The Six Wives of Henry VIII

The Six Wives of Henry VIII

by Alison Weir

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Overview

The tempestuous, bloody, and splendid reign of Henry VIII of England (1509-1547) is one of the most fascinating in all history, not least for his marriage to six extraordinary women. In this accessible work of brilliant scholarship, Alison Weir draws on early biographies, letters, memoirs, account books, and diplomatic reports to bring these women to life. Catherine of Aragon emerges as a staunch though misguided woman of principle; Anne Boleyn, an ambitious adventuress with a penchant for vengeance; Jane Seymour, a strong-minded matriarch in the making; Anne of Cleves, a good-natured and innocent woman naively unaware of the court intrigues that determined her fate; Catherine Howard, an empty-headed wanton; and Catherine Parr, a warm-blooded bluestocking who survived King Henry to marry a fourth time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802136831
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 03/28/2000
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 656
Sales rank: 80,165
Product dimensions: 9.14(w) x 6.20(h) x 1.42(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Alison Weir lives and works near Peebles in Scotland. Her books include Britain's Royal Families, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Children of England, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry VIII: King and Court.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

The princess from Spain

The child, thought the ambassadors, was delightful, 'singularly beautiful'. Seated upon the lap of her mother, the Queen of Castile, she was gravely surveying the important yet deferential men who were taking such polite and fulsome interest in her. Only two years old in the spring of 1488, the Infanta Katherine of Aragon was already displaying the plump prettiness that was to enchant her two future husbands. Her wide blue eyes gazed from a round, firmchinned face, which was framed by wavy, red-gold hair, worn loose as was the custom for princesses at that time. She sat with her mother on a dais in the midst of the court of Castile and Aragon, which had gathered for a brief respite in the wars against the Infidel to enjoy a tournament. And, during the interval, when the contesting knights had withdrawn to their tents, the English ambassadors, sent by King Henry VII, came to pay their respects.

Queen Isabella, sovereign of Castile in her own right, and her husband Ferdinand of Aragon were well aware of their purpose. They came from a king whose title to his crown was dubious, to say the least. Although three years had now elapsed since Henry Tudor had usurped the throne of England after defeating Richard III, the last Plantagenet king, at the battle of Bosworth, he was still working hard to consolidate his position. He had, in fact, no title at all to the crown by descent; therefore he professed to claim it by right of conquest and through a questionable descent from the early British kings – not for nothing did he name his eldest son, born in 1486, Arthur. Nevertheless, there were still living at least six male members of the House of Plantagenet with a better lineal claim to the throne than Henry VII, and he knew it. Ferdinand and Isabella knew it too, and they were sensible of the fact that a marriage alliance between England and one of the great European powers would imply recognition of Henry VII's title and immeasurably strengthen his position both in his own kingdom and in the eyes of the world at large.

There were, at that time, two major powers in Europe: France and Spain. English distrust of the French, engendered by nearly 200 years of war, forced Henry VII to consider a more congenial alliance for his son with Spain, then a new political entity. Until 1479, Spain had been made up of a group of minor kingdoms ruled by interrelated monarchs, and since the eighth century, much of the Spanish peninsula had been held by the Moors. Slowly, the Christian rulers had reclaimed the land. The 'Reconquest' had been going on for centuries, an internal crusade that absorbed Spanish energies and kept her to a large extent out of European politics. This long struggle against the Moors was in fact the greatest source of a sense of national identity, and the biggest single unifying factor, more so even than the marriage between Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile that brought the Spanish kingdoms together under a single monarchy. No Spanish rulers were more zealous in eliminating the Moors than Ferdinand and Isabella, and by 1488 only the Moorish kingdom of Granada remained unconquered by the Christians. The sovereigns were rulers of the rest of the Iberian peninsula, save for the kingdom of Portugal, and it would only be a matter of time before Granada too came under their dominion. Spain was therefore taking its place as a major European power.

Ferdinand and Isabella represented everything that seemed desirable to Henry VII: they were the descendants of ancient monarchies, their position was strong, and their reputation glorious. If they could be persuaded to agree to a marriage alliance between Prince Arthur and one of their four daughters, then the Tudor dynasty would be far more secure than hitherto. Moreover, Spain and France were hereditary enemies, and therefore a joint pact between England and Spain would benefit both sides. The Spanish sovereigns were well aware of the potential advantages to themselves of such an alliance, but they were in no hurry to make a commitment. Ferdinand was as wily a politician as Henry Tudor, and was not prepared to sign any treaties until he could be sure that the English King was firmly established on his throne. Given England's susceptibility to dynastic warfare, it seemed more than likely that Henry VII might not long enjoy his regal dignity.

