The Tudor Society

Books to put on your list

Friends have been panicking me by saying that they've already started Christmas shopping - aaaggghhh! - and this inspired me to think about books that I would like for Christmas or that I'd recommend to other Tudor history lovers. I thought I'd talk about some of them in this week's Claire Chats. These are just ones that I've enjoyed or that have piqued my interest, so please do add your recommendations or ones that you're looking forward to receiving/buying as comments below. Thank you!

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  1. R

    Loved seeing the ravens on Inside the Tower of London, one kept escaping from her house and they now have a successful breeding programme.
    One of Thomas Greshams ships is in a sunken dock at the Stoneycove National Diving Centre in Leicestershire. She was recovered by the London Port Authority in 2003 but dropped into the salt water lake in 2012 to preserve the restored and rebuilt ship. You can book to dive to see this underwater museum and learn about her at the centre. I haven’t dived on her personally but a fabulous documentary was done on her many years ago and I have a video from the centre. Just in case anyone was feeling adventurous.

    Penn is on my Christmas list and John Guy is going down now and I started reading Mike Ingham about a month ago, but had to break off, so must get back to it. I loved the Mary Queen of Scots film and book. Mike Ingham knows his stuff because he comes from a military background. This series is really good.
    Lovel Our Dogge is also on my list. I don’t have enough relatives😂😂😂 This list is getting long but well, there is always those gift vouchers.
    Tim, do you know Claire is getting a book full of horrible medicines and poisons? Sounds entertaining.
    Looking forward to the Anne Boleyn Collection as definitely enjoyed the previous two. The articles in them and on the site are well researched.
    Margaret Beaufort just got added to the list. I think I must stop here before Steve gets bankrupted. The House of Grey sounds fascinating. Oh dear, too many books, too many books.
    Beautiful looking book on Nicholas Hilliard. Actually may get this for Steve as he loves art.

    Thanks for the list. Cheers

  2. R

    My recommendations are not from recent reading as I have been reading everything Russian recently.

    However, here are one or two I would add without reservations.

    The Kings Pearl Melita Thomas Henry Viii and His Daughter Mary, the story of the relationship of father and daughter during his lifetime. The book shows a much closer link between Mary and the Court during her years in exile and how well informed Mary was. The book also shows a deep love between father and daughter and even a man who was often torn when it came to Mary. The book traces the years when Mary was the apple of her father’s eye, her years in Wales, her education and relationship with her mother, her deep love for her mother and despite everything for her father, the hurt of being separated from both and her reconciliation. It also shows how the last years of Henry’s life were good for Mary and that Henry only had one adult relationship with one child, Princess Mary. Beautiful and moving, intimate and heartfelt, deeply researched and highly recommended.

    The second is Lauren Mackay book on Thomas and George Boleyn, a must for understanding the Boleyn place in history and for dispelling myths of the two men, often maligned because of the rise of Anne Boleyn to the crown. “Among the Wolves of Court: The Untold Story of Thomas and George Boleyn” is extremely well written and well documented . Thomas is seen in the light of his own extraordinary career and long service to Kings Henry Vii and especially his son, King Henry Viii, his diplomatic career which led to Anne’s appointment at the Court of Margaret Regent of the Netherlands and his potentially indispensable service in many roles at the English Court. We also see how far from being the father from hell as portrayed in the Tudors and Other Boleyn Girl, Thomas was a caring family man, he wasn’t negligent in providing for Mary as a widow and he only ever did the best for his son and two daughters. Lauren explores his relationship with Anne and Mary through a number of letters which reveal his many concerns and the concept of Tudor parental idealism. We also see him as a talented and hard working man and a scholar. George may have grown up in the shadow of his father and sister but we see him emerge as a man of great promise, talented, a diplomatic man who made mistakes but did his best, a man of great wit and intelligence, a man who rose through the ranks at Court, partly because of his connection to Anne but also because of his own integrity and we see a young man anxious to follow in his father’s footsteps. Lauren explores his relationship with his sisters and wife and his own blossoming political career. We also see a man the King was fond off which makes his fall all the more extraordinary. Definitely one to dispel the old Boleyn mythology.

    The third book is one I brought for Steve about two years ago but have also read and may be an unusual recommendation.

    Edmund Campion A Scholarly Life by Gerald Kilroy, the most comprehensive account of the life of this Elizabethan scholar, priest and martyr since Evelyn Waugh in 1937 gives a balanced account of this great man.

    Using new evidence and scholarship the book explores his early life as an Anglican growing up in London, his decision to go to University in Oxford, his early ministry as an Anglican priest and his conversion. His skills as an orator and great debator are explored, the fact he gave the Protestant authorities a right headache through his writing and his eventual escape to Ireland. Campion was a reluctant martyr preferring to study and gain more knowledge in Prague and his doctorial writing reflected this. However, like all men of his intelligence and faith he was soon being sent on a mission to England to convert and reconcile its hidden Catholic population. Campion was one of the most successful of the missionary priests, most outspoken, most charismatic and most popular. For years he evaded capture, only to be betrayed by a man who posed as a fellow Catholic. His disputes with the authorities are well recorded and well known as are his popular debates. The illegal torture and interrogation of Campion was widely condemned in his time and he really did worry the Elizabethan authorities. Through his letters and writing and several new manuscript documents the human and often frail man of God and reluctant hero emerge as well as the man who remained silent even on the rack and died a terrible death as a “traitor” and Catholic Martyr . The work is well researched and highly scholarly, but very well written and highly recommended.

    1. M

      Thanks for your recommendations, Real Tudor Lady! They are on my list. Michelle t

    2. C - Post Author

      Oooh, thank you, RTL, for those recommendations!

  3. M

    Thanks, Claire! Great books toward to my list for the Christmas season. I’m looking forward to diving in to the Margaret Beaufort bio, too. Michelle t

    1. C - Post Author

      Lauren Johnson says that she’s working on a bio of Margaret Beaufort too, due out in 2021, so that’s good news.

  4. R

    You are welcome. The Margaret Beaufort book by Nicola Tallis is due out next month and one by Lauren Johnson in a couple of years should be good. I think the last book on her was about five years ago or more by Elizabeth Norton. Also very good. The Kings Mother by Michael Jones was the standard biography before that. She needs a good modern reassessment.

    1. M

      Yes! She does. I got The House Of Beaufort, by Nathan Amin, over the summer with the birthday (Tudor) book bonanza, but I haven’t read it yet. Will definitely read it before I read Nicola Tallis’ new one. It’s on my list and has been talked about here already.

    2. C - Post Author

      I did enjoy Elizabeth Norton’s bio of Margaret, although it’s while since I read it.

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Books to put on your list