1 January 2013 – Queens Regnant by Tracy Borman, Siobhan Clarke, Sarah Gristwood , Alison Weir and Kate Williams
13th February 2013 – The Queen’s Agent: Sir Francis Walsingham and the Rise of Espionage in Elizabethan England by John Cooper
28th February 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.’
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.’
28th March 2013 – Blood Sisters: The Hidden Lives of the Women Behind the Wars of the Roses (Paperback) by Sarah Gristwood
‘Sarah Gristwood tells the true story behind Philippa Gregory’s recent novels. A fiery history of Queens, the perils of power and of how the Wars of the Roses were ended – not only 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.’
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.
1st May 2013 – The Tudor Rose: Princess Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s Sister by Jennifer Kewley Draskau
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.’
13th June 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.’
11 July 2013 – Fatal Rivalry, Flodden 1513: Power, Personality 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.’