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Henry VIII [Hardcover]

David Loades
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

18 Feb 2011
A major new biography of the most infamous king of England. 'Means to be God, and do as pleases himself' Martin Luther observed. It was a shrewd comment, not merely on the divorce in which the King was then embroiled, but upon his whole career. Henry VIII was self righteous, and convinced that he enjoyed a special relationship with the Almighty, which gave him a unique claim upon the obedience of his subjects. He subdued the church, sidelined the old nobility, and reorganised the government of his realm, all in the name of that Good Lordship which was his God-given responsibility. As a youth, he was a magnificent specimen of manhood, and in age a gargantuan wreck, but even in his prime he was never the 'ladies man' which legend, and his own imagination, created. Sexual insecurity undermined him, and gave his will that irascible edge which proved fatal to Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell alike. Several times during his reign he took out his frustrations in warfare, but succeeded only in spending vast sums of money. Henry VIII dominated England during his lifetime and for many years thereafter, as a warrior, as a renaissance Prince, and as Supreme Head of the Church, but his personality is as controversial today as it was in his own lifetime. He is a figure impossible to ignore. Professor David Loades has spent most of his life investigating the remains, literary, archival and archaeological, of Henry VIII, and this monumental new biography book is the result. His portrait of Henry is distinctive, he was neither a genius nor a tyrant, but a man' like any other', except for the extraordinary circumstances in which he found himself.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Amberley Publishing (18 Feb 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848685327
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848685321
  • Product Dimensions: 4 x 16.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 781,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'Neither Starkey nor Weir has the assurance and command of Loades' --Simon Heffer - Literary Review

'David Loades Tudor biographies are both highly enjoyable and instructive, the perfect combination' --Antonia Fraser

'David Loades is one of our finest Tudor historians' --Alison Weir

About the Author

David Loades is Emeritus Professor of the University of Wales. He has written sixteen books on the Tudors, including: ELIZABETH I ('Succeeds in depicting her to us as a real woman - a very good book' LITERARY REVIEW, 'Readable, searching and wise' NEW STATESMAN, 'Everything a scholarly biography should be, and a good read too' DR RICHARD REX), MARY TUDOR: A LIFE ('An excellent and sensitive biography' THE OBSERVER), THE CHRONICLE OF THE TUDOR KINGS, THE CHRONICLE OF THE TUDOR QUEENS, THE REIGN OF MARY TUDOR, THE FIGHTING TUDORS, THE MAKING OF THE TUDOR NAVY, THE TUDOR QUEENS, and HENRY VIII: COURT, CHURCH & CONFLICT. He is currently writing a major new history of the Boleyn family also for Amberley Publishing. He lives in Burford in Oxfordshire.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy assured style, but not for the beginner 1 Nov 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book. It is written in a relaxed, but very accomplished and assured style with a good level of detail, at least for the most part; but perhaps slightly more hurried towards the end.

All historians will put their own spin on things and there is no shortage of spin here, in some cases being quite contrary to what I had learned hitherto (Henry's will and the shenanigins that followed it for example). Sometimes it felt like more than just spin with actual facts being at variance to what I had previously understood (Catherine Howard's sexual history for example).

There is a chapter on Ireland that struck me as having been an afterthought. Some of the detail is repeated later on and the repeated detail would have been enough on its own. This Irish chapter seemed quite out of place and could have been easily skipped.

It is not a book for someone taking their first steps into the period. A lot of knowledge is assumed. Characters and events often being referred to with no preamble or explanation as to who or what they were or when they occurred or why and how. This was fine, and I do not criticise it for that - but merely warn others that they could get a bit lost if they do not already know a good deal about Henry's reign.

I found three misprints which probably means there were a lot more. Is it that I am getting old or is my sense that books are not adequately proofed these days true?

I am just now starting on Loades's book on Mary and I am looking forward to it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Love this book 17 Jan 2014
By Zoet
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am researching Henry VIII and was told this was a good book to have on my desk and it hasn't disappointed.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 25 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
No problems, excellent, bought it for my mother, she is happy.
No problems, excellent, bought it for my mother, she is happy.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Detailed look at Henry VIII's life and reign 1 April 2013
By Sylwia S. Zupanec - Published on Amazon.com
I have read many books authored by David Loades and this one is definitely my favourite because it covers absolutely everything about Henry VIII's reign. David Loades nicely combined the King's politics, military developments and private life, creating a very interesting and vibrant portrait of the 16th century England.

The book starts with discussing Henry VIII's family and background, his father's claim to the throne and victory at the battle of Bosworth, Henry's education and interesting details about his early life. The young Henry's character is extensively covered as well so we learn about his love for all kinds of sports, his intellectual pursuits and his passion for the tradition of courtly love. There are several chapters covering the wars during Henry VIII's reign so if you are looking for a political/military biography this most likely will be your cup of tea. If, from the other hand, you would like to learn more about Henry VIII as a person, you will find interesting chapters as well. Loades details Henry's relationship with his subsequent wives and discusses their impact on his character and politics.

