16 January 2013 – The Last Days of Richard III: The Book That Inspired the Dig (Paperback) by John Ashdown-Hill
‘The Last Days of Richard III contains a new and uniquely detailed exploration of Richard’s last 150 days, and explores these events from the standpoint of Richard himself and his contemporaries. By deliberately avoiding the hindsight knowledge that he will lose the Battle of Bosworth Field, we discover a new Richard: no passive victim, awaiting defeat and death, but a king actively pursuing his own policies and agenda. It also re-examines the aftermath of Bosworth: the treatment of Richard’s body; his burial; and the construction of his tomb. Based on newly discovered evidence and wider insights it explores the motives underlying these events. And there is the fascinating story of why, and how, Richard III’s DNA was rediscovered, alive and well, and living in Canada. John Ashdown-Hill has produced a stimulating and thought-provoking account of the end of Richard’s life. Even readers very familiar with his short life will discover a new and fascinating picture of him.’
28th January 2013 – Jane Seymour: Henry VIII’s ‘first True Wife’ by David Loades
‘Jane was Henry VIII’s third Queen, and she was described by him as ‘his first true wife’, both his first two marriages having been annulled. She was twenty-seven when he married her, and came of a solid gentry family with good court connections. She had served both Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn as a Lady of the Privy Chamber, and her failure to find a suitable marriage is something of a mystery. He was forty-four and desperate for the male heir who had so far eluded him, but which Jane’s placid disposition and sexual availability seemed to promise. She was no great beauty, but came of a good breeding stock, and therein lay his hope. They married at the end of May 1536, and she became pregnant at about the end of the year, a condition which advanced normally, but which caused the King acute anxiety as the summer of 1537 advanced. Then in October 1537 Jane performed the great miracle, and bore Henry a son, who lived and flourished. Tragically she died of puerperal fever a few days later, leaving the court in mourning and the king devastated. Her obsequies were elaborate and prolonged, and Henry stayed in mourning for many weeks. The king’s son, Prince Edward was carefully nurtured, and probably did not miss the mother he had never known. When the time came, his education was overseen by Henry’s sixth Queen, Catherine Parr, and he seems not to have had much of the Seymour in his make up. He was very much his father’s boy.
28th January 2013 – Henry VIII: A Life [Paperback] by David Loades
‘As a youth, Henry VIII was a magnificent specimen of manhood, and in age a gargantuan wreck, but even in his prime he was never the ‘ladies man’ which legend, and his own imagination, created. Sexual insecurity undermined him, and gave his will that irascible edge which proved fatal to Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell alike. Henry VIII dominated England during his lifetime and for many years thereafter, as a warrior, as a renaissance Prince, and as Supreme Head of the Church, but his personality is as controversial today as it was then. Professor David Loades has spent most of his life investigating the remains, literary, archival and archaeological, of Henry VIII, and this monumental new biography book is the result. His portrait of Henry is distinctive, he was neither a genius nor a tyrant, but a man ‘like any other’, except for the extraordinary circumstances in which he found himself.’
13th February 2013 – The Queen’s Agent: Sir Francis Walsingham and the Rise of Espionage in Elizabethan England by John Cooper
18th February 2013 – Elizabeth of York: The Lost Tudor Queen by Amy Licence
‘As Tudors go, Elizabeth of York is relatively unknown. Yet through her marriage to Henry VII she became the mother of the dynasty, with her children including a King of England (Henry VIII) and Queens of Scotland (Margaret) and France (Mary Rose), and her direct descendants including three Tudor monarchs, two executed queens and, ultimately, the Stuart royal family. Although her offspring took England into the early modern world, Elizabeth’s upbringing was rooted firmly in the medieval world, with its courtly and religious rituals and expectations of women. The pivotal moment was 1485. Before then, her future was uncertain amid the turbulent Wars of the Roses, Elizabeth being promised rst to one man and then another, and witnessing the humiliation and murder of her family. Surviving the bloodbath of the reign of her uncle, Richard III, she slipped easily into the roles of devoted wife and queen to Henry VII and mother to his children, and has been venerated ever since for her docility and beauty. Yet was she as placid as history has suggested? In fact, she may have been a deeply cultured and intelligent survivor who learnt to walk a difficult path through the twists and turns of fortune. Perhaps she was more of a modern woman than historians have given her credit for.’
