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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 26 February 2010
Spanish lady. Sixty six years old. It means that I studied (in private french lycee, mind you) Spanish and international history during Franco's years. Spain and England were (very)frequently at war with each other -not in my youth, centuries ago- or, when allied, for very crematistic reasons. Catalina de Aragon was just an instrument, as were all women in general, but we were taught from her destiny as well as all the other wives, how "bad" Henry VIII was, and how "saint an just" the Spanish kings. Of course, we guessed that was not the true story; and as we got older and started reading books we harvested on our own, we learned that history was not black and white, and was full of grey-ish facts in every country. It is never too late to keep adding knowledge and comprehension of historic facts, and Dr David Starkey has conceived and delivered a strong, beautiful, well presented, sensitive and, I think, quite "neutral" from the nationality point of view, documentary. I strongly recommend it, not only to scholarly minded persons, but to everybody, even the ones merely interested in "bed-room" gossip. We call it "pink journalism" here, but when it happenned in the XV and XVI centuries, and is rendered with mastery like this, it becomes a "must see" for young and old.
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on 16 August 2011
i am an avid scholar of the reign of 'dear harry',and like to read/see as much as i can about the era.this dvd makes this period easier to understand and,although nothing like the recent tudors televised,it is a good dvd to have as a 'reference'standby.i do enjoy dr starkeys commentary and feel the explanations he gives,go far enough,without waffling on about too much tudor politics[that would be another dvd of its own]yes, definitly recommended.
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on 13 May 2011
Thoroughly accessible history from Starkey, although it was somewhat disconcerting to find that the bride who was known to have been the least attractive (Anne of Cleves) was portrayed by the most attractive actress, by far, of the six! I'd have liked a little more reference to contemporary texts to back up Starkey's views, but, that apart, a throughly enjoyable slice of history delivered in bite-sized and easily digestible chunks. If you want in-depth and scholarly, it's not for you, but a creditable and - as far as one can tell - sound precis of the facts.
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on 25 July 2013
David Starkey is one of the greatest historians of English history of today and here presents a penetrating and moving portrait of the six wives of Henry VIII, presenting Henry in all his cruelty and egotism and the tragic tale of his wives.
The actresses and recreations were compelling and I could strongly sympathize with the fear and pain of Anne Boleyn (played by Julia Marsen)when she was framed for adultery by Henry's evil chief minister Thomas Cromwell. Anne Boleyn was an intelligent and well educated woman with strong opinions on religion and politics, quite different from the inaccurate picture we get in The Other Boleyn Girl [DVD] (2008)
She played an important role in persuading Henry to renounce the Pope and the Catholic Church and move England into becoming a Protestant country. she certainly did not commit adultery but her strong character was seen as a threat. This together with her crime of giving birth to a girl child instead of a son, that turned the perverse Henry against her.

Strangely Anne of Cleves known to be rejected by Henry because she was unattractive was played by the very fetching Catherine Siggins
I liked Michelle Abrahams (Coronation Street) as Catherine Howard, and Starkey's explanation of Catherine's fun loving upbringing, her frivolous nature and love for men (I really believe Catherine Howard had a loving nature and her sexual adventurousness could never be held against her given the cruel fate of being used as power pawn by her unscrupulous family).

Starkey makes the very palpable point that As Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard were English Henry could send them to their deaths, with no repercussions whereas Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves were spared this fate as Henry would never risk the anger of their families who ruled over states in Europe.

Even the staunchly Catholic Jane Seymour as we see was threatened at one point with being reminded of Anne Boleyn's fate when she meddled in the affairs of state.

We also learn just how close Katherine Parr came to being executed, because of her religious fervour and aim to strengthen the Reformed faith in England, Caroline Lintott showing her despair and fear when it seemed she had incurred Henry's wrath. she may well have been sent to the scaffold had it not been for Henry's death.

Very consummately done. David Starkey knows his stuff and presents it with flair and passion.
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This part of history, as presented by Dr. Starkey is about the women; Henry himself is less rounded, in a way, and less powerful outside of "what Henry wants, Henry gets." A slave to love and a sucker for any wilful resistance that merely inflames his desire, he appears a weak king holding the reins of power. The women in his life, as presented here, appear adept and knowing, with the exception of Anne of Cleves, but they hold less of the cards and no trumps in what is a period of intense political intrigue made all the more potent by the beginning of an English reformation and the move away from Catholicism: everyone who is anyone is angling and jostling for position to influence the King, or the Queen, and there is no son for the succession - the one imperative that drives the story onwards. David Starkey presents these 4 episodes with a sense of urgency, balancing the intrigues and plots with a story of a man, who is a King, driven and failing, in the end, to produce an heir. Largely unsuccessful at war, a loser in love, notwithstanding the savagery with which most of his wives are treated, his reign appears to be all for nothing: two daughters and a weak son, except that one of his children, a girl, Elizabeth, was to be one of the greatest monarchs of our history. This is a facinating and well produced DVD that is informative and interesting - never dry, always compelling: I really enjoyed it.
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on 14 February 2015
A great starkey documentary about the wives of henry the 8th. David Starkey takes an in depth look at the six wives of Englands most famous/infamous monarch. Starkey knows his stuff and its a pleasure to Watch this documentary about the exciting tudors. Great value for Money and worth watching even for those not interested in history
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on 5 March 2014
This seems to be a reasonable reconstruction of events but still leaves me rather baffled.

Henry wanted to divorce Katherine because he needed a male heir and Katherine had failed to do this for whatever medical reason so a divorce was necessary. Henry probably previously sounded out the Pope about this possibility and so far so good.

It is at this stage I became baffled. When the divorce/annulment became necessary Henry applied for the routine divorce available to Kings "for reasons of state". He was unlucky in that Rome had been invaded and was being looted by a combined German, spanish and Italian army. The Pope being in prison being ransomed he couldn't grant Henry the divorce.

After the invaders had left the Pope was bankrupt and in desperate need of Henrys divorce money. So what wrong? why wasn't a routine divorce granted?

The Emporer Charles V was indeed a nephew of Katherine but to him the situation must have seemed reasonably clear. An older aunt was being divorced "for reasons of state", a situation that he would have understood and unlikely to have aroused any feeling of family involvement.

It was indeed a long drawn out situation before Henry could marry Anne Bolyn and hope for a male heir but nowhere is there a simple explanation of why the Pope didn't grant a simple routine annulment.
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on 28 March 2014
I also have book but dvd brings it to life l am addicted to the tudors and thoughrolly recommend this to all tudor fans .
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on 2 February 2014
Watching this documentary about Henry viii and his six wives has told me what it was like for Catherine., Anne, Jane, Anne, Catherine and Catherine being married to the King. A good documentary.
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on 13 April 2011
once again david starkey has produced a great historical dvd. if you enjoy history this is a must for you
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