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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fleshing Out Henry VIII
Alison Weir has written a compulsively readable account of Henry VIII's court. She begins by describing his massive inheritance of greater and lesser homes, then proceeds to minutely describe the court. The physical details include such things as floors, tapestries, paintings, gardens, kitchens, foodstuffs. No detail, whether of texture or cost (she helpfully multiplies...
Published on 27 Feb 2003 by Anonymous

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read but not detailed enough on Henry the man
This was an interesting, and pleasingly accessible read. Weir writes in a friendly, easy to understand manner. Weir writes in the introduction that she hopes readers "will be able to make that great leap of imagination across the centuries ... and that, for them, Henry VIII and his court will come to life". I have to day that to some extent Weir succeeds in this - for...
Published on 30 Nov 2008 by Matthew Turner


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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fleshing Out Henry VIII, 27 Feb 2003
Alison Weir has written a compulsively readable account of Henry VIII's court. She begins by describing his massive inheritance of greater and lesser homes, then proceeds to minutely describe the court. The physical details include such things as floors, tapestries, paintings, gardens, kitchens, foodstuffs. No detail, whether of texture or cost (she helpfully multiplies the contemporary values by 300 to give us today's equivalent), is omitted. She also describes the architectural set-up and how the rooms progressed from the Great Watching Chamber, through the Presence Chamber and into the Privy Chamber.
But into this rich heady brew Weir also throws the complete administrative breakdown of Henry's court, giving us a mind- numbing account of Tudor Human Resources, including the hapless, appropriately named Groom of the Stool who dressed the King and saw to his lavatorial needs.
Throughout the book Weir keeps us up to scratch with Henry's mania for accumulating property - the layout and development of his palaces. In addition, she also details the various staff changes, promotions, demotions and, of course, executions.
Weir provides astute, well-researched snapshots of Henry's entire coterie, from his playmates and companions, through to his mistresses and their families, his advisors, chancellors and churchmen. Everyone is placed in context so that their motivations and actions can be fully understood. So you are getting many biographies for the price of one, especially of people like Thomas More, or Henry's two sisters Margaret (who mothered the Stuart dynasty) and Mary (whose second marriage to Charles Brandon produced the unfortunate Lady Jane Grey, her granddaughter).
One interesting character is Henry Fitzroy, Henry VII's illegitimate son by Bessie Blount. This chap was evidence that the King could produce a male child, if not a legitimate heir, and he was created Earl of Richmond. The poet Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, was a childhood friend of Fitzroy.
The book starts as a loose retailing of topical details, but the biographical framework starts to impose itself, with a strictly chronological account of Henry's reign. His celebrated matrimonial career is presented from HIS viewpoint for a change, although that does not lessen his monstrousness. He loved tilting and tournaments - that leg injury was a sporting injury. Most of his best friends seem to have been chosen for their skill in breaking lances...!
So if you want to know more about the Courtenays, the Boleyns, Norfolks and Suffolks, the Seymours, the Parrs, this is your book. In spades! Weir does it well.
Only one reservation - after the comprehensive genealogies of her "Wars of the Roses," the family trees in this book are insufficient for the ground covered. We really need the background for his wives as well as Henry's own genealogy. (Both trees can be found in the opening pages of the hardback edition of Antonia Fraser's "Six Wives of Henry VIII". They may be in Weir's "Six Wives", too, but are harder to read, being in italic script.)
Otherwise - excellent.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent account of Henry VIII life style., 26 Nov 2002
By 
Dr. Allen Brown (Cambridge) - See all my reviews
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I must say from the outset that I found this book an extremely entertaining and good read. Alison Weir has achieved every writers aim and that's to write clearly with a high level of continuity and flow. Written chronologically, it provides a fascinating account of Henry VIII life. The intrigue at court is treated with sufficient depth where the reader can almost get bound up in it. Although Alison does not hold back on Henry's extravagant life style throughout all his life, he nonetheless sent many people to the block and was a man with a very dark side. You can quite imagine a future television soap opera based on the life and times of Henry VIII - considering the amount of court politics which went on you could easily fill forty hours of television. At times the book is a little too bound up with Henry without sufficient historical context, this is however is a reflection on Henry himself whose ego was of planetary proportions. Alison's achievement in writing this book is quite remarkable and it's also very pleasing to see a detailed listing of her many references.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars totally compelling, 2 Aug 2001
By A Customer
I feel the Amazon reviewer has done injustice to Ms Weir in saying that this is a colourless portrait of the king. At the outset, she states that she does not want to cover old ground, and readers should refer to "The Six Wives of Henry Vlll" for a detailed picture of a passionate, flamboyant monach. This book concentrates on life at court, and gives a detailed picture of everyday life there, including a warts and all description of food, sanitary arrangements, dress, buildings etc. This has the potential to be as dry as dust, but Ms Weir makes it completely compelling reading, interweaving it with the story of the reign, without covering the in-depth character analysis of the king and his wives of the previous book. The court comes to life, and makes you mourn for the lost paintings, garments and buildings that made up the whole picture. I have read all of the author's books now - I wish she would write another! She is the most rivetting historian I have ever read. If the school history syllabus could be read in this way, everyone would get an 'A'.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a kaleidscope of the period, 22 Jan 2013
This review is from: Henry VIII: King and Court (Paperback)
I bought this as a present for a friend who after readingHilary Mantel said she wished she knew a bit more about the period. I already have a copy and think it is a wonderful far-ranging account of political, religious, international politics, social history of the time, with riveting details of the characters concerned. it is as exciting as a novel and it greatly enhances ones enjoyment of theNational Portrait and National Gallery as well as Tate Britain. And then of course there is Hampton Court. Everybody should read it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Just Love this King's Marital History, 23 May 2013
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This review is from: Henry VIII: King and Court (Paperback)
Bought this book long ago. Alison Weir is one of my favourite author, and she did not disappoint me! Great research. Beautiful language. As a Dane I'll never stop enjoying the story of Christina (of Denmark) offering him one head if she had two!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love Tudor History, 31 Jan 2013
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I love Tudor History and have read many books on this subject!
I am currently reading this book on my Kindle Fire HD. It is a fascinating read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read but not detailed enough on Henry the man, 30 Nov 2008
By 
Matthew Turner "loyalroyal" (Reading, UK) - See all my reviews
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This was an interesting, and pleasingly accessible read. Weir writes in a friendly, easy to understand manner. Weir writes in the introduction that she hopes readers "will be able to make that great leap of imagination across the centuries ... and that, for them, Henry VIII and his court will come to life". I have to day that to some extent Weir succeeds in this - for me Henry VIII is firmly placed in his times and court, with his many palaces, hunts, pageants, masques etc.