28th February 2013 – Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses [Paperback] by Sarah Gristwood
‘From best-selling historian, Sarah Gristwood comes the true story behind Philippa Gregory’s recent novels – the women who gave birth to the Tudor dynasty. It is a fiery history of Queens, the perils of power and of how the Wars of the Roses were ended – not by knights in battle, but the political and dynastic skills of women.
The events of the Wars of the Roses are usually described in terms of the men involved; Richard, Duke of York, Henry VI, Edward IV and Henry VII. The reality though, argues Sarah Gristwood, was quite different. These years were also packed with women’s drama and – in the tales of conflicted maternity and monstrous births – alive with female energy.
In this completely original book, acclaimed author Sarah Gristwood sheds light on a neglected dimension of English history: the impact of Tudor women on the Wars of the Roses. She examines Cecily Neville, the wife of Richard Duke of York, who was deprived of being queen when her husband died at the Battle of Wakefield; Elizabeth Woodville, a widow with several children who married Edward IV in secret and was crowned queen consort; Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, whose ambitions centred on her son and whose persuasions are likely to have lead her husband Lord Stanley, previously allied with the Yorkists, to play his part in Henry’s victory.
Until now, the lives of these women have remained little known to the general public. Sarah Gristwood tells their stories in detail for the first time. Captivating and original, this is historical writing of the most important kind.’
28 February 2013 – Henry VIII and the Court by Thomas Betteridge and Suzannah Lipscomb
‘After 500 years Henry VIII still retains a public fascination unmatched by any monarch before or since. Whilst his popular image is firmly associated with his appetites – sexual and gastronomic – scholars have long recognized that his reign also ushered in profound changes to English society and culture, the legacy of which endure to this day. To help take stock of such a multifaceted and contested history, this volume presents a collection of 17 essays that showcase the very latest thinking and research on Henry and his court.Divided into seven parts, the book highlights how the political, religious and cultural aspects of Henry’s reign came together to create a one of the most significant and transformative periods of English history. The volume is genuinely interdisciplinary, drawing on literature, art history, architecture and drama to enrich our knowledge. The first part is a powerful and personal account by Professor George W. Bernard of his experience of writing about Henry and his reign. The next parts – Material Culture and Images – reflect a historical concern with non-documentary evidence, exploring how objects, collections, paintings and buildings can provide unrivalled insight into the world of the Tudor court. The parts on Court Culture and Performance explore the literary and theatrical world and the performative aspects of court life, looking at how the Tudor court attempted to present itself to the world, as well as how it was represented by others. The part on Reactions focuses upon the political and religious currents stirred up by Henry’s policies, and how they in turn came to influence his actions.Through this wide-ranging, yet thematically coherent approach, a fascinating window is opened into the world of Henry VIII and his court. In particular, building on research undertaken over the last ten years, a number of contributors focus on topics that have been neglected by traditional historical writing, for example gender, graffiti and clothing. With contributions from many of the leading scholars of Tudor England, the collection offers not only a snapshot of the latest historical thinking, but also provides a starting point for future research into the world of this colourful, but often misrepresented monarch.’
7 March 2013 – The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England (Paperback) by Ian Mortimer
‘We think of Queen Elizabeth I as ‘Gloriana’: the most powerful English woman in history. We think of her reign (1558-1603) as a golden age of maritime heroes, like Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Richard Grenville and Sir Francis Drake, and of great writers, such as Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare. But what was it actually like to live in Elizabethan England? If you could travel to the past and walk the streets of London in the 1590s, where would you stay? What would you eat? What would you wear? Would you really have a sense of it being a glorious age? And if so, how would that glory sit alongside the vagrants, diseases, violence, sexism and famine of the time? In this book Ian Mortimer answers the key questions that a prospective traveller to late sixteenth-century England would ask. Applying the groundbreaking approach he pioneered in his bestselling “Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England”, the Elizabethan world unfolds around the reader. He shows a society making great discoveries and winning military victories and yet at the same time being troubled by its new-found awareness. It is a country in which life expectancy at birth is in the early thirties, people still starve to death and Catholics are persecuted for their faith. Yet it produces some of the finest writing in the English language and some of the most magnificent architecture, and sees Elizabeth’s subjects settle in America and circumnavigate the globe. Welcome to a country that is, in all its contradictions, the very crucible of the modern world.’
