Title: The Tudors: Lady Jane Grey to Elizabeth I
Author: G. J. Meyer
Publisher: Amberley Publishing November 2010
Genre: Non-fiction, British history, Tudor history, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Lady Jane Grey, Mary Tudor, Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, 1500s, 1600s, England, British History Reading Challenge 2014.
Pages: 352, with 52 images
Rating: 5 Stars
Link @ Amberley for more information.
Paperback copy is $6.52 from Amazon.
In late 2012, I read and reviewed the book: A World Undone: The Story of the Great War 1914-1918 by G J Meyer. I was impressed with the depth and detail of research, it is an A-Z on World War I. After reading this book I felt as if I'd taken a semester class on World War I history. Meyer has added material he squeezes in between the chapters titled, "Background". The "Background" is added to The Tudors as well. These mini-studies on subjects such as: "Calvin" (John Calvin), "The Making of Mary" (Tudor), "The Turks", and "Torture", are an added flavor of history I've not encountered in other history books.
Meyer points out in the introduction that Tudor history is "controversial". What is myth and what is truth is murky. Historians are still reconciling what really happened. Meyer's goal is to tell the "truth" about the Tudor family. Meyer concludes the book by explaining his research material. He utilized the 2004 edition of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, as well as The Encyclopaedia Britannica. In the sources and notes section he referenced books by Carrolly Erickson, David Loades, Diarmaid MacCulloch, Chris Skidmore, and Derek Wilson.
The sub-title of the book does not describe in full to the reader that The Tudors, begins with the end of Henry VIII's life. Henry's last years were "lonely" and ill. At his death, his longed for son and heir, Edward VI, became king at age nine. Edward was a staunch Protestant, he wanted to do away with all Roman Catholic images. His elder sister, Mary Tudor, was a source of discontent for him, because she refused to give up Catholicism. Edward worked to change England fully from Catholic to Protestant, and at his death his will made Protestant Lady Jane Grey his heir, but Catholic Mary Tudor swept through to London and become queen. During this period there were more Catholic people than Protestant, they had empathy for Mary as the slighted princess, and her mother had been especially favored. Jane Grey was imprisoned, as well as those who worked to place her on the throne. Mary Tudor ruled from 1553 to 1558. Her reign is remembered as being one of violence to the Protestant religion. The author states: "Something on the order of three hundred individuals were executed before it all ended, an overwhelming majority in the area of southeastern England centered on London." page 124-125. An interesting point the author brought forth: "Disappointingly little is known of her role in the campaign of persecution, and even less is known of what she thought of it all." page 124. At Mary's death, Elizabeth I, the daughter of Anne Boleyn, became queen. Elizabeth I ruled from 1558 to 1603. Mary Queen of Scots story is written in brief.
I'd pointed out in the first paragraph above that I love the added "Background" material.
But, several other points led me to give The Tudors, a 5 star review.
1. The author does not paint anyone in a favorable light, he gives a transparent image, which is sometimes an unflattering image. For example: Elizabeth I had a vain, arrogant, temperamental, personality. She was insensitive and cruel to people who'd gone against her wishes in their personal life. What I loved is the author reflected on her death, "What did she think about in the final days?"
2. The men behind the political and religious plots.
3. History of the Reformation in England.
4. The marriage of Mary Tudor and Philip, their partnership is interesting to me.
5. Meyer brought out both Mary and her mother Catherine did not blame Henry VIII, instead the blame was thrown fully at Anne Boleyn. His examination of how they felt about Henry certainly formed Mary's personality.
6. Before reading this book I'd seen Mary as a weeping, weak, personality. Her defiance of her father in not wanting to accept his terms took courage.
7. The Tudors is an educational (non academic) and entertaining read.