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The Children of Henry VIII

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Behind the facade of politics and pageantry at the Tudor court, there was a family drama. Nothing drove Henry VIII, England's wealthiest and most powerful king, more than producing a legitimate male heir and so perpetuating his dynasty. To that end, he married six wives, became the subject of the most notorious divorce case of the sixteenth century, and broke with the pope, Behind the facade of politics and pageantry at the Tudor court, there was a family drama. Nothing drove Henry VIII, England's wealthiest and most powerful king, more than producing a legitimate male heir and so perpetuating his dynasty. To that end, he married six wives, became the subject of the most notorious divorce case of the sixteenth century, and broke with the pope, all in an age of international competition and warfare, social unrest and growing religious intolerance and discord. Henry fathered four living children, each by a different mother. Their interrelationships were often scarred by jealously, mutual distrust, sibling rivalry, even hatred. Possessed of quick wits and strong wills, their characters were defined partly by the educations they received, and partly by events over which they had no control. Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond, although recognized as the king's son, could never forget his illegitimacy. Edward died while still in his teens, desperately plotting to exclude his half-sisters from the throne. Mary's world was shattered by her mother's divorce and her own unhappy marriage. Elizabeth was the most successful, but also the luckiest. Even so, she lived with the knowledge that her father had ordered her mother's execution, was often in fear of her own life, and could never marry the one man she truly loved. Henry's children idolized their father, even if they differed radically over how to perpetuate his legacy. To tell their stories, John Guy returns to the archives, drawing on a vast array of contemporary records, personal letters, and first-hand accounts.


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Behind the facade of politics and pageantry at the Tudor court, there was a family drama. Nothing drove Henry VIII, England's wealthiest and most powerful king, more than producing a legitimate male heir and so perpetuating his dynasty. To that end, he married six wives, became the subject of the most notorious divorce case of the sixteenth century, and broke with the pope, Behind the facade of politics and pageantry at the Tudor court, there was a family drama. Nothing drove Henry VIII, England's wealthiest and most powerful king, more than producing a legitimate male heir and so perpetuating his dynasty. To that end, he married six wives, became the subject of the most notorious divorce case of the sixteenth century, and broke with the pope, all in an age of international competition and warfare, social unrest and growing religious intolerance and discord. Henry fathered four living children, each by a different mother. Their interrelationships were often scarred by jealously, mutual distrust, sibling rivalry, even hatred. Possessed of quick wits and strong wills, their characters were defined partly by the educations they received, and partly by events over which they had no control. Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond, although recognized as the king's son, could never forget his illegitimacy. Edward died while still in his teens, desperately plotting to exclude his half-sisters from the throne. Mary's world was shattered by her mother's divorce and her own unhappy marriage. Elizabeth was the most successful, but also the luckiest. Even so, she lived with the knowledge that her father had ordered her mother's execution, was often in fear of her own life, and could never marry the one man she truly loved. Henry's children idolized their father, even if they differed radically over how to perpetuate his legacy. To tell their stories, John Guy returns to the archives, drawing on a vast array of contemporary records, personal letters, and first-hand accounts.