26th March 2013 – Mary I: England’s Catholic Queen by John Edwards (Paperback)
‘The lifestory of Mary I – daughter of Henry VIII and his Spanish wife, Catherine of Aragon – is often distilled to a few dramatic episodes: her victory over the attempted coup by Lady Jane Grey, the imprisonment of her half-sister Elizabeth, the burning of Protestants, her short marriage to Philip of Spain. This original and deeply researched biography paints a far more detailed portrait of Mary and offers a fresh understanding of her religious faith and policies as well as her historical significance in England and beyond. John Edwards, a leading scholar of English and Spanish history, is the first to make full use of Continental archives in this context, especially Spanish ones, to demonstrate how Mary’s culture, Catholic faith, and politics were thoroughly Spanish. Edwards begins with Mary’s origins, follows her as she battles her increasingly erratic father, and focuses particular attention on her notorious religious policies, some of which went horribly wrong from her point of view. The book concludes with a consideration of Mary’s five-year reign and the frustrations that plagued her final years. Childless, ill, deserted by her husband, Mary died in the full knowledge that her Protestant half-sister Elizabeth would undo her religious work and, without acknowledging her sister, would reap the benefits of Mary’s achievements in government.’
28th March 2013 – Anne Boleyn:The Queen of Controversy by Lacey Baldwin Smith
‘The story of Anne Boleyn goes to the root of all history; what makes an individual or event memorable to later generations? Anne is an exceptional case for her life was a double helix intertwining extraordinary human drama with profound historical crisis. A young lady of no particular importance or talents – she was neither a great beauty nor a captivating charmer – married a man who turned out to be England’s most notorious monarch, and then three years later she was publically executed for treason, accused of quadruple adultery and incest. Mistress Boleyn was the crucial catalyst for three of the most important events in modern history: the break with Rome and the English Reformation, the advent of the nation state, and the birth of a daughter whose forty three years on the throne stand as England’s most spectacular literary and political success story. Remove Anne and the Reformation as we know it today would not have taken place; remove Anne and Elizabeth I would not have existed at all. Anne Boleyn stands as a monument to the truth that there is nothing consistent in history except the unexpected.’
9th April 2013 – The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England’s Most Notorious Queen by Susan Bordo
11 April 2013 – The Spanish Armada by Robert Hutchinson
‘After the accession of Elizabeth I in 1558, Protestant England was beset by the hostile Catholic powers of Europe – not least Spain. In October 1585 King Philip II of Spain declared his intention to destroy Protestant England and began preparing invasion plans, leading to an intense intelligence war between the two countries, culminating in the dramatic sea battles of 1588. Robert Hutchinson’s tautly-written book is the first to examine this battle for intelligence, and uses everything from contemporary eye-witness accounts to papers held by the national archives in Spain and the UK to recount the dramatic battle that raged up the English Channel. Contrary to popular theory, the Armada was not defeated by superior English forces – in fact, Elizabeth I’s parsimony meant that her ships had no munitions left by the time the Armada had fought its way up to the south coast of England. In reality it was a combination of inclement weather and bad luck that landed the killer blow on the Spanish forces, and of the 125 Spanish ships that set sail against England, only 60 limped home – the rest sunk or wrecked with barely a shot fired.
