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Tudors: The History of England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I Hardcover – October 8, 2013
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*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
“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
Top customer reviews
The Tutors are fascinating, if brutal, rulers, and Ackroyd brings them all to life, along with their supporting cast, which includes the six queens of Henry VIII and councillors such as Thomas More and Robert Cecil, among many others. As always, Ackroyd's prose is lively and accessible, and his insights are spot on.
Ackroyd focuses quite closely on the Protestant Reformation that was taking place throughout the period. It is certainly necessary to do so, but Ackroyd delves so deep on specific matters that it can grow tedious.
But make no mistake. This is an entertaining and enjoyable book on that famous family who ruled England for nearly a century.
fascinating history of the Tudor family of kings and of course Mary and Elizabeth, Queens, of England. The author seems to have a fascination for this era, and so will you when you read this book and others he has written about England.. You will learn how much progress England made under Queen Elizabeth.
We know a bit about Henry VIII, but you can learn a lot more in this book. I got a different understanding of Henry VIII and why he felt compelled to do away with wives who could not provide an heir for him. Women did not rule England. He needed a male heir. At the same time, the country was jockeying between Catholicism and Protestant belief, with much blood flowing on each side. Mr. Ackroyd explains all of this to us, and helps us to understand the characters and how their religious beliefs ruled what they did. I recommend this book.