There was, however, something that Ferdinand desired very much, and that was military assistance against the French. In March 1488, the Spanish ambassador at the English court was Dr Roderigo de Puebla, an unscrupulous diplomat of Jewish origins. Ferdinand had instructed him to offer Henry an infanta for his son in return for an undertaking on Henry's part to declare war on France. The King of England had reacted enthusiastically to the proposal, and promptly despatched his ambassadors to Spain to view the sovereigns' youngest daughter, Katherine.

A Spanish herald, Ruy Machado, was moved to comment on the charming impression made on the envoys by both the little girl and her mother, the Queen. At the same time, in England, Henry VII was welcoming Ferdinand's representatives and enthusiastically showing off his nineteen-month-old son, first dressed in cloth of gold and then stripped naked, so they could see he had no deformity. The Spaniards saw an auburn-haired, fair-skinned child who was tall for his age, and thought him both beautiful and graceful, with 'many excellent qualities'.

Ferdinand and Isabella were impressed by their reports, but still not happy about sending their daughter to a realm whose king might be deposed at any time. As Puebla told Henry VII quite candidly in July, 'Bearing in mind what happens every day to the kings of England, it is surprising that Ferdinand and Isabella should dare think of giving their daughter at all.' But at last Ferdinand decided that assistance against France was more important to him than his daughter's future security, and instructed his ambassadors to draw up a treaty of marriage. There was some haggling between the representatives of both sides over the financial settlement to be made on the bride, but this was settled amicably and it was agreed that the Infanta should bring with her a dowry of 200,000 crowns (equivalent to about £5 million today). The alliance was ratified, and the dowry confirmed, by the Treaty of Medina del Campo, which was signed by the Spanish sovereigns on 27 March 1489. Thus Katherine's matrimonial future was decided when she was three years old, a common fate of princesses at that time.

Katherine of Aragon was named after her English great-grandmother, Katherine of Lancaster, a daughter of John of Gaunt (a younger son of Edward III), who had married Henry III of Castile in 1388 and died in 1418. Her son by Henry succeeded his father as John I, and married his cousin, Isabella of Portugal; they were the parents of Isabella of Castile. Isabella had been born into a land ravaged by war, both dynastic and holy. Her brother, Henry IV, was a spineless weakling, and her mother went insane when she was a girl. Fortunately, in 1469 a marriage was arranged for Isabella with her cousin, Ferdinand of Aragon, a vigorous youth eleven months her junior. In 1474, Henry IV died childless, and Isabella became Queen of Castile in her own right.

The new Queen was of middle height with a good figure that would soon be ruined by ten pregnancies in quick succession. She had skin so fair it looked white, and her eyes were a greeny blue. She was graceful, beautiful, modest and pious, but was also blessed with a sense of humour and boundless energy. She was both clever and sensible, and turned a blind eye to her husband's many infidelities, although she loved him dearly. Her only fault, as noted by her contemporaries, was her love of ostentation in dress, for, like her daughter Katherine in later years, she was 'a ceremonious woman in her attire', favouring the rich velvets and cloth of gold so typical of the period.

In 1479, the King of Aragon died and Ferdinand succeeded him. Thus, for the first time in her history, Spain became united under centralised rule, with only the Moorish Kingdom of Granada refusing allegiance to the sovereigns. The reconquest of this Infidel bastion was to be the great enterprise of their reign, to which they would devote most of their time and resources. Campaign followed campaign, with the ever growing family of the King and Queen being trailed after them in the wake of their army, from city to city, through inhospitable and hostile territory, the monarchs themselves sometimes suffering gruelling privation in their quest for a holy victory.

This left the Queen with little time to devote to her children. Her first child, Isabella, was born in 1470, and was followed in rapid succession over the next fifteen years by nine others. Sadly, all the campaigning took its toll: five babies died young. However, the rest grew to maturity. An heir to the throne, the Infante John, was born in 1478; then there was Juana, born in 1479, Maria in 1482, and Katherine (who was called Catalina in her native land), born on the night of 15-16 December 1485 in the palace of the Bishop of Toledo at Alcala de Henares, in the midst of war. The Queen had been in the saddle all day, and rose from her bed the day after the birth to go back on the march, consigning her youngest daughter to the care of nurses. Nevertheless, she cared deeply for all her children, and personally supervised their education. They, in turn, all loved and respected her, especially Katherine, who grew up to be the most like her in looks and character.

