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The Six Wives of Henry VIII [Paperback]

Alison Weir
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 Mar 1997
One of the most powerful monarchs in British history, Henry VIII ruled England in unprecedented splendour. In this remarkable composite biography, Alison Weir brings Henry's six wives vividly to life, revealing each as a distinct and compelling personality in her own right. Drawing upon the rich fund of documentary material from the Tudor period, The Six Wives of Henry VIII shows us a court where personal needs frequently influenced public events and where a life of gorgeously ritualised pleasure was shot through with ambition, treason and violence.

Product details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Pimlico; New edition edition (6 Mar 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712673849
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712673846
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 13 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 404,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alison Weir lives and works in Surrey. Her books include Britain's Royal Families, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Children of England, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry VIII: King and Court, Mary, Queen of Scots and Isabella: She-Wolf of France.

Product Description


"'A thrilling and chilling story.' Sunday Telegraph 'At last we have the truth about Henry VIII's wives. This book is as reliable and scholarly as it is readable.' A.L. Rowse, Evening Standard 'An entertaining account of Henry VIII's complicated domestic history. It is full of interesting detail... Alison Weir's treatment of this perennially fascinating subject is a beguiling one.' Anne Somerset, London Review of Books"

Book Description

Thoroughly researched and with a real understanding of the times these six fascinating women lived through, Alison Weir's book reveals a Tudor England where personal needs and private emotion could, and frequently did, override or influence national events. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
106 of 108 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read 25 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This book was absolutely fascinating from start to finish - a wonderful period of history, to which Alison Weir has done complete justice.
Each of the wives are written about in more-than-adequate detail - if this wasn't a non-fiction piece of literature, you could say that the characterisation was top notch.
When completing this book (which shouldn't take too long as it's hard to put down), get hold of "The Children of England - The Heirs of Henry VIII", which continues where this book left off, and examines Edward VI, Lady Jane Grey and Mary I. I have just read that and can't wait to move on to Weir's biography on "Elizabeth"!
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63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Factual and entertaining 18 Sep 2005
We need to rewrite the rhyme 'Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived'. In this excellent book, we learn that Henry VIII had three of his marriages annulled, he had arrest warrants drawn up for three of his wives for capital offences, he was survived by two wives and two of them died in childbirth.
Alison Weir begins with the story of the Spanish princess Katherine of Aragon. Brought to England at the age of 16 and married to Henry's brother, widowed before her 17th birthday, engaged to Henry the following year. We learn how her second marriage was put on hold for political reasons, but it was Henry's priority on becoming king. It seemed to be a love-match as much as a political one. We follow the marriage through the love, through the heart-break of losing their children and through Henry's betrayal of a loyal woman who even acted as regent during a Scottish invasion when he was at war in France.
The narrative progresses to Anne Boleyn, the ambitious woman who stirred up so much passion and was eventually cruelly convicted of crimes she probably didn't commit. But there's more to Anne than Henry's innocent victim and one of the major causes of the English Reformation. We also learn of her devious plots against her rivals. Her step-daughter Mary was particularly at risk.
Plain Jane Seymour became the third wife, Henry's favourite, but the marriage was short.
We learn about Anne of Cleves who, succeeding Jane, benefitted most from a brief marriage to Henry, transforming from impoverished German princess to Henry's wealthy 'sister'.
Then there was Katherine Howard, a silly teenager without the sense to take the opportunities thrown at her to save her own life.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Herstory! 20 Nov 2002
By A Customer
Alison Weir has a great talent for weaving factual information into a good story. Packed with historical references and material, this masterful account of the six wives of Henry VIII is not only painstakingly researched, but is a really good yarn!
This book challenges the stereotypes of the six queens and brings each character to life with contemporary sources. Too often we see the wives portrayed as the Barren, the conniving Harlot, the saintly Mother, the Ugly, the Adulteress, and the sedate Widow. This book gives us insights into the characters and impact of the queens, and certainly opened my eyes.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Tudor history, womens' history or a good story. All the good tales are based in truth.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Try it - you will not put it down 18 July 2000