18 April 2013 – The Reign of Mary I by Professor Robert Tittler and Judith Richards (3rd edition)
‘Until recently, the reign of Mary Tudor was generally seen as a ‘sterile interlude’ in the Tudor century, with Mary herself dismissed as ‘Bloody Mary’. Extensive research in the past several decades has overturned these assumptions in almost every respect. In this succinct and up-to-date introduction to Mary’s reign, Tittler and Richards provide new insight into the circumstances of Mary’s accession and go on to show that her reign was a lot more stable, and her regime much more competent and innovative, than once believed.
This fully revised third edition includes a diverse range of primary sources and sheds new light on a variety of topics, such as:
• The complexities of Mary’s relations with Philip of Spain
• The restoration of Catholicism
• The use of visual as well as literary means to legitimize and support Mary’s rule
• The context for the war with France.’
25th April 2013 – The Children of Henry VIII by John Guy
‘Behind the façade of politics and pageantry at the Tudor court, there was a family drama.
Nothing drove Henry VIII, England’s wealthiest and most powerful king, more than producing a legitimate male heir and so perpetuating his dynasty. To that end, he married six wives, became the subject of the most notorious divorce case of the sixteenth century, and broke with the pope, all in an age of international competition and warfare, social unrest and growing religious intolerance and discord.
Henry fathered four living children, each by a different mother. Their interrelationships were often scarred by jealously, mutual distrust, sibling rivalry, even hatred. Possessed of quick wits and strong wills, their characters were defined partly by the educations they received, and partly by events over which they had no control.
Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond, although recognized as the king’s son, could never forget his illegitimacy. Edward died while still in his teens, desperately plotting to exclude his half-sisters from the throne. Mary’s world was shattered by her mother’s divorce and her own unhappy marriage. Elizabeth was the most successful, but also the luckiest. Even so, she lived with the knowledge that her father had ordered her mother’s execution, was often in fear of her own life, and could never marry the one man she truly loved.
Henry’s children idolized their father, even if they differed radically over how to perpetuate his legacy. To tell their stories, John Guy returns to the archives, drawing on a vast array of contemporary records, personal letters, and first-hand accounts.’
28 April 2013 – Elizabeth Woodville: Queen of England, Mother of the Princes in the Tower by David MacGibbon
‘Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV, mother of Elizabeth of York and the Princes in the Tower, and grandmother of Henry VIII, has been vilified and defended in turn. Was she a cunning enchantress, an ambitious advancer of her family’s fortunes, or a courageous and tragic figure who lost husbands, brothers and sons during this turbulent period? Discover the real story of the ‘White Queen’. Born into a family of Lancastrian supporters, the exceptionally beautiful Elizabeth captured the heart of the young Yorkist king, Edward IV, and found herself caught in the complex web of rivalries, loves and conspiracies that lay at the heart of the Wars of the Roses. She would wield immense influence as queen, watch her brother-in-law confine her sons to the Tower of London to face an unknown fate, and ultimately unite the Houses of Lancaster and York through the marriage of her daughter to Henry Tudor.’
30th April 2013 – Edward III by W Mark Ormrod (Paperback)
‘Edward III (1312 – 1377) was the most successful European ruler of his age. Reigning for over fifty years, he achieved spectacular military triumphs and overcame grave threats to his authority, from parliamentary revolt to the “Black Death”. Revered by his subjects as a chivalric dynamo, he initiated the Hundred Years War and gloriously led his men into battle against the Scots and the French. In this illuminating biography, W. Mark Ormrod takes a deeper look at Edward to reveal the man beneath the military muscle. What emerges is Edward’s clear sense of his duty to rebuild the prestige of the Crown, and through military gains and shifting diplomacy, to secure a legacy for posterity. New details of the splendour of Edward’s court, lavish national celebrations, and innovative use of imagery establish the king’s instinctive understanding of the bond between ruler and people. With fresh emphasis on how Edward’s rule was affected by his family relationships – including his roles as traumatized son, loving husband, and dutiful father – Ormrod gives a valuable new dimension to our understanding of this remarkable warrior king.’