30 review for The Children of Henry VIII

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jayson

    (B) 75% | More than Satisfactory Notes: So list-heavy that its titular characters are practically reduced to inventories of their gifts, household staff and syllabi.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    I am something of a Tudor history addict. I'm not quite sure exactly why I find myself picking up every book I see on this dynastic, aggressive and ultimately doomed family. They brought peace to England (or should that be dragged England to a sort of peace kicking and screaming?), and yet, they were unable to retain the crown, and not because it was grabbed from their hands like other dynasties, but because they simply ran out of heirs. So many of the things which make England different from ot I am something of a Tudor history addict. I'm not quite sure exactly why I find myself picking up every book I see on this dynastic, aggressive and ultimately doomed family. They brought peace to England (or should that be dragged England to a sort of peace kicking and screaming?), and yet, they were unable to retain the crown, and not because it was grabbed from their hands like other dynasties, but because they simply ran out of heirs. So many of the things which make England different from other countries in Europe (moderate Protestantism, the concept of a national "Church", the almost complete absence of any sizable Catholic population, and a Parliamentary system to which the monarch progressively abdicated power over the centuries), all started with the Tudors. The many marriages of Henry VIII are what most people think of, but I'm personally more interested in why he had to marry so many times, and also who these women were that he married. And, finally, there are his children - were they really as astonishingly intelligent as we are lead to believe? This book, provided to me by netgalley, was probably one of the better books on the Tudors I've read. It skips a lot of detail which can make Tudor history a bit tedious, and goes straight to the heart of the story. It is written in a beautifully fluid and clear way, and I think it would appeal equally to Tudor nutters like myself, and also those whose only grasp of Tudor history is the fat bloke who chopped off his wives' heads. It's a very accessible read. I guess what makes this one so special is that it tries to cut to the quick and present plausible (relatively new) theories for some of the issues which have made the Tudor story so mythical. Why did Henry's poor wives have such a dreadful time having children? Was this normal for the period? Did he have low sperm count or some other disease which prevented them from bringing pregnancies full term? And, what were the children of Henry VIII actually like? I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and find myself looking at the main characters rather differently than I did before. I even find myself sympathizing with Henry himself - driven by desperation, and so convinced of his own absolute power and intellectual capabilities, that he was able to twist and turn centuries of religious precedent and impose it through sheer will and charisma. Likewise, both his daughters appear to have been permanently scarred by the tribulations of their youth, but only Elizabeth was able to develop the sharp wit, and moral ambiguity to survive. Mary was simply too traumatized to cope. Loved it. 5 stars.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    This book is non-fiction and pure John Guy. He is an ace at historical research and interpretation of data in the sense of written archival and other artistic (paintings, music, poems)materials. He doesn't stop there, but approaches forensics and medical data too. There are aspects of this book many readers who have previously read 10, 15, 30 or more Tudor Dynasty years volumes would be surprised to encounter. Not to speak of all the movies, series, or other Tudor related tales of fiction or int This book is non-fiction and pure John Guy. He is an ace at historical research and interpretation of data in the sense of written archival and other artistic (paintings, music, poems)materials. He doesn't stop there, but approaches forensics and medical data too. There are aspects of this book many readers who have previously read 10, 15, 30 or more Tudor Dynasty years volumes would be surprised to encounter. Not to speak of all the movies, series, or other Tudor related tales of fiction or interpretations of Henry VIII's children's lives, set in those specific Tudor dynasty years. Read in one night through a Spring sleet storm (Chicago's Spring isn't)-this book deeply captured my attention. In not only Henry's own lifespan but within the educations and progressions of his children's reigns, I couldn't help but think how history would be SO different with the aid of a modern day geneticist or one good Pulmonary Specialist M.D. coupled with a few handfuls of antibiotics. Would the Protestant Reformation have occurred in Great Britain as it did? Probably. But certainly not at such a scale and as quickly. This book also covers all of Henry VIII illegitimate children. Down to education, households, and influences. So important in the later reigns, who their earliest influences were! And Henry's plans for their futures, although ever changing, but still, in proofs of paperwork cited here. Many pages are scanned documents of written materials for and from all five or six main players on this stage of succession. Not to speak of their ministers, clergy, teachers, and of course many painted and dated portraits of their more visual appearances and conditions than the print would portray. Highly rec to all those who have a Tudor fix need. Some things I heard suggested before about physical conditions in other books, this book does far more in forensics to investigate. So many dithers I have read captured in fiction most certainly were not true. For instance, in Arthur's (Henry VIII's brother) death. Or in why Henry with all that activity had such poor luck in offspring's health, especially within the male line. Spoilers here: Arthur probably had a testicular cancer starting at just 15 and a quite long and difficult end stage, was not poisoned, definitely not poisoned (fiction has advanced this version). There are blood antibody and factor incompatibilities between parents that insure only the first child of a Mother may have an uneventful pregnancy with a baby born with a full immune and blood production response of their own. Henry was of a Positive blood group antigen known as Kell. It's quite rare enough that 90% of all women would be the opposite and Kell negative. All his wives and most of his lovers were Kell negative, if not all of them. So the result that only 1 pregnancy would be a successful birth is nearly assured. Quote: "Thereafter, the foetus would almost certainly be miscarried or stillborn, because of the rare genetic incompatibility between the blood groups of the parents. If so, this was much Anne's tragedy as Katherine's." Having had AB/O incompatibility I understand exactly what this is about. But now the 2nd, 3rd or 5th baby could have had blood transfusion / exchanges after the birth. This book's most excellent coverage, IMHO, is for his son by Mary Blount, Henry Fitzhugh. Henry had him in plans for succession quite strongly until that son's illness came to the fore. Another strong difference from today as he could have been cured with antibiotics for his reoccurring lung condition and his early death prevented. In Edward's case, treatment would be different, but ditto. Excellent book too on the political considerations (that's how they were appointed) of the earliest Nannies, and Tutors for these offspring. Left in some strong measures to their Mother's appointments and associative dithers, this stamped great flux upon the future. Henry VIII's claim to the throne was historically on shaky ground as it was. His children's literate and religious influences became far more slanted to Great Britain's outcomes than foreseen in their babyhoods. I ADORE when the forensics people pull bones and artifacts and can tell us the reality of people we have read so much about. Oftentimes the stories are so, so different from the PR of their lifetimes or the fiction that comes centuries afterwards. Henry VIII did NOT have a venereal disease. His ulcers were due to osteomyelitis. His obesity restricted his mobility, as well.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Orsolya

    One of the central themes in the life of Henry VIII was his determination to secure his dynasty with a male heir. Although it may not have turned out the way he preferred; his children certainly were legends in their own rights. John Guy portraits the Tudor children in “The Children of Henry VIII” (not to be confused with Alison Weir’s work with the same title published years previous). Focusing on Henry Fitzroy, Mary, Edward VI, and Elizabeth; Guy’s thesis is a bit lost. Although not attempting One of the central themes in the life of Henry VIII was his determination to secure his dynasty with a male heir. Although it may not have turned out the way he preferred; his children certainly were legends in their own rights. John Guy portraits the Tudor children in “The Children of Henry VIII” (not to be confused with Alison Weir’s work with the same title published years previous). Focusing on Henry Fitzroy, Mary, Edward VI, and Elizabeth; Guy’s thesis is a bit lost. Although not attempting individual biographies, it isn’t clear if Guy is demonstrating the links and relationships between the siblings or of Henry’s relations with his children. Both paths are covered but in a somewhat choppy way (although the chronological study of the siblings in relation to each other at the same times is a positive characteristic). Also surprising, is the lack of detail provided by Guy (he is usually Mr. Detail) and the short length of the book. “The Children of Henry VIII” is best described as a brief summary often times with Guy cutting topics off abruptly. The book is best for very new readers to the topic or for those simply wanting a quick reminder. This lack of detail results in “The Children of Henry VIII” reading like a YA history piece versus targeting adults. It is all unexpected coming from Guy. Although the text is heavily notated, much of it also contains speculation with heavy “must have” and “would have” statements where Guy’s own thoughts and biases bleed through. Also unwelcome are such descriptions as calling Katherine of Aragon, “Forty, fat, with no son…” which are clearly elementary and spiteful in the bluntest sense of the word. On the other hand, Guy also includes some research and detective-heavy findings which explain events with more clarity than some other authors and also debunks some myths. A strong note of “The Children of Henry VIII” is the focus on Henry Fitzroy. Although readers won’t learn much new information regarding the other offspring; the spotlight on the Duke of Richmond is very pleasing as he is often ignored. Some other areas of complaint include Guy’s tendencies of striking off on tangents while stating ‘facts’ with firm conviction which several other historians have questioned as disputable and then never detailing or arguing for these comments. A reader new to the topic will take these with merit and as hard truths. As “The Children of Henry VIII” progresses, it does noticeably increase in detail although the thesis is still hazy and seems more like a very light biography. Once again, however, no new information is discoursed making it better for new readers. The main notable aspect is that the book is very readable. It is easy-to-ready and yet flows smoothly (even though the topic is disjointed). “The Children of Henry VIII” satisfies those history lovers who are more into a novel-like flow versus a dry, scholarly piece. The ending of “The Children of Henry VIII” is relatively memorable; however it lacks depth and detail similar to the rest of the book. The work remains unclear in its “point” and continues to be firmly called a summary as it does not bring the Tudors to life and doesn’t necessarily explore new information. “The Children of Henry VIII” contains illustrations throughout the text plus color plates. The sources used are respectfully credible and include many primary works. However, the notes aren’t quite annotated. Unfortunately, not much can be said about Guy’s work as it is so ‘light’. “The Children of Henry VIII” isn’t terrible; it merely lacks detail and depth common to Guy’s works. It is a quick 1-day read and best for intro readers to the Tudor dynasty who don’t want to be overwhelmed with facts. Although a love-her-or-hate-her author; I much recommend Alison Weir’s “The Children of Henry VIII” over John Guy’s piece.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I know it's not fair to give this 1 star but this was the most dry and boring story I have ever listened to. I had history professors that could teach history with more enthusiasm and better ways of teaching history. I needed a story about a king for a challenge and thought I would read up on King Henry VIII and his children. It sounded better than learning about his wives. I learned that King Henry really wanted a son so he could pass on the throne to him and I learned that a lot of the babies I know it's not fair to give this 1 star but this was the most dry and boring story I have ever listened to. I had history professors that could teach history with more enthusiasm and better ways of teaching history. I needed a story about a king for a challenge and thought I would read up on King Henry VIII and his children. It sounded better than learning about his wives. I learned that King Henry really wanted a son so he could pass on the throne to him and I learned that a lot of the babies he had never lived beyond 1 year old. I also learned he started becoming a adulterer and cheating whenever he felt the urge. He did bare children but most were illegitimate but he figured out loopholes to make them his heir to the throne. I tried my hardest to remember names and the women and who gave birth to which child but the narrator of this book was AWFUL and most of the time put me to sleep. I was such a history buff in high school and college and thought this would be fun to learn about. There is another author's version of this and I might try it and see if it's better then this one. MAYBE I'll try it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Claire Ridgway

