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Tudors: The History of England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I Hardcover – October 8, 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 118 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the History of England Series

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  • Tudors: The History of England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I
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  • Rebellion: The History of England from James I to the Glorious Revolution
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  • Foundation: The History of England from Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The Tudor era was pivotal in English history and remains of perennial interest to the general reader. Ackroyd takes on this much-written-about family history in his new, highly engaging book. His bona fides as an author to trust and enjoy rest on many well-appreciated nonfiction titles, including London: The Biography (2001), and compelling novels, among them Chatterton (1987), a historical novel about poet Thomas Chatterton (1752–70). Ackroyd’s primary interest here is how the reformation of the English church came about. From the time when Henry VIII’s desperation over the lack of a male heir compelled him to set aside his first queen, Catherine of Aragon, to when his second wife Anne Boleyn’s daughter, the glorious Elizabeth I, died after a long, complicated reign that nevertheless brought peace to the land, Ackroyd presents in rich prose and careful explanations how the English Reformation was not a movement of the people but a personal project of King Henry, who, Ackroyd insists, remained, despite his removal of papal authority over the English church, an orthodox Catholic. Under his immediate heir, the boy-king Edward VI, England veered sharply Protestant, but Edward’s elder sister, Mary I, during her brief occupancy of the throne, forced England back to full Catholicism. The genius of the next and last of Henry VIII’s children, Elizabeth I, was to establish a middle course between these two extremes. --Brad Hooper

Review

“Peter Ackroyd's love of his subject shines through every page. This is a thrilling story that will delight readers interested in this period.” ―San Francisco Book Review

“While the author focuses on the politics of religious change, this is an accessible account, made even more so by anecdotes revealing the personalities of the main characters (e.g., Henry VIII became so obese that his bed had to be enlarged to a width of seven feet, and Mary Stuart wore crimson underclothes at her execution in 1587).” ―Publishers Weekly

“A solid multivolume popular history: readable, entirely nonrevisionist and preoccupied by politics, religion and monarchs--a worthy rival to Winston Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Highly engaging…. Ackroyd presents in rich prose and careful explanations how the English Reformation was not a movement of the people but a personal project of King Henry.” ―Booklist (starred review)

“Peter Ackroyd is energetic and gifted enough to have mastered his sources and produced a sparklingly fresh account of Tudor England. ...Ackroyd has a wonderful eye for the telling detail, cameos that stick in the mind. ... If you want a finely written, racy account of the monster Henry VIII and his brood, a history book that really fires your imagination and is often so exciting that you cannot put it down, you should get this book.” ―The Weekly Standard

“Ackroyd presents the Tudors in a way frequently overlooked by other popular histories and novels, depicting them as a force that continues to affect both English and international societies today, rather than as an early-modern soap opera. … Each player in this real-life historical drama is clearly drawn, their major contributions and connections made apparent without losing the thread of the overall themes. Tudors takes a comprehensive approach to early-modern English history that is rarely attempted, but is, in Ackroyd's hands, a success.” ―Shelf Awareness

“Ackroyd's thoroughly researched narrative of the notorious Tudors is colorful, engaging, and highly accessible to general readers.” ―Choice

“Ackroyd writes with such lightly worn erudition and a deceptive ease that he never fails to engage.” ―The Telegraph (UK)

“Superbly accessible and readable.” ―The Financial Times (UK)

“Ackroyd clearly relishes the wicked glamour of the family which presided over the Reformation, saw off the Spanish Armada, founded the British Empire and left the country they ruled a great European power . . . Fluent and colorful.” ―Sunday Express (UK)

“As so often in Ackroyd's books there are irresistible small details of everyday life in historic London.” ―Daily Express (UK)

“Ackroyd's information concerning Cromwell provokes a different reaction from that gained by reading Hilary Mantel. . . . This is a fascinating read, an accessible history where the immense research is wittily presented and where the ideas are profound and moving.” ―Newtown Review of Books

“[Ackroyd] has a matchless sense of place, and of the transformations of place across long stretches of time; he is also an inventive and playful English stylist.” ―Standpoint (UK)

“Relaxed, unpretentious, and accessible.” ―The New York Times Book Review on Foundation

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Product Details

  • Series: The History of England (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition edition (October 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250003628
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250003621
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.6 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As a preliminary matter, I'll admit it: my appetite for Tudors dynasty vehicles is more or less bottomless. Whether it's historical esoterica or or a popularly accessible review of the monarchs' lives and reigns --- whatever the quality of the story based on their lives in whichever medium you please -- I always have room to try one more. So, I am easy to please and difficult to impress with a real breadth of past exposure to presentations on this topic. Hopefully, my comparative knowledge can help some of you comparative Tudor amateurs decide if this latest food for my frenzy is worth the investment of your time.