30 April 2013 – The Arch Conjuror of England: John Dee (Paperback) by Glynn Parry
‘Outlandish alchemist and magician, political intelligencer, apocalyptic prophet, and converser with angels, John Dee (1527 – 1609) was one of the most colourful and controversial figures of the Tudor world. In this fascinating book – the first full-length biography of Dee based on primary historical sources – Glyn Parry explores Dee’s vast array of political, magical, and scientific writings and finds that they cast significant new light on policy struggles in the Elizabethan court, conservative attacks on magic, and Europe’s religious wars. John Dee was more than just a fringe magus, Parry shows: he was a major figure of the Reformation and Renaissance.’
9th May 2013 – Henry: Model of a Tyrant (Paperback) by David Starkey
‘How and why did Henry VIII turn from a glamorous Renaissance prince into this country’s greatest tyrant? David Starkey’s magesterial concluding biography, published to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Henry’s accession to the throne, tells this remarkable, bloodthirsty story.
When Henry VIII came to throne in 1509, he had already distinguished himself as a scholar, musician and athlete. So how did this glamorous young Renaissance prince become this country’s greatest tyrant?
Desperate to cement his claim to the throne, Henry quickly became frustrated by the lack of a male heir from his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. His impatience increased after he became infatuated with the beautiful Anne Boleyn. When Anne refused to become his mistress, a desperate Henry was forced to take action that would set the course of British history for the next 500 years.
In a move that would have fateful consequences for all involved, Henry ordered his lifelong friend Thomas More to implement religious changes that would allow him to remarry. The resulting establishment of the Church of England catapulted Henry to the height of his personal power and led to More’s death. Catherine was dismissed, Anne was ushered in, and so began the bloody cycle of marriage, divorce and execution Henry is still remembered for today. And yet behind this brutal history was a man traumatised by bitter divorce.
David Starkey’s magisterial concluding biography of this most complex of British kings, published to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Henry’s accession to the throne, tells the bloodstained story of his remarkable shift from humanist prince to all-powerful despot during one of the most vivid and significant periods of British history.’
23rd May 2013 – Elizabeth’s Bedfellows: An Intimate History of the Queen’s Court by Anna Whitelock
‘Elizabeth I acceded to the throne in 1558, restoring the Protestant faith to England. At the heart of the new queen’s court lay Elizabeth’s bedchamber, closely guarded by the favoured women who helped her dress, looked after her jewels and shared her bed.
Elizabeth’s private life was of public, political concern. Her bedfellows were witnesses to the face and body beneath the make-up and elaborate clothes, as well as to rumoured illicit dalliances with such figures as Robert Dudley. Their presence was for security as well as propriety, as the kingdom was haunted by fears of assassination plots and other Catholic subterfuge. For such was the significance of the queen’s body: it represented the very state itself.
This riveting, revealing history of the politics of intimacy uncovers the feminized world of the Elizabethan court. Between the scandal and intrigue the women who attended the queen were the guardians of the truth about her health, chastity and fertility. Their stories offer extraordinary insight into the daily life of the Elizabethans, the fragility of royal favour and the price of disloyalty.’
23rd May 2013 – Bosworth: The Rise of the Tudors by Chris Skidmore
‘The Battle of Bosworth has a legendary significance in British history. The last battle fought on English soil until the seventeenth century, and the last occasion that an English king would die on the battlefield, it was also the battle that brought an end to the dynasty of Plantagenet kings who had ruled since 1154, and heralded the birth of the Tudor dynasty. Yet the story of Bosworth is more than just the result of a few hours bloodshed on the battlefield. It is the culmination of the rise of the House of Tudor, a remarkable story which began fifty years earlier, when a page of Henry V’s ran off with his widow. It is the tale of the turbulent life of Henry Tudor, who, against the odds, rose from relatively humble origins and exile in France to overthrow the deeply unpopular Richard III. When this inexperienced young soldier landed in England in 1485 with 2,000 French mercenaries and a handful Lancastrian lords and knights, few could have predicted his campaign would end in with him seizing the throne of England. Drawing on a wide range of unpublished sources as well as new research that has only recently come to light, Chris Skidmore will disentangle fact from legend and relate the compelling story of the battle in full. BOSWORTH will also set the battle against the background of the storms of the Wars of the Roses, and paint a vivid portrait of this time of immense political ferment and social change.’
