Review: Winter King by Thomas Penn

Winter King
Title: Winter King, Henry VII and The Dawn of Tudor England
Author: Thomas Penn
Publisher: Simon & Schuster March 2012
Genre: Non-Fiction
Labels: British History, Kings and Queens of England, Tudor, York, Lancaster, War of the Roses, Great Britain
Format: Hardcover
Age: Adult
Pages: 480 pages
Rating: 5 Stars
Henry VII was considered a usurper, an illegitimate King, and he spent his years as King of England in anxiety over the "right" to be lawful King. His political maneuverer in marrying Elizabeth from the House of York helped, and their children strengthened his security. Henry VII was born in Pembroke Castle, Wales 28 January 1547. His mother was Lady Margaret Beaufort. She would become a young widow, she would not have any more children. Henry was the figurative jewel in her crown, although he would wear the English crown. He believed that he was an heir to the English throne through John of Gaunt the son of Edward III from the House of Lancaster. Yet, the woman that bore this lineage leading to Henry VII was the beloved mistress of John of Gaunt. Their children were given the last name of Beaufort, which was Henry's mother's name. Henry had lived in France away from his mother for many years, on coronation day she finally saw her beloved son. The Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 destroyed King Richard III, and at his death, Henry seized the crown and achieved his goal to reign.
Winter King begins with a short history leading up to The Battle of Bosworth Field, to Henry's coronation, his marriage to Elizabeth and their children, eldest son Arthur's betrothal and marriage to Catherine of Aragon, grief over Arthur's death, the book ends at Henry's death and the passing of reign to his second son Henry VIII.

Positive Points:
  • One of my favorite points about Winter King is the authors vivid and realistic descriptions of its scenes. Whether it is a battle field or a room in a castle, I am there. The author gave me a panoramic view, not a one-sided view.
  • Historical information about a woman's confinement during her pregnancy and labor. Page 94-95. I found this very interesting. 
  • Henry's personality came into clearer perspective for me. I knew little about him before reading Winter King. I was given a dimensional view of him: both his positive qualities and negative qualities.
  • Gave me a better understanding of why Henry VIII made some of the decisions he made; knowing more about his childhood, his beloved mother's early death, his father's insecurities, all these added to Henry VIII reasons for a strong male Tudor heir. 
  • I enjoyed reading about all of the children of Henry VII. Learning about their personalities was fascinating. 
  • History of Philip of Burgundy and Juana (Catherine of Aragon's sister). In previous books I'd read Juana was insane. Thomas Penn describes a different Juana. 
Negative Points:
I found no negative points. 

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