Tudor: Passion. Manipulation. Murder. The Story of England's Most Notorious Royal Familyby Leanda de Lisle
In an epic narrative sweeping from 1437 to the first decade of the seventeenth century, Tudor: the Family Story traces the rise and rule of the Tudor dynasty. Brutal political instability dominated England during this infamous time, and Leanda de Lisle reveals the personalities, passions, and obsessions of the men and women at its epicenter to/i>
In an epic narrative sweeping from 1437 to the first decade of the seventeenth century, Tudor: the Family Story traces the rise and rule of the Tudor dynasty. Brutal political instability dominated England during this infamous time, and Leanda de Lisle reveals the personalities, passions, and obsessions of the men and women at its epicenter to rediscover the true significances of previously overlooked figures: from the remarkable women, so wholly devoted to securing the line of succession, to the Princes in the Tower, whose disappearances have remained a mystery for centuries.
This groundbreaking story opens at the unlikely beginning of the Tudor dynastywith Owen Tudor, a handsome Welsh commoner who, with a pirouette and a trip, landed squarely in the lap of the English Monarchy. The struggle of Owen’s grandson Henry VII and his heirs to secure the line of successionand the hopes, loves, and losses of the claimantsare the focus of this book. The universal appeal of the Tudors also lies in the family stories: of a mother’s love for her son, of the husband who kills his wives, of siblings who betray one another, of reckless love affairs, of rival cousins, of an old spinster whose heirs hope to hurry her to her end.
Thrilling to read and bristling with religious and political intrigue, Tudor: The Family Story tells the true story behind the myths, throwing a fresh, new light on this perennially fascinating era.
The most dysfunctional family in English history gets its due. After two books focusing on major chapters from the history of the Tudors (The Sisters Who Would Be Queen: Mary, Katherine, and Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Tragedy, 2009, etc.), de Lisle aims to tell the story from the beginning in this comprehensive but often complicated volume. Beginning with the 1437 marriage of Henry V's widow, Catherine, to a lowly chamber servant named Owen Tudor, it becomes the story of a family dominated by both the lust for power and a battle for the soul of England. The players range from the manipulative Margaret Beaufort to her cruel (and guilt-wracked) son Henry VII to his ruthless (and guilt-free) son Henry VIII, whose yearning for a male successor involved six wives and sparked an endless rift between Catholics and Protestants. It's a fascinating, violent, morally complex story not only about the way power corrupts, but how it makes rulers both vulnerable and paranoid. It's also an extremely eventful slice of history, and de Lisle occasionally gets winded trying to wrestle the narrative, and its ever-expanding cast of characters, into a manageable shape. Major characters arrive and suddenly die with barely a send-off as we rush to the next battle or coronation; facts pile up without always getting properly processed. De Lisle doesn't stint on the drama, however, whether it's Mary, Queen of Scots getting hacked to pieces or Elizabeth I eloquently bracing her troops for war with Spain. She also capably separates fact from myth, pursues still-unsolved royal mysteries, and provides perspective about the kind of pre-Enlightenment mindset in which you could be boiled, burned, beheaded or hanged for believing in transubstantiation. Hard to follow at times but also a reliable and amply researched guide for Tudor enthusiasts.
“Six centuries after they began, the Tudors are still England's most famous family. Their story is told in full in Leanda de Lisle's Tudor, a wonderfully fluent portrait of five generations that connects the often overlooked fifteenth century Tudors with the more famous stuff. In bridging this divide, de Lisle brings an entirely fresh feel to the Tudor story, reminding us of the one thing the monarchs themselves wanted us to forget: the sheer improbability of their royal rule.” The Times (London)
“Europe has produced no family saga that could match the Tudors. Rarely has that story been so well told as here.” The Mail
“De Lisle's masterful command of the facts great and small provides a complete and entertaining overview.” The Guardian
“Leanda de Lisle reveals such hidden depths in the vivid history of England's most famous dynasty”The American Conservative
“Deeply researched but vibrantly accessible.” Wall Street Journal
“Leanda de Lisle has the gift of reminding us that history is the story of real people; real men, real women, full of rage and ambition and lust and hope and love. The Tudors are already our most vivid dynasty, by quite a long chalk, but these pages render them more vivid still. This was an age when the game was worth the candle, when a chance remark could result in a crown or the axe. Wonderful, passionate, dangerous, fascinating stuff. I couldn't put it down.”Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey
“This fresh take on the Tudor dynasty is history at its best an engaging and well-sourced account, sprinkled with provocative anecdotes that will appeal to both scholars and general readers This compelling tale is driven by three-dimensional people and relationships, and de Lisle does a fantastic job of making them feel lived and dramatic. ” Publishers Weekly, starred
“A reliable and amply researched guide.” Kirkus Reviews
The book's subtitle is particularly apt as de Lisle makes significant efforts to touch on all members of the Tudor family and gives substantial attention to oft-overlooked figures such as Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII's sister, and her daughter, Margaret Douglas. While not eschewing the importance of the era's religious conflicts, de Lisle gives the matter less foregrounding than Ackroyd, balancing it with issues such as the Tudor struggle to establish royal legitimacy. As a result of the title's scope, however, the treatment of several subjects is somewhat abbreviated, particularly in the last third of the book. VERDICT Lighter in style and rather more accessible than Ackroyd's volume, this makes an excellent choice for readers seeking a broader look at the Tudor story, especially those interested in the dynasty's founding and early days.—Kathleen McCallister, Univ. of South Carolina, Columbia
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Meet the Author
Leanda de Lisle is the highly acclaimed author of The Sisters Who Would be Queen: The Tragedy of Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey and After Elizabeth: The Death of Elizabeth and the Coming of King James. She has been a columnist at The Spectator and Country Life. She received her Master’s in History from Oxford University. She now lives in Leicestershire, England with her husband and three sons.
