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Life in tudor England
on 17 December 2004
Ridley's book is a highly readable account of aspects of Tudor England not particularly addressed in any of the standard biographies. If one feels a little squeamish reading the chapter detailing punishments for criminals, then there is plenty of other fascinating information on the road systems, dress, housing, seafaring and pastimes along with a look at Tudor London. A lot has changed in 500 years and this book is excellent for understanding the machinery of everyday life for everyone from King and Queen to peasant.
I do have one complaint about this book though. It seems that no Tudor historian can view the Wars of the Roses period without a severe pro-Lancastrian bias and by looking on Henry VII as some sort of saviour. Ridley makes several mentions of Elizabeth of York having been 'imprisoned' by Richard III at Sheriffhutton (that's Sheriff Hutton to the rest of us), which is nonsense, and does serve to undermine this otherwise well written and researched volume. At this point I was tempted to throw the book across the room in disgust. The opening chronology is useful for reference, but I would assume that anyone picking up this volume would have a basic knowledge of the major events over the Tudor period, so the overview in the first chapter is in my opinion unnecessary, overly basic and if I'm completely honest, just a little bit patronising. Take my advice and skip this bit and get stuck straight away into the interesting stuff!