30 May 2013 – The Tudor Rose: Princess Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s Sister by Jennifer Kewley Draskau
‘The beautiful sister of Henry VIII, the spoiled darling of the court, Princess Mary Rose Tudor was married off to the ailing King of France against her will, and, after his death, had to fight for the right to marry Henry’s favourite companion, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. After bearing him four children, Mary Rose died in the full flower of her beauty. Her adored husband, too busy to attend her funeral, soon married the 14-year-old fiancee of their only surviving son, who shortly thereafter died of TB. Her older daughter, Frances, was the mother of the ill-fated Jane Grey, the ‘Nine Days Queen.’ Her second daughter, Eleanor, was the grandmother of Fernando, 5th Earl of Derby, intended by Henry VIII to inherit the throne after Elizabeth. The Tudor Rose is the previously untold story of Mary Tudor and the role she and her descendants played in Tudor England.’
2nd July 2013 – Venus in Winter: A Novel of Bess of Hardwick by Gillian Bagwell
‘The author of The King’s Mistress (U.S. title The September Queen) explores Tudor England with the tale of Bess of Hardwick—the formidable four-time widowed Tudor dynast who became one of the most powerful women in the history of England.
On her twelfth birthday, Bess of Hardwick receives the news that she is to be a waiting gentlewoman in the household of Lady Zouche. Armed with nothing but her razor-sharp wit and fetching looks, Bess is terrified of leaving home. But as her family has neither the money nor the connections to find her a good husband, she must go to facilitate her rise in society.
When Bess arrives at the glamorous court of King Henry VIII, she is thrust into a treacherous world of politics and intrigue, a world she must quickly learn to navigate. The gruesome fates of Henry’s wives convince Bess that marrying is a dangerous business. Even so, she finds the courage to wed not once, but four times. Bess outlives one husband, then another, securing her status as a woman of property. But it is when she is widowed a third time that she is left with a large fortune and even larger decisions—discovering that, for a woman of substance, the power and the possibilities are endless . . .’
4th July 2013 – Fatal Rivalry, Flodden 1513: Henry VIII and James IV and the Decisive Battle for Renaissance Britain by George Goodwin
‘FATAL RIVALRY provides the first in-depth examination of the Battle of Flodden, the biggest and bloodiest in British history. James IV came to the Scottish throne as a fifteen-year-old widely suspected of ordering the murder of his own father. Chronicling James’s curbing of a nobility to whom regicide was second nature, FATAL RIVALRY charts his ascent to the first ruler of a unified Scotland. It shows how he was able to outfox Henry VII, and how the two countries later signed a Treaty of Perpetual Peace, cemented by James’s marriage to Henry VII’s eldest daughter, Margaret Tudor. Following five centuries of fluctuating relations with England, peace between the two countries was never guaranteed for long. After the death of Henry VII, James’s ambition to become a great Renaissance prince quickly clashed with the new teenage king, his brother-in-law Henry VIII of England. The ensuing rivalry was a full-scale political, ceremonial and even cultural competition at a time of rapid technological, economical and geopolitical change, fuelled by shifting alliances with France and Spain, Popes and Emperors. This book captures the importance of the key players in the story – the kings and their respective queens, their nobles, diplomats and generals – as the rivalry brought the two countries inexorably to war. Fatefully, it would be an error by James, that most charismatic of commanders, and in the thick of engagement, that would make him the last British king to fall in battle, would condemn the bulk of his nobility to a similarly violent death and settle his country’s fate.’
12th July 2013 – The Kings & Queens of England: The Biography [Hardcover] by David Loades
‘This is the history of the men and women who have occupied the highest position in English, and later British society. For about a thousand years they were superior lords, the leaders of a nobility which ruled; and for about three hundred years thereafter they were sovereigns, whose servants ruled in their name. Now, with the rise of democracy, they no longer rule. The Queen is a symbol and a social leader, vastly experienced in the ways of the world, and the head of a family which strives to be useful in a modern community. The records of the monarchy vary from one period to another, and many of them are political in nature. However, it is always necessary to remember the human being behind the constitutional facade. This is an attempt to recover their identities.’
