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34 of 35 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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3 of 3 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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34 of 35 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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34 of 35 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
(REAL NAME)   
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
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
(REAL NAME)   
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a kaleidscope of the period, 22 Jan. 2013
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The eighth wonder of the world, 19 Jan. 2014
By 
Alison Weir does a good job in describing the life of Henry VIII from his ascension to the throne until his death. The book is rather detailed in some aspects but in others I felt the author could have provided a bit more detail.

She spends a lot of pages and detail on the king's court, his wardrobe, his castles and other buildings and their interior design, and court positions and the names and details of those who occupied them. I thought that was all a bit much although I have to admit it gives a very good picture of Tudor life. On the other hand, I thought the author could have been a bit more detailed on the king's policies and the main political events during his reign. For example, the separation from Rome and the formation of the Church of England appears as a sideshow. That's a bit of a pity. But apart from that, Weir paints a good and detailed picture of the man and his times.
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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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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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4.0 out of 5 stars An Informative Account of the great Rennasiance Tyrant, 22 Nov. 2009
Alison Weir's Henry VIII: King and Court is a very informative biography and tastes of the most glamourus tyrant in English history. A man who built the great palaces of Greenwich, Richmond, Whitehall, and Hampton Court. The man who strived for glory in war and pleasure. And the man who fell in love with his mistress. How could such a man not be a great lover of luxury and glamour.

Weir's descriptions of Henry's expenditure on cloths, palaces, politics, and relics was shocking. The man obiviously had no problem frolicking around outrageous sums of money just to look like a glorius prince on the scale of Francis I and Charles V. Weir also shows the way that Henry got his money back. One example is when he fined his sister, Mary, and his best friend, the Duke of Suffolk, 24,000 pounds for marrying each other!

And after all this glamour and glitz, we have Henry's political aims contained within great celebrations such as the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520. Henry's aims was to be a new Henry V, and he also wanted to show that he was capable of lavish displays of magnifience. In his military aims, he failed. In his lavish lifestyle, he succeeded with grear success.

Weir's biography of Henry VIII through his court was a cool experiment. Although some parts of it were tedious, such as the too long discriptions of the arrangments of Henry's privy chmaber, it was a really succesful experiment. Alison Weir has done it again
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glittering Court, 26 Feb. 2008
This book gives a very thourough and complete insight into all the workings of the Tudor court. It is quite exceptional in it's minute detail. This is a must for serious history students. It's one of those books that needs reading many times as there is just so much detail to be absorbed. Fiction it is not! Totally astonishing was the wealth of Henry VIII's court. Read this book and you will learn all the intricate details of court life for both Henry and his Queens as well as their courtiers. Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent work by Weir..., 23 July 2011
By 
C. Ball (Derbyshire) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
I always enjoy Alison Weir's books - she has a lively, engaging style and a knack for bringing both her subjects and the world they lived in truly to life, and this book is no exception. Henry VIII is a larger than life figure anyway: after all, every schoolchild grows up knowing 'divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived'. But there was a lot more to the man than the simple stereotype of a fat, bloated tyrant who chopped his wives' heads off. Charting his evolution from a handsome young prince with idealistic views of learning and governing to his latter incarnation as, yes, a fat bloated tyrant is truly fascinating.

The sheer amount of detail in this book is incredible - from the food Henry and his court ate, the houses they lived in, to the clothes they wore, down to the very sheets of the beds, nothing is too small or insignificant to escape mention. It really serves to bring the Tudor court to full colour and vigour.

My only quibble is that is perhaps focuses too much of Henry's life at court and not enough on his European relations; and the Reformation itself is somewhat skated over. But then, the title of the book is 'King and Court' and Henry's life within his English Court is the focus of the book, not his international relations with France, Spain and Rome.
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