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The Six Wives Of Henry VIII Paperback – 6 Mar 1997

4.6 out of 5 stars 161 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Pimlico; New edition edition (6 Mar. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712673849
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712673846
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (161 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 724,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"A thrilling and chilling story." (Sunday Times)

"At last we have the truth about Henry VIII's wives. This book is as reliable and scholarly as it is readable." (A. L. Rowse Evening Standard)

"An entertaining account of Henry VIII's complicated domestic history. It is full of interesting detail - Alison Weir's treatment of this perennially fascinating subject is a beguiling one." (Anne Somerset London Review of Books)

Book Description

Thoroughly researched and with a real understanding of the times these six fascinating women lived through, Alison Weir's new book reveals a Tudor England where personal needs and private emotion could, and frequently did, override or influence national events.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 25 Jan. 2002
Format: Paperback
This book was absolutely fascinating from start to finish - a wonderful period of history, to which Alison Weir has done complete justice.
Each of the wives are written about in more-than-adequate detail - if this wasn't a non-fiction piece of literature, you could say that the characterisation was top notch.
When completing this book (which shouldn't take too long as it's hard to put down), get hold of "The Children of England - The Heirs of Henry VIII", which continues where this book left off, and examines Edward VI, Lady Jane Grey and Mary I. I have just read that and can't wait to move on to Weir's biography on "Elizabeth"!
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By A Customer on 18 Sept. 2005
Format: Paperback
We need to rewrite the rhyme 'Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived'. In this excellent book, we learn that Henry VIII had three of his marriages annulled, he had arrest warrants drawn up for three of his wives for capital offences, he was survived by two wives and two of them died in childbirth.
Alison Weir begins with the story of the Spanish princess Katherine of Aragon. Brought to England at the age of 16 and married to Henry's brother, widowed before her 17th birthday, engaged to Henry the following year. We learn how her second marriage was put on hold for political reasons, but it was Henry's priority on becoming king. It seemed to be a love-match as much as a political one. We follow the marriage through the love, through the heart-break of losing their children and through Henry's betrayal of a loyal woman who even acted as regent during a Scottish invasion when he was at war in France.
The narrative progresses to Anne Boleyn, the ambitious woman who stirred up so much passion and was eventually cruelly convicted of crimes she probably didn't commit. But there's more to Anne than Henry's innocent victim and one of the major causes of the English Reformation. We also learn of her devious plots against her rivals. Her step-daughter Mary was particularly at risk.
Plain Jane Seymour became the third wife, Henry's favourite, but the marriage was short.
We learn about Anne of Cleves who, succeeding Jane, benefitted most from a brief marriage to Henry, transforming from impoverished German princess to Henry's wealthy 'sister'.
Then there was Katherine Howard, a silly teenager without the sense to take the opportunities thrown at her to save her own life.
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By A Customer on 20 Nov. 2002
Format: Paperback
Alison Weir has a great talent for weaving factual information into a good story. Packed with historical references and material, this masterful account of the six wives of Henry VIII is not only painstakingly researched, but is a really good yarn!
This book challenges the stereotypes of the six queens and brings each character to life with contemporary sources. Too often we see the wives portrayed as the Barren, the conniving Harlot, the saintly Mother, the Ugly, the Adulteress, and the sedate Widow. This book gives us insights into the characters and impact of the queens, and certainly opened my eyes.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Tudor history, womens' history or a good story. All the good tales are based in truth.
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Format: Paperback
This was the first book I read by Alison Weir - and I so liked it that, since then, I have read all others !
The author as a way of being entertaining while sticking strictly to historical sources that makes the read very enjoyable: there is no feeling (and no need, in her books) of a romanced approach - reality is far more exciting that fiction.
This book is, in fact, about Henry VIII and his evolution during his reign. The description of the different "compartments" of Henry VIII's matrimonial life are interesting in that they each correspond to a different era in his reign - and of Court life and customs. I hadn't realised before that his first marriage, with Catherine of Aragon, lasted as long as all others together.
A very good and easy read, which I strongly recommend.
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Format: Paperback
As much as I enjoyed reading this book, I think that Weir sometimes lacks the flair, written vivacity and the wit that other writers such as Starkey, Fraser and (dare I say it!) even Denny are able to postulate. I say this because I personally felt that it was difficult to concentrate and persevere at times due in part though I must acknowledge to the sheer volume of the book but also due to the lack of conviction and persuasiveness of the arguments conveyed which I have noted in other works.

Another major downfall for me (and I do consider this to be a downfall, especially in a work of someone who is reputed to be an accomplished historical writer), the almost complete reliance on secondary accounts, and the failure to challenge their authenticity and their motives.
A prime example of this is in relation to the reports of Eustace Chapuys and the author also appears to be very biased, not deploying an impartial attitude towards Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard, or even at times, Catherine of Aragon.
I also have particular concerns with regard to highly circumspect accounts not verified by other sources which are conveyed more or less as fact in this book such as Henry seducing the fair fiancee of a passer-by (although Weir mentions not only this alleged incident and its source in her biography on Mary Boleyn, she does not in this book however, delve into a great deal of detail as to where she acquired this account from, with the reader then having to sift through the references), Anne seemingly compassing and "plotting" the deaths of Catherine and Mary (a claim which is highly unsubstantiated) and her account of Catherine Howard's execution which is in all probability incorrect.

Unfortunately, this means for me that while I thoroughly appreciate the breadth of research which undoubtedly went into this work, it is not however on parr with David Starkey and Antonia Fraser's account of the Six Wives.
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