The Children of Henry VIII

The Children of Henry VIII

by Alison Weir


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“Fascinating . . . Alison Weir does full justice to the subject.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer

At his death in 1547, King Henry VIII left four heirs to the English throne: his only son, the nine-year-old Prince Edward; the Lady Mary, the adult daughter of his first wife Katherine of Aragon; the Lady Elizabeth, the teenage daughter of his second wife Anne Boleyn; and his young great-niece, the Lady Jane Grey. In this riveting account Alison Weir paints a unique portrait of these extraordinary rulers, examining their intricate relationships to each other and to history. She traces the tumult that followed Henry's death, from the brief intrigue-filled reigns of the boy king Edward VI and the fragile Lady Jane Grey, to the savagery of "Bloody Mary," and finally the accession of the politically adroit Elizabeth I.

As always, Weir offers a fresh perspective on a period that has spawned many of the most enduring myths in English history, combining the best of the historian's and the biographer's art.

“Like anthropology, history and biography can demonstrate unfamiliar ways of feeling and being. Alison Weir's sympathetic collective biography, The Children of Henry VIII does just that, reminding us that human nature has changed—and for the better. . . . Weir imparts movement and coherence while re-creating the suspense her characters endured and the suffering they inflicted.”—The New York Times Book Review  

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345407863
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/28/1997
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 186,482
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Alison Weir is the author of four other books on English history.  She lives outside London with her husband and two children.  She is currently working on a biography of Elizabeth I that will focus on the queen's private life and intrigues.

Read an Excerpt

This book is not a history of England during the troubled reigns of Edward VI, Jane Grey, Mary I and Elizabeth I, but a chronicle of the personal lives of four English sovereigns, and the relationships between them, during the period 1547 to 1558. When Henry VIII died in 1547, he left three highly intelligent children to succeed him in turn—Edward, Mary and Elizabeth, to be followed, if their lines failed, by the descendants of his sister Mary Tudor, one of whom was the ill-fated nine-days queen, Lady Jane Grey.

The relationships between the royal siblings were never easy ones for several reasons: all had very dissimilar characters, and while they took after their father in many ways, they had each inherited diverse characteristics from their mothers, who had been the first three of Henry VIII's six wives. Each child had spent its formative years in vastly different circumstances, and had enjoyed—or suffered—varying relations with its formidable father. Mary's mother had been supplanted in King Henry's affections by Elizabeth's mother, who had, in her turn, been supplanted by Edward's mother. And while the King's daughters suffered several vicissitudes of fortune in Henry's lifetime, his son grew up secure in his august father's love and protection.

In the pages of this book, which begins at the point where my earlier book The Six Wives of Henry VIII came to an end, I have tried to portray the characters of these royal siblings and their cousin Jane Grey as realistically as possible, and to describe how their personal relationships with each other were affected by political and religious considerations. In order to achieve this, I have consulted a wealth of documentary evidence contemporary to the period, including numerous private and official letters, the great calendars of state and the masses of diplomatic papers, as well as memorials and chronicles by contemporary writers, including Edward VI's own journal, and more mundane records, such as lists of privy purse expenses, which can in fact yield fascinating information.

There have been many biographies of the later Tudor monarchs, but never a book in which their personal lives and relations with each other, and the effect of these factors upon the history of England, have been the central theme. One cannot of course write about kings and queens without touching on the political and social issues of their times, but what I have tried to bring into focus here is personal information that has until now been treated as generally subsidiary to the political ethos of other works. This book is not intended to replace such works, but to complement them.

In these pages, we go back in time to an age in which the personalities of monarchs and their familial connections had the power to influence governments, and it is vital to our knowledge of the period to understand what shaped the characters of these four monarchs, who were among the most charismatic and vivid personalities ever to have graced the throne of England. Naturally, our human condition makes us eager to learn about the private things, the everyday trivia, the scandals, and the sheer "feel" of ages long gone. We want to bridge the gap, to discover that even these long-dead kings and queens felt as we do, and come to know them through the writings and mementos they have left behind. We are fortunate, therefore, that the Tudor period is one rich in source material, in which fascinating—and sometimes astonishing—discoveries may be made. These, and one or two tantalizing mysteries, are the things I have included in this book, the things that bring us closer to the past.

Set against a background of turbulent change and intrigue, the story that unfolds will, I hope, bring to life four Tudor sovereigns and those whose lives they touched, and will portray them not only as Renaissance princes, but as individuals, who, in the final analysis, were people not so very unlike ourselves.