While Isabella lived, Katherine had a champion who would consider her welfare and security before all else. Yet Katherine was Ferdinand's daughter as well, and he was very different from her mother. In appearance he was of medium height with a wellproportioned body, and had long dark hair and a good complexion. He was genial, charismatic and a good conversationalist. Like his wife, he possessed great energy which he put to good use on military campaigns but also expended on women. His contemporaries thought him compassionate, yet this did not always extend to his own family; he later abandoned one daughter to penury and had another declared insane in order to seize her kingdom. He was notorious as a great dissimulator, and for being fond of political intrigue. Yet for all his failings, he loved his wife, and theirs was a dynamic and successful partnership.

The only glimpse we have of Katherine of Aragon during her childhood is at the tournament where she was presented to the English ambassadors. Yet she was an innocent witness to most of the great landmarks of her parents' reign: the fall of Granada in 1492, the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, and the establishment of the notorious Spanish Inquisition. All of these things served to enhance the reputation of Ferdinand and Isabella as champions of the Catholic Church; Spain's prestige in the world had never been higher.

After the conquest of Granada, the four infantas were sent there to live in the Moorish palace of the Alhambra. There they grew to maturity and were educated among the arched courtyards and splashing fountains where once the caliphs had kept their harem. The Christian princesses rarely left their sunny home, except for the great occasions of state at which their presence was required. Katherine's tutor, appointed by her mother, was a clerk in holy orders, Alessandro Geraldini, who would later accompany her to England as her chaplain. Her education was very much in the medieval tradition, although Erasmus, the celebrated Dutch humanist, who met Katherine in England, tells us that she was 'imbued with learning, by the care of her illustrious mother'. She learned to write with a graceful hand, and improved her mind with devotional reading, but she was also taught the traditional feminine skills of needlework and dancing, lacemaking, and embroidery in the Spanish 'black-work' style, which she would later popularise in England. Before her eyes was the image of her pious mother as the supreme example of Christian queenship, an example that Katherine would try to emulate all her life.

Ferdinand and Isabella arranged advantageous marriages for all their children, although none turned out as successfully as they had hoped. Isabella was married in 1490 to the Infante Alfonso of Portugal. Although it was an arranged marriage, the young couple quickly fell in love, but their happiness was shattered when, only seven months later, Alfonso was killed after a fall from his horse. His widow returned to Spain declaring it was her intention to enter a nunnery, but Ferdinand was having none of this, and after protracted negotiations sent her back to Portugal in 1497 to marry Alfonso's cousin, King Manuel I. In 1498, Isabella died giving birth to a son, the Infante Miguel, who only lived two years. Manuel would later remarry, and his bride would be Isabella's younger sister Maria.

Juana, the second daughter of the sovereigns, was volatile and highly unstable, yet her parents arranged for her an even more glorious marriage. Their fame had led many princes to seek alliance with them, one such being the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I, Hapsburg ruler of vast territories, including Austria, parts of Germany, Burgundy and the Low Countries. He had two gifted children, Philip and Margaret, and Ferdinand and Isabella were happy to ally themselves with Maximilian by marriages between Philip and Juana and Margaret of Austria and the Infante John, the heir to Spain.

Juana and Philip were married in 1496. Philip was not for nothing nicknamed 'the Handsome', and Juana fell violently and possessively in love with him, with the predictable result that he soon tired of her and took mistresses. This provoked his wife to terrible rages, and her behaviour became a public scandal both in Flanders and Spain. Reports of it reached Queen Isabella, who was deeply troubled by them, yet powerless to do very much to alter the situation. However, Juana's mental instability did not affect her fertility, and she produced six children, her eldest son Charles being born in 1500 at Ghent.

Her brother John fared rather better in his marriage, which took place in 1497. He was a pleasant youth who excelled in all the knightly virtues and who had captured the hearts of his future subjects. His constitution, however, was delicate, and Ferdinand and Isabella were concerned that his spirited and robust bride would wear him out. Their fears were well founded, too, for the Infante died only six months after his marriage, leaving Margaret of Austria pregnant with a child that was later stillborn. This meant that the Infanta Isabella was now the heiress to the Spanish throne, and when she bore her son Miguel in 1498, there were great celebrations, in spite of her death in childbirth, for Spain once more had a male heir. Yet when Miguel succumbed to a childish illness in 1500, the unstable Juana became heiress to the sovereigns, which was naturally a matter of concern to them, though at least she had a healthy son of her own.

