Top critical review
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Good for reference
on 24 July 2012
Whether or not you find this book interesting will depend on why you are reading it. For a serious History student who is looking for an almost year-by-year account of what went on in England between 1485 and 1603, it is brilliant. It is crammed full of details of what happened when. It looks in considerable detail at England's relations with Europe, especially France, Spain and the Papacy, and also with her neighbours in Scotland and Ireland. The political as well as the religious implications of the Reformation are minutely analysed and assessed.
What is lacking is any real insight into the personalities of the Tudor monarchs and statesmen, or indeed any sense of what they were like as people. Nor is there any real feeling of what life was like for ordinary folk, so if what you are looking for is social history, forget it!
The language too is extremely dated (I believe the book was published in 1905), not to say convoluted. How many of us today use words like "nugatory". "coterminous" or "asseverate" ? And the sentence structure could have been set as tests in the good old days when English exams required the ability to do general analysis. (If you are under the age of fifty, this will be Greek to you!)
To sum up, brilliant as a reference work for students of this period, but a bit too dry and academic for the general reader.