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( Download E-pub ) á The Tudors: The Complete Story of England's Most Notorious Dynasty ó NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERBONUS This edition contains a The Tudors discussion guideAcclaimed historian G J Meyer provides a fresh look at the fabled Tudor dynasty and some of the most enigmatic figures ever to rule a country In , Henry Tudor, whose claim to the English throne was so weak as to be almost laughable, nevertheless sailed from France with a ragtag army to take the crown from the family that had ruled England for almost four centuries Fifty years later, his son, Henry VIII, aimed to seize even greater powers ultimately leaving behind a brutal legacy that would blight the lives of his children and the destiny of his country Edward VI, a fervent believer in reforming the English church, died before realizing his dream Mary I, the disgraced daughter of Catherine of Aragon, tried and failed to reestablish the Catholic Church and produce an heir, while Elizabeth I sacrificed all chance of personal happiness in order to survive The Tudors presents the sinners and saints, the tragedies and triumphs, the high dreams and dark crimes, of this enthralling era I was really pleasantly surprised by this book I picked it up expecting an ode to joy to the soap opera style of history as told in the silly TV series of the same name.What I got was a comprehensive look at the background stories often overlooked by many writers, who portray Henry VIII as a romantic rogue or portray Elizabeth s reign as a golden era of domestic bliss.I must admit my knowledge of Henry VII was sketchy before I picked up Meyer s book He did a wonderful job laying the ground wor I was really pleasantly surprised by this book I picked it up expecting an ode to joy to the soap opera style of history as told in the silly TV series of the same name.What I got was a comprehensive look at the background stories often overlooked by many writers, who portray Henry VIII as a romantic rogue or portray Elizabeth s reign as a golden era of domestic bliss.I must admit my knowledge of Henry VII was sketchy before I picked up Meyer s book He did a wonderful job laying the ground work and explaining the dynastic tensions between the York and Lancaster families In addition, Meyer introduces us to the England of the late 15th and early 16th centuries a small and devoutly Catholic country trying to find a place in a Europe dominated by Spain and France.What I admire most about the book, is how it answered all those questions I ve always wondered about such as what it must have been like for ordinary English people to suddenly be told their manner of praying to God is no longer accepted by the King, but it is in fact illegal Many books have portrayed Henry VIII as a man in love determined to do all for the woman he loves and desires Meyer s book shows us how Henry VIII was very lucky in choosing his advisers Cardinal Woolsey, Cromwell and Cranmer These men made the mistake of telling Henry things he COULD do from things he SHOULD do In the end we get a devoutly Catholic king transformed and convinced he is God s chosen vehicle He becomes a megalomaniac bullying Parliament and the church to get an unprecedented amount of power and wealth Consequently his family and courtiers live in a constant state of fear all their fates tied to the king s mood, pleasures or fears Henry would eventually behead two wives and numerous Plantagenet cousins as well as courtiers and friends.I was surprised at my own reaction to Henry VIII To me he was always one of thecolorful English kings, after I finished the book I really really despised him.It must have been incredibly difficult and frustrating to live as a Christian in Henry VIII s reign For a thousand years England had been a Christian and thoroughly Catholic kingdom There had been grumblings and complaints about the Roman Church for decades, but mostly from continental Europe, never from England When Henry broke from the Roman Church, the Church of England was still thoroughly Catholic in form and spirit Consequently anyone with a genuine reformist attitude was burned for HERESY while those still loyal to Rome were burned for TREASON.These drastic shifts in religion with each of Henry s children made for a very schizophrenic era The stakes were not just your soul but your very life A very readable and fascinating book well worth the read.There were quite a few surprises to me.Henry s own sister Margaret had been granted a divorce from the Pope so she could marry her third husband, Henry expected a speedy divorce in turn.The other surprise was the propaganda coup of Elizabeth s principle secretary Robert Cecil He managed to portray Mary Tudor as Bloody Mary due to the martyrdom of the Protestant leaders of the church, however Elizabeth s reign though longer was just as repressive with an equal number of Catholic martyrs I was also surprised at the relationship between Edward and Mary I had always assumed he was closer to his sister Elizabeth, but he and Mary were very close As he got older andheadstrong, he developed into a passionate champion of the Evangelical cause, consequently he and Mary became polarized in their convictions He finally deciding he would change his father s will and change the line of succession to favor his very Protestant cousin Lady Jane Talk about a very dysfunctional family I was a history major at U.C Berkeley, and my specific field was English Tudor era history, so you can imagine that a huge hunk of my bookshelves are devoted to this subject There is something of an embarrassment of riches on this topic, from J J Scarsbrick s definitive biography on Henry VIII to Antonia Fraser s book on Mary, Queen of Scots I can say with confidence that there isn t a popular history of the Tudors that has been published that I haven t read, and I ve read a great number of I was a history major at U.C Berkeley, and my specific field was English Tudor era history, so you can imagine that a huge hunk of my bookshelves are devoted to this