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From the PublisherAlthough the Tudors ruled England for well over a century (1485-1603), in The Fighting Tudors Prof. Loades (Oxford) gives us the first general survey of the English way of war in the period, one that he argues is characterized by the “civilianization” of government functions, with a focus on war, as state institutions evolved. A short introduction on the nature of kingship is followed by reign-by-reign look at how military and naval administration, organization, and equipment evolved in the period, and, of course, the actual conduct of operations. There are short accounts of various wars and rebellions, even covert operations, and a look at the increasing integration of diplomatic and military activities as England developed into a major power. This is a good look at the development of the military side of one of the first nation-states in the modern sense, and a valuable read for those interested in British history, the Renaissance, and the rise of modern military institutions.
For those readers that have an interest in English history and particularly the glorious period of the Tudor reign, David Loades' book The Fighting Tudors is a very interesting and different approach to an aspect of the Tudors that possibly defined not only their reigns but also the future of what became the British Empire. Loades takes each King and Queen of the Tudor dynasty and focuses on their approaches to military action and how it was used as a political tool to survive and to build a kingdom that carries an image which through the future centuries has fascinated people around the world. Beginning with Henry VII's victory at the Battle of Bosworth Field, Loades gives the reader insight into the behind the scenes evolution of Henry's early approach to the military defense of England in his wanting to build a Navy. As you move through the book, you become aware of the importance of these early steps in the military preparedness of Henry VII as they influence each of his Tudor successors through Elizabeth I and the relevance of the English Navy in light of how important this would be to building an Empire with the beginning of the Age of Discovery in the new world and the rise of power of Spain with its Armada. Loades brings out how the approach to military action by the Tudors began to change the European perception of the English being somewhat barbarian, as Loades points out about Henry VIII's Field of Gold encounter with the French king, saying: "Two ancient enemies had been brought together in peaceful competition rather than in war, and Henry's image had been greatly enhanced. The general impression that the English were a collection of barbarians had been definitively dispelled." The insight into the short reign of the child king Edward VI is another aspect of this book that is not found in most history books of this period. All these accounts lead to the discussion of the reign of Elizabeth I, which takes up almost half of the book and is showing the culmination of the Tudor approach to military action and its effective use in both the political and image making context. Political leaders around the world today in these very image driven times could profit from a reading of this book. For me the book could not be read without the thought of how important these reigns were in setting the stage for such creative figures in the history of Britain as Sir Walter Raleigh, Shakespeare and Sir Thomas More. Not only is the book a very interesting and provocative read, but it is also well written and easy to comprehend.