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, counterplots, and an uneasy royal succession to Henry VIII.
IN 1501, ENGLAND HAD BEEN RAVAGED FOR DECADES by conspiracy, coups, and violence. Through luck, guile, and ruthlessness, Henry VII, the first of the Tudor kings, emerged as ruler—but as a fugitive with a flimsy claim to England’s throne, he remained a usurper and false king to many, and his hold on power was precarious.
But Henry had a crucial asset: his queen and their children, the living embodiment of his hoped-for dynasty. His marriage to Queen Elizabeth united the houses of Lancaster and York, the warring parties that had fought the bloody century-long Wars of the Roses. Now their older son, Arthur, was about to marry a Spanish princess. On a cold November day sixteen-year-old Catherine of Aragon arrived in London for a wedding that would mark a triumphal moment in Henry’s reign. But Henry’s plans for his son would not happen—and waiting in the wings was the impetuous younger brother, the future Henry VIII.
Rich with drama and insight, Winter King is an astonishing story of pageantry, treachery, intrigue, and incident—and the fraught, dangerous birth of Tudor England.
|Publisher:||Simon & Schuster|
|Product dimensions:||5.70(w) x 8.22(h) x 1.14(d)|
About the Author
Thomas Penn is editorial director at Penguin Books UK. He holds a Ph.D. in medieval history from Clare College, Cambridge University, and writes for the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, and the London Review of Books, among other publications.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations xv
Genealogical Table xxii
Prologue: Red Rose, Avenger of the White 1
Part 1 Blood and Roses
1 Not a Drop of Doubtful Royal Blood 15
2 Richmond 41
3 He Seeks in All Places to Destroy Me 70
4 Now Must You Supply the Mother's Part Also 93
Part 2 Change of Worlds
5 No Sure Way 123
6 Council Learned 147
7 Our Second Treasure 171
8 Null and Void 192
9 This Day Came de la Pole 213
10 New Heaven, New Earth 235
Part 3 A State of Avarice
11 Extraordinary Justice 261
12 Courage to Be Bold 283
13 Savage Harshness Made Complete 308
14 The Art of Dying 333
15 Rich, Ferocious, Thirsting for Glory 352
What People are Saying About This
“A wonderful read, as rich in character and drama as Wolf Hall, only shorter and true.”
—John Carey, author of William Golding: The Man Who Wrote Lord of the Flies
“A definitive and accessible account of the reign of Henry VII that will alter our view not just of Henry, but of the country he dominated and corrupted, and of the dynasty he founded.”
—Philippa Gregory, The Guardian (UK)
"As Thomas Penn shows us so vividly in Winter King, the first Tudor monarch is as fascinating as his son and his life story nearly as full of drama and incident."
—Martin Rubin, The Wall Street Journal
"Penn's book presents readers with the world of realpolitik as it was played out in the earliest years of the Tudor dynasty. . . . Here is a skillful reclamation project, an absorbing picture of the oft-overlooked architect behind one of the greatest, most controversial dynasties in English history. . . . Penn's story offers a rich pageant of players — agents and adversaries, courtiers and scholars, thugs and young aristocrats."
—Nick Owchar, Los Angeles Times
“A masterful account of a pivotal moment in English history. In this remarkable debut, Thomas Penn brings to life the reign of Henry VII, a fascinating ruler too long eclipsed by the tyrant he defeated and the famous son who succeeded him.”
—James Shapiro, Professor of English, Columbia University, and author of Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?
“This is an exceptionally stylish literary debut. Henry VII may be the most unlikely person ever to have occupied the throne of England, and his biographers have rarely conveyed just what a weird man he was. Tom Penn does this triumphantly, and in the process manages to place his subject in a vividly-realised landscape. His book should be the first port of call for anyone trying to understand England’s most flagrant usurper since William the Conqueror.”
—Diarmaid MacCulloch, author of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years
“Winter King offers us the fullest, deepest, most compelling insight into the warped psychology of the Tudor dynasty’s founder to have appeared since [Francis] Bacon wrote.”
—John Guy, Financial Times
“With a sharp eye for detail and adroit use of a gifted historical imagination . . . [Thomas Penn] lets us hear the creak of oars and the scratch of pens, as well as the tubercular king fighting for every breath . . . Vigorous and thoroughly enjoyable.”
“A tour de force.”
“I feel I’ve been waiting to read this book a long time. It’s a fluent and compelling account of the cost of founding the Tudor dynasty: of a clever, ruthless, enigmatic monarch, a refugee all his early life, king by right of conquest, prepared to harass and frighten his subjects into submission: a man content to be feared and not loved. The level of detail is fascinating and beautifully judged. The book shows what a mistake it is to regard these closing years of the reign simply as a curtain raiser for Henry VIII. I think that, for the first time, a writer has made me feel what contemporaries felt as Henry VII’s reign drew to an end; the relief, the hope, the sudden buoyancy.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.