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While author G.J Meyer would be the first to admit that there is no way to cram the minutiae of than a century of history into a single volume However, he s captured a whole heck of a lot in this book Further, as promised, The Tudors The Complete Story of England s Most Notorious Dynasty is not just the Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn show Frankly, The King s Great Matter the euphemism employed by those in the know to refer to the whole Catherine Anne annulment debacle doesn t even begin to capture the full gamut of skullduggery of Tudor times.It s hard to know where to begin with this debauched dynasty Henry Tudor s ascent to the throne was rife with baggage and bloodshed One might think that, five hundred years after the Battle of Bosworth , interest might have waned, but we re still running baby daddy tests and bickering about that debacle But Henry VII took the throne by combat, so let s skip the genealogy bits Henry VII actually did a pretty good job setting up shop Love and romance aside, getting married was something akin to signing a treaty and or taking a hostage, so Elizabeth of York was the perfect bride for an upstart king looking to shore up his royal status.Meanwhile, Henry had to figure out how to keep the royal coffers full The classic serfdom pyramid scheme took a hit when the black death swept through, dead serfs can t exactly work the land With help from the Council Learned in the Law , Henry cooked up some new ways to put the kingdom in the monetary black Neonatal care being what it was and with that dastardly X chromosome popping up all over the place , producing an heir was no easy feat H7 and EoY did pretty well for themselves in whelping four royal offspring beyond infancy below from L to R Arthur, Margaret, Henry, and Mary Tudor Primogeniture put the smart money on Prince Arthur below, L to be the next in line for the throne, and he was groomed for the role from the start Duke of Cornwall at birth, and toddling into his role as Prince of Wales, the plans for Arthur s marriage to Catherine of Aragon below, C , which would seal the deal for an Anglo Spanish alliance, were set in motion faster than you can say child bride though they waited until the betrothed were of a respectable tween age to exchange vows Alas, Arthur died before the couple could make it to their first anniversary Courtesy of protracted negotiations with the Spanish court and a papal dispensation Catherine s family being super Catholic and such , Arthur s widow and Henry VIII above, R were wed in 1509 just months after the death of Henry VII Though the common folk weren t sad to see Henry VII, Henry VIII could have benefitted from a few of his father s faults.The story of Henry the Eighth, great matter and all, is far complex than I ever would have imagined Meyer does an excellent job of putting the case of Henry v the Church in the broader context from whence it came While the religious upheaval in England and central Europe were separate, it wasn t a coincidence that these schisms happened around the same time Let s just say it went beyond the issues of trophy wives and whether or not Jesus Christ could actually turn into a wafer cracker transubstantiation if you want to be fancy about it The six wives are but drops in the sea of people who were totally screwed over by King Henry VIII There s really no one who wins when a king introduces treason by thought From scapegoating Cardinal Wolsey to leaving his son with a government that was, essentially, bankrupt, the impact of Henry VIII knew few bounds Standouts from the hit parade of the damned Well, let s start with people named Thomas As it turns out, this list includes the Thomas responsible for the name s popularity, Thomas Becket above, L Perhaps you think that, on account of being both a saint and dead, Becket would evade Henry s grasp Wrong If Henry calls you to court, you best come correct, otherwise he ll take your treasure, dissolve your shrine, and burn your bones TomCrom Thomas Cromwell above, C was no saint, but he was certainly one of Henry s head henchmen in the eyes of Henry, the Bro Code was meaningless Thomas More above, R , a man popular among the people, also did a bid in the Tower and exited via the stairway to heaven for refusing to take the Oath of Submission Mary above, all , Henry s daughter, seems a particularly tragic character in it all Sure, she d ultimately earn the moniker Bloody Mary as queen for her cruelty in burning protestants en masse including a Thomas or two , but the girl had some serious daddy issues Separated from her mother, subjugated to her infant half sister, and forced to sign an oath against everything she believed, it s not exactly surprising that Mary would become unhinged Also, she may or may not have had an hysterical pregnancy when she first married Philip, but I d have to do some fact checking on that.Here I ve promised you a dynasty, and find myself impressed than ever with Meyer s ability to steadily distribute material across the Tudor succession My apologies for skipping ahead Queen Elizabeth I in stark contrast to her predecessors acknowledged that a monarch reigns with popular consent Unfortunately, her exit from the world wasn t particularly picturesque Scarred by smallpox in her youth, the Queen tried to hide behind ceruse a makeup made of lead and vinegar and you thought eating paint chips was bad I imagine her physical devolution above being a sort of Tudor Era analogue to that of Michael Jackson. Murder, mayhem, betrayal, paranoia, curses, and egomania Sound like a horror story or a who dunnit Actually it is the story of the most notorious dynasty ever know, which the title so aptly states.Beginning in 1485 when Henry Tudor crossed the channel from France and laid claim to the throne of England, this book tells the brilliant story of Henry s son, Henry VIII and his mad quest to keep his line on the throne In Henry VIII s obsession for a male heir he manipulates, murders, and fabricates every scenario imaginable to rid himself of any wife who fails to give him the male heir he so desperately wants Only producing girls, Henry VIII s wives find themselves losing their heads over failing to do what the King demands Finally after several wives disappoint him, Henry finally gets his wish A male child is born, albeit a sickly one.The important line of the story, in my opinion, is not Henry VIII, but the woman and female children in his life that Henry has deemed disposable, not worthy that is until his only son dies Then and only then are the women brought to power This is a tale not only of the women who were manipulated before and after claiming the throne, but of England s struggle between Catholic s and Protestant s Filled with war and violence this book is a sad tale of the lives of these women beginning with Bloody Mary renown for her mass executions, and ending with Elizabeth, the woman who redeems her father s atrocities by becoming one of England s most beloved Monarch s. 