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The Last Days of Henry VIII: Conspiracy, Treason and Heresy at the Court of the Dying Tyrant Hardcover – 10 Mar 2005

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; First Edition edition (10 Mar. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297846116
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297846116
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3.8 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 113,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

The idea of looking in depth at the 1540s is terrific... genuinely original... fresh and interesting... (THE SUNDAY TIMES)

... the scholarship of this book is meticulous... Hutchinson brilliantly conveys the atmosphere of terror... a gripping narrative... Hutchinson provides an across-the-spectrum grand slam portrait of the second Tudor monarch. No one writing about Henry VIII in the future will be able to ignore this magnificent book. (Frank McLynn DAILY EXPRESS)

Htuchinson's narrative, level-headed and carefully researched... enjoyable. (SPECTATOR)

gripping... This is a scholarly but racy account focusing on the final four years of Henry's long reign. (THE FIELD)

This book may be called biograpical history at its best... the corruption it portrays still has the power to shock. (CONTEMPORARY REVIEW)

Book Description

Conspiracies, treason and heresy at the court of the dying tyrant

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Iceni Peasant on 22 May 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book because most other books on Henry VIII concentrate on his earlier years and in particular the Anne Boleyn era. If however you want to know more about his relationship with Katherine Parr and how his thoughts and actions had changed in his last years and the possible reasons for those changes, then read this book!
Although the early parts of his life and former five wives are mentioned, the main detail of this book is the era of about 1543-47. It provides some wonderful insights on how Katherine Parr dealt with such an infamous husband, and managed to bring all the family(various half-siblings) together in Henry's last years....in particular forming a close bond with the future Edward VI, and Elizabeth I.
There is a lot of information on the politics of the court over those last few years, and perhaps some of the most interesting details are theories on the health of the king. Some new and very convincing arguments are written about the illnesses of Henry.
This is the first book on Henry VIII where as a reader I have felt most close to knowing the man's character. It is very hard not to feel a certain amount of sympathy for him after reading this book, in spite of all his cruel and tyrannical acts of so called justice. There are fascinating details about the king's various Wills and ultimately what happened upon his death, and his funeral, which are often left out of other books.
In conclusion, if you like this period of history and want to know more about the later years of Henry, then buy this book, you won't be disappointed. 5 stars!!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Withnail67 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 2 Jan. 2008
Format: Paperback
I read this book hard on the heels of Antonia Fraser's The Six Wives of Henry VIII, and I think it compared well. Fraser writes very finely, but with the odd element of patrician phraseology here and there. This is the first of Hutchinson's books I've read, and I was very impressed. His style is wholly appropriate to the complexities of Tudor politics, but he also manages to maintain an accessible tone and suggest an engaging and humorous personality. His scholarship, bibliography and notes are impeccable, but this is also a powerful and well paced read.

The dying days of Henry are examined by theme, and Hutchinson brings to life subjects such as the control of the wooden stamp of Henry's signature vividly. He even admits pity for the disease-ridden tyrant, and reveals the true nature of the ilnesses that turned the ageing king into a dying beast. There is a real pathos in the sad history of Henry's tomb that closes the book.

I have his biography of Walsingham on the pile to read next, and I'm looking forward to it. Hutchinson brings humour, insight and freshness to a well-documented period.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Feb. 2006
Format: Hardcover
Can't say that Henry VIII has ever aroused any interest in me and it was very much the title "The Last Days..." that caught my attention in the bookshop and I was by no means disappointed by the end of the book.
The account of the years leading up to Henry's death (from the search for a third wife), the account of his death, the riddle of the will, the internecine bickering in his court and the attack on Catherine Parr are all delivered in a well written yet easy going style and are a pleasure to read. Right to the end Henry was truly imperious in his management of his court, playing one off against the others by turn until none knew from one day to the next where they stood.
Henry aside, the book also provides an interesting insight into court life in Middle Ages England. The shenanigans of the privy council in their attempts to get 'one up' on their peers are truly spectacular.
The book's not a long read, just under 300 pages and it leaves you wanting just a little more. Despite never having any interest in Henry I've come to respect the way he valued and promoted a meritocracy within his court and never let the senior peers of the realm tread all over the little guy. Thoroughly worth a look.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Chippindale TOP 500 REVIEWER on 26 Mar. 2007
Format: Hardcover
The obese, disease ridden old man, rarely seen by the public, a man with an evil heart and a foul mouth and temper bore no resemblance to the athletic good looking young buck who had taken the throne of England 35 years previously.

The young Henry was a sportsman of some renown and his vibrant personality and good looks attracted many beautiful women. The old Henry was fat, dirty, riddled with disease and took most of his pleasure from watching other people suffer, including those closest to him.

Robert Hutchinson's book on the final years of Henry's life, brings forth many startling revelations of the intrigues, plot and counter plot of the time. He has unearthed death warrants, confessions, pleas for clemency and many other, until now, little documented facts.

I enjoyed the book immensely, but it was tinged with sadness for me. Henry VIII might (who can say) have been one of the greatest King's England has ever had. But like so many great men he had the fatal flaw in his make-up, which eventually makes them press the self destruct button.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J. Chippindale TOP 500 REVIEWER on 17 July 2006
Format: Paperback
The obese, disease ridden old man, rarely seen by the public, a man with an evil heart and a foul mouth and temper bore no resemblance to the athletic good looking young buck who had taken the throne of England 35 years previously.

The young Henry was a sportsman of some renown and his vibrant personality and good looks attracted many beautiful women. The old Henry was fat, dirty, riddled with disease and took most of his pleasure from watching other people suffer, including those closest to him.

Robert Hutchinson's book on the final years of Henry's life, brings forth many startling revelations of the intrigues, plot and counter plot of the time. He has unearthed death warrants, confessions, pleas for clemency and many other, until now, little documented facts.

I enjoyed the book immensely, but it was tinged with sadness for me. Henry VIII might (who can say) have been one of the greatest King's England has ever had. But like so many great men he had the fatal flaw in his make-up, which eventually makes them press the self destruct button.
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