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4.4 out of 5 stars23
4.4 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 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!
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on 9 June 2011
I bought this book in error. I actually wanted a detailed account of the doings of H.VIII to clear up some liberties taken with historical fact by the script writers of 'The Tudors'. This is not the right book for that.

I found myself in a detailed and comprehensive description of all things Tudor, from taxation to the laws proscribing who may wear what hat made of what material [and we think we live in a nanny state!]

For a broad sweep of life in Tudor times, from sex and marriage to economics and architecture, I found this book really interesting, written with a light touch perfectly suitable for non-academics like me.

Very highly recommended.
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on 26 October 2014
This is by no means a conventional political history of the Kings and Queens of the age and their advisors. Rather, the author selects various aspects of the times in a seemingly haphazard manner, including such topics as the state of the highways, costume and fashion and the prevalence of beggars, in a series of mini-essays. The political history of the age is given but a brief coverage, which is no bad thing given the availability of such books already. The chapters cover a wealth of fascinating detail about the Tudor period. These include widespread consumer protection measures that were in place and the detailed legislation that governed the colours and materials for clothing that men could legally wear according to their rank and status in life (women were largely exempt, an attitude which may be reflected in today’s convention of men wearing ties and collars for business and formal occasions, whereas women have much more latitude of expression). There were also very restrictive measures in place to ensure that all able-bodied, low-ranking men worked long hours for little pay. The big paradox, however, is that despite all this intrusive and highly detailed legislation, there was a wholly insufficient bureaucracy or police authority to ensure it was applied throughout the country. There is also a rather amusing tale about the proposed invasion of Scotland by English forces, the logistics of which centred on the availability of sufficient beer supplies for the invading army. This is a good book for anyone contemplating writing historical fiction in the Tudor age, as it gives a authentic and intimate feel of what life was like in those times, not just for the monarchy, but for all classes.
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on 8 November 2011
I bought this book for my husband. He is a tour guide in a Tudor House, and says it is an excellent reference book for that period. He often dips into it for useful titbits to use when talking to the visitors.
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on 3 September 2010
This book contains lots of in depth information but not to the point of being boring, overall an excellent read and recommended.
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on 25 July 2015
The opening of this book suggested a factual tone that wouldn't be overbearing to someone seeking knowledge on this particular subject. However, about halfway through, so many dates and place names were listed that it became impossible for me to sustain my interest in the text. I imagine, in the context of a historian's mind, that this book would make a useful guide, but as someone who merely takes a selective interest in history, this book became boring quickly.
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on 14 May 2010
This is a perfect book to dip into or read in a more leisured way. The chapters are a good size and even for a beginner gives a good overview of Tudor life.
It has a good chronology with plenty of illustrations and I look forward to reading more by this author.
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on 6 February 2012
This is an important history book! Has lots of meaningful stuff about society and culture, rather than constitution and foreign policy.
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on 20 July 2014
Its not an unbiased history, and at times its simplicity is almost childlike. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone wanting to learn about the Tudor period as there are innaccuracies in it. My daughter is 11 and at times I think she could have written bits of this as the language used is so simplistic. Whilst it is titled a brief history and simplicity is therefore required, this lacks clarity and is skewed by it bias so fails to be a history and becomes more a story.
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on 30 January 2013
This review is from: A Brief History of the Tudor Age (Paperback)
THE TUDOR AGE by Jasper Ridley is rich in detail, clear in family connections (as clear as possible in this jungle of wives, husbands, bastards and mistresses). Henry VII's son Arthur died at the age of 15 after consuming his marriage with Catherine `'with youthful gusto,'' as Ridley puts it, an act that Catherine denied having happened as, she claimed, the boy was already too ill to perform. Years later Henry VIII maintained that Catherine had had relations in order to divorce her. Ridley reminds us that Henry VIII was a 6 foot 4 inch beauty, who attended Mass 5 times a day, `'was an intellectual as well as an athlete. He wrote books on religion and patronized intellectuals.'' Henry was charming and courteous, while killing more people in his youth `'than his father did in his whole life.'' He was truly `'Machiavelli's Prince in action,'' just as shown in the recent tv series The Tudors, with the gorgeous Natalie Dormer and the even-more-gorgeous Henry Cavill and the slightly-less-gorgeous Rhys Meyers. Henry was succeeded by his son Edward VI who, claims Ridley, `'might have been one of the greatest of English kings'' had he too not died at age 15. Ridley's book is especially an overview of the times, with chapters on customs, fashion, food, wars, ships, beggars and heretics. An essential book for those who wish to appreciate the Tudor period. My own books can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.
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