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. This book is bad It reeks, it is derogatory to its subjects, it insults the reader, and the author is pushing his own agenda here I really wanted to like this one, and went into it with some optimism that I could learn something new But no, the author is fixated on religion here, especially in what makes evangelical protestantism different from everyone else I could have handled this much better if the same amount of space and effort had been devoted to five almost six Tudor monarchs Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Lady Jane Grey , Mary I and Elizabeth I But no We get the same hyperbolic crap to be found in most bad novels about the Tudors Even worse, the author focuses nearly entirely on Henry VIII and Elizabeth I Henry VII gets a smidgen of a mention namely his origins and Bosworth Then we whip right along to Henry VIII, Katherine of Aragon, a little about Anne Boleyn, and an awful lot on monasticism, various cardinals and popes, those English noblemen who were protestant leaning, and even about Religion, and why Catholicism is bad Alright, not so much on that, but that is certainly the feeling that I had when I finished the book Even the last four of Henry s wives were barely mentioned, beyond their names and what happened to them Edward VI isn t given much mention either, just what he did to support protestantism, his Seymour uncles and then John Dudley and Lady Jane Grey Mary I is treated as a near hysteric, and then there s her marriage to Philip II of Spain.Did I mention there s a lot about religion in this book Then there s Elizabeth I, who gets about the last hundred or so pages The Armada is dismissed as a lucky fluke for the English, Elizabeth is vain and insecure, and so the Tudors dwindle on out of history I hated this book by the time that it ground to a finish The sources he uses are fairly slight, and while he cites sources, most of them secondary this amazes me in that there is a host of primary sources out there It tries to be a popular history, but the end result is boring and flat Two stars overall, and not recommended at all. I ve always been interested in the history of the Tudor dynasty, in particular its most notable monarchs, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, and started reading the book thinking that I was very well informed on the subject Then I quickly realized that I was wrong.The book demystifies the image that is conveyed in the movies and series and presents a much harder and less glamorous vision of the two monarchs I saw the Showtime series a few years ago and loved it, only to discover now that it manipulates reality very freely The reality is, in fact, very different from fiction However, it isn t less interesting In spite of the flaws of character, the selfishness, the pride and the total disregard for the fate of their subjects, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I are nonetheless fascinating characters that continue to entice the modern world.The author advances an explanation to justify the interest in these two figures, especially in Henry VIII He has held the world s interest in part because of the question of how such a gifted and fortunate man could have committed such crimes And because of the related, troubling question of how it is possible is such a thoroughly vicious character to be so attractive As its title indicates, the book is not only about the aforementioned monarchs, but the whole Tudor dynasty It also provides fascinating information about the habits, customs, education and life of the sixteenth century England.Very complete and enriching I strongly recommend it to all who have an interest in the subject.From my blog. The Tudors is not exactly a complete story, as the title promises, but it is a very entertaining and illuminating look at the socio political life and times of the Tudor dynasty if a family that dies out after three generations can be called a dynasty I m a huge fan of putting history into context rather than the usual dull recitation of chronological events, and on that account The Tudors excels While Meyer or less does stick to a chronological approach in his main chapters, he intersperses what he calls Background chapters I found the Background chapters to be fascinating, covering everything from schooling to torture to theatre to the pre reformation English church to the intricate and never ending maneuvers for power on the European continent between France, Spain, the Habsburg Holy Roman Empire, the Pope and the Ottoman Empire This is why I gave the book five stars in other hands, this important history becomes a jumble of eye glazing over names, dates and battles but here, it s entertaining and the reader is quick to grasp the significance.This is not a comprehensive biography of any of its subjects In fact, at times Meyer even points out he is glossing over certain events, claiming that to do them justice is outside the scope of this particular book Therefore, some reviewers appear upset that Elizabeth, in particular, seems to get short shrift However, for the purposes of this book, which is to look at the power shifts and social development that shaped England under the Tudors, it s perhaps not so important to detail every event of Elizabeth s reign Besides, most of Elizabeth s actions, as Meyer takes as his thesis, were calculated to keep her alive and secure on the throne, so to go into explanation would just be of the same.Meyer