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Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England Hardcover – March 6, 2012
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“I feel I’ve been waiting to read this book a long time. It’s a fluent and compelling account of the cost of founding the Tudor dynasty: of a clever, ruthless, enigmatic monarch, a refugee all his early life, king by right of conquest, prepared to harass and frighten his subjects into submission: a man content to be feared and not loved. The level of detail is fascinating and beautifully judged. The book shows what a mistake it is to regard these closing years of the reign simply as a curtain raiser for Henry VIII. I think that, for the first time, a writer has made me feel what contemporaries felt as Henry VII’s reign drew to an end; the relief, the hope, the sudden buoyancy.”
—Hilary Mantel, Author of Wolf Hall
“A wonderful read, as rich in character and drama as Wolf Hall, only shorter and true.”
—John Carey, author of William Golding: The Man Who Wrote Lord of the Flies
“A definitive and accessible account of the reign of Henry VII that will alter our view not just of Henry, but of the country he dominated and corrupted, and of the dynasty he founded.”
—Philippa Gregory, The Guardian (UK)
"As Thomas Penn shows us so vividly in Winter King, the first Tudor monarch is as fascinating as his son and his life story nearly as full of drama and incident."
—Martin Rubin, The Wall Street Journal
"Penn's book presents readers with the world of realpolitik as it was played out in the earliest years of the Tudor dynasty. . . . Here is a skillful reclamation project, an absorbing picture of the oft-overlooked architect behind one of the greatest, most controversial dynasties in English history. . . . Penn's story offers a rich pageant of players — agents and adversaries, courtiers and scholars, thugs and young aristocrats."
—Nick Owchar, Los Angeles Times
“A masterful account of a pivotal moment in English history. In this remarkable debut, Thomas Penn brings to life the reign of Henry VII, a fascinating ruler too long eclipsed by the tyrant he defeated and the famous son who succeeded him.”
—James Shapiro, Professor of English, Columbia University, and author of Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?
“This is an exceptionally stylish literary debut. Henry VII may be the most unlikely person ever to have occupied the throne of England, and his biographers have rarely conveyed just what a weird man he was. Tom Penn does this triumphantly, and in the process manages to place his subject in a vividly-realised landscape. His book should be the first port of call for anyone trying to understand England’s most flagrant usurper since William the Conqueror.”
—Diarmaid MacCulloch, author of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years
"Stunning. . . . This is not a new story—but in Penn's hands, it is a revelation. . . . Penn has pulled off a rare feat: a brilliant and haunting evocation of the Tudor world, with irresistible echoes of the age of fear in which we now live."
—Helen Castor, The Telegraph (UK)
“Winter King offers us the fullest, deepest, most compelling insight into the warped psychology of the Tudor dynasty’s founder to have appeared since [Francis] Bacon wrote.”
—John Guy, Financial Times
“Succeeds brilliantly . . . [a] finely drawn portrait . . . Penn’s deft turn of phrase superbly re-creates the drama and personalities of the court.”
—Tracy Borman, Sunday Times (London)
About the Author
Thomas Penn is publisher of Verso Books, London. He holds a Ph.D. in medieval history from Clare College, Cambridge University and has frequently reviewed books for the Times Literary Supplement.
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In spite of all the details, Penn certainly weaves his research into a most compelling and fascinating personal narrative. Henry Tudor was, in his early life as a claimant to the English throne (notwithstanding the weakness of Henry's claim, as Penn thoroughly demonstrates), a harassed and persecuted figure in the power politics of the Wars of the Roses until the battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 thrust him upon the throne of England. The personal dangers and triumphs of Henry Tudor's early life created a monarch who was both clever and cruel, ruthless and ambitious, suspicious and preoccupied with managing every detail of his regime. All of Henry Tudor's micromanagement was done with a mind to creating a personal legacy along with thwarting and defeating actual and potential opponents. In this process, he transformed the English legal and political system for generations to come, and not necessarily all for the good.
This is both a readable book and a compelling subject worthy for all those interested in English political history.