(Review) Charles Brandon: Henry VIII's Closest Friend by Steven Gunn
Publisher: Amberley Books
Genre: Nonfiction, British History, Henry VIII, Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk.
Source: Free copy from Amberley in exchange for a review.
Rating: 4 stars for very good.
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We don’t really consider Henry VIII to have had friends, rather subjects, cronies and dutiful wives and ministers of state. But Henry was a very sociable person and craved genuine relationships. Charles Brandon, the son of Henry VII’s standard-bearer at the Battle of Bosworth, was to be his closest friend and companion for his entire life. They met at his father’s court, where Charles was a dashing jouster, and Charles would hold a succession of important offices in the royal household. Henry VIII trusted Charles with some of the dirtiest jobs at the Tudor court, clearing out Katherine of Aragon’s household and negotiating with Anne of Cleves over her divorce from the king. Henry also forgave him for marrying in secret his favourite sister, Mary, the widowed Queen of France. Yet Brandon’s life was by no means free from misadventure. His marriage to Mary initially angered the king, and his relationship with Anne Boleyn was fraught. Some of his many military campaigns disappointed Henry with their retreats and mutinies and he was suspected of passing secrets to the French. Steven Gunn explains how Brandon not only survived these vicissitudes of fortune and managed to retain the king’s friendship, but steadily increased his own power, wealth and standing. When Charles died in 1545, Henry ordered him laid to rest in St George’s Chapel in Windsor, where Henry had buried his favourite wife, Jane Seymour, and where he would end up himself a mere eighteen months after his one true friend.
Summary courtesy of Amberley Books.
I searched online to see if there were other books on Charles Brandon. A book written in the later part of the 19th century has been developed into a Kindle edition and is currently free.
When Knighthood was in Flower or, the Love Story of Charles Brandon and Mary Tudor the King's Sister, and Happening in the Reign of His August Majesty King Henry the Eighth by Charles Major. This work focuses on the romance and relationship between Charles and Mary.
A second book is set for release in June 2016: The Tudor Brandons: Mary and Charles-Henry VIII's Nearest and Dearest by Sarah-Beth Watkins. This work also focuses on the relationship between Charles and Mary.
The book written by Steven Gunn, Charles Brandon: Henry VIII"s Closest Friend, gives a view of the life and achievements of Charles Brandon. I believe Steven Gunn's book is a stand-alone, because it portrays the full scope of Charles Brandon's life.
While reading Charles Brandon, I was amazed at his ability to be ambitious in marriage choices, increasing wealth, and court offices. However, his ambitions never outshone Henry. What I mean is Charles Brandon was foremost Henry's loyal subject and friend, then his own ambitions were met. Yes, there was the rousing anger from Henry after Charles and Mary Tudor married, but Henry forgave Charles and their close relationship continued. Mistakes were made by Charles in military actions, but over-all the two men remained on good terms.
After Charles died, Henry honored Charles by burying him at St George's Chapel in Windsor, near Jane Seymour, Henry's beloved third wife.
Charles Brandon's life was fascinating. He was privileged to be Henry's one true and loyal friend. Charles lived a long life in service to the king. I believe Charles Brandon has been over-looked as a strong historical figure during the Tudor era. He was imperfect, yet he knew how to appease and honor Henry.
Steven Gunn has presented a well-rounded view of Charles Brandon. I feel the strongest impression of Charles has been seen through his actions and reactions, the ability to carefully balance ambition and loyal service, and in his legacy as Henry's faithful friend.