    John Guy is one of my favourite historians. He is so thorough in his research, his books are always fully referenced, allowing the reader to check the sources for themselves, and he writes in a very 'readable' style. This means that anyone from the casual history fan to a history scholar can appreciate his work. From the title of this book, I was expecting it to be mini biographies of each of Henry VIII's children in turn with very separate sections on each of them, but it's not like that at all. John Guy is one of my favourite historians. He is so thorough in his research, his books are always fully referenced, allowing the reader to check the sources for themselves, and he writes in a very 'readable' style. This means that anyone from the casual history fan to a history scholar can appreciate his work. From the title of this book, I was expecting it to be mini biographies of each of Henry VIII's children in turn with very separate sections on each of them, but it's not like that at all. Guy looks Henry's family chronologically, from the birth of Henry, Duke of Cornwall in January 1510 to Elizabeth I's death in 1603, he tells their stories. It works really well because the reader can see the interaction between Henry's children, the relationships they had with each other. As another reviewer noted on Amazon, the book focuses more on the early years of Henry's children and when it does cover their reigns it concentrates "more on the personal than the political except where they were intertwined". There are plenty of books on Henry's children's reigns, so I enjoyed this look at them as people and members of a family. The book isn't a heavy tome. It is 198 pages, not counting the notes and bibliography, so is a relatively quick read. It gives just enough information, without bogging the reader down with detail. I loved the extras like the family trees, the notes on units of currency, and the photographs of letters written by Henry's children when they were young - very interesting, particularly the difference between the styles of Mary's handwriting and that of Henry's other children, who were taught the more fashionable Italic script. It is an excellent book and was a pleasure to read. I recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about Henry VIII's struggle to produce a legitimate heir, his four children and the nature of their relationships with each other.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    John Guy every 4 seconds: "Just so you know, insertfemalehere was extremely ugly/sexy for a 13 year old/beautiful and also all of her achievements really belong to the men around her." "Also, Anne Boleyn was an evil step-mother but it's okay because Mary was an ugly hag anyways." Needless to say, I was unimpressed with the author's attitude towards Mary, Elizabeth, and pretty much all six of Henry's wives. Actually, I was unimpressed with his attitude towards most of the women he mentioned in the John Guy every 4 seconds: "Just so you know, insertfemalehere was extremely ugly/sexy for a 13 year old/beautiful and also all of her achievements really belong to the men around her." "Also, Anne Boleyn was an evil step-mother but it's okay because Mary was an ugly hag anyways." Needless to say, I was unimpressed with the author's attitude towards Mary, Elizabeth, and pretty much all six of Henry's wives. Actually, I was unimpressed with his attitude towards most of the women he mentioned in the novel. How is it that we get huge sections on Cecil, Checke, and Ascham's influence on Elizabeth's life, but all we get on Kat Ashley and Blanche Parry is that they sometimes slept on a mat beside Elizabeth's bed? Guy also made sure to pay particular detail to the appearance of almost every woman he mentions, while conveniently leaving out such details for the men. It got worse and worse throughout the entire book, and by the time I got to the end of it, I was sick and tired of Guy tearing down each and every woman. Even Elizabeth, arguably the one he spends the most time on, isn't free of his constant belittling. She only becomes queen due to Philip II, her tutors greatly exaggerate her intelligence, and at the end of the day, she's just "extremely lucky". The only time he speaks at all of a woman exerting actual power, Guy either criticizes them for "play-acting", like when Elizabeth feigns illness to avoid Mary's wrath and punishment for her alleged role in a rebellion, or accuses of them of being the main force behind a man's distasteful actions. Henry VIII executes Thomas More? Anne Boleyn's fault. Henry doesn't allow Mary to visit her mother? It's Anne, that witch, keeping them apart. Henry Fitzroy, Henry's bastard son, gets sick? Don't worry, there were a whole lot of rumors about him being poisoned by, you guessed it, Anne. Not even Catherine of Aragon or Mary herself are free of this. Whenever either of them attempt to exert power, like when Mary tries to convince her brother Edward VI to allow her to remain Catholic, she, like Elizabeth, "causes a scene". While I started out appreciating how Guy focused on Henry Fitzroy, by the end of the novel the difference between how he treated Henry and Edward VI from Mary and Elizabeth was clear and just took away my enjoyment of the book. Even Philip II, Mary's largely unpopular husband, was treated better than both of Henry's daughters in Guy's work. However, Guy does know how to weave together a good history, and I definitely did learn from the book. I could have easily given the book 4 or 5 stars, if the author's biases and constant demeaning of the actions and roles of these historical women hadn't taken me completely out of the narrative. All in all, my actual rating for this book probably veers closer to a 2.5, but I bumped it up from 2 stars to 3 because it was an interesting read and did offer a couple interesting insights.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

