5th January – Young Henry: The Rise of Henry VIII (Paperback)by Robert Hutchinson
‘Henry became the unexpected heir to the precarious Tudor throne in 1502, after his elder brother Arthur died. He also inherited both his brother’s wardrobe and his wife, the Spanish princess Katherine of Aragon. He became king in April 1509 with many personality traits inherited from his father – the love of magnificence, the rituals of kingship, the excitement of hunting and gambling and the construction of grand new palaces. After those early glory days of feasting, fun and frolic, the continuing lack of a male Tudor heir runs like a thin line of poison through Henry’s reign. After he fell in love with Anne Boleyn, he gambled everything on her providing him with a son and heir. From that day forward everything changed. Based on contemporary accounts, Young Henry provides a compelling vision of the splendours, intrigues and tragedies of the royal court, presided over by the ruthless and insecure Henry VIII. With his customary scholarship and narrative verve, Robert Hutchinson provides fresh insights into what drove England’s most famous monarch, and how this happy, playful Renaissance prince was transformed into the tyrant of his later years.’
2nd February 2012 – Our Man in Rome: Henry VIII and his Italian Ambassador by Catherine Fletcher
‘1527. Gregorio ‘The Cavalier’ Casali is Henry VIII’s man in Rome. An Italian freelance diplomat, he charmed his way into the English service before he was twenty. But now he faces an almighty challenge. Henry wants a divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and Casali must persuade Pope Clement VII of his master’s case.
Set against the backdrop of war-torn Renaissance Italy, Our Man in Rome weaves together tales from the grubby underbelly of Tudor politics with a gripping family saga to reveal the extraordinary true story behind history’s most infamous divorce.
Through six years of cajoling, threats and bribery, Casali lives by his wits. He manoeuvres his brothers into lucrative diplomatic postings, plays off one master against another, dodges spies, bandits and noblemen alike. But as the years pass and Henry’s case drags on, his loyalties are increasingly suspected. What will be Casali’s fate?
Drawing on hundreds of unknown archive documents, Our Man in Rome reconstructs his tumultuous life among the great and powerful at this turning point for European history. From the besieged Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome to the splendours of Greenwich Palace, we follow his trail in the service of Henry VIII. Lavish ceremony and glamorous parties stand in contrast to the daily strains of embassy life, as Casali pawns family silver to pay the bills, fights off rapacious in-laws and defends himself in the face of Anne Boleyn’s wrath.
This vivid and compelling book will make us think anew about Henry, Catherine and the Tudor world.’
1st March – Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England by Thomas Penn – Paperback
‘He were a dark prince, and infinitely suspicious, and his times full of secret conspiracies and troubles’, Sir Francis Bacon
It was 1501. England had been ravaged for decades by conspiracy, violence, murders, coups and counter-coups. Henry VII had clambered to the top of the heap – a fugitive with a flimsy claim to England’s crown who through luck, guile and ruthlessness had managed to win the throne and stay on it for sixteen years. Although he built palaces, hosted jousts, gave out lavish presents and sent ambassadors across Europe, for many he remained a usurper, a false king.
But Henry had a crucial asset: his queen and their children, the living embodiment of his hoped-for dynasty. Now, in what would be the crowning glory of his reign, his elder son would marry a great Spanish princess. On a cold November day this girl, the sixteen-year-old Catherine of Aragon, arrived in London for a wedding upon which the fate of England would hinge…
In his remarkable debut, Thomas Penn recreates an England which is both familiar and very strange – a country that seems medieval yet modern, in which honour and chivalry mingle with espionage, realpolitik, high finance and corruption. It is the story of the transformation of a young, vulnerable boy, Prince Henry, into the aggressive teenager who would become Henry VIII, and of Catherine of Aragon, his future queen. And at its heart is the tragic, magnetic figure of Henry VII – controlling, paranoid, avaricious, with a Machiavellian charm and will to power.
Rich with incident and drama, filled with wonderfully drawn characters, Winter King is an unforgettable story of pageantry, surveillance, the thirst for glory – and the fraught, unstable birth of Tudor England.