To sum up my thoughts on Tudors by Peter Ackroyd, which is apparently part of a series surveying English history, I'd say that's it's a uniquely valuable addition to popularly available history on the Tudor monarchs due to the superlative caliber of writing as well as the number of truly interesting historical arguments the author advances.

Ackroyd tells a seamless story, which is no small feat given the book's considerable length and the even more considerable range of information to select for inclusion in his discussion. The sheer fluidity of his prose is striking, and by that I mean it was so unique in its smoothness that I felt like I was being hit over the head with it beginning on the very first page -- no kidding! The history detailed is likely to slide easily into the reader's mind and lodge itself there without too much concentration on his or her own part given the author's narrative power. This is the opposite of a dry examination of the past by a stuffy academic type who cannot translate his or her insights for an amateur audience with ease. Unsurprisingly, it turns out Peter Ackroyd is not strictly oriented to history in his Humanities scholarship.
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Format: Hardcover
Peter Ackroyd is one of Great Britain's most prolific authors. Ackroyd is presently at work on a history of England. "Tudors" is volume two. In nearly five hundred lively pages the author paints a portrait of the colorful family from Wales that ruled England from 1485 until the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. It was a bloody age dominated by religious controversy and persecution. The book covers the reigns of:
Henry VII-Henry ended the War of the Roses when he defeated Richard III the Yorkist king at the battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.
Henry VIII-The rotund king who wed six times; beheaded and burned many enemies and transformed England from a Roman Catholic to an Anglican nation. He ruled from 1509-47. Ackroyd discusses Henry's wives and his conversion to an anti-papal ruler who broke with Pope Clement VII.
Edward VI-The boy king was committed to the Protestant cause but died young. His reign was from 1547-53.
Jane Grey reigned for only nine days before being beheaded . She represented the Protestant cause.
Mary I-(1553-58) Bloody Mary was a devoted Roman Catholic who was the daughter of Henry VIII's first wife the Spaniard Catherine of Aragon. Mary was the first reigning Queen of England. During her reign over three hundred Protestants were burned at the stake earning her the nickname of "Bloody Mary." She wed Phillip II of Spain and died childless.
Elizabeth I (1558-16-3) The Virgin Queen was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth was a Protestant who presided over the first secular state in British history. During her reign the might of Spain was crushed when the Spanish Armada was soundly defeated in 1588. Elizabeth signed the death warrant for Mary Queen of Scots in 1587 ended Roman Catholic hopes to restore the old faith to the English crown.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very good history of the Tudors. I bought his Rebellion: The History of England from James I to the Glorious Revolution before this book, so I have things out of order as it were, but it doesn't matter; whatever he writes can stand on its own. I was impressed with Rebellion and decided to buy this book, and I feel like it is even better, so now I have Foundation: The History of England from Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors on the shelf waiting next.

He writes so well. You never feel like you are bogging down into irrelevant details but what details that are provided help you understand the period, but this book takes you way beyond an English king that was known to chop a head off, even if that head was his wife's, and explains the significance in a broader picture of why his period is so important in the history of our civilization.

Henry VIII was consumed with having a male heir. When he married his deceased brother's wife, Katherine of Aragon just before his eighteenth birthday, the plan was that she would provide him a son. She failed. She gave birth to a daughter, Mary, Henry began to have thoughts of ditching her as he already had his eyes on Anne Boleyn, and so began his quest to obtain from the pope an annulment of the marriage. To keep it short, he was able to marry Anne and she gave him a daughter, Elizabeth, but not a son. So he had her head chopped off because of reports of adultery and went on to marry again. Jayne Seymour did give him a son, Edward VI. She died just a few days after childbirth.
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