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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional, unusual and highly readable
This is a very, very good little book. It is packed with superbly researched material which gives a vivid sense of daily life in the Tudor period, particularly female daily life with its unique challenges and pressures in relation to conception and birth. This is not, as might be inferred from the title, in any way a titillating book; rather it is quite a scholarly work...
Published 23 months ago by EleanorB

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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but silly mistakes
While this book covers areas on childbirth, marriage etc and gives good insight into the medical knowledge and superstitions surrounding childbirth the author has slipped up on her research.
For example on page 136 she states that Anne Boleyn is the daughter of the duke of Norfolk. Anne was the niece of the duke not his daughter. There are numerous other errors in...
Published 22 months ago by Karenf


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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional, unusual and highly readable, 24 Sep 2012
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EleanorB - See all my reviews
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This is a very, very good little book. It is packed with superbly researched material which gives a vivid sense of daily life in the Tudor period, particularly female daily life with its unique challenges and pressures in relation to conception and birth. This is not, as might be inferred from the title, in any way a titillating book; rather it is quite a scholarly work which sheds a completely different light on the endlessly fascinating Tudor dynasty.

What emerges is a picture of female life in which the main business of being a woman (queen or otherwise) was the production of children. This was the destiny, indeed the career, of all but those who adopted the religious life or were barren for whatever reason, A hard destiny it was: obstetric care was rudimentary, infection control was unknown, superstition was rife, pain relief virtually non-existent and both maternal and infant mortality scarily frequent, particularly, but not exclusively amongst extremely young wives - Margaret Beaufort (mother of Henry the Seventh) was married at 13 and lucky to survive that one and only pregnancy.

For a queen, under pressure to deliver a nursery full of heirs, the constant need to conceive was simply a fact of life and took no account of personal inclination. I wonder if the pressure exerted by Henry the Eighth in this respect actually worked against him by placing his wives, particularly Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, in such a constant state of anxiety. Of course, the woman who did follow her personal inclination, Elizabeth the First, was regarded as positively unnatural for rejecting the perils of motherhood.

Amy Licence has placed the individual women whose lives she is studying firmly in their time and place, which greatly increases our understanding of how and why things were done in what seems to us, now, as ignorant and perverse ways.

How fortunate we are to have been born in an age where social progress, personal choice, reliable contraception,and proper obstetric care have made birthing a child, if not any less daunting, then immeasurably safer for all concerned.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but silly mistakes, 22 Oct 2012
While this book covers areas on childbirth, marriage etc and gives good insight into the medical knowledge and superstitions surrounding childbirth the author has slipped up on her research.
For example on page 136 she states that Anne Boleyn is the daughter of the duke of Norfolk. Anne was the niece of the duke not his daughter. There are numerous other errors in the book and for me this lets it down.
I hope that when the book goes to paperback, the publishers will have edited the book and corrected the blatant errors.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Maybe or maybe not., 26 Sep 2013
This was good on the general life and conditions of women in Tudor times, but less so on the Tudor dynasty itself, especially on the male members. There was a lot about Tudor childbed, in fact it gets quite repetitive, but much of the information and opinion on the Tudor monarchs appears to be gleaned from secondary sources. If I want to know what David Starkey or Alison Weir think I can read their books I do not expect to see it repackaged in the work of another author. Many of the positive reviews say how unusual this book is but in fact most books on the Tudors cover the subjects raised here extensively and for a really insightful and well researched look at women's sexuality (albeit slightly later in history) try The Weaker Vessel by Antonia Fraser. There were some mistakes and dubious historical opinion not fully explained, for example p163 "Anne's brother George, accused of incest, homosexuality and adultery.." Some writers have speculated about his homosexuality, I cannot find any evidence that he was charged with it. There are inconsistencies p212 we are told that Henry viii entailed the throne upon the heirs of his sister "Mary Rose, rather than his own daughters.." Which is not true (and why does she keep referring to the King's sister as Mary Rose)when later p223 it is correctly stated that the heirs of Mary were given preference to the heirs of Margaret Tudor, but doesn't put right the statement that Henry disinherited his own daughters.
Finally there are too many "may haves" summed up by this extremely pointless example p 176 "The truth may have been more complex. It may not have been."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars disappointed, 28 Jan 2014
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This review is from: In Bed with the Tudors: The Sex Lives of a Dynasty from Elizabeth of York to Elizabeth I (Kindle Edition)
Ms. Licence has obviously done a lot of research, and the book is interesting, but factual mistakes plus mistakes in grammar, spelling and punctuation (probably very sloppy editing or transcription into Kindle format) undermine the rest of the book's credibility. It's a shame.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor with lots of mistakes, 30 July 2014
This review is from: In Bed with the Tudors: The Sex Lives of a Dynasty from Elizabeth of York to Elizabeth I (Kindle Edition)
This book is shocking. Frequent spelling mistakes, repetitive, repeating the same facts throughout different chapters. Contains more than a few historical inaccuracies: Licence says Anne Boleyn was the daughter of the Duke of Norfolk, funny that, I thought she was his niece?!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good at a glance but...., 10 April 2014
This book is okay in general but approach with caution, it is littered with spelling mistakes throughout, which are more obvious in some places than others. Also, the book can get quite repetitive with the same facts repeated and re-packaged in a various number of chapters. More importantly, however, is the fact that the book is also littered in places with historical inaccuracies. For example on page 136, the author states that Anne Boleyn was the daughter of the Duke of Norfolk, when in fact she was his niece. Whilst the book was easy to read and accessible, basic mistakes such as this makes the reader question the authenticity and accuracy of other so-called 'facts'. Quite frankly, this is disappointing from an author who has an MA in Medieval and Tudor studies.