1st or 8th March – The Tudors: History of a Dynasty by David Loades
‘This title offers a new and comprehensive overview of the complete Tudor dynasty taking in the most recent scholarship. David Loades provides a masterful overview of this formative period of British history. Exploring the reign of each monarch within the framework of the dynasty, he unpacks the key questions surrounding the monarchy; the relationship between church and the state, development of government, war and foreign policy, the question of Ireland and the issue of succession in Tudor politics. Loades considers the recent scholarship on the dynasty as a whole, and Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Mary Tudor in particular and considers how recent revisionist history asks new questions of their political and personal lives. This places our understanding of the dynasty as a whole in a new light.’
15th March – A Visitor’s Companion to Tudor England by Susannah Lipscomb
‘For the armchair traveller or those looking for inspiration for a day out, The Visitor’s Companion to Tudor England takes you to palaces, castles, theatres and abbeys to uncover the stories behind Tudor England. Susannah Lipscomb visits over fifty Tudor places, from the famous palace at Hampton Court where dangerous court intrigue was rife, to less well-known houses, such as Anne Boleyn’s childhood home at Hever Castle or Tutbury Castle where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned.
In the corridors of power and the courtyards of country houses we meet the passionate but tragic Kateryn Parr, Henry VIII’s last wife, Lady Jane Grey the nine-day queen, and hear how Sir Walter Raleigh planned his trip to the New World. Through the places that defined them, this lively and engaging book reveals the rich history of the Tudors and paints a vivid and captivating picture of what it would have been like to live in Tudor England.’
26th April – Sister Queens: Katherine of Aragon and Juana Queen of Castile (Paperback) by Julia Fox
‘Daughters of the formidable Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain, Katherine and Juana were born in to a world of privilege and luxury that came at a devastating personal price. They were trained from an early age to understand European diplomacy and to revere their position as defenders of Catholicism against any threat to their religion. In an age of family politics, the sisters were useful only as a way to secure new alliances through marriage; both at the mercy of the men they were to marry. Katherine’s marriage to Prince Arthur appeared to go well until he died suddenly after ten months. Marriage to King Henry VIII did not result in the vital heir, and soon Henry was displaying his despotic nature, with the execution of ‘traitors’ and high-handed affairs. Juana fared no better with Philip of Burgundy, whose naked ambition and cruelty made her life equally difficult.
Julia Fox’s new biography vividly portrays the harsh realities of being a queen within a world dominated and run by men. She provides a fresh take on the sisters’ characters and interior worlds by setting them within their family and Spanish contexts. In the case of both women, this vibrant biography graphically illustrates the dangers of being a royal commodity at such a perilous time, and gives a highly revealing portrait of two forceful female personalities thwarted by the men around them – including the men closest to them who should have cared for them the most.’
1st May 2012 – Tudor Survivor: The Life and Times of Courtier William Paulet by Margaret Scard (Paperback)
‘William Paulet was the ultimate courtier. For an astonishing 46 years he served at the courts of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth and was one of the men responsible for introducing the changes in religious, economic and social issues which shaped England as we know it today. He was a judge at the trials of Fisher, More and the alleged accomplices of Anne Boleyn, and though born a commoner, by his death he was the senior peer in England and, as Lord High Treasurer, he held one of the most influential positions at court. With his long and varied career within the royal household and in government, a study of Paulet presents an excellent opportunity to look in more detail at courtly life, allowing the reader an understanding of how he spent his working day. “Tudor Survivor” is the biography of the man who defined the role of courtier, but also gives valuable insight into everyday life, from etiquette and bathing, to court politics and the monarchs themselves. When asked how he had managed to survive so long, Paulet replied ‘By being a willow, not an oak’. The author’s research shows that this remarkable man was steelier than he admitted.’
17th May 2012 – Wicked Women of Tudor England: Queens, Aristocrats, Commoners (Queenship and Power) by Retha M Warnicke (paperback)
‘This book delves into the lives of six Tudor women celebrated for their reputed ‘wickedness’— Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard, the two consorts of Henry VIII who were executed for adultery; Anne Seymour, duchess of Somerset, and Lettice Dudley, countess of Essex and Leicester, two defamed noblewomen; and Jane and Alice More, the two wives of Sir Thomas More who were charged with contrariness and shrewishness. In the process, author Retha Warnicke rescues these women from historical misrepresentations and helps us rediscover the complex world of Tudor society.’
