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The Mistresses of Henry VIII Paperback – Bargain Price, May 1, 2010
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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.Read more ›
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great, enlighting book--at times a bit difficult to follow if you try to keep track of each mentioned person. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Smokey
Well written.Everytime I read about 16th century I do learn something.Published 13 months ago by Charli York
This a good book but I am a little put out by of all things how small the print is !! I can read it but it's annoying because it is interesting.Published 16 months ago by christine c.
Not quite finished reading the book, but have only a little left. Interesting how so many of the women Henry was involved with were related to each other and to Henry. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Dead British Authors
This was interesting, nothing new really and it tended to follow the party line, but still interesting and a good quick read for, say, someone who has the flu for a week and really... Read morePublished on January 25, 2014 by Mom I. Ca
While there was some material not normally discussed in this book, I found it an unpleasant read largely because of errors in language and style.Published on December 5, 2012 by mindella1
While the information in this volume seemed to be good, the author leapt about from topic to topic and time to time much too much. Read morePublished on December 1, 2011 by Kimberley
This was interesting because it was history from a very different point of view! There are some very interesting facts about some of the (other side of the bed) descendants from... Read morePublished on July 2, 2010 by Christian Rode