David Loades has done a great job at bringing history to life in this detailed portrayal of Henry VIII's life and those that surrounded him during his reign. Mr. Loades provides the reader with a detailed examination of Henry VIII's life and the court organization through which he exercised power. The huge amount of primary and secondary sources is listed at the end of the book, so if you enjoy checking the sources for yourself, this book doesn't disappoint. There are a number of interesting illustrations as well.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Has nothing new to say, and appears to have been rushed out without adequate editing and proofreading 25 May 2011
By Judith Loriente - Published on Amazon.com
This is billed as a "major new biography of Henry VIII". New it is but major it is not. It contained nothing I had not read before, and is nowhere near in the league of Jasper Ridley's Henry VIII (Penguin Classic Biography) and J. J. Scarisbrick's Yale English Monarchs - Henry VIII (The English Monarchs Series).

Although the text is 349 pages, thirty (127-157) are taken up with black and white pictures, so that although the book is physically huge, it isn't really all that long. I got through it in two days, and was left feeling ... well, not quite that I'd wasted my money, but that I should probably have waited for the paperback, or for the library to get it. I didn't feel I had gained any new insights into a man who, as G. J. Meyer recently put it in The Tudors, is the most famous king in history.

The book is also inadequately edited. There was hardly a page in which I wasn't driven to pick up a pencil and add in a missing comma. The main problem was non-essential information not fully enclosed within commas, eg, "Henry had by this time about fifty warships of varying sizes, including several Great Ships, like the Henry Grace a Dieu and the Mary Rose which had recently been rebuilt and re-equipped with the latest guns" (p. 309). There should be a comma after "Mary Rose", since "like the Henry Grace a Dieu and the Mary Rose" is non-essential information.

There are also commas in just plain silly places, such as "According to this tale, for which there is no contemporary evidence, Stephen Gardiner and his conservative allies, were plotting against the evangelical Catherine" (p. 315). Why the comma before "were"?

There were also two cases of missing full stops at the end of sentences, and other typos, such as "it took some time to mobilises [sic] a response" (p. 251), "Even if she had been married immediately, their [sic] was no prospect of her bearing children for at least another six or seven years" (p. 183), "if civil strife was no [sic] be avoided, there was no alternative" (p. 344) and "that contemporary image should always be born [surely that's "borne"?] in mind" (p. 28).

There were also two factual errors so serious that I don't know how they could stem from someone who has written so many books about the Tudors. On p. 322 we have this one, about the poet Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey: "He was immensely proud of his royal ancestry, his grandmother Anne having been a daughter of Edward IV, and like the Duke of Buckingham, contemptuous of the `foul churls' whom the King chose to favour." Anne of York, a sister of Elizabeth of York, was the first wife of Surrey's father, the 3rd Duke of Norfolk. But Surrey's mother was Elizabeth Stafford, a daughter of the Duke of Buckingham who was beheaded in 1521, and to whom Loades refers here. Anne of York was thus not Surrey's grandmother, but his father's previous wife.

In the end notes (note 59) there's this: "Margaret Clifford was married to the Earl of Lennox and was the mother of Henry, Lord Darnley." Margaret Clifford was the daughter of Eleanor Brandon, the younger daughter of Henry VIII's sister Mary. And as anyone reasonably familiar with the Tudor age knows, Lord Darnley was the son of Margaret Douglas - daughter of Henry VIII's elder sister Margaret, by her second husband Archibald Douglas.

Shortly before reading this book I read A.F. Pollard's 1902 biography of Henry VIII. It contained some minor factual errors, such as writing that Anne Boleyn's mother, not paternal grandmother, was a daughter of the Earl of Ormonde, and that Margaret of York was the mother of her stepdaughter Mary of Burgundy. Yet I was somehow able to overlook them, since I enjoyed the rest of the book so much. The Conclusion, in particular, showed an extraordinary understanding of Henry VIII's style of governing, his comprehension of his people's needs and wants, and how even his brutality may have done some good by preventing an outbreak of the religious wars that plagued the rest of Europe. I felt that I had finally grasped how Henry VIII managed to be such a tyrant yet die safely in his bed, respected, if no longer exactly beloved, by his people.

This biography of Henry VIII provided no such enlightenment. I didn't feel I had wasted two days, but I read nothing I had not read before, and gained no new insights into the age or into Henry's character. And the persistent typos really irritated me, particularly since if publishers are going to charge twenty-five pounds for a book about the Tudors - which will automatically sell well - they can easily afford to spend a few hundred pounds on a proofreader.

If you don't feel cheated when you pay for books with poor editing and typos, maybe go for it. If not, wait for the paperback - and hope the publisher pays a proofreader to clean it up.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book 30 Dec 2013
By Barbara Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I had enjoyed reading about Henry VIII. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested reading about
Henry VIII. Four stars!
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars 6 Sep 2014
By charlene - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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