28th May – Mary Rose by David Loades
‘A paradise…tall, slender, grey-eyed, possessing an extreme pallor’. The contemporary view of Henry VIII’s younger sister, Princess Mary Rose as one of the most beautiful princesses in Europe, was an arresting one. Glorious to behold, this Tudor Princess with her red hair flowing loose to her waist, was also impossible for Henry to control. She first married the king of France, a match of great importance to Henry’s diplomatic plans. He was dead within three months. The talk of the European courts was that the teenage bride had killed the 51-year old Louis XII with her exertions of the king in his bedchamber. She then ran off with her new lover, the great rake of the Tudors era, Charles Brandon. After some uncomfortable arguments with Henry VIII, she was officially sanctioned to marry the Duke of Suffolk in 1515 at Greenwich Palace. Yet Henry remained deeply fond of his sister, he named his greatest warship after her and continued to support Mary despite her ignoring his every request. David Loades’ biography, the first for almost 50 years brings the princess alive once more. Of all Tudor women, this queen of France and later Duchess of Suffolk remains an elusive, enigmatic figure.
1st June – Catherine of Aragon: A Life by Patrick Williams
‘The tragic story of Henry VIII’s first unfortunate wife. Catherine of Aragon was a central figure in one of the most dramatic and formative events of Tudor history – England’s breach with Rome after a thousand years of fidelity. She lived through traumatic and revolutionary times and her personal drama was played out against dramas of global significance. The heroic and dignified first wife of Henry VIII who was cast aside for reasons of dynastic ambition, but who resolutely and unbendingly stuck to her principles and her dignity at enormous cost to herself. Catherine’s story tells so much about the exercise of power, and about being married to a lover who became – slowly but perceptibly – a tyrant in public life and a monster in his private affairs. Professor Patrick Williams has been immersed in Spanish history for over thirty years and his monumental new biography – the first to make full use of the Spanish Royal Archives – is the result, and presents a very different portrait of Catherine.’
8th June – Mary I: Gender, Power, and Ceremony in the Reign of England’s First Queen (Queenship and Power) by Sarah Duncan
‘Mary I: Gender, Power, and Ceremony in the Reign of England’s First Queen explores the gender politics of the reign of Mary I of England from her coronation to her funeral and examines the ways in which the queen and her supporters used language, royal ceremonies, and images to bolster her right to rule and define her image as queen. By detailing the ways that Mary’s powers were defined as the first queen ruling in her own right, and as a married ruler with Philip of Spain as king consort, this study provides a deeper appreciation of Mary’s capabilities as an early modern queen and the importance of her precedent.’
8th June – Three Medieval Queens: Queenship and the Crown in Fourteenth-Century England (Queenship and Power) by Lisa Benz St. John
‘This innovative study looks at a previously unstudied dimension of medieval queenship, examining the ways in which three fourteenth-century English queens—Margaret of France, Isabella of France, and Philippa of Hainault—exercised power and authority. These women were consorts and dowagers for overlapping periods, creating a continuous transition from one queen to the next. It thus provides a unique perspective on normative queenly behaviour and political culture, formulating valuable insights into gender, status; the concept of the crown, and power and authority.’
8th June 2012 – A Monarchy of Letters: Royal Correspondence and English Diplomacy in the Reign of Elizabeth I by Rayne Allinson
19th June 2012 – The Divorce of Henry VIII: The Untold Story from Inside the Vatican by Catherine Fletcher
21st June – A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir
‘The Tower of London, 1562. Queen Elizabeth I sits insecurely on the English throne. A young woman of twenty-two, Lady Katherine Grey, has just been arrested. She is the Queen`s cousin, and she has dared to marry her lover secretly and produce a child who might live to challenge Elizabeth`s title. Will the Queen demand the full penalty for treason, a penalty once suffered by Katherine’s sister Jane, the nine-days Queen?
