Tudors: The History of England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I

Overview

Peter Ackroyd, one of Britain’s most acclaimed writers, brings the age of the Tudors to vivid life in this monumental book. Tudors is the story of Henry VIII’s relentless pursuit of both the perfect wife and the perfect heir; of how the brief reign of the teenage king, Edward VI, gave way to the violent reimposition of Catholicism and the stench of bonfires under "Bloody Mary." It tells, too, of the long reign of Elizabeth I, which, though marked by civil strife, plots against ...

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Tudors: The History of England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I

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Overview

Peter Ackroyd, one of Britain’s most acclaimed writers, brings the age of the Tudors to vivid life in this monumental book. Tudors is the story of Henry VIII’s relentless pursuit of both the perfect wife and the perfect heir; of how the brief reign of the teenage king, Edward VI, gave way to the violent reimposition of Catholicism and the stench of bonfires under "Bloody Mary." It tells, too, of the long reign of Elizabeth I, which, though marked by civil strife, plots against her, and even an invasion force, finally brought stability.

Above all, it is the story of the English Reformation and the making of the Anglican Church. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, England was still largely feudal and looked to Rome for direction; at its end, it was a country where good governance was the duty of the state, not the church, and where men and women began to look to themselves for answers rather than to those who ruled them.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The theme of novelist and historian Ackroyd’s second title in his projected six-volume history of England (after Foundation) is the 16th-century religious reformation that began, as a dynastic matter, with Henry VIII’s divorce from Katherine of Aragon in 1533. While there was neither an Inquisition in England as in Spain, nor the wholesale slaughter of citizens as in France’s 1572 St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, the Reformation in England was marked by upheaval and bloodshed, as the Tudors imposed religious changes upon an initially reluctant populace. Henry VIII, for instance, dealt harshly with critics, ordering the executions of “a good number of the inhabitants of every town, village and hamlet” that dared join a 1536 popular revolt against the new order. And, while 300 English “heretics” were burned at the stake during Mary I’s four-year reign, earning her the nickname, “Bloody Mary,” Ackroyd points out that 200 Catholics were executed during Elizabeth I’s 45-year reign. 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). (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-01
Prolific British novelist, biographer and critic Ackroyd launches the second volume of his sweeping history less than two years after beginning with Foundation (2012). Readers curious about 16th-century British daily life or culture must look elsewhere; Ackroyd concentrates on Britain's ruling Tudors--minus the first, Henry VII, covered earlier. This installment opens with the 1509 accession of Henry VIII (1491–1547). Few mourned his harsh and rapacious but also unwarlike father, who left a full treasury which Henry soon emptied in wars with France before plunging into the dynastic and religious quarrels that dominated his reign. Obsession with having a male heir, not lust, was responsible for his plethora of wives. No fan of the Protestant Reformation, Henry broke with the papacy over its refusal to grant a divorce from his first wife. Once he had destroyed papal authority and looted its property, he disappointed reformers by largely preserving Catholic credos such as priestly celibacy and transubstantiation. His death and the accession of 9-year-old Edward saw the Anglican Church's transformation into a recognizably Protestant body, which his Catholic sister and successor, Mary, could not reverse in a stormy five-year reign. By this point, readers may be wearying of interminable, fierce and bloody religious controversy, a feeling Elizabeth shared. But religion obsessed 16th-century Britons, so her efforts to cool matters were only partly successful, but she proved a prudent, less bloodthirsty ruler and the most admirable Tudor. As usual, Ackroyd is a fine guide. 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.
From the Publisher
Praise for Tudors

"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.” —The Newtown Review of Books(Australia)

 

“[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)

Praise for Foundation

“Relaxed, unpretentious, and accessible.” —The New York Times Book Review on Foundation

Praise for Peter Ackroyd

“Ackroyd writes with such lightly worn erudition and a deceptive ease that he never fails to engage.”  —The Telegraph (UK)

Library Journal
09/15/2013
The second book of Ackroyd's projected six-volume history of England dives headfirst into its subject matter—with Henry VIII's ascension to the throne. Ackroyd (London: The Biography) covered the roots and earlier years of the Tudor dynasty, including Henry VII's reign, in his previous volume, Foundation. Readers wanting the author's views on the Tudors as a whole should take note. He interweaves his narrative of the Tudor monarchs here with a detailed exploration of the religious reformations and upheavals of the era, sparked by Henry VIII's break with the Roman church and destined to have tremendous and long-lasting effects on English history and culture at all levels. VERDICT A weightier and more focused read than Leanda de Lisle's study, below, this work should be of particular interest to those seeking an in-depth look at the religious changes of the Tudor period and the complex and often violent ways in which religious upheaval intertwined with politics.—Kathleen McCallister, Univ. of South Carolina Libs., Columbia
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250003621
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 10/8/2013
  • Series: History of England Series , #2
  • Pages: 528
  • Sales rank: 152,081
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Ackroyd is an award-winning novelist, as well as a broadcaster, biographer, poet, and historian. He is the author of the acclaimed Thames: Sacred River and London: The Biography, and the first volume of his history of England, Foundation. He holds a CBE for services to literature and lives in London.

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Table of Contents

Contents

List of illustrations vii

1. Hallelujah 1

2. All in scarlet 14

3. Heretic! 25

4. The woes of marriage 34

5. Into court 46

6. Old authentic histories 62

7. The king’s pleasure 78

8. A little neck 91

9. The great revolt 105

10. The confiscation 118

11. The old fashion 129

12. The body of Christ 139

13. The fall 145

14. War games 157

15. A family portrait 168

16. The last days 176

17. The breaking of the altars 184

18. Have at all papists! 193

19. The barns of Crediton 206

20. The lord of misrule 222

21. The nine-day queen 235

22. In the ascendant 245

23. Faith of our fathers 262

24. An age of anxiety 272

25. Nunc Dimittis 281

26. A virgin queen 287

27. Two queens 297

28. The thirty-nine steps 311

29. The rivals 325

30. The rites of spring 337

31. Plots and factions 354

32. The revels now are ended 371

33. The frog 384

34. The great plot 400

35. The dead cannot bite 418

36. Armada 428

37. Repent! Repent! 436

38. The setting sun 444

39. A disobedient servant 454

40. The end of days 463

41. Reformation 467

Further reading 473

Index 483

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