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5 out of 5 for this reader folks! WOW .. JUST WOW! I have to admit/proclaim right here and now that am completely fascinated with the Tudor Dynasty. Actually my fascination seems to spreading deeper and deeper into history. When I saw this book available for review I knew I immediately wanted to read it. Tudor: The Family Story by Leandra de Lisle is a well written history book that spans just before the War of the Roses and ends with the death of the Tudor Dynasty (Elizabeth I to James I). There are complete illustrated charts to follow the family history (let's face it, it can all get very confusing with the repeat of royal names like Henry, Edward, Margaret, Elizabeth, Anne ... etc). Whenever a reference was to be made it was easily outlined with numbers/letters leading the reader to further investigate the source if they choose to. Leanda de Lise goes about writing this book by approaching it like a huge fairytale (at least this is how I followed it as I do with most of the history I read), but never once leaving me to think it was unbelievable. While she states facts, she provides a vivid picture of dress, deportment, relationships, characters, politics and history that make it easy to follow. Never once was I ever confused reading this book and if you are familiar with medieval history, where the families married cousins and such,and many were addressed by titles that are used over an over again, it can be very confusing indeed. I am not a historian, but an average woman who loves to read about the past of this world. I am not qualified to dissect this book and express what is right or wrong, pick at the details one by one, scorn, critique and/or debate truth. I am qualified however, to tell you it didn't put me to sleep in the way that many history books do. My attention was captured, I looked forward to my reading time and I felt I walked away once finished, with a little bit more understanding of that era. I am looking forward to reading not just more about this time in history, but to reading another book by this author. If you are interested in a somewhat lengthy read about The War of the Roses, also known as the cousins war between the Lancaster's and York's, the mystery of the Prince's in the Tower, the fall of Richard III by Henry VII, the reign of Henry VIII and his six wives, England's separation from the church of Rome and the Reign of Edward V, Bloody Mary and the Virgin Queen Elizabeth I, READ THIS BOOK! It covers it all! :) HAPPY READING! :)
This comprehensive book isn't geared for romance fans - not unless the romance reader wants to know the history behind historical romances from the Tudor period. The prose is somewhat dry for the average reader but the book is so informative that history lovers won't be deterred. Well-researched and organized. So many books about the Tudors start with Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. This book doesn't - it starts with Richard III and what was going on in the UK when the Tudors arrive on the scene, then proceeds to follow the Tudors through the duration of their reign, which helps clarify the issues and decisions made at the end of the dynasty - which many books fail to do because they skim through the Tudor beginnings. I requested a copy of this book in exchange for review from NetGalley. I'm glad I did - I wish the author could continue this book as a series, covering the rest of the English monarchy up to the present day.
Best Tudor biography I've read and not only because it is very objective and fair to all tudors, layoung out on all of her subjects, their achievements, trials, and dark aspects of their character and in some cases in their government, *but* also including the lesser known and talked about Tudors, including Owen Tudor's descendants from his illegitimate son David ap Owen who likely was Henry Tudor (VII) playmate before he became Herbert's ward; one of his descendants was Katherine Grey's jailor when she was moved to her last residence and Burghley's informer. I encourage everyone not just to read her book and be over with it; also read her Appendixes which were very helpful and the best informative I've come across with in history books (the others are found in The Woodvilles by Susan Higginbotham. Another great biography). Other books I recommend to read after this is The Woodvilles as already mentioned, Anne Neville/ On Bed with the Tudors/ and Elizabeth of York by Amy Licence, Blood Sisters by Sarah Gristwood, Sisters who would be Queen by Leanda de Lisle as well. Elizabeth I the struggle for the throne by Starkey, Mary Tudor by Edwards, Mary Tudor: England's First Catholic Queen by Edwards, Mary Tudor by anna Whitelock, The Creation of Anne Boleyn by Susan Bordo, The Myth of bloody Mary by Linda Porter and also by Linda Porter Catherine Parr, Sister Queens: The Noble and Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana of Castile by Julia Fox. Six Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser. The Tudors: A Short Introduction by John Guy. The Armada by Garett Mattingly, Jane Seymour by Elizabeth Norton and Margaret Beaufort by Elizabeth Norton as well. And The Plantagenets by Fan Jones and The Life of Elizabeth I and Sic Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir. Thistle and the Rose by Hester W. Chapman and Tudor Age by Jasper Ridley and Henry VIII and his Court by Alison Weir.