupported sentiment that Henry "excelled all who ever wore a crown"; chalk up another victory for his propagandists. Other problematic characters, like Thomas More ("calm, kind, witty and wise"), are also let off lightly. Still, Weir's nose for detail, her sharpness of eye and her sympathetic touch make this a feast for the senses. (May 1)Forecast: Weir always gets excellent reviews, and Ballantine says there are 500,000 copies of her books in print, and yet she hasn't broken out big-time. Her choice of subject here may make this the one. It is a dual main selection of BOMC, as well as a selection of the Literary Guild, the History Book Club and QPB.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#78 in Books > History
#78 in Books > History

Customer Reviews

And, after 200 pages or so, the book starts to come together and becomes more of a straighforward biography.
Bruce Loveitt
As with all Alison Weir's books, this one was very well researched, well-written, attentive to detail, easy to read, and very, very enjoyable.
C. Ash
I like history and I found many of the details in this book very revealing and the entire story of Henry VIII and his court interesting.
Joanne T. Whittemore

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

120 of 125 people found the following review helpful By Joelline on February 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Unlike some of the reviewers, I have been disappointed in some of Ms. Weir's books (especially those dealing with Richard III, where she skews the facts to fit her prejudice). But this one is a gem. WARNING: It is NOT a biography of Henry VIII (nor does it claim to be). It is a wonderful portrait of a court and an age. If the details of everyday life enchant you, you will love this book: you'll learn what Henry's court ate, drank, wore; how they ate, how they drank, and when they wore what! You'll get details about the various royal (and non-royal) residences that are very difficult to find elsewhere: how they were furnished, financed, run, used. And this time, Weir is scrupulous in citing her sources and in using them well. Where there are disputed facts, she indicates this. When she is hypothesizing, she indicates this as well. It is true that she appears to be quite fond of old Henry, but not as he became. Rather, I think, she admires the potential that was in the young king, the goodness, basic decency that could have made him England's best (if not greatest) king. The potential for selfishness, greed, paranoia, and self-delusion was also there--unfortunately, the bad side won! After reading Weir's book, I now share both Weir's semi-nostalgic admiration and her regret.
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57 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Loveitt on October 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
If you are in the market for a personal, rather than a political, history of Henry VIII, this is the book for you. Even better, and as promised in the title, the book is not just about Henry. You get plenty of information on all six wives, including such tidbits as Katherine Parr's shoe fetish (she had 47 pairs of shoes made in one year- Imelda Marcos, move over!); the presence of aristocratic "cloth holders" in Anne Boleyn's retinue (these ladies would hold cloths in front of Anne's face at strategic moments, such as when Anne needed to spit!); and Anne of Cleves's disagreeable body odor (Henry was eager to meet Anne after he saw the wonderful portrait Hans Holbein had done of her. Unfortunately, when Henry saw Anne in person he was greatly disappointed. And, being a very clean and fastidious fellow, he was even more "turned off" when he got "downwind" of Anne.)
The book seems a bit choppy in the early stages. The chapters are very brief and you seem to be tossed about from one topic to another- the various castles;how they were decorated; the strategic and logistical difficulties of going "on progress"; the quantities and types of food served to the King and his minions; etc. But, even though there doesn't seem to be much of a narrative in the early going, the material is fascinating in and of itself. And, after 200 pages or so, the book starts to come together and becomes more of a straighforward biography.
If you are looking for more of a political/military biography this is most likely not going to be your cup of tea.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Sharryl I. Norris on April 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is the second book I've read by Allison Weir. I found it much more readable than Elizabeth I. I enjoy detail, as so many "traditional" texts leave this out; therefore, it was a delight to feast on the life and times of Henry VIII. If anything, I do wish Weir had discussed the foreign policy of Henry to some extent--other than the "Eighth Wonder of the World," you learned little. I kept reminding myself that this was primarily a book about court life, whereupon my enjoyment returned. Many reviews I've read criticize Weir for all the details in her books. Perhaps I am more "curious" than most. I actually got on the Internet and ran a conversion table on some of the court costs she included. I am confident that Weir is a consummate researcher. I believe what she says about the Tudors to be accurate and well thought out. I have just ordered her book on the Children of Henry VIII, and look forward to receiving it shortly. In my opinion, she is the primary researcher of the Tudor monarchy.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By David Robinson on September 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
As the published reviews have said, this book is what it is: A detailed (even exhaustive) narrative of life at the court of Henry VIII, but it leaves the reader wondering. Weir makes sense of Henry's successive marriages, and gives great detail into the social behavior of the time. She achieves some depth in discussing religion--Henry broke with Rome, but wasn't really much of a Protestant, it turns out. While the internal power struggles of the courtiers are interestingly narrated, the overall political picture remains a mystery. Henry invades France, Henry makes peace with France, he goes to war again--why? In sum, a rollicking beach book, but not for serious study.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Megan on July 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
As Alison Weir is one of my favourite authors, I was very excited to run out and buy this book. However, I was a little disapointed when I actually read it. Weir seems to recycle much of her information from other books that she has written, mainly "The Six Wives" and "The Children" of Henry VIII.
Despite my disapointment, I gave this book 4 stars because if I had read neither of those books, I think I would have really enjoyed this one. As with all of Weir's books, it is chock full of information and extremely well written. Despite all the details, it is never boring. There is SOME new information in here, but I don't think that there is enough to merit a whole separate book.
If you have never read Weir, or are looking for a very good intro to life at a Tudor court, then this book is definately worth reading and I wholeheartedly recomend it. If you are already an old hand at Henry et. al., then you might want to skip this one and move on to another of Weir's books.
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