    This book is a well written factual account of the one of history's most notable families, the Tudors. What is interesting about his book is that it is more about the personal lives and the family dynamics of Henry VIII and his family rather than a focus on the political and religious sentiment. Don't get me wrong, its still there but more in terms of how the particular views of the time impacted upon each of the children. For example, the view of educating women at the time meant that Mary and This book is a well written factual account of the one of history's most notable families, the Tudors. What is interesting about his book is that it is more about the personal lives and the family dynamics of Henry VIII and his family rather than a focus on the political and religious sentiment. Don't get me wrong, its still there but more in terms of how the particular views of the time impacted upon each of the children. For example, the view of educating women at the time meant that Mary and Elizabeth had very different educations to that of Edward and Henry Fitzroy. The attention to small details, such as the differences in handwriting styles of the children is also interesting. Henry's inconsistent treatment of his children is also very much a focus of this book. How they were treated depended on whether their mothers were in favour (or not) at the time and this changed constantly. But that was Henry all over - he was a very fickle man. Although most of the book is about the children's early years, there is a birds eye view of each reign, again concentrating more on their personal lives.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Leanda Lisle

    John Guy’s short but shocking The Children of Henry VIII delivers on its promise of a story ‘of jealousy, envy and even hatred’. Yet the Tudor siblings seem kindly when compared to their fratricidal, usurping antecedents, the children of Richard, Duke of York. And that, I think, was their mistake. They were horrid to each, but not nearly horrid enough. Henry VIII’s eldest child, Mary Tudor, in particular, would have done well to have emulated such examples of Yorkist family feeling as Edward IV’ John Guy’s short but shocking The Children of Henry VIII delivers on its promise of a story ‘of jealousy, envy and even hatred’. Yet the Tudor siblings seem kindly when compared to their fratricidal, usurping antecedents, the children of Richard, Duke of York. And that, I think, was their mistake. They were horrid to each, but not nearly horrid enough. Henry VIII’s eldest child, Mary Tudor, in particular, would have done well to have emulated such examples of Yorkist family feeling as Edward IV’s drowning his brother, George, Duke of Clarence in a vat of Malmsey wine, and Richard III’s seizure of the Protectorship of Edward’s twelve year old heir (who subsequently ‘disappeared’ in the Tower, along with his little brother). For the first three years of Mary Tudor’s life, she was an only and beloved child. Nevertheless her father judged that, as a daughter, she was unfit to inherit his crown. John Guy believes that, for a time, Henry considered making Mary’s younger illegitimate half-brother, Henry Fitzroy, his heir, bestowing family titles of the boy and declaring he loved him, ‘like his own soul’. Fitzroy died aged seventeen, but Guy gives us a real sense of the boy who, while Mary proved the perfect student, would escape his lessons to hunt and shoot. Fitzroy too was passed over, however, in Henry’s expectation that his second wife, Anne Boleyn, would bear a legitimate male heir. When Anne bore Elizabeth in 1533 it was Mary who was the first to pay for Henry’s disappointment, as he had her declared illegitimate to ensure she took second place to her little sister. In some of Guy’s most vivid passages we see Mary, aged almost eighteen, obliged to live in the baby Elizabeth’s household, raging against her humiliations, refusing to share a horse litter with her sister and insisting in taking the best place when they travelled by barge. Only when Anne Boleyn lost her head and Elizabeth too was declared a bastard, did Mary learn to regard her sister with affection, even praising Elizabeth to their father. Family relations improved still further after Henry’s son, Edward, was born, since everyone agreed he took precedence over his sisters. John Guy gives wonderful details on the intimate friendship Mary later developed with her last step-mother, Katherine Parr. But the family was torn apart once more on Henry’s death. With Edward VI aged only nine, his maternal uncle seized power as the Protector Somerset. Richard III, had seized the Protectorship precisely in order to prevent such a power grab by his nephew’s non-royal maternal relatives. And, watching what unfolded, Mary might well have concluded that Richard had been right to do so. Edward was to be raised in beliefs Henry had considered heretical, while Protestant iconoclasts unleashed a period of cultural terrorism that puts the recent Islamist destruction of tombs and manuscripts in Timbuktu into the shade. Mary fought to defend her father’s religious settlement, arguing it could not be overturned during Edward’s minority. But Edward was being encouraged to grow apart from his sisters. When he died at the age of fifteen, he excluded them from the throne on grounds of their illegitimacy, complaining that Mary was a Catholic and that Elizabeth’s mother had been an adulterous, treasonous slut. John Guy suggests (rightly I believe) that although Edward left the throne to his cousin Jane Grey, it was her husband, the teenage, Guildford Dudley, whom Edward hoped would rule England. The son of the Lord President of his Council, and with no royal blood, Guildford was a man from whom his subjects could expect ‘great things’, Edward argued. Instead Mary I raised an army and took back her throne, tried her rivals for treason, and following a revolt, cut off Guildford’s head, and Jane’s also. There was then just the problem of Elizabeth left to deal with, and two possible means of Mary strengthening her position. The first was to have a child so Elizabeth was no longer her heir. But Mary’s pregnancy by Philip of Spain proved to be a phantom. Philip left the country and declined to return for a further eighteen months. Guy describes Mary as reduced haranguing Philip’s portrait, before kicking it out of the room in her anger and frustration. The second means was for Mary to have Elizabeth executed. Guy outlines a series of Protestant plots to replace Mary with her sister. Mary’s great grandfather, Edward IV, had had his brother, Clarence, drowned in that vat of Malmsey after a brief treason trial. It might have been appropriate to have had Elizabeth strangled with one of the prim and plain dresses she wore to flaunt her pious Protestant opposition to Mary. It was to be Philip, Guy informs, who helped save Elizabeth’s life. Anxious to prevent the throne passing to Mary, Queen of Scots, who was to marry the French Dauphin, Philip insisted his wife protect Elizabeth’s place as heir to the throne. He would get his just deserts for this almost thirty years later when Elizabeth backed the Dutch revolt against Spain in the Netherlands and then sank his retaliatory Armada. Meanwhile, the bitterest moment for Mary came at her death in 1558, when she was obliged to confirm her hated sister as her heir in order to insure a peaceful transition of power. Elizabeth showed little gratitude for her sister’s last personal sacrifice. She wore Mary’s coronation mantle for her state entry into London the following year, not in an act of sisterly solidarity, or even to save a few pounds, but rather, Guy claims, to dance on her sister’s grave. John Guy is that rare cross over: the scholar who also writes for the popular market. It shows here, as he sketches with verve and fluency the education and beliefs, as well as, briefly, the reigns of these last Tudors. But where he excels is in illuminating the coruscating relationships between the squabbling siblings. They say if you’ve got lemons make lemonade, and in Guy’s hands the story of The Children of Henry VIII is fresh, sparkling and sharp. 4 stars instead of five only because it cannot match in scope Guy's longer works. A version of this Review first appeared under my name in the Literary Review in 2013

