14th April 2021 – The Titian Portrait by Derek Ansell
‘February 1554, Guildhall, London. Queen Mary the 1st, England’s first queen regnant, is about to make the most important, rallying speech of her life.
Her good friend and advisor, Sir Francis Englefield, is with her all the way, supporting her Roman heritage. Mary plans to marry the Catholic Prince of Spain, Philip II, much against the advice of her parliament and most of the people. Even before the lavish wedding ceremony at Salisbury Cathedral, Mary finds she is deeply in love with Philip.
Juggling the tasks of governing a country, putting down rebellions and keeping Philip in England rather than Spain, Mary faces an overwhelming amount of challenges. Soon, sweeping changes, civil unrest and war turn their country upside down.
In vivid detail, Derek Ansell’s The Titian Portrait follows the life of Mary I, a queen in her own right and an almost forgotten figure in history.’
15th April 2021 – Henry VII and the Tudor Pretenders: Simnel, Warbeck, and Warwick by Nathen Amin
‘On 22 August 1485, Henry Tudor emerged from the Battle of Bosworth victorious, his disparate army vanquishing the forces of Richard III and, according to Shakespeare over a century later, bringing smooth-faced peace, with smiling aplenty and fair prosperous days , back to England. Yet, all was not well early in the Tudor reign.
Despite later attempts to portray Henry VII as single-handedly uniting a war-torn England after three decades of conflict, the kingdom was anything but settled. Nor could it be after a tumultuous two-year period that had witnessed the untimely death of one king, the mysterious disappearance of another, and the brutal slaughter of a third on the battlefield.
For the first time in one compelling and comprehensive account, Nathen Amin looks at the myriad of shadowy conspiracies and murky plots which sought to depose the Tudor usurper early in his reign, with particular emphasis on the three pretenders whose causes were fervently advanced by Yorkist dissidents – Lambert Simnel, Perkin Warbeck, and Edward, Earl of Warwick. Just how close did the Tudors come to overthrow long before the myth of their greatness had taken hold on our public consciousness?’
15th April 2021 – Mistresses: Sex and Scandal at the Court of Charles II (paperback) by Linda Porter
‘According to the great diarist, John Evelyn, Charles II was ‘addicted to women’, and throughout his long reign a great many succumbed to his charms. Clever, urbane and handsome, Charles presided over a hedonistic court, in which licence and licentiousness prevailed.
Mistresses is the story of the women who shared Charles’s bed, each of whom wielded influence on both the politics and cultural life of the country. From the young king-in-exile’s first mistress and mother to his first child, Lucy Walter, to the promiscuous and ill-tempered courtier, Barbara Villiers. From Frances Teresa Stuart, ‘the prettiest girl in the world’ to history’s most famous orange-seller, ‘pretty, witty’ Nell Gwynn and to her fellow-actress, Moll Davis, who bore the last of the king’s fifteen illegitimate children. From Louise de Kéroualle, the French aristocrat – and spy for Louis XIV – to the sexually ambiguous Hortense Mancini. Here, too, is the forlorn and humiliated Queen Catherine, the Portuguese princess who was Charles’s childless queen.
Drawing on a wide variety of original sources, including material in private archives, Linda Porter paints a vivid picture of these women and of Restoration England, an era that was both glamorous and sordid.’
30th April 2021 – The York Princesses: The daughters of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville by Sarah J Hodder
‘As a collective, the lives of the Princesses of York span across seven decades and the rule of five different Kings. The daughters of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, they were born into an England that had been ruled over by the great Plantagenet Kings for almost three hundred years. Their young years were blighted by tragedy: the death of their beloved father, followed by the disappearance and possible murder of their two brothers, Edward and Richard of York, forever now known to history as the infamous Princes in the Tower. With their own futures uncertain during the reign of their uncle, Richard III, and their mother held under house arrest, the Princesses had to navigate their way through the tumultuous years of the 1480s before having to adjust to a new King and a new dynasty in the shape of Henry VII, who would bring about the age of the Tudors. Through her marriage to Henry, Elizabeth of York rebuilt her life, establishing herself as a popular, if not hugely influential Queen. But she did not forget her younger siblings, and even before her own mothers death, she acted as a surrogate mother to the younger York princesses, supporting them both financially and emotionally. The stories of the York Princesses are entwined into the fabric of the history of England, as they grew up, survived and even thrived in the new Tudor age. Their lives are played out against a backdrop of coronations and jousts, births and deaths, marriages and divorces and loyalties and broken allegiances. From the usurpation of Richard III, to the Battle of Bosworth, the brilliance of the court of Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII, to the rise of Anne Boleyn, the York Princesses were there to witness events unfold. They were the daughters, sisters and aunts of Kings, and this is their story. The York Princesses is a natural follow-up to Sarah J. Hodder’s first book, The Queen’s Sisters, which told the stories of the lives of the sisters of Elizabeth Woodville.’
