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The King is Dead Hardcover – 2012
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I was impressed by the enormous amount of primary sources that Lipscomb drew from when writing this book. Not only does she use Henry VIII’s will but she also draws from privy council meeting records, personal letters and other valuable primary sources to form the foundations of her work. Lipscomb’s exploration of Henry VIII’s will is extraordinarily researched and brilliantly written. While the events surrounding Henry VIII’s death, the writing of his will and the succession of his son Edward can be quite complicated, Lipscomb details these events in a fluent and easy to read manner.
Lipscomb also does a marvellous job of refuting the claims that Henry VIII’s will was tampered with and altered after his death. Using primary sources, including letters written by courtiers, Lipscomb examines the process of how Henry VIII’s will was written and the events that transpired afterward. This was fascinating to read as many leading historians have claimed, based upon little evidence, that several members of the Privy Council altered the King’s will to advance themselves. While these men certainly were bettered in title, position and wealth, there is no evidence to suggest that they did this by means of physically changing the late King’s will. In fact it seems as though these men were able to further themselves but taking advantage a single clause that Henry VIII had included in his will.
While reading about Henry VIII’s will I was also able to learn a great deal about the men and women around the King and the various roles they played in the succession of Henry VIII’s son. Within the book there are an impressive range of portraits and paintings of the people Lipscomb describes and this helps to put faces to names and provides the reader with further detail.
Lipscomb’s book is also visually stunning. The cover design harks back to a medieval manuscript with beautiful illuminations, gothic style script and bolded letters magnificently illuminated in the colour gold. This is not simply a book to read and put on the bookshelf, it is a book to be displayed.
The King is Dead is a beautifully presented, well written book which documents and explores Henry VIII’s will, the events surrounding his death and the succession of his son; as well as detailing the plans the King set out for in the years following his death. Lipscomb uses a wealth of primary sources as evidence and writes in an extremely engaging manner. I thoroughly enjoyed Suzannah Lipscomb’s book and would strongly recommend it to anyone interested Henry VIII or in fact anyone interested in learning more about a vital moment in history!