Eighty years earlier, Kate Plantagenet, the bastard daughter of King Richard III, hears terrible rumours that her father has had his nephews, the two Princes in the Tower murdered. She cannot believe it, and desperately tries to find out the truth. But it is left to Katherine Grey to discover what happened to the Princes, and to lay three unquiet souls to rest, before she must endure her own tragic fate.’
22 June – The Last Plantagenet Consorts: Gender, Genre, and Historiography, 1440-1627 (Queenship and Power)
5th July – The Queen’s Agent: Francis Walsingham at the Court of Elizabeth I by John Cooper
‘Elizabeth I came to the throne at a time of insecurity and unrest. Rivals threatened her reign; England was a Protestant island, isolated in a sea of Catholic countries. Spain plotted an invasion, but Elizabeth’s Secretary, Francis Walsingham, was prepared to do whatever it took to protect her. He ran a network of agents in England and Europe who provided him with information about invasions or assassination plots. He recruited likely young men and ‘turned’ others. He encourage Elizabeth to make war against the Catholic Irish rebels, with extreme brutality and oversaw the execution of Mary Queen of Scots. The Queen’s Agent is a story of secret agents, cryptic codes and ingenious plots, set in a turbulent period of England’s history. It is also the story of a man devoted to his queen, sacrificing his every waking hour to save the threatened English state.’
15th July – Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s Henchmen by Patrick Coby
‘The extraordinary life of Thomas Cromwell and the real story of ‘Wolf Hall’. Thomas Cromwell, chief architect of the English Reformation served as chief minister of Henry VIII from 1531 to 1540, the most tumultuous period in Henry’s thirty-seven-year reign. Many of the momentous events of the 1530s are attributed to Cromwell’s agency, the Reformation, the dissolution of the monasteries and the fall of Henry’s second wife, the bewitching Anne Boleyn. Cromwell has been the subject of close and continuous attention for the last half century, with positive appraisal of his work and achievements by historians, this new biography shows the true face of a Machiavellian Tudor statesmans of no equal.’
19th July 2012 – The Great Wardrobe Accounts of Henry VII and Henry VIII (London Record Society) by Maria Hayward
‘By the late fifteenth century the Great Wardrobe, the section of the royal household that supplied the king and his household with clothing and furnishings, was well established in the London parish of St Andrew by the Wardrobe (many of the suppliers of fabric to the Great Wardrobe and many of the individuals who worked for it lived and worked in the city). This volume provides an edition and calendar of the accounts for 1498-99 and 1510-11, as well as the section of the 1544 account relating to Henry VIII’s campaign in France. In addition there are two appendices listing the recipients of livery in the extant Great Wardrobe accounts and warrants and an extensive glossary. The Introduction to the edited texts discusses the patterns of supply to the Great Wardrobe and assesses the significance of a small but influential group of Italian merchants who traded alongside the Londoners.’
4th August – Mary Boleyn: ‘The Great and Infamous Whore’ by Alison Weir (paperback)
‘In this book, the first full-scale, in-depth biography of Henry VIII’s famous mistress, Mary Boleyn, the sister of Anne, his second queen, Alison Weir explodes much of the mythology that surrounds Mary Boleyn and uncovers the truth about one of the most misunderstood figures of the Tudor age.’
From Alison Weir
7th August 2012 – Heretic Queen: Queen Elizabeth I and the Wars of Religion by Susan Ronald
28th August – Margaret of York, the Diabolical Duchess: The Woman Who Tried to Overthrow the Tudors by Christine Weightman
‘The amazing life of Margaret of York, the woman who tried to overthrow the Tudors. Reared in a dangerous and unpredictable world Margaret of York, sister of Richard III, would become the standard bearer of the House of York and ‘the menace of the Tudors’. This alluring and resourceful woman was Henry VII’s ‘diabolical duchess’. Safe across the Channel in modern-day Belgium and supported by the Emperor she sent Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck with thousands of troops to England to avenge the destruction of her brother and of the House of York. Both rebellions shook the new Tudor dynasty to the core. As the duchess and wife of the wealthiest ruler in Western Europe, Margaret was at the centre of a glittering court and became the patron of William Caxton. It was at her command that he printed the first book in English. Her marriage to Charles, the dour, war-mad Duke of Burgundy, had been the talk of Europe. John Paston, who was among the awestruck guests, reported in the famous Paston Letters that there had been nothing like it since King Arthur’s court. Yet within a decade Charles was dead, his corpse frozen on the battlefield and within another decade her own family had been destroyed in England. Childless and in a foreign land Margaret showed the same energetic and cautious spirit as her great-grand-niece Elizabeth I, surviving riots, rebellions and plots. In spite of all her efforts, the Tudors were still on the throne but Margaret, unlike the Yorkist kings, was a great survivor.’
