18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Henry VII (Routledge Historical Biographies) (Paperback)Yale University Press offers the impressive series "Yale English Monarchs" and anyone looking for a well-resarched, thorough biography of an English king or queen is well advised to check this series. S.B. Chrimes' biography of Henry VII was published in 1972, so it seems about time to take a fresh look at this monarch.
Judging by the chapter "Modern opinions on Henry VII" in Sean Cunningham's book this is being done but I did not get the impression that the author himself has many new worthwhile findings to report.
Like many recent books called "biography" this "Henry VII" does not offer a coherent narrative of the life of the monarch with all facets included; we are given a kind of "backbone" biography in chronological order with the main events in Henry's life which fills about half the book. Then individual aspects are taken out of context and presented as a kind of long essay without much attempt at linking them to the story of Henry's life which was presented at the beginning. We read about finance and taxation, Parliament, the courts, the power of the nobles, council and councillors, Henry VII and the church, to name but a few chapters, and are thus left with many pieces of a big puzzle; it is up to the reader to put all these pieces together in the attempt of making a whole.
Background knowledge of the Wars of the Roses and Henry's predecessors is recommended for a better understanding - otherwise one might for example wonder why Richard III got so little support from his nobles at the battle of Bosworth and why so many of them defected. The book offers only scarce information about Henry's wife and children; particularly his successor, Henry VIII, remains a shadowy figure. Cunningham calls Stanley Chrimes biography of Henry VII "detailed but colourless"; be that as it may, I wouldn't say that Cunningham's own book is all that colourful. To readers who know nothing about Henry VII it provides a first impression of the king and individual aspects of his reign. To all others I would recommend Chrimes.