  10. 4 out of 5

    book_bear

    This was a pretty good book about the Tudors; a fast read and a solid 4. It got a little boring at the end talking about church politics, but overall a good book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    “Some are born great…” I first encountered John Guy through his wonderful biography of Thomas Becket and I give him the credit for re-awakening my interest in reading history after a lengthy gap. As well as being a first-rate historian, he has the true skill of the storyteller, managing to turn his thorough and extensive research into an accessible and enjoyable read for the non-academic. In this book he tackles the subject of Henry VIII's struggle to produce an heir who could ensure the co “Some are born great…” I first encountered John Guy through his wonderful biography of Thomas Becket and I give him the credit for re-awakening my interest in reading history after a lengthy gap. As well as being a first-rate historian, he has the true skill of the storyteller, managing to turn his thorough and extensive research into an accessible and enjoyable read for the non-academic. In this book he tackles the subject of Henry VIII's struggle to produce an heir who could ensure the continuance of his dynasty. This is very much a personal history of the children, though because of their positions as potential heirs, there is also much about the politics of the time, particularly the religious machinations of this divided family. Guy goes into considerable depth about the children's early years telling us who was given charge of their upbringing and education. He describes the differences in education of the males, Edward and Henry Fitzroy, to the females, Mary and Elizabeth; showing that the boys were trained in those skills which were deemed necessary in a king, such as the ability to give public speeches, while the girls were restricted to moral and religious works, on the basis laid down by the scholar Vives that a woman should hear and speak only 'what pertains to the fear of God'. However, he also produces some evidence to show that the girls' friends and supporters may have found ways to supplement these restrictions. Guy also shows Henry's inconsistent treatment of his children, first humiliating Mary by raising the prospect of the illegitimate Fitzroy as heir, then by making her play second fiddle to Elizabeth during Anne Boleyn's short reign. The declaration of both his daughters as illegitimate, his treatment of their mothers and the way he brought them in and out of favour depending on who was Queen at the time impacted heavily on both, as did his will declaring that they could only marry with the agreement of the counsellors he appointed before his death. But with the early death of Fitzroy, Henry was eventually forced to accept the rights of both his daughters to be in the line of succession in the event that Edward should die childless. Although most of the book is about the children's early years, Guy finishes with a fairly quick romp through each reign, again concentrating more on the personal than the political except where they were intertwined. He points out that Henry's tragedy remains that, for all his efforts to secure his dynasty, none of his children produced heirs, so that on the death of Elizabeth in 1603 the Tudor era came to an end. As always with Guy's books, this one is very well written and a pleasure to read. There may not be much new here but the format Guy has chosen lets us see the family dynamics more than biographies of the individuals usually do. I felt the adult years were somewhat rushed and really only there to take the book to a conclusion, and I felt Guy surprisingly let Elizabeth off the hook very easily on the subject of the suppression of the Catholics during her reign (for more of which I recommend John Cooper's biography of Walsingham, [[ASIN:057121827X The Queen's Agent]]). But I enjoyed the detailed look at the childhood of these major figures in English history and heartily recommend this book to anyone interested in the Tudor period. NB This book was provided for review by the publisher via NetGalley.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lolly's Library

