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The Last Days of Henry VIII: Conspiracies, Treason, and Heresy at the Court of the Dying Tyrant Paperback – January 1, 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robert Hutchinson is the bestselling author of The Last Days of Henry VIII, Elizabeth s Spymaster, Thomas Cromwell, House of Treason, Young Henry and The Spanish Armada. He lives in England.

Review

'A brilliantly readable account of Henry's last years' SUNDAY TIMES
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753819368
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753819364
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,580,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By P. B. Sharp TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're a Tudor buff, you'll love this book even though it portrays Henry VIII as a monster. Hutchinson believes that Henry was responsible for some 150,000 deaths. Towards the end of his life he was so viciously unpredictable his courtiers must have been in constant fear that they would go next to the block. His severe illness pushed him over the brink of any sense of fair play or decency. He was always a tyrant, however.

What was Henry's illness? There's been 400 years of speculation.

Hutchinson believes along with others including the surgeon Clifford Brewer's "The Death of Kings" (available at Amazon)that Henry did not have syphilis, but varicose ulcers on his legs. Both legs. Syphilis was treated in those days with mercury, and since hundreds of potions Henry was given by his doctors are recorded, mercury would most certainly have been administered. Also, none of Henry's wives or children showed any sign of congenital syphilis. Anyway, when the ulcers healed over,infections resulted underneath the skin, and very likely spread into the bones. The king's physical sufferings played a large role in shaping his behavior towards the end of his life.

Here is one Hutchinson's descriptions of Henry's awful disease: "He is the personification of geriatric decay. One can almost smell the the putrid stench of the rank pus oozing from his ulcers, staining the bandages on his swollen legs. Chapuys [the Spanish ambassador] labelled them 'the worst legs in the world.'"

Henry weighed, according to Hutchinson, 28 stone or 392 pounds. His waist was 54 inches around. Many suits of Henry's armor survive, so his physical proportions are easy to calculate.
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Format: Hardcover
I found Hutchinson's Last Days of Henry VIII to be well written and very readable. Anyone looking for a general overview of this part of Henry's life should be well pleased with the book. The depiction of Henry's dealings with his inner circle and of his funeral are perhaps the most detailed that I have read anywhere. I did feel, however, that the book failed to achieve five stars in that it didn't examine in any depth Henry's relationship with his surviving children - all of whom went on to rule England in their own right. It would have added much value to the book if the author had spent some time discussing how Henry's gargantuan personality shaped those of the rulers who came after him.
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Format: Hardcover
I commenced this book with the view that perhaps Henry VIII was no worse than your average black-hearted monarch of the Middle Ages; that view went up in smoke in the first 50 pages of this fascinating book. Hutchinson has researched well for this book and the bibliography is full of reference to primary documents and quotes at length from them.

In some ways Henry was no worse than some of his scheming, ruthless and murderous Councilors and Government officials, but he bested them all with his acutely developed sense of low cunning, deviousness and intelligence. The book offers a brilliant cross section of the personalities and the dynamics of the rulers and some of the would-be rulers during the last years of Henry's reign.

Henry was a very sick man for the last few years of his life and in great pain and this made him a very dangerous person to be around with his power of life and death over his subjects. His natural qualities of selfishness, ruthlessness and cruelty became even more pronounced as he sunk deeper into pain and ill health and edged towards death.

Hutchinson gives a very good analysis of the effects in England of Henry VIII's break with the Roman Catholic Church and the consequences, some fatal, for his subjects as they tried to deal with the aftermath. The author gives a sad and heart breaking account of some of his executed victims, some are in their teens, some are poor and they all have no hope of a fair trial or hearing under Henry's despotic rule. This book is well worth reading, if only to see how far human rights have advanced; in some countries anyway!
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Format: Hardcover
Henry VIII ruled his kingdom, at least towrd the end of his reign, with low political cunning, and a mixture of tyranny and terror. Even those closest to him at court could never be sure about the long-term stability of their positions. His mind was mercurial, and often changed by the last person with whom he spoke, but the final decision, good or bad, was always his. This is an extremely readable work that takes us through the last years of his life, when life around him became extremely bad, not only because of his natural inclination to incite terror, but the very real physical pain he sufered from various problems with his often abused body. This is a cautionary tale of how absolute power corrupts absolutely, and a fine addition to the lengthy volumes on the Tudors.
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Format: Hardcover
Robert Hutchinson's The Last Days of Henry VIII: Conspiracies, Treason and Heresy at the Court of the Dying Tyrant is something of a mixed bag. On the plus side, it does provide a number of valuable insights into the last years of Henry VIII's reign, particularly with regard to how truly dangerous life in his court was for those around him. Hutchinson draws on an abundance of research, drawing from many contemporary personal accounts so that we actually hear the opinions and observations of those who knew the man intimately (many, as it turned out, to their ultimate misfortune) in their own words:

"It is now no novelty among us to see men slain, hung, drawn, quartered, beheaded. Some for trifling expressions, which were explained or interpreted as having been spoken against the king; others for the Pope's supremacy; some for one thing, some for another."

The book contains a number of detailed accounts of the intrigues and conspiracies that went on in Henry's court, and shows how Henry was in fact the master of the game, constantly keeping the factions in his court off-balance and frequently turning their own plots back on them in publicly humiliating ways. Two of the more telling episodes related deal with plots against Archbishop Thomas Cranmer:

"No one was entirely safe from the devious intrigues at court. Almost certainly encouraged by Gardiner and Sir John Baker, some of the seven conservative canons of Canterbury Cathedral accused Cranmer himself of encouraging heretical sermons within the diocese of Canterbury in 1543. Their complaints and accusations were dispatched to the king. As Henry was rowed upriver on his royal barge one evening, he saw Cranmer standing outside the gates of his palace at Lambeth.
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