6th September – Matilda: Queen of the Conqueror [Paperback] by Tracy Borman
‘Matilda, wife of William the Conqueror, was the first woman to be crowned Queen of England and formally recognised as such by her subjects. Beyond this, though, little is known: the chroniclers of the age left us only the faintest clues as to her life. So who was the real Matilda?
In this first major biography, Tracy Borman elegantly sifts through the shards of evidence to uncover an extraordinary story. In a dangerous, brutal world of conquest and rebellion, fragile alliances and bitter familial rivalries, Matilda possessed all the attributes required for a woman to thrive. She was born of impeccable lineage, and possessed of a loving and pious nature, she was a paragon of fidelity and motherhood. But strength, intelligence and ambition were also prerequisites to survive in such an environment. This side of her character, coupled with a fiercely independent nature, made Matilda essential to William’s rule, giving her unparalleled influence over the king. But while this would provide an inspiring template for future queens, it also led to treachery, revolt and the fracturing of a dynasty.
Matilda takes us from the courts of Flanders and Normandy to the opulence of royal life in England. Alive with intrigue, rumour and betrayal, it illuminates for the first time the life of an exceptional, brave and complex queen pivotal to the history of England.
13th September – Blood Sisters: The Women Who Won the Wars of the Rose by Sarah Gristwood
28th September – Edward the Confessor: King of England [Paperback] by Peter Rex
‘The first major biography of Edward the Confessor for almost 40 years. Between these pages the story of Saint Edward the Confessor is masterfully told by the critically acclaimed historian Peter Rex. Born when England was besieged by blood-thirsty Vikings, the future King of England was forced into exile in Normandy to escape the Danish invasion. Often portrayed as a holy simpleton, Edward was in fact a wily and devious King. To most kings a childless marriage would have been an Achilles heel to their reign, but Edward turned this to his advantage. He cunningly played off his potential rivals and successors to his advantage using the prize of the throne as leverage. Edward’s posthumous reputation grew as stories were spread by the monks of his magnificent foundation, Westminster Abbey. The childless King was transformed through the monks’ vision into a chaste, pious and holy man. Miracles were attributed to him and he was credited with the King’s Touch – the ability to cure illnesses by touch alone. In 1161 he was canonised as Saint Edward the Confessor and is the patron saint of the Royal Family.’
1st October – William: King and Conqueror by Mike Hagger
‘1066 is the most famous date in English history. On 14 October, on Senlac Hill near Hastings, a battle was fought that would change the face of England forever. Over the next twenty years, Norman culture was imposed on England, and English politics and society were radically reshaped. But how much is really known about William ‘the Conqueror’, the Norman duke who led his men to victory on that autumn Saturday in what was to be the last successful invasion of England? In this book, Mark Hagger takes a fresh look at William’s life – from his birth at Falaise in Normandy to his chaotic funeral at Caen in 1087 – and his reign as both duke of the Normans and king of the English. He shows how William, as both duke and king, was attacked by rebellious subjects and jealous neighbours, but defeated them all through the strength of his personality, his abilities as a lord, the loyalty of his friends, and sheer good luck. His response to the English rebellions was to populate the country with castles and strongholds – a feature of the landscape which remains to this day. He was not always a popular ruler – especially not with the English earls who saw their estates and titles handed over to Norman lords – but he was a strong one, and he kept the peace and did good justice, so that history has treated him kindly. His greatest surviving monuments – the White Tower of the Tower of London and Domesday Book – attest to a powerful legacy. This book provides some new insights into William’s character – his strengths and flaws – and his rule. It also places William squarely within the context of the time in which he lived, enabling a better understanding of what life was like in medieval England.’