    3.5 stars What is it about the Tudors? As author G.J. Meyer writes in the introduction to his book The Tudors: The Complete Story of England's Most Notorious Dynasty, the Tudors ruled England for only three generations, which, in the grand scheme of things, is a mere blip on history's timeline. Yet, for some reason, they're just as prominent today as they were in their heyday, continuing to act as inspirations for numerous works of fiction and to be subjects of scholarly examinations. King Henry 3.5 stars What is it about the Tudors? As author G.J. Meyer writes in the introduction to his book The Tudors: The Complete Story of England's Most Notorious Dynasty, the Tudors ruled England for only three generations, which, in the grand scheme of things, is a mere blip on history's timeline. Yet, for some reason, they're just as prominent today as they were in their heyday, continuing to act as inspirations for numerous works of fiction and to be subjects of scholarly examinations. King Henry VIII is arguably the most famous king ever, remembered in broad terms for either his multiple marriages or his split from the Catholic church, and Queen Elizabeth I is not only the most famous queen in English history, but most likely in world history as well. Even though they've all become romanticized or demonized, depending on who you talk to, every Tudor, from Henry VII to Edward VI to Mary, remains real to us more than four centuries after Elizabeth I died and the Tudor line died with her. So why is that? Well, John Guy's The Children of Henry VIII may not answer the question of why the Tudors remain popular to this day, but it does explore how these particular Tudors turned out the way they did. Though the content of this surprisingly slim volume is written in an engaging and lively voice, this is no popular history book, all fluff and dramatization. Neither is it a dryly written snoozer. Instead, Guy has managed to straddle the line between well-researched and heavily annotated scholarship and accessibility. There's no new research provided here and there's no speculation. Guy has simply gathered an abundance of research detailing the childhood histories of Henry Fitzroy, Mary, Edward, and Elizabeth and put it into a readable form. Working in chronological order as each child is born, Guy is able to show how their lives intertwine, how they interact with each other, and how, through the various political machinations and upheavals, these relationships evolve and mutate over the years. Guy also illustrates how Henry's behavior toward his offspring changes from one child to the next, raising up one while humiliating another. What's explored here is more personal than political, though we do get to see the Tudor political machine at work. But it's the family dynamic that takes center stage, the exploration of how the childhood experiences of these Tudor children shaped their future personalities. My only quibble with the book is that, despite the work that went into it, most of the detail covers the early years of each child's life while their adulthood and reign (if they had one) gets little more than a synopsis. This is especially obvious with Elizabeth's reign. Admittedly, as her reign was the longest, there's a lot of history there and I wouldn't expect an in-depth coverage of such. But I still felt as though her story wasn't fully explored, which contributed to a rushed ending. A quick read, I would recommend The Children of Henry VIII as a good starting point for anyone interested in the Tudor dynasty and a nice companion piece to other books written on the subject.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Though ostensibly about Henry VIII’s offspring, John Guy’s book is really about the succession question facing the king and Tudor successor. As that question was inextricably tied to his progeny, Guy has looked at Henry’s marriages and the upbringing of his children – both legitimate and illegitimate – to understand their successive efforts to secure the throne and turn their very different visions of the kingdom they ruled into reality. This Guy describes by the shifts in fortune that Henry’s ch Though ostensibly about Henry VIII’s offspring, John Guy’s book is really about the succession question facing the king and Tudor successor. As that question was inextricably tied to his progeny, Guy has looked at Henry’s marriages and the upbringing of his children – both legitimate and illegitimate – to understand their successive efforts to secure the throne and turn their very different visions of the kingdom they ruled into reality. This Guy describes by the shifts in fortune that Henry’s children experienced over time. Upon her birth, his first child, Mary, was showered with gifts and given an entourage befitting her status. Yet even at an early age that status was in question, as her illegitimate half-brother, Henry Fitzroy (born three years after Mary) posed a threat simply by virtue of his sex. Catherine’s inability to father a son of her own (likely due, as Guy argues, to Henry’s probably Kell-positive status) made Fitzroy a potential successor; acknowledged by his father, the boy was given a royal education and paraded around as proof that the king could father a son. Anne Boleyn’s emergence and the divorce battle jeopardized both of their statuses, and the new queen exploited every possibility to diminish their status. Boleyn’s own failure to produce a son, however, contributed to her downfall, with her daughter Elizabeth soon on the same roller coaster of status. Edward’s birth finally gave Henry the son he wanted, yet his young age meant that Mary and Elizabeth remained possible successors. After succeeding Mary and Edward, Elizabeth passed on marriage, thus avoiding much of the family turmoil she experienced growing up, though at the ultimate cost of the demise of the Tudor line. Guy recounts all of this in a book that is both perceptive and clearly written. Drawing upon both the contemporary documents (from which he makes some impressive observations not just in terms of their content but their form as well) and the rich historical literature of the Tudors, he provides a fluent and enjoyably readable account of what was perhaps the dominant political issue in sixteenth century politics. It demonstrates why John Guy stands as one of the leading Tudor historians working today, one whose books everyone with an interest in Tudor England should read for the insights they contain.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lyn (Readinghearts)

    John Guy's latest, The Children of Henry VIII, is a well written book covering the struggle of Henry VIII to procure an heir for the Tudor throne. At just 258 pages it is a relatively quick read on the subject. In addition, it presents the essential information in a way that is uncomplicated and easy to follow. For those reasons, this would be an excellent book for anyone just beginning to read about the Tudors. For those of us that are well versed in the subject, though, there is little new inf John Guy's latest, The Children of Henry VIII, is a well written book covering the struggle of Henry VIII to procure an heir for the Tudor throne. At just 258 pages it is a relatively quick read on the subject. In addition, it presents the essential information in a way that is uncomplicated and easy to follow. For those reasons, this would be an excellent book for anyone just beginning to read about the Tudors. For those of us that are well versed in the subject, though, there is little new information. I did, however, like the fact that this book contained a complete section on Henry Fitzroy, and did not just focus on the legitimate offspring. I was also fascinated by the author's suggestion that Henry had a rare blood condition that may have been the root of his inability to father more than one living child by any one woman. I had never heard this theory before and wish the author would have gone into a bit more depth on the subject. In fact, my biggest disappointment with this book overall was the lack of depth in general. At times it seemed to me that the author was just skimming the surface of the subject, while I was looking for more detailed information on the children and their lives. In fact, I felt the beginning of the book was more about Henry himself than the children's early lives. The good news is that the lack of depth coupled with John Guy's extremely readable writing style makes this an excellent book on Henry and his children for someone who is just starting to explore the Tudors. On the other hand, if you are like me and love all things Tudor and never tire of reading about them in general, there is a bit of new and different in this book that makes it worth the read. Thanks to Oxford Press and Netgalley for bringing this book to my attention and giving me the chance to read it in exchange for a review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Why do I read? I have a curiosity about people, places and events that I did not experience for myself. The Tudors are my second favorite historical family and the more detail you give me about the day to day events of their lives, the happier I am. How much better can it start than "In the Beginning"?! Henry and Katherine's second marriage and coronation anniversaries were upon them. The bloom was not yet off the rose but some wilting was happening for sure. Henry began to realize that women we Why do I read? I have a curiosity about people, places and events that I did not experience for myself. The Tudors are my second favorite historical family and the more detail you give me about the day to day events of their lives, the happier I am. How much better can it start than "In the Beginning"?! Henry and Katherine's second marriage and coronation anniversaries were upon them. The bloom was not yet off the rose but some wilting was happening for sure. Henry began to realize that women were all about him and many were desirable to him, although his religious convictions interfered with his actions. The day to day events were intriguing and well researched.The early years of the children and their interactions were satisfying and realistic. The years when Henry and the children were all the family consisted of were explored and dealt with in a very sympathetic and effective manner, as did the sibling or rather half sibling rivalry between them. Possibilities were explored for the psychological, emotional and physical failures of Henry and his children in their personal and interpersonal relationships. We know how these issues impacted on the Isles and the world, and this very well researched and written book gave me an accurate viewpoint. My favorite sections of books were the family and interpersonal glimpses of very real people living out their lives. The early years were explored extremely well.Less interesting to me are the details of their reigns as these are well known and factual and not based on research guided conjecture. I now wish to acquire John Guy's prior books and see what might be next. I recommend this to Tudor readers and scholars.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Éowyn

