Caroline Angus’s book is a fascinating look at the lives of the children of Henry VIII. From the longed-for Prince Henry who died at 52 days old to those that survived: Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward. Also included are Henry Fitzroy, Henry’s acknowledged illegitimate son and possible other unacknowledged children.
Through thorough use of household accounts, Angus paints a vivid picture of what everyday life was like for Mary, Elizabeth, Henry and Edward as they grew up and highlights the time the siblings spent together. Both Mary and Elizabeth’s lives changed dramatically when their mothers fell from favour and while Edward did not suffer this, their daily lives were dependent on the whims of the King or his current marital arrangements.
What was particularly interesting was the inclusion of Henry’s illegitimate son by Bessie Blount, Henry Fitzroy. Usually, Henry only gets mentioned in Tudor histories in terms of his birth, whether Henry ever really considered him a potential heir, his presence at Queen Anne Boleyn’s execution and his unexpected death shortly afterwards. Turns out that he was not the most dedicated scholar and when his tutor, Sir Richard Croke, was recalled from Fitzroy’s household and sent to Italy, Angus comments that ‘fighting for the king’s divorce in Italy probably felt like quite a relief in comparison.’
By looking at Henry’s reign through the lives of his children, we get a different perspective to well-known events.
Thank you to NetGalley and Pen and Sword for my review copy.