Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor Englandby Thomas Penn
A fresh look at the endlessly fascinating Tudors—the dramatic and overlooked story of Henry VII and his founding of the Tudor Dynasty—filled with spies, plots, counter-plots, and an uneasy royal succession to Henry VIII. 1501 England had been ravaged for decades by conspiracy and civil war. Henry VII clambered to the top of the heap—a/b>
A fresh look at the endlessly fascinating Tudors—the dramatic and overlooked story of Henry VII and his founding of the Tudor Dynasty—filled with spies, plots, counter-plots, and an uneasy royal succession to Henry VIII. 1501 England had been ravaged for decades by conspiracy and civil war. Henry VII clambered to the top of the heap—a fugitive with a flimsy claim to England’s crown who managed to win the throne and stay on it for sixteen years.
Although he built palaces, hosted magnificent jousts, and sent ambassadors across Europe, for many Henry VII remained a false king. But he had a crucial asset: his family—the queen and their children, the living embodiment of his hoped-for dynasty. Now, in what would be the crowning glory of his reign, his elder son would marry a great Spanish princess.
Thomas Penn re-creates an England that is both familiar and very strange—a country medieval yet modern, in which honor and chivalry mingle with espionage, real politik, high finance, and corruption. It is the story of the transformation of a young, vulnerable boy, Prince Henry, into the aggressive teenager who would become Henry VIII, and of Catherine of Aragon, his future queen, as well as Henry VII—controlling, avaricious, paranoid, with Machiavellian charm and will to power.
Rich with incident and drama, filled with wonderfully drawn characters, Winter King is an unforgettable tale of pageantry, intrigue, the thirst for glory—and the fraught, unstable birth of Tudor England.
- Viking Penguin
- Publication date:
Meet the Author
Thomas Penn is publisher of Verso Books, London. He holds a Ph.D. in medieval history from Clare College, Cambridge University and has frequently reviewed books for the Times Literary Supplement.
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I have to admit to being a history geek. For me, history is alive and energizing - not something static and remote. My obsession is European history from the 12th through 17th centuries - especially British history - so of course, when I was offered the chance to review this book, my interest was piqued immediately. I had not read too terribly much about Henry VII in the past and, with this book, Thomas Penn, brings this most important of English monarch to life in a very enjoyable fashion. There is nothing pedantry about this book. It is detailed to be sure but the details add to the read - they don't detract from the flow of the book as can become an issue with some dry historical missives. This book is lively, enthralling, detailed and enjoyable! "Winter King" has put some of the names and historical circumstances into prospective for me. Although Henry VII was a power house of a monarch it is his son, Henry VIII, who generally gets most of the press. I learned more about the man who became the King; how he managed to cling to the monarch in a very uncertain time, how he found his way through a mire of intrigues & plots to depose him, and how, it is my impression, he was the King who really was spymaster. Mentally agile, intelligent, ruthless, thoughtful and canny, Henry VII is an engrossing historical character and this book is a winner! Yes! I heartily recommend it for other history obsessives or Tudor fans. Well done!
If Shakespeare had written a play about Henry VII based on this book, it would have been fascinating. Before reading this, I knew only that Henry VII defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field and was succeeded by Henry VIII. Although this book does not really cover the early years of Henry VII's reign, it does deal with the period in which his money grubbing and abuse of power was most evident. The transition to Prince Henry was very well covered. When he succeeds to the throne, I found myself hoping (against actual knowledge) that he would be a more just ruler as he promised, but Mr. Penn quickly disabuses of that. One of the more interesting parts of the book was Henry's relationship with Pope Julius II and the role of alum in the economies of England and Rome. That alone would be an interesting subject for a book.