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Children of Henry VIII 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 66 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is great. Alison Weir makes it so easy to understand. Read The six wives of Henry the VIII and The Life of Elizabeth I, along with this one for a full picture of the Tudor family.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am not quite done with this book but so far it has just been wonderful. Once i pick it up I can't put it down. I really enjoy that it was very easy to read. It is wonderfully written and just a great book to read.
prkchop More than 1 year ago
Great book! Easy and interesting read. Didn't go into a lot of "extra" detail that sometimes makes you fall asleep. The book talked about a lot of people and places putting everything in prospective and easy to remember. She lets you know if a castle or building is still around today. This book made history interesting. Kind of like a cliffsnotes for history! Love love the book!!
catluvr06 More than 1 year ago
I love history, but I don't like boring history. This book is not only well-researched historically, but Alison Weird does a fabulous job of making this book interesting, if not gripping. I also enjoyed how the author went back and forth between the characters to maintain the time line. I know she has a book on Elizabeth...I wish she would come out with one on Mary, she is a fascinating character.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I can't imagine anyone not enjoying this book. The entertainment doesn't lie in the detailed, factual information (of which there is plenty) but rather in the author's use of psychological explanation in portraying these historical figures. I enjoy Weir's writing for the same reason that I enjoy Shakespeare's writing. Both authors not only present a good and entertaining story, they also present characters with such understanding that the stories become studies of humanity.
AnnieBM More than 1 year ago
Yet another insightful telling of history by Alison Weir. Her books are dense but after the first few pages, Ms. Weir draws the reader right in. She portrays the characters within their times so well. In this book, the author contrasts the relationships of these four against one another and with the times. I now have a very different understanding of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth.
ktran More than 1 year ago
I'v read and re-read this so many times and continue loving it. So much drama and Alison Weir is a great story teller so it isn't dry at all.
jnrmamma More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book for entertainment, information, discussion, gift giving. Alison Weir does it again. Information and history written just exciting and gripping as a novel!
janw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great read, like a novel even though you know how it ends.
TheLibraryhag on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It has been a while since i read any non-fiction and this was a good choice for me. Alison Weir seems to have her ducks in row while still writing a readable book. I believe that I learned quite a bit particularly about Edward VI who was much more interesting, and heartless, than I would have imagined. It never fails to amaze me how complicated the history of this family is. Lots of small details added depth to some of the characters involved in all this drama. I would recommend this book as a very good introduction to the later Tudors. I will definitely read other works by Weir.
mallinje on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very detailed account of the lives of the heirs of Henry VIII. It helps you to understand the mindset of his children and how his actions with both them and their mothers impacted their reigns. It tells how Mary was a girl who remembered when she was the center of attention and how she became bitter when she was no longer favored (this leading to the name "Bloody Mary"). Edward and Jane Grey were manipulated by everyone around them. And it has the early life of Elizabeth. A very enjoyable book.
Pretear on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is shorter but more repetitive than Six Wives. I really only wanted to put it down in the really repetitive sections. The death of Edward VI and Mary I lasted for about 60 pages more than necessary, same with Mary's pregnancies and the constant questioning of Elizabeth I. The book seemed to chronicle the same conflict over and over and over. Which is fine since, after all, it's a history book and presumably this is the way it actually happened. I just think there were too many pages devoted to things that could have been more concise. Edward's death which is clearly important and deserves a lot of attention, still could have been shorter. It went something like this: Edward got sick, (ten pages later), Edward is still sick, he gets sicker and sicker, (ten pages later) he's so sick people think he's dead, but no he's just still sick, (ten pages later) oh! he got better, oh no wait still sick, still sick, a little more sick, sick sick sick, (20 pages later), he died. Even so, I really enjoyed it and it definitely got in the way of doing school work.
creynolds on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I learned a lot about the monarchy after Henry VIII, but a lot still went over my head. It was much more detailed with less explanation than I needed.
queencersei on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a comprehensive biography of the lives of Henry VIII¿s three surviving children, Edward, Mary and Elizabeth. The book details their lives and each of their reigns. It also offerings a fascinating psychological insight of the children, particularly concerning Mary and Elizabeth. Mary and Elizabeth were each declared as illegitimate by their father at points in their lives. Each of their mothers were treated cruelly by their father. However, both Mary and Elizabeth struggled to maintain their fathers goodwill while he was alive and tried to live up to his image as a strong ruler after his death.
Jthierer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well-researched and interesting to read, but I wish more context had been given to the political climate they were working in.
jshillingford on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Alison Weir is an exceptional historian. This book examines the four individuals who all succeeded to the throne after Henry VIII. One of the four was not Henry's actual child, but Lady Jane Grey was a relative and a possibel heir. Weir examines each in turn, while also showing how their lives intersected. She spends time on their youth, education and how they were raised 9and by whom). Fantastic, and easy to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written, engrossing, and informative.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This early publication by Ms. Weir is good reading, adding some interesting insights to Elizabeth, Edward, and Lady Jane and how Mary's determination to claim the throne came about. I'm still reading it and looking forward for more insights.
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