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Tudors: A History of England Volume II (History of England Vol 2) Hardcover – Unabridged, 13 Sep 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 118 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Unabridged, 13 Sep 2012
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; 1 edition (13 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230706401
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230706408
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 4.4 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 224,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Religious upheaval and dissent peppers Ackroyd s enjoyable book as lavishly as it coloured the reigns of Henry and all three of his children... Peter Ackroyd relishes the period s colourful details... As so often in Ackroyd s books there are irresistible small details of everyday life in historic London" --Daily Express (4-star review)

"Ackroyd delivers the grisly annals of Tudor persecutions with an eye for detailed pathos... Ackroyd evokes the purging of Catholic popular piety with a controlled, rueful passion... [He] neatly avoids imposing a 21st-century moral sensibility on the question of executions by warning against cultural anachronism... [A] superbly accessible and readable History of England" -- Financial Times

"Historian Peter Ackroyd clearly relishes the wicked glamour of the family which presided over the Reformation, saw off the Spanish Armada, founded the British Empire and left the country they ruled a great European power... The Tudors, as Ackroyd reminds us in this fluent and colourful second volume of his History of England, were more than just a dysfunctional ruling family. Some of our greatest names were true Tudors too... Such a shame that the Stuarts followed and ruined it all. That s a story for Ackroyd s next volume, and I can t wait" --Sunday Express

"[Ackroyd] has a matchless sense of place, and of the transformations of place across long stretches of time; he is also an inventive and playful English stylist... The central drama of the Tudor age was of course the break with Rome and the transformation of England over three generations into a Protestant stronghold. On this Ackroyd is refreshingly immune to some ingrained national myths"
--Standpoint Magazine

"Of all the dynasties to occupy the English throne, none has imprinted itself more durably on the nation s consciousness than the Tudors... Peter Ackroyd s retelling of their tale forms the second volume of a planned six-volume history of England. This is the sort of Everest-sized project that few serious historians have attempted since the great Lord Macaulay in the 19th Century... The story moves forward in short, well-dramatised scenes. Plot lines and personalities are clearly drawn. And the focus rarely shifts from the world of the court that epicentre of conspiracy and intrigue. Ackroyd has a keen eye for the curious detail... Ackroyd refers to himself as a modern-day chronicler of the past, a recorder of specific moments and events and at this there is no doubting he is a master" --Mail on Sunday

"Well crafted... Ackroyd is at his most effective when tracing England's religious change" --Sunday Times

Book Description

The second volume of Peter Ackroyd's masterful history of England: Tudors

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The purpose of a historian is to take often conflicting and confusing events and turn them into an understandable and (hopefully) enjoyable narrative. In this case the author has succeeded.

The book takes us from the beginnings of the reign of Henry VIII through to the end of Elizabeth I. in other words, virtually the whole of the 16th century. Unlike others historians, like the book I read recently read about Caterina Sforza (Tigress of Forli: The Life of Caterina Sforza), the author is less concerned about character and more concerned about events. All the monarchs are mainly pegs around whom the many happenings of this period revolve, but that does not diminish the quality of the book. It's just another way to treat history.

I also like the fact that the chapters are fairly short; there are over forty (in just over 350 pages). This means that it is possible to put the book down easily or read it in short bursts without losing the plot, or getting overwhelmed by the details.

Although familiar with the Tudor period, I am no way an expert. In fact I read the book to remind myself of the events. The book is not overly academic. There are many quotes, but they are not referenced (one of the minor flaws) but this does did not hinder my enjoyment.

Perfect as a paperback, or as I read it, on an e-reader.
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Format: Hardcover
Ackroyd's second volume of his History of England slackens the pace of the narrative significantly. The first volume described more than a millennium from the Brythonic tribes through Roman occupation and the Middle Ages to the settlement of the Wars of the Roses in 1485. This volume, in contrast, covers less than a century; the Tudor period running from the accession of Henry VIII in 1509 to the death of Elizabeth I in 1603.

This closer inspection reflects both the fame (infamy?) of the major figures of this period as well as the wealth of surviving sources and exhaustive historical studies. This is both a strength and a weakness. The tendency to superficially skim across major events and figures that occasionally afflicted the first volume is less evident, however, the fact that this period is so well known makes it easier to pick fault with some of Ackroyd's conclusions.

The author's decision to end the first volume with the death of Henry VII rather than include the first Tudor in this volume is illuminating. Many would argue that the shape and success of Tudor policy was set by Henry VII with the ensuing `golden' reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth built on his stable foundations. Thus he belongs alongside them in the titular Tudor volume. Ackroyd, however, has a narrative agenda that precludes this.

Not only did Henry VII's reign mark the end of the chaos of the Wars of the Roses but it also served as a period of stability in which the constancy of English society in the face of political upheaval could be illustrated - a major theme of Volume I. The narrative theme of Volume II is religion, a consideration only brought to the fore by Henry VIII's infamous marital difficulties.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ackroyd continues to startle and sparkle with his erudition and wit. I bought this almost as a penance, inspired by a sense of needing to improve my understanding of this critical period in the history of England. But, as ever with Ackroyd, you quickly get caught up in the energy of his storytelling - and with a plot that would defy belief were it not true (never did Carlyle's epigram better apply:'History is a mighty dramos, enacted upon the theatre of times, with suns for lamps and eternity for a background'.
Compelling, insightful, and not without humour.
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I tend to alternate my historical reading evenly between fact and fiction. Right now, it's the turn of fact and this is a good choice. Peter Ackroyd is nothing if not consistent. His work is methodical, well researched, and well presented with a good narrative pace along with a placing of events clearly in their timeline. He deals less with the people per se, and more with the events in which they were the key players. His last volume ended with the death of Henry the Seventh and I find that quite logical even though this book is concerned with The Tudors. The death of the first Tudor king marked the end of the Wars of the Roses (as we call them in retrospect) and to an extent the beginning of the end of medieval England. Henry the Eighth clearly represented the future and that included tentative (albeit very tentative) moves to a more technocratic society. So, Ackroyd is correct in defining his work this way.

This is serious history. The book is erudite, well informed, well illustrated (although many of the images have been used before)and covers a century of religious upheaval, dynastic problems, and much bloodshed, culminating in the reign of Elizabeth the First and her idiosyncratic use of her own image to represent not just herself, but her country as well - effectively the birth of PR. Ackroyd does not spare us the litany of casualties along the way and the sheer brutality of religious suppression, on both sides of the debate, is breathtaking. The cruellest of executions were meted out to people who merely expressed opinions which differed from the prevailing orthodoxy, in a way that makes you seriously question contemporary understanding of the concept of a "God of Love".
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