Queen Isabella grieved deeply for the loss of her children and grandchildren, which made her remaining unmarried daughter, Katherine, seem all the more precious to her. Throughout these years of marriages and tragedy, negotiations had dragged on for Katherine's wedding to Prince Arthur, and Isabella was now determined to ensure that her daughter's future would be as secure and happy as she could make it. In 1493, when Katherine was seven years old, it had been decided that she would go to England in 1498, when she was twelve. In 1497, Henry VII sent her 'a blessed ring' as a token of his fatherly affection. She could not remember a time when she had not been referred to as the Princess of Wales, and from the age of two she had been schooled for her destiny as Queen of England. She had been brought up in the knowledge that one day she must leave Spain and her parents for ever, being told that such was the fate of all princesses like her. As she had been reared to absolute obedience to the will of her parents, she did not question this.

In August 1497, Katherine and Arthur were formally betrothed at the ancient palace of Woodstock in Oxfordshire, Dr de Puebla standing proxy for the bride. Katherine did not go to England in 1498; the date of her arrival was postponed until September 1500, when Prince Arthur would be fourteen and capable of consummating the marriage. There was concern at the English court that the bride would find it difficult to make herself understood when she arrived there, and both Queen Elizabeth and the Lady Margaret Beaufort, the King's mother, requested the sovereigns of Spain to ensure that Katherine always spoke French – the diplomatic language of Europe – with her sister-in- law Margaret of Austria, as they themselves did not understand Latin or Spanish. They also suggested that Katherine accustom herself to drink wine, as the water of England was not drinkable. In December 1497, Queen Elizabeth wrote to Queen Isabella asking to be kept informed of the health and safety of her future daughter-in-law 'whom we think of and esteem as our own daughter'.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "The Six Wives of Henry VIII"
by .
Copyright © 1991 Alison Weir.
Excerpted by permission of Grove Atlantic, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Chronology,
Introduction,
Part I Katherine of Aragon,
1 The princess from Spain,
2 A true and loving husband,
3 Our daughter remains as she was here,
4 Pain and annoyance,
5 Sir Loyal Heart and the Tudor court,
6 A chaste and concordant wedlock,
Part II The 'great matter',
7 Mistress Anne,
8 A thousand Wolseys for one Anne Boleyn,
9 It is my affair!,
10 Happiest of Women,
11 Shall I die without justice?,
12 Like one given by God,
Part III How many wives will he have?,
13 I like her not!,
14 Rose without a thorn,
15 Worthy and just punishment,
16 Never a wife more agreeable to his heart,
17 Under the planets at Chelsea,
Bibliography,
Genealogical Tables,
Index,

