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The Mistresses of Henry VIII Kindle Edition
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We are are aware of the six marriages by the King Henry VIII, but most of his mistreses are forgotten, at least to a wider public. Exceptions must be made to Mary Boleyn through the recent success of the book and movie "The Other Bolyen Sister" and maybe Bessie Blount as the mother of the Duke of Richmond. But even here not much is known about the ladies in question. But there were more, many more.
But they were never "maitresse en titre" like at the French court. Being the King's lover was not a court position, but rather the Kings's personal love. These ladies - some more like a one night stand and other for a few months - entertained the king. Kelly Hart explains very well how the King "functions", felt and acted.
Of course, Kelly Hart can not get around the wives of Henry. First I was a bit sceptical why she was dealing with them as I did not want to read another book about the "six wives", but she concentrated on the aspect why at least three of them were "mistresses" before becoming queen consort. Mistress is to be understood as mistress of the heart not necessarily in sexual terms.
Of course, here Anna Boleyn has an unique position - she would have made history even if she would have remained only the mistress: she was the first royal mistress who was made a peeress in her own rights (Marquess of Pembroke, the male form was used and the title has royal connections as Pembroke was the title of the King's uncle Jasper Tudor) and she exercised real power. She made it from there to the throne. However, Jane Seymour, Katherine Howard and maybe Katherine Parr were "royal sweethearts" before becoming royal spouses, while Katherine of Aragon and Anna of Cleves were "typical royal spouses".
It is an entertaining book. Easy to read, but not shallow. It is not sensational and washing dirty linen in public, but informative and interesting. Maybe Kelly Hart is a bit too Henry friendly. But at least she always supports her points with arguments and is open about it. All in all a book I enjoyed immensely and which fits very well into the "5oo years of Henry VIII theme".
The author has clearly done her research, and tells the story of Henry's lovers alongside that of his marriages, as the two are very closely intertwined. She does not attempt to tell the whole story: it is neither a biography of Henry, nor the story of the politics behind the six marriages, and it is much the better for that. The information needed to understand the author's points is included, and the book flows very well.
Henry comes over as a very contradictory individual, and getting close to him was often dangerous. There were always those willing to take the risk: some benefitted, others perished.
All in all, a very interesting book: if you have an interest in the period, then I would definitely recommend it.
What I love about this book is that it is obvious that Hart has meticulously researched it and hasn't just jumped on the Tudor bandwagon. All of her opinions and views are based on historical evidence and she backs everything up with sources.
We learn about the six wives, the King's definite mistresses - women like Bessie Blount, Mary Boleyn and the "Imperial woman" - but we also learn about the many women that probably were mistresses to the king, women like Etiennette de la Baume, Elizabeth Amadas, Jane Popincourt and many more. Henry's character, as a devoted lover and hopeless romantic, is also explored, as well as the awful way he treated some of his wives.
All in all, it is a fantastic read and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about Henry VIII and the women he loved.
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Most recent customer reviews
It is fact and fiction and if you are a fan of tudor history you may enjoy this
I will read this one again