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
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