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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still the best biography of Henry VIII, 28 Nov 2005
By 
Ben "candlemasbear" (Hereford, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Henry VIII (Yale English Monarchs Series) (Paperback)
There have been a lot of books, articles and TV programmes about Henry VIII in the 4 decades since this book was written and in my view not one of them can match this work.
This is a magnificent piece of scholarship and - at times - an enthralling read. It discusses all aspects of Henry's life with a fine sense of balance and perspective so lacking in other, more 'modern' works. It reveals Henry, man and monarch: a man with flaws, of course, but also a strong and important ruler in turbulent times.
As the 500th anniversary of his reign approaches (2009) you can safely bet that there will be a lot more ill-informed and arrogant rubbish written about Henry VIII. This book is hopefully more than just a vital corrective to those unhistorical views. It is an important introduction to Henry VIII for beginners and - hopefully - a starting point for a long overdue debate on the contribution of Henry VIII to the modern world.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Henry VIII - J J Scarisbrick, 8 Sep 2007
By 
Matthew Turner "loyalroyal" (Reading, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Henry VIII (Yale English Monarchs Series) (Paperback)
It has been a while since I read this book, but this is by far the most authoritative and scholarly account of Henry VIII. It has been around a while but it remains the standard biography of the king. Scarisbrick knows his man, and while being scholarly, writes in a way which makes this work accessible to academia and layperson alike.

Scarisbrick takes the reader through a thorough exploration of the primary sources and gives us Henry's true role in the momentous events of his reign:- the divorce, break with Rome, establishment of the Church of England and the growing power of parliament (thanks to Henry's use of it to achieve his ends). Despite his break from the Pope, Scarisbrick shows Henry to be a typical ruler of the period, and basically a conservative Catholic at heart.

This current edition is a great benefit to the reader as in the foreword Scarisbrick has taken stock of new research and works on Henry VIII, and that, thanks to these new works, he has revised his opinions in some areas since originally writing this: especially in his assertion that Henry and Catherine of Aragon's marriage was invalid due to a technical flaw in the papal dispensation. The great strength of this book though is chapter 7, which is a superb study of the canonical technicalities of the divorce.

In short, this book is a must-read for anybody interested in Henry VIII, both the layperson and the scholar.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Henry VII JJ Scarisbrick, 24 Mar 2004
By 
J. P. Fuller (Oxfordshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Henry VIII (Yale English Monarchs Series) (Paperback)
This is a weighty tome but what the Hal, just buy it.If you buy one book on Henry VIII go for this one. It is very readable and entertaining whilst maintaining the highest academic standards. He is most interesting on the relationship between Henry and Wolsey and on the minute details of Tudor court life. To bring it up to date Scarisbrick has addressed some more recent scholarsip in his introduction to the new edition. To put it Starkey (should that be starkly?) if you choose some of the more modern trendier histories around at the moment then you have missed out.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars View from the Vatican, 15 Dec 2009
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This review is from: Henry VIII (Yale English Monarchs Series) (Paperback)
The "Roman Catholic" spin on Henry VIII. Quite well-written but flawed, the central thesis of this book explaining Henry's break with Rome relies far too much on legalistic analysis of canon law and thereby misses the wood for the trees. As Cicero showed two thousand years ago and Hitler more recently, lawyers can find a "proof" for anything on demand depending on whatever power complex pays or prevails. The author's own bias is fairly obvious and is at odds with one's expectation of objectivity in an academic study. Piling up a dogmatic Pelion on Ossa does not explain the intricate social and political - not to mention psychological - forces at work in producing the Henrician reformation. Scarisbrick performs best when writing within the limited parameters demanded by diplomatic history or theological polemic, but imho misses the larger picture, both British and European, in his obsessive focus on explaining why what actually did happen should not have happened - surely the wrong approach for an academic historian. The cultural "appendix" was interesting but would have been better integrated into the main body of the work. As a biography it also shows little human or psychological insight into the characters or personalities of even the main players, especially considering the work in this area of more recent historians. Still useful in the narrow areas of its author's specialisms, the book is now obviously dated as an academic work and fails to attract as a readable popular biography. A plodding rather than stylish read.
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Henry VIII (Yale English Monarchs Series)
Henry VIII (Yale English Monarchs Series) by J.j Scarisbrick (Paperback - 2 April 1997)
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