19th October – 1536: The Year that Changed Henry VIII by Suzannah Lipscomb (Paperback re-issue)
‘One of the best-known figures of British history, collective memory of Henry VIII presents us with the image of a corpulent, covetous, and cunning king whose appetite for worldly goods met few parallels, whose wives met infamously premature ends, and whose religion was ever political in intent. 1536 – focusing on a pivotal year in the life of the King – reveals a fuller portrait of this complex monarch, detailing the finer shades of humanity that have so long been overlooked. We discover that in 1536 Henry met many failures – physical, personal, and political – and emerged from them a revolutionary new king who proceeded to transform a nation and reform a religion. A compelling story, the effects of which are still with us today, 1536 shows what a profound difference can be made merely by changing the heart of a king.’
28th October – Catherine Howard: The Adultress Wife of Henry VIII by David Loades
‘Henry’s fifth Queen is best known to history as the stupid adolescent who got herself fatally entangled with lovers, and ended up on the block. However there was more to her than that. She was a symptom of the power struggle which was going on in the court in 1539-40 between Thomas Cromwell and his conservative rivals, among whom the Howard family figured prominently. The Howards were an ambitious clan, and Catherine’s marriage to Henry appeared to signify their triumph. However her weakness ruined them in the short term, and undermined Thomas Howard, the 3rd Duke of Norfolk’s power permanently. Catherine’s advent has to be seen against the background of the failed Cleves marriage and the policy which that represented. Her downfall similarly should be seen in terms of the reformers fighting back against the Howards, and bringing down Jane Rochford with her. Politics and sexuality were inextricably mixed, especially when the King’s potency was called in question. It is time to have another look at her brief but important reign.’
6 November 2012 – The Tower of London: The Biography by Stephen Porter
‘The Tower of London is an icon of England’s history. William the Conqueror built the White Tower after his invasion and conquest in 1066, to dominate London and it has become infamous as a place of torture, execution and murder. The deaths of royals attracted most attention; the murder of Princes in the Tower, the beheading of Henry VIII’s wives, Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard, and Lady Jane Grey, Henry’s great-niece, and queen for just nine days. Few prisoners recorded their experiences, but John Gerard, a Catholic priest imprisoned during Elizabeth I’s reign, wrote of being questioned in the torture-room, which contained ‘every device and instrument of torture’. After being hung from manacles, his wrists were swollen and he could barely walk. Members of the aristocracy could not be tortured, and those incarcerated for a long time used their time to write. Sir Walter Raleigh wrote his vast History of the World in the Tower. Control of the Tower was vital at times of crisis, during rebellions and civil wars. It has also been the country’s principal arsenal, it housed the royal mint, the national archives, the crown jewels and wealthy Londoners’ riches, and in the royal menagerie it contained one of the earliest zoos. Stephen Porter’s landmark new history traces the evolution of the Tower and it’s changing role, the many personalities who lived or were imprisoned there, and the ‘voices’ of contemporaries during the Tower’s long history, spanning almost 1000 years.’
28 November – Henry VIII by Lacey Baldwin Smith
‘The Henry VIII of popular legend and historical fiction is a bacchanalian figure of gargantuan proportions. Historical fact, however, is another matter. A deeply insecure man constantly in need of reassurance, a ritualist, a prude unsure of his prowess and easily embarrassed by sex – these are the faces which Lacey Baldwin Smith reveals hidden behind the mask of royalty. Opening with Henry on his death bed, a monstrous bloated figure ravaged by pain, disease and suspicion, the story revolves around the crucial last five years of his reign (1552-7). With old-age creeping up on him, and his sixth wife, Catherine Parr at his side, Henry’s true personality began to reveal itself. How the once cautious pedant and competent administrator turned into the neurotic and dangerous tyrant is the subject of Lacey Baldwin Smith’s biography.’