    I was surprised to see that this book, covering a fair subject - the four known children of Henry VIII - had only about 200 pages of actual text. A rather different prospect to Guy's weighty biography of Mary Queen of Scots. As reams of paper and oceans of ink of already been expended on the Tudors, I'm not sure quite what the impetus behind this book was. It's not that it wasn't well written, because it was, but that I felt that it offered up almost nothing new. As an introduction to the subjec I was surprised to see that this book, covering a fair subject - the four known children of Henry VIII - had only about 200 pages of actual text. A rather different prospect to Guy's weighty biography of Mary Queen of Scots. As reams of paper and oceans of ink of already been expended on the Tudors, I'm not sure quite what the impetus behind this book was. It's not that it wasn't well written, because it was, but that I felt that it offered up almost nothing new. As an introduction to the subject to a reader new to the period I think I would recommend it, but to someone for whom this is already an area of interest, you've probably heard it all before. The one new point that Guy does bring up, is the theory that Henry VIII belonged to a rare blood group, which resulted in problems with offspring surviving. We can see that no one woman appears to have more than one surviving child by him, but I would have liked a little more detail to support this - how did Henry come by his rare blood group? He was one of several siblings who survived infancy and his surviving sisters themselves had more than one surviving child. A good brief guide to the subject, probably more suited to a reader fairly new to the subject. I felt disappointed as there was nothing new in here for me.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Carole P. Roman

    Interesting and readable history of the offspring of Henry VIII. Henry Fitzroy, his illegitimate son from Elizabeth Blount gets a nice accounting here. To Katherine's dismay, Guy shows Henry's careful plotting to groom his bastard with perhaps kingship in mind. Guy goes deeply into all the children's education and offers up tidbits of information to humanize his subjects. Each child is thoroughly discussed, from their handwriting to their choice of clothing and by the end of the book you feel li Interesting and readable history of the offspring of Henry VIII. Henry Fitzroy, his illegitimate son from Elizabeth Blount gets a nice accounting here. To Katherine's dismay, Guy shows Henry's careful plotting to groom his bastard with perhaps kingship in mind. Guy goes deeply into all the children's education and offers up tidbits of information to humanize his subjects. Each child is thoroughly discussed, from their handwriting to their choice of clothing and by the end of the book you feel like you got to know them just a bit. Each one of the offspring are canny and well skilled to navigate the treacherous courts. Guy explains how they were taken early from their mothers to live in courts of their own, with hand picked courtiers to shape their young minds. Guy backs up their personalities with documents in their own hand. He discusses their mothers impact while they lived, and life for them after they died. He then delves into the relationships with stepmother's as well. This book gives us a nice peek into Tudor history and the people who defined it. This was an entertaining book about the children of Henry the VIII and an enjoyable read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sherry Chandler

    I found this book dry and not quite as riveting as I expected it to be. The focus was very close in on the politics of the household and I couldn't keep up with all the Somersets and Dudleys and Beauforts. Or all the ladies of the household who were not necessarily friends of the royal girls and who changed according to the politics of the day. My learning was corrected about the relationship of Henry's rift with the Church to the Protestant Reformation and how political the latter was. "Princes c I found this book dry and not quite as riveting as I expected it to be. The focus was very close in on the politics of the household and I couldn't keep up with all the Somersets and Dudleys and Beauforts. Or all the ladies of the household who were not necessarily friends of the royal girls and who changed according to the politics of the day. My learning was corrected about the relationship of Henry's rift with the Church to the Protestant Reformation and how political the latter was. "Princes cannot like their own children . . ." So Guy reports Elizabeth said. I left the book with one question -- how could these children grow up to be anything but monsters when they grew up witness to such monstrous acts of ambition and understood their lives to be of value only as pawns. I am reminded of God's warning to Israel when they demanded a king instead of the system of judges: 10) Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11) He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12) Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13) He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14) He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15) He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16) Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[c] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17) He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18) When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” 1 Samuel 8:10-18 Which, in turn, reminds us of our current politics.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Melisende

    "Behind the facade of politics and pageantry at the Tudor court, there was a family drama. Nothing drove Henry VIII, England's wealthiest and most powerful king, more than producing a legitimate male heir and so perpetuating his dynasty. To that end, he married six wives, became the subject of the most notorious divorce case of the sixteenth century, and broke with the pope, all in an age of international competition and warfare, social unrest and growing religious intolerance and discord. " Intr "Behind the facade of politics and pageantry at the Tudor court, there was a family drama. Nothing drove Henry VIII, England's wealthiest and most powerful king, more than producing a legitimate male heir and so perpetuating his dynasty. To that end, he married six wives, became the subject of the most notorious divorce case of the sixteenth century, and broke with the pope, all in an age of international competition and warfare, social unrest and growing religious intolerance and discord. " Intriguing - yes. This is not a standard biography of each of Henry's children, but more an intertwining history. Into this mix is included the often over-looked Henry FitzRoy, which makes for a refreshing change, and was one of the main reasons I picked this up. However, Guy does not paint a very flattering picture of either of Henry's daughters, not of his wives, which I found a little annoying. This short tome would be considered more of an entree into the world of the Tudors than anything else.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    I really enjoyed reading this compressed history of the children of Henry VIII. Full disclosure, I was somewhat obsessed with Henry and this period of history during my teens, and my interest has spilled over into avid reading of straight histories and fictionalized histories at different points during my adulthood. Given that I was probably the ideal reader for this book, but I cannot imagine this appealing to the average reader of popular history. It presumes a lot of knowledge about the perio I really enjoyed reading this compressed history of the children of Henry VIII. Full disclosure, I was somewhat obsessed with Henry and this period of history during my teens, and my interest has spilled over into avid reading of straight histories and fictionalized histories at different points during my adulthood. Given that I was probably the ideal reader for this book, but I cannot imagine this appealing to the average reader of popular history. It presumes a lot of knowledge about the period and it skips over vast periods of time in a page or two. (It summarizes the marriage and divorce from Anne of Cleves in one page and dispenses with Catherine Howard in about two paragraphs). So I am not sure who the audience is. But my daughter, Sarah, who bought this for me, guessed correctly that I would appreciate this succinct summary of the lives of three children from a pretty distressed and dysfunctional family.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Egbert