The first third of the book is not really a biography of Henry, but an in-depth study of the court, the palaces, and the world in which Henry lived. This section was the weakest part, and for me, the least interesting. The section is far too detailed - an endless list of buildings, names, court positions etc. I agree this aspect of the period is important to study, but it was overdone.

Once we get into the biographical aspect of Henry VIII, the book improves drastically. Weir has produced a good, but not comprehensive, study of Henry as monarch and man, and the personalities of the reign (More, Cromwell, Wolsey, Fisher etc) come to life. Disappointingly, the biography is not as detailed as it could be - especially concerning the important events of the reign. I would have liked more analysis, even narrative, of the Pilgrimage of Grace; and a study of the technicalities of the canon law of Henry's divorce (or annulment) from Catherine of Aragon. Nevertheless, the book is readable and gives a good overview of the politics and factionalism at court and abroad. I did learn, however, that Anne Boleyn was likely to be pregnant at the time of her execution. This surprised me, given Henry's desperation for a son. However, given the offical reason for Anne's execution (adultery amongst other things), it would have been foolish to allow the child to be born - there would have been doubts over its paternity and possibly lead to a succession dispute.

Weir provides plenty of footnotes (at the back of the book) and sources, both secondary and primary, which is an added bonus, and there are two sections of illustrations. However, as other have noted, the genealogical table is very simplified. It is entitled "The Tudors and their Rivals" but it only shows some of Henry's Yorkist cousins (the Courtenays and Poles), whilst omitting other possible alternatives for the throne, such as the De la Poles and Staffords. The Tudor descent from Edward III, via the Beauforts, is not shown, indeed, Edward III isn't even on it.

However, in summary, I can recommend the book, as a good introduction, to anybody interested in Henry VIII, the Tudors and the Henrician court.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Merry Monarch, 2 Sep 2013
By 
G. HOLMES (Worcestershire, UK) - See all my reviews
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Henry VIII and I share the same birthday so I always hoped that we might have something in common. Its a relief to discover that he was not always the monster of legend he is often projected. More like he underwent a personality change after he suffered a major battering at a joust which knocked him out cold for ten days in 1536, when he had reached the tricky age of 45. Henry was never the same again allowing the familiar to us image of the monstrous Henry VIII to emerge.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 28 Jun 2013
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I love this book, Its amazing, there was so much doccumented at the time for King Henry that you feel you are with him on his day to day life. It goes on about him, his court, even decorations and pets!
I also reccomend Alisons other book - Henrys 8 wives.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More detailed footnotes needed, 14 Jan 2013
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This is a serious history book, and for a serious scholar it is annoying to go to the trouble of looking up a footnote and finding simply L&P. We need more than this!
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Henry VIII: King and Court
Henry VIII: King and Court by Alison Weir (Paperback - 18 Sep 2008)
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