The Private Lives of the Tudors: Uncovering the Secrets of Britain's Greatest Dynasty

The Private Lives of the Tudors: Uncovering the Secrets of Britain's Greatest Dynasty

by Tracy Borman


View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


England’s Tudor monarchs—Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I—are perhaps the most celebrated and fascinating of all royal families in history. Their love affairs, their political triumphs, and their overturning of the religious order are the subject of countless works of popular scholarship. But for all we know about Henry’s quest for male heirs, or Elizabeth’s purported virginity, the private lives of the Tudors remain largely beyond our grasp.

In The Private Lives of the Tudors, Tracy Borman delves deep behind the public face of the monarchs, showing us what their lives were like beyond the stage of court. Drawing on the accounts of those closest to them, Borman examines Tudor life in fine detail. What did the monarchs eat? What clothes did they wear, and how were they designed, bought, and cared for? How did they practice their faith? And in earthlier moments, who did they love, and how did they give birth to the all-important heirs?

Delving into their education, upbringing, sexual lives, and into the kitchens, bathrooms, schoolrooms, and bedrooms of court, Borman charts out the course of the entire Tudor dynasty, surfacing new and fascinating insights into these celebrated figures.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802127549
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 10/17/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 206,594
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Tracy Borman is England's joint chief curator of Historic Royal Palaces and chief executive of the Heritage Education Trust. She has written seven previous books, including the highly acclaimed Elizabeth’s Women and Thomas Cromwell. She has a PhD in history from the University of Hull and lives in Surrey with her family.

Read an Excerpt

The royal bedding ceremony was subject to a similarly strict set of rules as the marriage ceremony and wedding feast. At around 8 o’clock in the evening, the bride was escorted to her chamber by her ladies, who undressed her and put her to bed. The groom, meanwhile, was stripped down to just his shirt – an undergarment that would have reached to at least mid-thigh and, in Henry’s case, would have been delicately embroidered. Then, accompanied by his gentlemen attendants, musicians, priests and bishops, he joined his wife in the bedchamber. The clerics would pronounce their blessings, and then a concoction of wine and spices would be served. Known as the void or voidee, this was a mixture of expensive sweet and sharp spices such as pepper, saffron, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. It was thought to be beneficial to health and digestion, as well as sweetening the breath and engendering strength and courage.

The onlookers were often slow to leave. Sometimes, they demanded to see the naked legs of the couple touching, which in some cases was accepted as a sign of consummation. Others expected to witness the royal newlyweds kissing or embracing. It was a crude reminder that a royal body was the property of the state; its functions of great interest to the people of the realm. Even after the throng of courtiers had bidden the couple goodnight and left the chamber, some may have lingered outside the closed door, straining their ears for any sound that might indicate the act of consummation was underway.

Customer Reviews