30th April 2021 – Jane Parker: The Downfall of Two Tudor Queens? by Charlie Fenton
‘Jane Parker, later Viscountess Rochford, was the sister-in-law of Anne Boleyn and was executed alongside Katherine Howard, yet she has remained in the shadows throughout the years, surrounded by more myths than facts. She is often portrayed as a malicious woman who was jealous of her husband’s relationship with his sister, but the evidence does not support that. So why is she portrayed as such? It may be the ambiguous nature of her dealings with Henry VIII’s fifth queen, Katherine Howard, that have influenced our view of her, but her real story deserves to be told in full. Jane Parker: The Downfall of Two Tudor Queens? is the next instalment in an exciting new historical true crime series from Chronos Books.’
13th May 2021 – Six Tudor Queens: Katharine Parr, The Sixth Wife by Alison Weir
‘A WOMAN TORN BETWEEN LOVE AND DUTY.
Two husbands dead, a boy and a sick man. And now Katharine is free to make her own choice.
The ageing King’s eye falls upon her. She cannot refuse him… or betray that she wanted another.
She becomes the sixth wife – a queen and a friend. Henry loves and trusts her. But Katharine is hiding another secret in her heart, a deeply held faith that could see her burn…
KATHARINE PARR. HENRY’S FINAL QUEEN. HER STORY.’
10th June – The White Ship: Conquest, Anarchy and the Wrecking of Henry I’s Dream by Charles Spencer (paper back)
‘The sinking of the White Ship in 1120 is one of the greatest disasters England has ever suffered. In one catastrophic night, the king’s heir and the flower of Anglo-Norman society were drowned and the future of the crown was thrown violently off course.
In a riveting narrative, Charles Spencer follows the story from the Norman Conquest through to the decades that would become known as the Anarchy: a civil war of untold violence that saw families turn in on each other with English and Norman barons, rebellious Welsh princes and the Scottish king all playing a part in a desperate game of thrones. All because of the loss of one vessel – the White Ship – the medieval Titanic.’
15th June 2021 – The Brandon Men: In The Shadow of Kings by Sarah Bryson
‘Four generations of Brandon men lived and served six English kings, the most famous being Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, best friend and brother-in-law to King Henry VIII. Yet his family had a long history tied closely to the kings of the Wars of the Roses back to Henry VI. Charles Brandon’s father, Sir William Brandon, supported Henry Tudor’s claim on the throne and became his standard bearer, dying at the Battle of Bosworth. Charles’s uncle, Sir Thomas Brandon, was Henry VII’s Master of the Horse, one of the three highest positions within the court. Charles’s grandfather had ties with Henry VI, Edward IV and Richard III. These men held important offices, made great sacrifices, walked the fine line between being loyal courtiers and traitors, and even gave their lives, all in the name of loyalty to the king they served. No more shall the Brandon name be an obscure reference in archives. It is time for them to emerge from the shadows of history.’
19th August 2021 – The Honey and the Sting’ by E C Fremantle
Three ways to fall . . .
George Villiers is rich, powerful and has the King’s ear. Doctor’s daughter Hester is a mere servant – to be cast aside when he has done with her, especially since she is pregnant.
Returning to her family, Hester vows that Villiers will never lay eyes on their son. She and her sisters Melis and Hope will protect the boy.
But Villiers is a man who will not be defied. He will claim his son – and the secret letters he believes Hester has stolen.
What can three defenceless women do against one very powerful man?
Yet secret letters are a weakness – and, in the right hands, a weapon . . .’
31st August 2021 – Woodsmoke and Sage: The Five Senses 1485-1603: How the Tudors Experienced the World’ by Amy Licence
‘Traditionally history is cerebral: what did they believe, what did they think, what did they know?
Woodsmoke and Sage is not a traditional book.
Using the five senses, historian Amy Licence presents a new perspective on the material culture of the past, exploring the Tudors’ relationship with the fabric of their existence, from the clothes on their backs, the roofs over their heads and the food on their tables, to the wider questions of how they interpreted and presented themselves, and what they believed about life, death and beyond. Take a journey back 500 years and experience the sixteenth century the way it was lived, through sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.’
23rd September 2021 – The Tudors in Love: The Courtly Code Behind the Last Medieval Dynasty by Sarah Gristwood
‘Why did Henry VIII marry six times? Why did Anne Boleyn have to die? Why did Elizabeth I’s courtiers hail her as a goddess come to earth?
The dramas of courtly love have captivated centuries of readers and dreamers. Yet too often they’re dismissed as something existing only in books and song – those old legends of King Arthur and chivalric fantasy.
Not so. In this ground-breaking history, Sarah Gristwood reveals the way courtly love made and marred the Tudor dynasty. From Henry VIII declaring himself as the ‘loyal and most assured servant’ of Anne Boleyn to Elizabeth I’s poems to her suitors, the Tudors re-enacted the roles of the devoted lovers and capricious mistresses first laid out in the romances of medieval literature. The Tudors in Love dissects the codes of love, desire and power, unveiling romantic obsessions that have shaped the history of this nation. In the #MeToo era, re-examining the history of the social codes behind modern romance has never been more vital.’