does take a revisionist view of his subjects As he points out in his epilogue, Tudor England has been the subject of much biography, analysis, propaganda and outright fabrication since the Tudors themselves were on the throne Therefore, anyone seeking to read this for tales of Gloriana Elizabeth or Bloody Mary are bound to be disappointed However, I don t find this book as slanted as some reviewers on Goodreads Perhaps because I ve read plenty of Tudor scholarship and fiction over the last few years, I m rather used to Elizabeth the Insecure and Horribly Self Centered, Mary Tudor the Misunderstood, Edward the Strong Willed and Intelligent Who Died Far Too Young Henry VIII is always a monster in his sunset years, however it s just too hard to make excuses for someone who summarily executed everyone pretty much within earshot But those who view Fox News as the holy grail of fair and balanced accuracy should stay far away and perhaps stick to Glenn Beck and Bill O Reilly for history While Meyer doesn t overtly make the parallels, it s not hard to draw them between Tudor England and the current political climate in the United States For example, Henry VIII enacted severe penalties for anyone caught homeless and destitute Meyer writes, It was the classic case of punishing the victim, singling out for final humiliation the very people left most helpless by the pillaging of institutions that for centuries had attended to the needs of weak and the destitute Doesn t sound too far off certain policies of certain political parties today.Later, Meyer writes, Tudor England was a world in which the rich got richer while the poor got not much poorer but much, much numerous.There were many reasons why the condition of ordinary English families deteriorated precipitously during the Tudor century the destruction of an ecclesiastical social welfare system the ongoing enclosure of arable land an unprecedented concentration of wealth in the hands of a gentry class that was only a tiny part of the population and a toxic mix of economic forces that caused real wages to fall decade after decade even as prices relentlessly rose Added to this was the emergence of a new set of social valuesthat encouraged the prosperous to equate wealth with virtue and to regard the destitute as responsible for or even predestined to their predicament Well, I guess those who do not learn from history, etc etc.So yes, some could claim Meyer has a bias He is also definitely sympathetic to the Catholics who were killed during Elizabeth s reign while he points out that hardline Protestant Puritans were also targeted, they don t get the same tear jerking treatment as, say, devoting a whole chapter to the hunting and execution of a Jesuit priest This may also account for his rather disdainful treatment of Protestant Elizabeth, while her Catholic sister Mary is dimensional.But as a book that looks at the Tudor century from all sorts of fresh to me angles I really enjoyed it. .DOWNLOAD ♷ The Tudors: The Complete Story of England's Most Notorious Dynasty ☩ 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 Not sure what to rate this book Meyer promises to write a book that doesn t dwell on Henry VIII and Elizabeth like all other authors do and then spent about 300 of 569 pages on Henry focused on the King s Great Matter Would have enjoyed on Henry VII.Elizabeth was not admired at all by this author actually not too many of the women in power were John Knox s influence perhaps to the point that any characteristic or action of hers was placed in a negative light But what irked me about Elizabeth s segment of the book was when Meyer declared that the last 15 years of her story was Essex s story Really Well, Meyer certainly made it that way Maybe by the time I had gotten to that point of the book, I was pretty irked anyway on his handling of Elizabeth That set me up to not fully appreciate when Meyer adapts an admiring view in his epilogue about the illegitimate son of Robert Dudley and his scandalous life Yet, the book was well written, interesting in how the background segments were interspersed telling about the history of the time period, and accessible for a general readership The few typos mistakes like saying Henry II when he clearly meant Henry III or accidentally using Cecil s name in a paragraph about Essex were not off putting. 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 the colorful 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 and headstrong, 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. Definitely not impressed Quite the opposite as a matter of fact First let me comment on the content of the book If you re looking for a book describing the Tudors as a dynasty, or the overall Tudor era, you have definitely picked up the wrong book This one only works with the religious aspect of the Tudor reign Not much else is a addressed I was appalled at how little Henry VII was explained, though the author himself notes, that it s a problem, that he is so often ignored by other authors The first 300 pages are devoted to The Kings Great Matter Once I reached the point where Henry VIII died I was so looking foreward to abandoning the whole religion thing But I was sorely disappointed Yet again It continued on through the reign of Edward VI, Lady Jane Grey, Mary I and Elizabeth I Really, there are so many other interesting things going on at this point in history Why focus solely on religion Especially when you ve set out to map out the entire Tudor dynasty Shouldn t you then set your focus a little wider And then there s whole other thing I d like to complain about the author s credentials Because he has none Even the biography in the bakc of the book describes him as nothing than an AUTHOR Not a historian but only an author, a journalist My question then remains How can anyone allow him to write a book like this His sources are all secondary, there s nothing original in this book at all It is entire based on other historian s work And to top it off, he doesn t seem to have that many sources to begin with I, for one, doesn t want to believe a word in this book If you want to learn about the Tudors, I d advice you to only pick out this book in order to learn of the books G.J Meyer has used DO NOT READ THIS ONE