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Rivals in Power: Lives and Letters of the Great Tudor Dynasties [Hardcover]

David Starkey

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Book Description

Nov 1990
Produced and illustrated in the same style as "The Paston Letters", this tells the story of the 16th century through the private letters of five leading noble families. Life in the Tudor court was sumptuous, terrifying and drenched in the unpredictability of regal power. The poet Edmund Spenser described a courtier's life as nothing but "To fawn, to crouch, to wait, to rise, to run/To spend, to give, to want, to be undone". "Privilege and Power" aims to approach this dramatic century of English history in an entirely new way, bringing together an edited selection of the private correspondence of five interlocking and power-hungry families of the new aristocracy. The letters, interlinked by passages of commentary by contributors distinguished in the field, give a picture of a time when intrigue was everyday and the correspondents were directly involved in the welfare and future of the nation at arguably its most critical moment. Over 170 letters are interspersed with illustrations and feature articles amplifying issues raised in the correspondence. The book's introduction describes each family's background and the tangled networks of marriage, descent, alliance and wealth which link
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsive reading! 1 Aug 2001
By Michael K. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Even at the highest levels of the royal court, Tudor government involved a great deal more than three kings and two (or three) queens. Interwoven with and surrounding the Tudors were eight other great families who supplied queen consorts, mistresses, courtiers, generals and admirals, high state officials, and ambassadors -- the Brandons, Greys, Howards, Seymours, Dudleys, Cecils, Talbots, Sidneys, and Devereux - who were also complexly related among themselves. This era often seems more of a soap opera than any other period in the history of the English monarchy, filled as it was with wealth and poverty, ambition and failure, crownings and beheadings, high statesmanship and low cunning -- and, everywhere, politics. On more than a few occasions, these families were willing to sacrifice their sons and daughters in their quest for power. And what makes this period accessible to modern readers was the development during the English Renaissance of letter-writing as we know it. Great quantities of 15th and 16th century correspondence have survived to detail every aspect of private and public business, personal opinions, pleas for mercy, and jockeying for power. The second major theme of this volume is the constant replenishing of the nobility by the gentry since, on average, noble families lasted only three generations. Hence, Charles Brandon, best buddy of Henry VIII, who went from gentleman to duke in five years, largely on the strength of his engaging personality. The Howards also went up, down, and up again in less than two generations and have retained the Earl Marshal's baton ever since. And, though he left no progeny, Thomas Wolsey typifies the self-made man: from humbly-born cleric to Bishop of Lincoln to Archbishop of York, Cardinal, and Chancellor of England. A beautifully illustrated and very readable book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In their own words 13 Feb 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This book is terrific. I usually re-read it every year or two. It gives you an idea of the groveling and sniveling intrigue, and treachery that went on in the Tudor court. A fine read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful for Tudor History junkies 2 Jan 2012
By Sheri A. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great guide for serial readers of the Tudor era. You will find familiar characters here. They are set in the backdrop of the contest for power between the great families circling the throne for several generations of Tudor rulers. Explaining this basic dynamic of the period clarifies all our favorite stories.
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