15th November 2021 – The Tudor Socialite: A Social Calendar of Tudor Life by Jan-Marie Knights
‘Delivered in bite-sized diary chunks, Jan-Marie Knights takes the reader on a journey into the world of Tudor high society. This is a world of love affairs, tragedy, marriage and death; the realm of flamboyant dress, opulent jewellery and burning passions. The Tudor period continues to enchant and mesmerise the world, and here the reader can delve into the social calendar of the era. Running the gamut of society occasions – from solemn marriages to sombre funerals, and decadent feasts to lavish large-scale gatherings – this is an essential book for any Tudor fan who wants to experience life as a wallflower in the Tudor court.’
18th November 2021 – Crown & Sceptre: A New History of the British Monarchy from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth II by Tracy Borman
‘This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle’
(William Shakespeare, Richard II)
The British monarchy is the one of the most iconic and enduring institutions in the world. It has weathered the storms of rebellion, revolution and war that brought many of Europe’s royal families to an abrupt and bloody end. Its unique survival owes much to the fact that, for all its ancient traditions and protocol, the royal family has proved remarkably responsive to change, evolving to reflect the times. But for much of its history, it also spearheaded seismic change, shaping our religious, political and cultural identity and establishing the British monarchy as the envy of the world.
There has never been a more apposite moment to consider the history of this extraordinary survivor. Within the next decade, there is likely to be a change of monarch, sparking renewed global interest on a scale not seen since Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953. Even the media and popular frenzy evoked by recent royal events such as royal weddings and births will not compare to that generated by the accession of a new king. In the lead up to this pivotal moment in Britain’s history, Crown & Sceptre explores the history and evolution of the monarchy from 1066 to the present day, feeding the renewed interest not just in the modern royals but in the predecessors who helped shape the institution into what it is today.’
30th November – When Women Ruled the World: Making the Renaissance in Europe by Maureen Quilligan
‘Sixteenth-century Europe was a time of destabilization of age-old norms and the waging of religious wars―yet it also witnessed the remarkable flowering of a pacific culture cultivated by a cohort of extraordinary women rulers who sat on Europe’s thrones, most notably Mary Tudor; Elizabeth I; Mary, Queen of Scots; and Catherine de’ Medici.
Recasting the dramatic stories and complex political relationships among these four women rulers, Maureen Quilligan rewrites centuries of scholarship that sought to depict intense personal hatreds among them. Instead, showing how the queens engendered a culture of mutual respect, When Women Ruled the World focuses on the gift-giving by which they aimed to ensure female bonds of friendship and alliance. Detailing the artistic and political creativity that flourished in the pockets of peace created by these queens, Quilligan’s lavishly illustrated work offers a new perspective on the glory of the Renaissance and the women who helped to create it.’
November 2021 – Disability and the Tudors: All the King’s Fools by Phillipa Vincent Connolly
‘Throughout history, how a society treated its disabled and infirm can tell us a great deal about the period. Challenged with any impairment, disease or frailty was often a matter of life and death before the advent of modern medicine, so how did a society support the disabled amongst them? For centuries, disabled people and their history have been overlooked. Very little on the infirm and mentally ill was written down during the renaissance period. The Tudor period is no exception, and presents a complex story and unparalleled. The sixteenth century was far from exemplary in the treatment of its infirm, but a multifaceted and ambiguous story emerges, where society’s ‘natural fools’ were elevated as much as they were belittled. Meet characters like Will Somer, Henry VIII’s fool at court, whom the king depended upon, and learn of how the dissolution of the monasteries contributed to forming an army of ‘sturdy beggars’ who roamed Tudor England without charitable support. From the nobility to the lowest of society, Phillipa Connolly casts a light on the lives of disabled people in Tudor England and guides us through the social, religious, cultural and ruling classes’ response to disability as it was then perceived.’
9 December 2021 – Elizabeth Stuart: Queen of Hearts by Nadine Akkerman
‘Elizabeth Stuart is one the most misrepresented – and underestimated – figures of the seventeenth century. Labelled a spendthrift more interested in the theatre and her pet monkeys than politics or her children, and long pitied as ‘The Winter Queen’, the direct ancestor of Elizabeth II was widely misunderstood. Nadine Akkerman’s biography reveals an altogether different woman, painting a vivid picture of a queen forged in the white heat of European conflict.
Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of James VI and I, was married to Frederick V, Elector Palatine in 1613. The couple were crowned King and Queen of Bohemia in 1619, only to be deposed and exiled to the Dutch Republic in 1620. Elizabeth then found herself at the epicentre of the Thirty Years’ War and the Civil Wars, political and military struggles that defined seventeenth-century Europe. Following her husband’s death in 1632, Elizabeth fostered a cult of widowhood, dressing herself and her apartments in black, and conducted a long and fierce political campaign to regain her children’s birthright – by force, if possible – wielding her pen with the same deft precision with which she once speared boars from horseback. Through deep immersion in the archives and masterful detective work, Akkerman overturns the received view of Elizabeth Stuart, showing her to be a patron of the arts and canny stateswoman with a sharp wit and a long memory.
On returning to England in 1661, Elizabeth Stuart found a country whose people still considered her their ‘Queen of Hearts’. Akkerman’s biography reveals the impact Elizabeth Stuart had on both England and Europe, demonstrating that she was more than just the grandmother of George I.’