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The Mistresses of Henry VIII Paperback – Bargain Price, May 1, 2010

4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Provides an excellent insight into the love life of one of our most popular kings, and the 12 women who knew the man behind the mask."  —Majesty magazine
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Kelly Hart is a historian, author, and teacher, specializing in the women of the Tudor period.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press (May 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 075245496X
  • ASIN: B005DIDKHO
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,790,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rebecca Huston on June 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Of late, what with the quinticentennial of the coronation of Henry VIII, King of England, there has been an influx of new histories and novels about this notorious king and his many wives. One title that stood out for me was Kelly Hart's multiple biography about the rather shadowy women that were the king's other women.

The Mistresses of Henry VIII takes a look at not just the three ladies-in-waiting that the king made first his mistresses and later his queens, but also those women who entertained him, but never acquired the status of queen. Some were mothers or possible mothers of his illegitimate children, others were there to entertain or amuse him.

Not only does Hart explore the three women who were rumoured to be the king's mistresses before he married them -- Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour and Catherine Howard -- but those whom he did not marry. At least one of them gave him a living child -- and male to boot -- Bessie Blount -- but the other was Mary Boleyn, Anne's elder sister, who may have borne him two children as well, another son and a daughter. But there were more mistresses in Henry VIII's life, including various women of the court. And this is where it gets interesting.

For sexual mores of the time had particular ideas about what was proper in a marriage when a wife was pregnant. Sex during pregnancy was considered to be harmful to both the fetus and mother, and of course, since conception had already occurred, this was sex for pleasure's sake, a big no-no when it came to the Church's teachings. And Henry, being virile and not used to abstaining in just about anything, took mistresses to fill the sexual void when his wives were pregnant.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a true Tudorphile, I was eager to lay my hands on a new book. Sadly, very little of this is new.

This book is, at best, a condensed version of hundreds of other books, and what is new is mostly speculative. He "may have" had a relationship with this woman, or that woman; he "may have" considered this woman or that one was a potential wife. "He may have," "might have," "though of," etc. When you're writing a non-fiction book, it's important to have facts, and not speculate. If there are no facts or documentation, then really, how do you write a speculative non-fiction book?

By no means do I defend Henry's honor. He had none. He was an lecher with a major "divine right" complex who felt anything he though or did must have been ordained by God. But he wasn't the kind of person to sneak around, and he did marry a very high number of the women he sought--of his six wives, only Anne of Cleves was a political match, and the rest of his wives were his choice.

This isn't a bad book, it's just not fresh. And it doesn't really shed any light on anything you haven't read or couldn't read elsewhere. The book is adequate. And only that.
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Format: Paperback
Kelly Hart's first book could have used a good editor. Her writing style is obscure, repetitious, and confusing and there are grammatical and historical errors ("exasperated the situation" should be "Exacerbated", and Mary Shelton is described as being a lady-in-waiting to MARY Boleyn--an appalling lapse, here). A competent editor could have polished the gems in this book and eliminated the numerous sections where information is repeated, and repeated again.
There is new information here. Other books mentioned "Madge" Shelton as a royal mistress; Ms. Hart corrects this to "Mary" and we may see the splendid Holbein portrait of one of Henry's paramours, a very interesting woman.
But Ms. Hart should issue a second edition with some emendations and corrections.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'd have to say that this, so far, is my favorite Tudor History book, and I have read many. It keeps the interest, and has many facts that I have never seen touched upon before regarding Henry VIII's love life & loves. You get the feeling of a more updated fresh literary style of writing with this new book too. You won't regret buying this one. I can't wait until Kelly Hart's next book! If you have never delved into Tudor history before and don't know of the characters she's speaking of, you may not enjoy it until reading a book with general info about the Tudor age & Tudor royalty first.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've had this book on my wish list FOREVER. I've waited well over a year for this to be made into a Kindle book, and nearly fell out of my chair when I noticed it finally was. While I didn't learn anything new about Henry, this was still an enjoyable read. Ms. Hart gives the backgrounds of every mistress Henry is thought to have had, from the well know ones such as Bessie Blount, to the lesser know mistresses like Elizabeth Carew and Jane Poppincourt.

There were some parts of this book that dragged on a bit, but for the most part is was very well written and organized. The author sticks to her focus, which is the mistresses. She doesn't get sidetracked by spending too much time on the wives (save for the three who started out as mistresses) or the polices of Henry's court...this book is mainly about his lovers.

If you're not already familiar with the story of Henry VIII and the background of the main women in his life, you may want to skip this book, or read up on Henry and company a bit before tackling it. There are so many players, and many of the women have the same name (Anne, Katherine, Mary, Elizabeth) that a novice would probably become confused rather quickly. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am glad I finally got the chance to read it.
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