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The Six Wives of Henry VIII 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 267 reviews.
kamiPA More than 1 year ago
after watching The Tudors, i wanted to go more in depth and had heard good things about Alison Weir's works. I loved the book and went through it very quickly. was fascinated that even though The Tudors is largely dramatized for entertainment value, quite a few of the details in the book are shown in the series. it keeps you enthralled like a fiction book, all the while enlightening you to life during Henry VIII's reign. the backgrounds on each wife were very detailed and really painted a portrait of each that helped enlighten how they came to their (mostly) unfortunate ends. since reading this book, i have followed up with The Children of Henry VIII and just finished The Life of Elizabeth I. Am now starting Mary, Queen of Scots, with The War of the Roses waiting in the wings! will probably check out Ms. Weir's other books as well - including Henry VIII that i got for my dad for his birthday when he's finished! I would highly reccomend this book for anyone interested in learning more about the life and times during the reign of Henry VIII.
Cindyoz More than 1 year ago
Alison Weir presents a modern perspective on an ancient topic-King Henry VIII. It is refreshing to revisit topics with the new bent-why was Henry so obsessed with wives? What are the true possible medical reasons behind his never having begotten a son with Anne Boleyn? Was Anne truly the sordid character that many have said she was? Was he truly the lecherous old man as he is often portrayed? Alison presents this bit of history in an enlightened modern day format. This read is so palatable that it was the impetus for my reading as much about English monarchies as I possibly could. Bravo, Alison. Well done. A must-read!
BooBooAZ More than 1 year ago
This is not a "dummies" type book but Alison Weir has made English history not only easy but exciting, compelling and absorbing to read. Her research is impeccable; the dialogue is based on historical fact; and when not verifiable she makes it known. A wonderful companion to this is her "The Children of Henry VIII."
Tudor_Fan More than 1 year ago
Henry VII caused many divisions in his quest to have a male heir. However, the psychological problems endured by his surviving children due to his bastardizing of his daughters would cause many more problems. His heir Edward VI didn't live long enough to have the true power of the King, his youth became a great tool for those that wanted to carry out their own agendas in the young King's name. This is aptly noted when upon the death of Henry VII, his will on how Edward's council was to be made up is not carried out due to this battle for power. Of course the Seymour brothers jealousies and ambitions play a great role in this battle. Issues even followed Mary I and Elizabeth who were forever linked to plots by those wanting to return England to the See of Rome and those viweing Elizabeth as the deliverer of the Protestant faith. The way the author interelates the lives of each heir places the reades in the halls of English palaces, the streets of England and in the midset of each ruler as they struggle with the many issues that develop around them. It just makes you wonder what if Mary would've been better treated and prepared in her youth, would she been a much stronger ruler than she eventually became. In a way her hunt for heretics was like her father's actions on the catholics. Elizabeth seems to have been also adversely affected in her reluctance to marry and in developing a very astute mind so as not to get easily influenced into actions that would damage her standing as the ruler following Mary. Her father's execution and treatment of his wives undoubtedly had an effect on her reluctance to marry or be dependent on anyone but herself. This book is a very engulfing quick read for anyone who has been facinated by Henry VII via Showtime's: The Tudors or just for any fan of this facinating period of history.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the best books I ever read! It is very detailed and has lots of information. I recommend this book to any Tudor lover.
Sweet_MelissaMN More than 1 year ago
A must, if you're interested in the Tudor dynasty. Alison Weir makes non-fiction interesting, and read like fiction.
jbraetzke More than 1 year ago
Weir manages to provide the reader with incredibly detailed information about the lives of these amazing women. There are times when this can be problematic as she can focus on the minutiae of a banquet, for example, and continues at length describing banal experiences only an expert on this subject would find interesting. However, my experience with this book was more akin to reading a historical novel rather than a stodgy historical text. If you're interested in the subject I would highly recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was really good! I was intimidated to read it because I thought it would read like a text book. However, I could not put it down. King Henry VIII lived a crazy life and Weir does an amazing job bringing it to life! I felt like I was at the Tudor court!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think this one of Alison Weir's best books. I read it in about 2 weeks while I was watching The Tudors on DVD. I couldn't put the book down. Granted, Henri VIII's life is stranger than fiction, but many writers tend to ramble on about unnecessary details when it comes to non-fiction. It's a book that really makes you wonder about the karmic lessons in the various charachters lives.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most dull and boring books I have read since reading droll text books in school. It jumps around way to much. Just when you think that thr story of this wife is done, she takes you back in time to repeat the story again. I am truly sorry I purchased this one. I have read many books on this subject, this being the most boring.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book, love Allison Weir. Reads like fiction- it's so interesting. One of my favorites.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am usually an avid fiction reader and find non-fiction of this time period filled with dates and names that all sound the same. I have to admit that I could not put this book down. I was captivating and made you feel as though you were right there in the court of Henry VIII. Allison Weir writes from a non-biased point of view and presents the facts with poise and drama. It was fantastic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Alison Weir's The Six Wives of Henry VIII is a highly reable account of the life and times of the six fasinating women who were married to one of England's most famous monarch's. While the account is very detailed it is puzziling that Weir left out some facts like after Katherine of Aragon's first miscarriage her stomach did not shrink and it was believed that she was carrying twins and the diasterious first meeting between Anne of Cleves and Henry VIII where the bride-to-be failed to recoginze the king who was in disguise souring the marriage before it started. But still highly recommended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was actually sad to end this book. This is a long book, but it is written with such fluidity and historical insight that I found myself easily reading into the whee hours of the morning. However, I do think that women might enjoy this book more a bit more. I highly recommend!