15th July 2013 – The Boleyn Women: The Tudor Femmes Fatals Who Changed English History by Elizabeth Norton
‘Huge interest in the Boleyn family and wives of Henry VIII. First book to consider all of the female members of the Boleyn family. Covers eight generations of Boleyn women from the fourteenth century to 1603. The Boleyn family appeared from nowhere at the end of the fourteenth century, moving from peasant to princess in only a few generations. The women of the family brought about its advancement, beginning with the heiresses Alice Bracton Boleyn, Anne Hoo Boleyn and Margaret Butler Boleyn who brought wealth and aristocratic connections. Then there was Elizabeth Howard Boleyn, who was rumoured to have been the mistress of Henry VIII, along with her daughter Mary and niece Madge, who certainly were. Anne Boleyn became the king’s second wife and her aunts, Lady Boleyn and Lady Shelton, helped bring her to the block. The infamous Jane Boleyn, the last of her generation, betrayed her husband before dying on the scaffold with Queen Catherine Howard. The next generation was no less turbulent and Catherine Carey, the daughter of Mary Boleyn fled from England to avoid persecution under Mary Tudor. Her daughter, Lettice was locked in bitter rivalry with the greatest Boleyn lady of all, Elizabeth I, winning the battle for the affections of Robert Dudley but losing her position in society as a consequence. Finally, another Catherine Carey, the Countess of Nottingham, was so close to her cousin, the queen, that Elizabeth died of grief following her death. The Boleyn family was the most ambitious dynasty of the sixteenth century, rising dramatically to prominence in the early years of a century that would end with a Boleyn on the throne.’
18th July 2013 – A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir (Paperback)
‘Two women separated by time are linked by the most famous murder mystery in history, the Princes in the Tower.
Lady Katherine Grey has already suffered more than her fair share of tragedy. Newly pregnant, she has incurred the wrath of her formidable cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, who sees her as a rival to her insecure throne.
Alone in her chamber in the Tower, she finds old papers belonging to a kinswoman of hers, Kate Plantagenet, who forty years previously had embarked on a dangerous quest to find what really happened to her cousins, the two young Princes who had last been seen as captives in the Tower.
But time is not on Kate’s side – nor on Katherine’s either .’
From RandomHouse.co.ukFurther details – Random House
15th August 2013 – Crown of Thistles: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary Queen of Scots by Linda Porter
‘The struggle between the fecund Stewarts and the barren Tudors is generally seen only in terms of the relationship between Elizabeth I and her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots. But very little has been said about the background to their intense rivalry. Here, Linda Porter examines the ancient and intractable power struggle between England and Scotland, a struggle intensified during the reigns of Elizabeth and Mary’s grandfathers. Henry VII aimed to provide stability when he married his daughter, Margaret, to James IV of Scotland in 1503. But he must also have known that Margaret’s descendants might seek to rule the entire island. Crown of Thistles is the story of a divided family, of flamboyant kings and queens, cultured courts and tribal hatreds, blood feuds, rape and sexual licence on a breath-taking scale, and violent deaths. It also brings alive a neglected aspect of British history – the blood-spattered steps of two small countries on the fringes of Europe towards an awkward unity that would ultimately forge a great nation. Beginning with the unlikely and dramatic victories of two usurping kings, one a rank outsider and the other a fourteen-year-old boy who rebelled against his own father, the book sheds new light on Henry VIII, his daughter, Elizabeth, and on his great-niece, Mary Queen of Scots, still seductive more than 400 years after her death.’
29th August 2013 – Tudor: The Family Story by Leanda de Lisle
‘The Tudors are a national obsession. But, as Leanda de Lisle shows, beyond the familiar headlines, and deep into their past, is a family still more extraordinary than the one we thought we knew.