subject There is something of an embarrassment of riches on this topic, from J J Scarsbrick s definitive biography on Henry VIII to Antonia Fraser s book on Mary, Queen of Scots I can say with confidence that there isn t a popular history of the Tudors that has been published that I haven t read, and I ve read a great number of the academic studies as well So yeah I get them, I know them, and I looked at this book sitting on the shelf of my local bookstore and thought, please, do I need to read yet another book on the Tudors Yes, I did, as it turns out.Other reviews that I ve read focus on the problem with the scope of this book, with literally half of the content devoted to Henry VIII Which begs the question, why is it called The Tudors I won t say that it s not a problem Clearly, Meyer is fascinated with Henry VIII and the courtiers surrounding him Woolsey, Cromwell, and More are not your run of the mill bureaucrats , and I think that he very much shortchanged the last fourth of the book, which is devoted to Elizabeth Tudor I get the sense he was exhausted and gliding over events that really could have used some of his tremendous insight and turn of phrase that makes the first two thirds of this book so enjoyable.Because really, when you ve read as many books as I have on the Tudors, it s the writing that becomes paramount, and this man can write He s got an ease and facility for taking fairly complicated events and parsing them down to the bones His chapters regarding Cromwell s stealth and ever increasingly fatal attacks on the Catholic church are so well done that it s worth buying this book for those chapters alone.There are a series of sidebars that I know annoyed some people, but I liked them They take you out of the story to a certain extent, but I didn t mind For an overview history, you don t NEED to read them, but they are, in and of themselves, interesting The out take on exactly what societal functions the Catholic church performed and how the break with Rome and cannibalization of the Church as a way to seriously pump up Henry s power and coincidentally boost the Crown s coffers is especially well done.I think that the point of the structure front loading the book with so much Henry is that Henry VIII so fundamentally changed the nature of kingship castrating the Catholic Church in the process that his heirs were not only dealing with the usual problems of a small island nation trying to play with the big boys Spain and France , but faced the double whammy of trying to establish order in the wake of Henry s determined some might say maniacal juggernaut to establish his dynasty, regardless of the cost And this book explains that cataclysmic upheaval on all levels of society very nicely with Henry s heirs struggling to impose order on a society where all of a sudden the rules have changed I only gave this four stars because I do think the section on Elizabeth could have benefited with arigorous treatment Having said that, Meyer s writing is engaging, witty, and humorous, with a fresh take on a topic that has been revisited many times in the last twenty years I found myself smiling and enjoying every word Highly recommended While author G.J Meyer would be the first to admit that there is no way to cram the minutiae ofthan a century of history into a single volume However, he s captured a whole heck of a lot in this book Further, as promised, Historically accurate perhaps, though incredibly slanted.Henry VIII was a bully monster tyrant Period End of Story Most of the coverage of his reign focused on the men around him, and their roles in enforcing the break with Rome, as well as persecution of monks during the dissolution of the monasteries.Edward VI was a fervent Protestant, but that was okay as he truly respected his sister Mary in spite of their religious differences not a syllable to acknowledge the fact that accordin Historically accurate perhaps, though incredibly slanted.Henry VIII was a bully monster tyrant Period End of Story Most of the coverage of his reign focused on the men around him, and their roles in enforcing the break with Rome, as well as persecution of monks during the dissolution of the monasteries.Edward VI was a fervent Protestant, but that was okay as he truly respected his sister Mary in spite of their religious differences not a syllable to acknowledge the fact that according to other books , he genuinely liked Elizabeth.Mary was a well meaning, tragic figure, in spite of all those unfortunate burnings, which, yes, were ultimately her responsibility, but weren t really so bad, especially compared to the brutality of her father and sister Elizabeth was Bad News no two ways about it So bad, that it might ve been better for Jane Grey to have remained, and her heirs to follow, even if that meant sacrificing Mary in the process Seriously Meyer does his best to portray Mary Queen of Scots as a sensible, trustworthy counter figure the wrong chick got the chop conveniently omitting that although Walsingham gave her the bait, she fell for it We hear how the Jesuits sneaking into England were there only to minister to the oppressed minority, no threat at all The author conveniently neglects to mention that by the 1580 s, the Pope was crying for Elizabeth s head, strongly encouraging her assassination There was indeed anti Catholic sentiment among at least some of Elizabeth s advisers, but Meyer would have the reader believe that was entirely the result of xenophobia and bigotry Regarding the St Bartholomew s Day slaughter of French Huguenots, which influenced Elizabeth in favor of those advisers, Meyer maintains they asked for it in displaying their wealth paraphrased As a rough parallel Henry VIII Reagan bad Edward VI Bush daddy bad, but you can t help feeling a little sorry for him Mary Clinton good intentions, but things didn t work out as well as they should ve and Elizabeth as Bush Jr just plain awful, including a sly comparison of her speech at Tilbury to the Armada troops play acting , and her refusal to care for the returning diseased veterans.Now you know what to expect