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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly readable and entertaining history, 29 Jan 2012
This review is from: Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England (Hardcover)
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Tremendously well-written and intricately researched, this history/biography of Henry VII, first of the Tudor kings, mainly concerns itself with the twenty four years of his reign, from victory at Bosworth to his death in 1509, with plenty of background on Henry's birth and young life, his exile to France and the familial plotting and scheming that eventually brought him to challenge Richard Plantagenet's claim to the throne. There's a wealth of detail about court politics and life, as well as domestic life and the lives of his young sons, Arthur and Henry (the future kind Henry VIII) and their mutual wife, Catherine of Aragon.
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Placing the whole against a detailed background of European power play and English social life at this time, there's much about the severe oppression of Henry's reign, punitive taxation and judicial extortion, the English people were subjected to, and... This could all add up to a rather dry tome, but Thomas Penn has a light touch with detail and a knack for turning historical fact into readable narrative, so that you find you've taken in a great deal of fact and barely even noticed. The character of Henry Tudor himself comes across with terrific vivacity and colour - dour, severe, untrustworthy; a paranoid and mercenary plotter. A thoroughly hideous character and a far from model king, Henry was a true survivor, determined to hang on to his crown, legitimise his tenuous claims to the throne and found a dynasty.

In short, this is a very well written and highly readable book about a largely ignored king and an important period of English history; a prologue to the reigns of the better-known Tudors, a vital introduction to times that were to change English life and her place in the world forever.
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4.0 out of 5 stars (190 customer reviews)
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