By A Customer
This was the first book I read by Alison Weir - and I so liked it that, since then, I have read all others !
The author as a way of being entertaining while sticking strictly to historical sources that makes the read very enjoyable: there is no feeling (and no need, in her books) of a romanced approach - reality is far more exciting that fiction.
This book is, in fact, about Henry VIII and his evolution during his reign. The description of the different "compartments" of Henry VIII's matrimonial life are interesting in that they each correspond to a different era in his reign - and of Court life and customs. I hadn't realised before that his first marriage, with Catherine of Aragon, lasted as long as all others together.
A very good and easy read, which I strongly recommend.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars totally rivetting 30 July 2001
I thought this was one of the best history books I have ever read-the Tudor court comes alive and even though you know the story, it's impossible to put it down! Alison Weir tells us where surviving artefacts, buildings etc can be found and makes you want to dash across the country to see them for yourself. A vanished world, vividly brought to life.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History comes to life 12 Jan 2001
I am a true and avid fan of Alison Weir.I have read all her books and feel that history has come alive once again. I had that feeling as a chlid,she makes all her figures so real,the detail of their lives,the relationships,the passion and the tragedy.
The past becomes a place where one wants to visit and even stay a while,in order to get to know the characters. This is the stuff of good writing which makes for great reading. Buy and read anything by her,Children of England is especially good. But the 6 wives is one of the best I have read and re-read in a long time
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very enlightning very hard to put down 18 July 2008
I was very impressed by this book, after reading 'The other Boleyn girl' my appetite for reading up on my history was wettened. This book is a real eye opener for how England used to be and what the people of court were required to do in their day to day lives and what they grew to fear. It shows us what an insecure man Henry was and how the people who he surrounded himself with influenced and manipulated him turning him from a man who was seemingly nice to a feared man, however it shows us that even then he was much loved by most. It explores how Henry could be ruthless in pursuing what he wanted and in a cruel way but then he was easily distracted and if things did not please him he was quick to and with no conscience to rid himself of the things that stood in his way with no back glance. It shows us how Henrys wives modelled the king and what each of them offered him. A true insight to years lived long ago.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The most enlightening book on Henry VIII's wives I've ever read
Alison Weir really knows her stuff as is evidence from all of the rational arguments she puts forward. Read more
Published 1 month ago by K. McKenney
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, Well Written
Well paced and thoughtful book based on a wide variety of sources.
Alison Weir mostly holds off on her own views, which is creditable I guess. Read more
Published 1 month ago by David L
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Stuff
The rhyme that has stuck with me since school is divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Half Man, Half Book
5.0 out of 5 stars Alison Weir
Alison Weir is an excellent author particularly if you are interested in the Tudor period.
Her attention to detail is second to none. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Chloe
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book at a great price
This book it an easy read, and factual all in one! If your interested in this subject area for fun or need background reading for an educational purpose than I would recommend this... Read more
Published 4 months ago by CeriAshleigh320
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
I have always been fascinated by Henry VIII and his wives and I found this book to be very interesting
Published 4 months ago by MRS L HUDDA
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfull
What a wonderfully informative and entertaining read this is. I really enjoy Alison`s books (Richard 3 ) is the only exception. She gives s the human and public figures.
Published 6 months ago by Mr. Neil Porter
5.0 out of 5 stars Great summary of a very complicated period
This is up to Alison's Weir's usual standard and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's good to see all six of Henry VIII's wives compared, and there were some surprises as well as to the... Read more
Published 7 months ago by christine couniacis
5.0 out of 5 stars Alison Weir's book of history in Henry V111 Reign
Beautifully and expertly written. She is a master author of an excellent series of books of the age.
I am astounded at the amount of research she would have to undertaken.
Published 8 months ago by Bernard Dugdale
5.0 out of 5 stars Learnt more than i did at school!
This book was easy to read and I feel like I have learnt more from this book about the reign of Henry 8th than i did at school. Really informative and enjoyable.
Published 8 months ago by HB
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