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The Sisters Of Henry VIII: The Tumultuous Lives Of Margaret Of Scotland And Mary Of France Paperback – December, 2000


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Everyone knows that Henry VIII had six wives. Few people realize, however, that he had two sisters who became queens of Scotland and France, scandalizing their brother and most of Europe in the process. In The Sisters of Henry VIII: The Tumultuous Lives of Margaret of Scotland and Mary of France, Maria Perry presents a history of the frequently overlooked Queens Margaret and Mary, who, like their marriage-happy brother, helped shape the ascending Tudor dynasty and 16th-century England.

Having thoroughly researched libraries in both England and Scotland, the London-based Perry provides a painstakingly detailed portrait of both women, European court life, and political history. She adeptly weaves intricate genealogies, complex lines of succession, and intercourt marital intrigue into her narrative. The inclusion of such detail, however, tends to overwhelm the main narrative, and, consequently, it progresses slowly and frequently lacks linearity and a disciplined focus.

The Sisters of Henry VIII was written for the reader already familiar with early-modern England. The newcomer to the period may by frustrated by her frequent mention--without further explanation--of individuals, places, and events. Similarly, readers anticipating a more psychological portrayal of Queens Margaret and Mary will be disappointed. The strength of Perry's examination lies in the breadth of detail in which she chronicles the day-to-day events of both women and the early-16th-century court life in which they lived. --Bertina Loeffler Sedlack --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Ah, those exciting Tudor times. Sixteenth-century England continues to fascinate scholars and general enthusiasts alike. The kings and queens of the house of Tudor were a colorful lot. Few other royal families in European history could boast such a sequence of strong personalities. Out from the shadow cast over them by their famous brother, Perry pulls two interesting Tudor women: the sisters of Henry VIII. The older one, Margaret, became queen of Scotland, and the younger, Mary, married the king of France. In other histories of the time, mention is usually made of these two women only in passing, as if their places in the big picture of Tudor dynastic history were very small. The full story of their lives is told here for the first time, and in appropriately rich prose. Perry is excellent at dramatizing events as she follows the careers of these two princesses cum queens who, although they made mistakes in their handling of political and personal situations, were vibrant characters, certainly worth reading about. Brad Hooper --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (December 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306809893
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306809897
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,121,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Her research was/is great and very detailed.
C. M. Smith
I suspect that the author was unable to go deeper into her subjects, a criticism made here by others, simply because the historical record doesn't exist.
Debra L. Levin
A great summary of Henry VIII's sisters and helps close the link to James I of England and VI of Scotland.
Margarita G. Panchal

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 45 people found the following review helpful By cyberpiglet on January 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The strength of Maria Perry's joint biography of Mary and Margaret Tudor is that it offers a different perspective on events that are usually seen only through the eyes of their more famous brother. It also conveys a fair amount of information about the early lives of the two sisters, but Perry never seems to be able to view the sisters as individuals or to distance herself from the fact that they were, in fact, the sisters of Henry VIII. For much of the last third of the book, she abandons the sisters entirely to write in great detail about Henry's divorce from Catherine of Aragon. Once in awhile, she'll toss in the opinion that Mary didn't approve of the divorce - but she doesn't back up this supposition with any facts to prove her case. Margaret gets a little better treatment - as mother of the king of Scotland, she was still a political player and perhaps more demanding of Perry's wandering attention - but one never feels that there is any real consideration of what motivated her actions. All in all an uneven presentation of a fascinating subject.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By M. Rudman on August 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
--Because this book, for the most part, except when the author decides to basically abandon a person or issue in it, is loaded with details. If you are interested in the life and times of Henry VIII, his relatives, friends and enemies, then you will likely forgive the author's apologist attitudes toward him (and her seemingly hyper-critical eye, in my view, of his sisters). If you are relatively thick-skinned about writers who do that, weaving their own opinions through the story they are telling, while supposedly presenting historical fact, you will find this book very interesting and fairly absorbing. There are a lot of minute details about banquets, clothes and social behavior, which are a lot of fun to read and know about, again, if you're interested in the first place. Which I am, so I liked this book.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Nelson Aspen on December 29, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As an avid fan of Henrician history, I was so looking forward to reading this work and finding out more about the Tudor king's royal sisters. However, what I found out was a lot of mind-numbing detail about period finances, wardrobe and travel itineraries and very little about the actual personalities of these women.

The only part of this dense little book that comes alive relates to their famous brother's well known escapades, so therefore offers very little new or enlightening information. I'd recommend it for diehard Tudor-philes, only.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Annie on September 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
I was very interested to read this book about the sisters of Henry VIII having become interested in them when reading Jean Plaidy's stories about them. I was very disappointed. The book really is about Henry VIII and a general history of that period. Mostly the author stresses that one does not know the reactions of either Mary or Margaret to certain events. But things are known about them. For instance, Mary's husband Charles, married right after she died. To whom? The book does not mention this. Also, he was not a faithful husband. Why not mention this? Margaret had small pox and was greatly disfigured but where was this fact in the book??
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Debra L. Levin on August 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I didn't know much at all about either of Henry's sisters and I felt that this book provided some interesting details. I suspect that the author was unable to go deeper into her subjects, a criticism made here by others, simply because the historical record doesn't exist. I found the book reasonably satisfying (although I felt it did end somewhat abruptly with little discussion of the sisters' later years -- again, probably a result of the scarcity of historical information).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on May 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
Regrettably, I have to agree with the other negative reviews here. I had been looking forward to reading this for months, but it was not worth the wait. Arid, lacklustre, lacking in narrative drive, it does not do the subject matter any favours.

There are better biographies out there. For example, you'll get a more sparkling account of Charles Brandon's wooing of Mary Tudor from Carolly Erickson's Great Harry. And you'll also get a more gripping account of court life from Alison Weir's Henry VIII: King and Court.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David Hfloyd on January 9, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Everyone knows about the six wives of Henry VIII but the two sisters of Henry are relatively unknown to most readers. These women were queens in their own right and the elder sister Margaret was the grandmother of Mary Queen of Scots.This is a side of Henry's family that is not familar to most history readers. The book is well written and does not spend an inordinate amount of time discussing the relationship between Henry and his sisters,Margaret and Mary. The focus of the book is on their lives and the marriages they were arranged for them in Scotland and France.Henry is shown as a brother who is most interested in the influence and power his sisters play in their roles in their adopted lands and in center of royal power. He is never far from advising them on what to do for the benefit of England and as their all powerful brother.It is not brotherly love just brotherly advise that he offers and that he also enforces on them. His knows his sisters are well placed and wants to make sure that his interests and those of England are reflected in his sisters counsel to their spouses who are the kings of Scotland and France.

The book is well written and keeps the stories of the sisters separate and does not try to interweave these lives. I found the story of Margaret more interesting and turbulent as she was Regent of Scotland and had bouts with the Scottish lords which her grandaughter Mary, Queen of Scots which she would encounter later in the century.Also,her influence on history was greater than her sister Mary who lived briefly in France as Queen for less than three months when her aged husband died and she returned to England to live a fairly unevenful life as wife of Charles Brandon.

I recommend the book to those who want to extend their knowledge of this period and also to understand the nature of arranged marriages of royals from different countries as religious changes were occuring.
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