    I got good information from this book but it was a bit dry. While it was informative, there was also a focus on the material goods owned by each of the children that began to get on my nerves and kind of bogged me down. This is a plot line approach to the story of their lives with no real emotion, aside from the occasional quote from the person being described. I did appreciate the author's choice for illustrations, in some ways those were the most fascinating part of the book to me. So much of I got good information from this book but it was a bit dry. While it was informative, there was also a focus on the material goods owned by each of the children that began to get on my nerves and kind of bogged me down. This is a plot line approach to the story of their lives with no real emotion, aside from the occasional quote from the person being described. I did appreciate the author's choice for illustrations, in some ways those were the most fascinating part of the book to me. So much of the personality comes through in even seeing a person's signature. In the case of Elizabeth's signature, well, she obviously thought highly of herself! A good historical overview of how the succession played out.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Fisher

    It was pretty boring. Way too much detail about background politics, religion, etc.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Susan Whitlock

    It wasn't what I expected. I thought it would be a more personal perspective but it was almost exclusively political. It wasn't what I expected. I thought it would be a more personal perspective but it was almost exclusively political.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brian Kinsella

    Not as engrossing as Guy's other work i've read. However, the nature of this book is almost an aside to the bigger stories he does delve into. Still, Mary Queen if Scots is far superior a read. Not as engrossing as Guy's other work i've read. However, the nature of this book is almost an aside to the bigger stories he does delve into. Still, Mary Queen if Scots is far superior a read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Great read! It is short but I actually learned more about his children and how they all just treated each other...

  26. 4 out of 5

    Luke Nichol

    A very easy introduction to the heirs of Henry VIII.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Well written, but not much new for anyone familiar with the dynasty. Great for an intro!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Didn’t hold my attention as much as I would’ve liked, but did give me enough information about each historical figure to make it satisfying to listen to.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sarah - All The Book Blog Names Are Taken

    Slim but educational for those with little Tudor knowledge. Review to come when I'm done with this pneumonia. ++++++++++++++ my book blog ---> http://allthebookblognamesaretaken.bl... and https://www.facebook.com/AllTheBookBl... Rating: 4 Stars Review: When I first saw this slim volume at Half-Price Books (albeit a brand new copy - pay attention to those letters on the stickers, people! There are far more new books for sale in the shop than you might realize!), I knew chances were good that it would no Slim but educational for those with little Tudor knowledge. Review to come when I'm done with this pneumonia. ++++++++++++++ my book blog ---> http://allthebookblognamesaretaken.bl... and https://www.facebook.com/AllTheBookBl... Rating: 4 Stars Review: When I first saw this slim volume at Half-Price Books (albeit a brand new copy - pay attention to those letters on the stickers, people! There are far more new books for sale in the shop than you might realize!), I knew chances were good that it would not be any new information. But who am I to resist a book about one of the most dysfunctional families in history? I always feel a bit bad for Henry Fitzroy - while we see Henry VIII, Mary I, Elizabeth I, and Edward VI there on the cover together, poor Fitzroy is relegated to smaller portrait on the back cover, At least he is mentioned however, and significant space is dedicated to him within the text, especially before the arrival of Elizabeth. Once again, Anne was up to her old tricks and did all she could supposedly to ensure that Fitzroy was on the back-burner. This brings me to a point I would like to address in regards to Henry's illegitimate children, however. There's always been speculation that Mary Boleyn's son and daughter were Henry's and not her husband's, as the timeline is murky about when she was actually Henry's mistress. However, given his lack of heirs - or male heirs - I'd have thought the time would come that, were they his children, or the son at least (also named Henry) then the old grouch would have acknowledge them, Maybe I am wrong, but I do doubt they were his children and given what we know now medically, I am pretty sure these four are his only surviving children. It makes little sense that he would acknowledge one illegitimate child but not any others, Anyway, on to the book. John Guy is an author that I really like, for the most part. Here he has presented a lot of information in a small space, but does not skimp on the details. he also offers a plethora of notes and references to aid the reader in seeking more information. The inclusion of the Tudor, Howard, and Boleyn family trees was useful as well and would be an asset to those very new to Tudor history. I myself still mix these people up and I have read quite a fair bit of text about the dynasty in the last few years. Still, it is a handy reference to have. My only complaint is what it often is - lack of photos. However, this time that can attributed to the fact that this is such a short text. Not to mention the fact that even portraits available that we think might be of certain people from the period can often turn out to be misidentified. Overall I would say that if you already know quite a bit about the Tudors, you can pass on this one. If you are still new to the dynasty then I would certainly say have at it, you will learn quite a bit about these poor children who, unsurprisingly, grew up to be very dysfunctional adults (or at least dysfunctional teenagers, in the case.of Edward, who died at 16 or 17, depending on who you ask).

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa Nelson

    There is something so fascinatingly twisted about the Tudor family that I can't help myself when some new thing about them comes out. I don't care what it is: TV shows, films, books, whatever. I love reading about this crazy, messed-up family! So, of course, there's a lot information out there about Henry VIII and the Tudor family in general, so what is it that makes this unique and worth getting versus all the other stuff out there? Unlike many other books I've read about the Tudors, John Guy go There is something so fascinatingly twisted about the Tudor family that I can't help myself when some new thing about them comes out. I don't care what it is: TV shows, films, books, whatever. I love reading about this crazy, messed-up family! So, of course, there's a lot information out there about Henry VIII and the Tudor family in general, so what is it that makes this unique and worth getting versus all the other stuff out there? Unlike many other books I've read about the Tudors, John Guy goes directly to the source and doesn't offer much speculation about relationships, actions, or whatever else that people like to speculate about. Because of that, I think there's a good overview of the family dynamics, which I don't think is explored very often. So, that was nice. The downside to this is that it gets a bit dry and there's A LOT of listing of presents the children received at Christmas, or just listing in general. I also felt like the ending was rushed and Elizabeth I's story wasn't fully explored, which was a bit disappointing for me, especially since a good amount of time was spent on her siblings. And I get that going over a long reign is much more complicated than going over her siblings' histories, but I would have liked a better summary of what she accomplished. Maybe in another book? In any case, don't get this if you're looking for some sort of dramatic story reminiscent of The Tudors TV show. The Children of Henry VIII is very much based on historical documents. But the great thing about this particular royal family is that it's interesting without any dramatization. *I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

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