The Tudor canon typically starts with the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 and really picks up with Henry VIII and the Reformation. But our story starts earlier, with the obscure Welsh origins of Owain ap Maredudd ap Tudur, the man who would become known simply as ‘Owen Tudor’ and fall (literally) into a Queen’s lap and later her bed. It continues with the courage of a pregnant thirteen-year-old girl who went on to found and shape the Tudor dynasty; and the childhood and painful exile of her son, who would become Henry VII.The colossus of the next century, Henry VIII, his wives, and sisters, are given a fresh perspective in this context and show the sister Queens Mary and Elizabeth in a most unexpected light.
Here is the story of a dynasty’s rise and fall. It presents a family struggling at every turn to establish their right to the throne; a family dominated by remarkable women doing everything possible to secure influence and the family line. Packed with all the headlines we know and love and with many new revelations along the way, it brings to life in a completely new – and very human way – this extraordinary family and their times.’
29th August 2013 – Witches: A Tale of Sorcery, Scandal and Seduction by Tracy Borman
‘Witches traces the dramatic events which unfolded at one of England’s oldest and most spectacular castles four hundred years ago. The case is among those which constitute the European witch craze of the 15th-18th centuries, when suspected witches were burned, hanged, or tortured by the thousand. Like those other cases, it is a tale of superstition, the darkest limits of the human imagination and, ultimately, injustice – a reminder of how paranoia and hysteria can create an environment in which nonconformism spells death. But as Tracy Borman reveals here, it is not quite typical. The most powerful and Machiavellian figure of the Jacobean court had a vested interest in events at Belvoir.He would mastermind a conspiracy that has remained hidden for centuries.’
1st October 2013 – The Woodvilles: The Wars of the Roses and England’s Most Infamous Family by Susan Higginbotham
‘In 1464, the most eligible bachelor in England, Edward IV, stunned the nation by revealing his secret marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, a beautiful, impoverished widow whose father and brother Edward himself had once ridiculed as upstarts. Edward s controversial match brought his queen s large family to court and into the thick of the Wars of the Roses. This is the story of the family whose fates would be inextricably intertwined with the fall of the Plantagenets and the rise of the Tudors: Richard, the squire whose marriage to a duchess would one day cost him his head; Jacquetta, mother to the queen and accused witch; Elizabeth, the commoner whose royal destiny would cost her three of her sons; Anthony, the scholar and jouster who was one of Richard III‘s first victims; and Edward, whose military exploits would win him the admiration of Ferdinand and Isabella.’
3rd October – Mistress of Empires: The Extraordinary Life of Josephine Bonaparte by Kate Williams
7th November 2013 – Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World by Alison Weir
‘Elizabeth of York would have ruled England, but for the fact that she was a woman. She is one of the key figures of the Wars of the Roses and the Tudor dynasty. In youth, she was relegated from a pampered princess to a bastard fugitive under siege in sanctuary. Yet the probable murders of her brothers, the Princes in the Tower, left her heiress to the royal House of York. In 1486, to consolidate his position after overthrowing the last Yorkist King, Richard III, at the Battle of Bosworth, Henry VII, first sovereign of the House of Tudor, married Elizabeth, thus uniting the red and white roses of Lancaster and York. The marriage was successful and produced seven children, including the future Henry VIII, who was close to her.
But Elizabeth is an enigma. She had schemed to marry Richard III, the man who had deposed and killed her brothers, and his councillors clearly feared her vengeance. Yet after marriage, her ambition to be queen satisfied, a different picture emerges, as she proved herself a model consort, mild, pious, generous, fruitful – and beautiful. It has often been said that she was kept in subjection by Henry VII and her powerful mother-in-law, Margaret Beaufort, who ruled the court as a virtual queen mother; and that her husband resented having this Yorkist princess in his bed, and allowed her no power. Yet contemporary evidence suggests that this is a distorted view…
In Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and her World, Alison Weir builds a portrait of this beloved queen, placing her in the context of the magnificent, ceremonious, often brutal world she inhabited, and revealing the woman behind the image.’