Inside the Tudor Court: Henry VIII and his Six Wives through the writings of the Spanish Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys by Lauren Mackay

Publisher: Amberley-Books, February 2014
Genre: Non-fiction, Biography
Labels: Eustace Chapuys, Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Katherine of Aragon, Mary Tudor, Tudor History, England, British History Reading Challenge 2014
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 304
Rating: 5 Stars for Excellent
Source: Free copy from Amberley Books in exchange for a review.

Biography on Eustace Chapuys from History And Other Thoughts.

Reviews and Interviews:
Tudor Book Reviews by the Anne Boleyn Files
On The Tudor Trail
Nerdalicious
Anne Boleyn: From Queen to History
Tudor History

Further information on Eustace Chapuys can be found at Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 

Book available @:
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Barnes and Nobles
The Book Depository

A lengthy book preview from Google. 

Author Lauren Mackay

Summary:
The Holy Roman Emperor, King of Spain, and nephew to Katherine of Aragon, was Charles V. He sent Eustace Chapuys, to be an envoy for Katherine of Aragon, during Henry VIII's quest to divorce her. He was also to represent and promote political interests in England. Ambassador Eustace Chapuys, was educated and experienced in civil and canon law, and he had a discerning, winsome, and cunning personality. The previous ambassador had been Inigo de Mendoza. Mendoza's role was short-lived, he had not sought to develop relationships with court officials; further, he had lost his temper, alienating him from communication regarding Katherine. When Chapuys arrived in England, "the Kings Great Matter" was at hand. Henry wished to divorce Katherine in order to marry Anne Boleyn. Henry's need, albeit an obsession, was to have a son as an heir to the throne. During Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, one daughter Mary Tudor survived. Through letters and dispatches written by Eustace Chapuys, we see his perspectives of: Katherine of Aragon, Mary Tudor, Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Thomas Cromwell, Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas More, Thomas Cranmer, Jane Seymour, Catherine Howard, Anne of Cleves, and Katherine Parr. He arrived at Henry VIII's court in 1529 and he retired in 1545.
Lauren Mackay explains,
"Eustace Chapuys has for too long remained in the shadow of other Tudor personalities. However, he is there, hidden among the footnotes." Page 7.  
Mackay has delivered Eustace Chapuys out from behind historical documents, and brought to life his remarkable and vibrant career at Tudor Court.

My Thoughts:
My first impression while reading Inside the Tudor Court, is the amount of reading and research Lauren Mackay undertook. Secondly, her desire to represent Eustace Chapuys, as more than a mastermind of vicious gossip and verbal abuse aimed at Anne Boleyn. Thirdly, Mackay has left out of the book anything that is not documented.
Mackay reminds the reader to be objective in reading Chapuys dispatches, as they are his perspective. He was sent on a mission by Charles V to be a source of comfort, wisdom, spokesperson and adviser for Katherine and later Mary. It should be expected that he would not like Anne Boleyn. It is to be expected his dispatches to Charles V would be as honest and reliable as possible. His perspective is made from his personal feelings, personality, culture, knowledge of the situation, education, and religious background. We too have a perspective of any given situation, and it may or may not be the same as others who have witnessed the same event.
The preface is an important chapter that should not be missed. Mackay brings several points forward in the validity of Chapuys dispatches, how historians have handled him, and a solid amount of critical thinking which brightens up any dour belief that Chapuys is not a valuable resource of Tudor Court.

Jewels in the book:
1. Katherine of Aragon's interrogation late at night by a posse of Henry's men.
2. "Anne's downfall", is covered in detail, of course through the eyes of Eustace Chapuys.
3. Henry's temper tantrum.
4. The differences in how Katherine "handled" Henry and how Anne "handled" Henry.
5. Chapuys view of Thomas Cromwell. A dissecting of Cromwell's personality.
6. Jane Seymour as a peacemaker among Henry's family.
7. A compassionate Katherine Parr and Mary Tudor at Chapuys retirement and leave from England.

What I like about Eustace Chapuys:
1. He survived Tudor Court. Some of his proteges did not survive.
2. He was a generally likable person.
3. Wise in how to act and interact with people.
4. Intelligent and savvy.
5. A man of courage.
What I disliked about Eustace Chapuys:
1. He was disrespectful to little Elizabeth. He may have only called her "the little bastard" a few times, but once is too much.

Quotes I loved:
"Cromwell on the other hand would persuade Henry to adopt a different and revolutionary path: force the English Church and Parliament to acknowledge the king as the supreme religious power in the land, the head of the Church in England, in which Rome held no sway." Page 46. 
"In a sense, it is through the detailed reports and fragments collected by Chapuys over the seven years he knew her that Anne emerges as a more complex, paradoxical and, most importantly, human and fallible figure." Page 82. 

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