I would not recommend for die-hard history fans, with a particular interest in the Tudor period.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent unusual read., 23 Oct 2012
This is a really unusual book which kept me entertained all the way through. It is full of interesting new material on the domestic aspects of women's lives which other books on the Tudor queens tend to gloss over, particularly medical details about childbirth etc. As a fan of the Tudors, I often find books repeating the same well known stuff, so I was glad to find the author has new things to say about old topics, like Anne Boleyn's fall and why the Cleves marriage failed. This book also includes the experiences of everyday women of the sixteenth century alongside royalty, with cases of childbirth and scandal among the lower classes, which gives it a sense of social breadth. I also really liked the recipes and cures and all the information about home medicine and the uses of herbs. Another new thing is the exploration of how childbirth was changed by the reformation, because of Catholicism being attacked which I have not seen anywhere else, so I think this book has a lot of new ideas to offer and is well worth a read. The writing is engaging and accessible, using lots of colour and background detail to evoke the past and really helps the reader get a sense of what life was like for women then and how much has changed since. This book is exceedingly readable.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, detailed, unusual book., 5 Sep 2012
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This is a most unusual book as it deals with an area not previously exposed. Many people are drawn to the Tudor times and this book reveals much detail about the everyday life of adults and children. Each page is packed with real - obviously well researched - detail that brings home to the reader the incredible life styles of people of that time. I suspect that any women, any historian, would find this book fascinating and not be able to put it down. Anyone interested in health and medicine would like it.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just as you thought, really., 5 April 2013
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This is a good book which does pretty much what it says - offers a view of how reproduction influenced the dynasties of the Tudors. We know a lot of it already, and here it is all brought together, with lots of details, comment on how each stillbirth., etc, influenced decision-making and options for the royal line, and a fair bit of speculation, kept within reasonable limits (no, we don't know whether Catherine slept with Arthur, and we never will, no matter how many books are written). The sub-title is a clear (and daft) ploy to make a decent scholarly work appeal to - shall we say , a less historically minded audience? They'll be disappointed, but if you are interested in history rather than sex, you should enjoy this...
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some interesting things, 18 Aug 2013
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Maybe a slightly different angle on the reproductive activities of the Tudors, but not really focused. It degenerates into lists, presumably taken from contemporary documents, rather a lot. Lists of plants used as remedies, for instance.

The thing that really annoyed me was the persistent confusion between "may" and "might". In a book which is largely speculation, this matters a lot. The phrases " Henry VIII may have had a son " and Henry VIII might have had a son" ( I'm making these up, but there were lots of similar examples) mean the exact opposite. In the first case it is possible he did, but we don't know. In the second case, he definitely didn't. The difference is the entire historical point.
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