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Weir was able to clear up misconceptions that I had, which I think are common among novice historians. This is an excellent book that is fair, not harping or condemning the wives. I think it was also fair to Henry VIII. You can love him and loathe him in the same breathe. If you want to learn about English history, this is an excellent angle to look at it from. It is well worth the time to read. I was engrossed in their lives and the history. I did very little skimming and that really says alot! Buy and keep as reference.
Anonymous 5 months ago
I have read another book by this author so i figured id read this one. It is historically accurate. I read this in 2 days. If you have interrest in the tudor area... her books are fabulous. She does bounce around once and again but only to make the picture a bit clearer. Loved it.
tokuchi77 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It is true story. And very easy to read.I was so surprised about the king had six wives. So many.But I feel some rady poor because they were sent to London tour.Only she cannot bore the baby boy.I strongly feel that I am happy to live this age.
ZoharLaor on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is an interesting history and chronology of the court of Henry VIII, his love life and court intrigue. No wonder Showtime is doing a show about the Tudors; no fiction writer could make this up. This book helps understand the dilemmas Henry VIII was under, dispel myths about him (and royalty) and creates some new ones.Ms. Weir does a fantastic job of bringing historical figures to life, telling us about the women behind the names with intelligence and zest. The author is careful to distinguish between fact and fiction, and even more careful to inform the reader about "educated guesses".
jackelly on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was extremely interested in Henry VIII's life, but always confused by the timeline. This book was amazing for being in chronological order and the details. It is a large book, but surprisingly a page turner for a historical biography. His life is very interesting, and Allison Weir tries to stay as unbiased as possible, she actually makes you understand why he felt the need to marry so many times, he needed a son. Her writing is amazing and I am now starting on her other biographies. This is a must read for anyone interested in Tudor or British History.
Pretear on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The bibliography is at the end instead of cited throughout which means that this book is more for fun than it is for serious study. That being said, I'm no longer seriously studying history so it doesn't really make a difference, the book was excellent. It's just that old habits die hard and I found myself wanting to look at the original sources - which of course is ridiculous. It's was very interesting to read this book and watch the HBO series at the same time. Overall they're doing a good job of balancing artistic license/entertainment value and historical accuracy. I'm really looking forward to how they're going to handle Anne Boleyn's alleged crimes, trial, and execution next season. (This review was written before that season, having now seen that season, I really liked the way HBO did it.) As for the entertainment value of the book, I don't think you need to be into history to enjoy this. Historians criticize Alison Weir for making assumptions not based on solid fact, but she makes it clear that these are her interpretations of the events, the reader can make the same assumptions or different ones. I recommend it to anyone who likes a sordid plot line and a beheading or two. (For the record, while I enjoy reading about him, Henry the VIII was a d-bag.)
ovistine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great, in-depth look at Henry VIII and his six wives, with a nicely objective view toward all of them. Beautifully researched, lots of fun to read, definitely a great resource for anyone who's curious about these fascinating women.
mattrutherford on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hmmm... I'm really tempted to class this as historical fiction, given the many, many liberties Weir takes with her sources. In fact, I presumed it WAS historical fiction at first and enjoyed it immensely as such. However, I see that both in LC and here, it's classed as history, so I'll bow to the will of the majority and class it as such myself. I just have a problem reading "history" that doesn't have footnotes! Weir tries to make up for this by her folksy bibliography at the end, and maybe she really could have footnoted everything she wrote. Nonetheless, it sure seemed like she knew an awful lot about everyone's state of mind, far more than contemporaneous sources would have recorded. Chronicles of the period, albeit all we have to go on, are notoriously biased and exaggerated as well. I'll give it 4 stars. 3 stars as history, 5 stars as historical fiction.
Angelic55blonde on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love Alison Weir so my review might be a little biased. Since I have read a great deal of her other works I jumped at buying this book. It covers all six of Henry VIII's wives using a great deal of research. Predictably, Ms. Weir focuses the majority of the book on his first two, most famous wives Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. The rest of the book somewhat flies through the rest of the wives, especially his third wife who died shortly after childbirth so her reign was quite short.This is a long book and it is heavily laded with facts and dates but I love that. It is very informative and entertaining. It is not a boring book by any means. If you want a comprehensive study of all of Henry VIII's wives, then pick up this book.
carriebell85 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is an excellent biography about six very different women. Very readable, even for those who are not familiar with the story of Henry VIII and his wives. I highly recommend this book!
readfeed on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Read this after Mantel's historical fiction Wolf Hall, an impossible act to follow. However, it's a great introduction to the period, although Weir's sympathy for Anne Boleyn really annoyed me.