5 January – The Dublin King: The True Story of Lambert Simnel and the Princes in the Tower by John Ashdown-Hill
‘A year after Richard III’s death, a boy claiming to be a Yorkist prince appeared as if from nowhere, claiming to be Richard III’s heir and the rightful King of England. In 1487, in a unique ceremony, this boy was crowned in Dublin Cathedral, despite the Tudor government insisting that his real name was Lambert Simnel and that he was a mere pretender to the throne. Now, in The Dublin King, author and historian John Ashdown-Hill questions that official view. Using new discoveries, little-known evidence and insight, he seeks the truth behind the 500-year-old story of the boy-king crowned in Dublin. He also presents a link between Lambert Simnel’s story and that of George, Duke of Clarence, the brother of Richard III. On the way, the book sheds new light on the fate of the ‘Princes in the Tower’, before raising the possibility of using DNA to clarify the identity of key characters in the story and their relationships.’
5 January – Margaret Douglas: The Forgotten Tudor Princess by Mary McGrigor
‘The Other Tudor Princess brings to life the story of Margaret Douglas, a shadowy and mysterious character in Tudor history – but who now takes centre stage in this tale of the bitter struggle for power during the reign of Henry VIII. Margaret is Henry’s beloved niece, but she defies the king by indulging in two scandalous affairs and is imprisoned in the Tower of London on three occasions ‘not for matters of treason, but for love’. Yet, when Henry turns against his second wife Anne Boleyn and declares his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, bastards, it is Margaret he appoints as his heir to the throne. The arrangement of the marriage of Margaret’s son, Lord Darnley, to his cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots unites their claim to the throne and infuriates Queen Elizabeth. Yet this match brings tragedy, as Margaret’s son is brutally murdered. As Margaret reaches old age, her place in the dynasty is still not safe, and she dies in mysterious circumstances – was Margaret poisoned on the orders of Queen Elizabeth? Mary McGrigor tells this compelling and exciting part of Tudor history for the first time with all the passion and thrill of a novel, but this is no fiction – the untold story runs through the course of history, and Margaret secured the throne for her Stuart ancestors for years to come.’
29 January – Sisters of Treason (paperback) by Elizabeth Fremantle
‘ 1554: Lady Jane Grey is executed by her cousin Queen Mary…
Now Lady Jane’s younger sisters Katherine and Mary, cursed with the Tudor blood that saw their sister killed, face the perils of the royal court alone.
Lady Katherine – young and spirited – makes dangerous romantic liaisons. While Lady Mary – crook-backed and vulnerable – becomes the Queen’s reluctant companion, yet yearns to escape court intrigue. And both girls fear their proximity to the Queen might be their undoing.
For the childless Queen is ill. If she should die Katherine may be pushed to power, but the Queen’s half-sister Elizabeth casts a long shadow and if she gains the throne the court will become a terrifying maze of treachery and suspicion – where holding royal blood could be a death warrant for the two sisters….’
12 February – ‘A Queen of a New Invention: Portraits of Lady Jane Grey Dudley, England’s ‘Nine Days Queen’ by Stephan Edwards
‘‘Lady Jane Grey Dudley was proclaimed Queen of England on 10 July 1553 following the untimely death of Henry VIII’s only son and successor, King Edward VI. But sixteen-year-old Jane did not have the support of the majority of her would-be subjects. They rallied instead to Henry VIII’s eldest daughter, Mary Tudor. Jane was deposed just nine
days after her reign began, earning for her the sobriquet ‘The Nine Days Queen.’ She was imprisoned in the Tower for six months before finally being executed on 12 February 1554.
Queen Jane remains the only English monarch of the past five centuries for whom no genuine portrait is known to have survived. Dozens of images have been put forward over those five centuries, but none has yet been conclusively authenticated. Neither has any comprehensive academic study of the iconography of Jane Grey Dudley ever been previously undertaken or published.
Now, through almost a decade of research leading up to this volume, twenty-nine surviving portrait-images said to depict Jane have been carefully and systematically sought out, analysed, and contextualized in an effort to determine whether any of them may be a reliable likeness. A handful of additional paintings all now lost are also discussed in detail. Finally, the single written account of Jane’s physical appearance, an account upon which historians have relied over the past century, is analysed for its own authenticity.’
15 February – Joan of Kent: The First Princess of Wales by Penny Lawne
‘Immortalised by the chronicler Froissart as the most beautiful woman in England and the most loved, Joan was the wife of the Black Prince and the mother of Richard II, the first Princess of Wales and the only woman ever to be Princess of Aquitaine. The contemporary consensus was that she admirably fulfilled their expectations for a royal consort and king’s mother. Who was this ‘perfect princess’? In this first major biography, Joan’s background and career are examined to reveal a remarkable story. Brought up at court following her father’s shocking execution, Joan defied convention by marrying secretly aged just twelve, and refused to deny her first love despite coercion, imprisonment and a forced bigamous marriage. Wooed by the Black Prince when she was widowed, theirs was a love match, yet the questionable legality of their marriage threatened their son’s succession to the throne. Intelligent and independent, Joan constructed her role as Princess of Wales. Deliberately self-effacing, she created and managed her reputation, using her considerable intercessory skills to protect and support Richard. A loyal wife and devoted mother, Joan was much more than just a famous beauty.’
1 March – Elizabeth I and Her Circle by Susan Doran
‘This is the inside story of Elizabeth I’s inner circle and the crucial human relationships which lay at the heart of her personal and political life. Using a wide range of original sources – including private letters, portraits, verse, drama, and state papers – Susan Doran provides a vivid and often dramatic account of political life in Elizabethan England and the queen at its centre, offering a deeper insight into Elizabeth’s emotional and political conduct – and challenging many of the popular myths that have grown up around her.
It is a story replete with fascinating questions. What was the true nature of Elizabeth’s relationship with her father, Henry VIII, especially after his execution of her mother? What was the influence of her step-mothers on Elizabeth’s education and religious beliefs? How close was she really to her half-brother Edward VI – and were relations with her half-sister Mary really as poisonous as is popularly assumed? And what of her relationship with her Stewart cousins, most famously with Mary Queen of Scots, executed on Elizabeth’s orders in 1587, but also with Mary’s son James VI of Scotland, later to succeed Elizabeth as her chosen successor?
Elizabeth’s relations with her family were crucial, but almost as crucial were her relations with her courtiers and her councillors (her ‘men of business’). Here again, the story unravels a host of fascinating questions. Was the queen really sexually jealous of her maids of honour? What does her long and intimate relationship with the Earl of Leicester reveal about her character, personality, and attitude to marriage? What can the fall of Essex tell us about Elizabeth’s political management in the final years of her reign? And what was the true nature of her personal and political relationship with influential and long-serving councillors such as the Cecils and Sir Francis Walsingham?
2 March – The Woodvilles: The Wars of the Roses and England’s Most Infamous Family (Paperback) 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.’
5 March – God’s Traitors: Terror and Faith in Elizabethan England (paperback) by Jessie Childs
‘The Catholics of Elizabethan England did not witness a golden age. Their Mass was banned, their priests were outlawed, their faith was criminalised. In an age of assassination and Armada, those Catholics who clung to their faith were increasingly seen as the enemy within. In this superb history, award-winning author Jessie Childs explores the Catholic predicament in Elizabethan England through the eyes of one remarkable family: the Vauxes of Harrowden Hall.
God’s Traitors is a tale of dawn raids and daring escapes, stately homes and torture chambers, ciphers, secrets and lies. From clandestine chapels and side-street inns to exile communities and the corridors of power, it exposes the tensions and insecurities masked by the cult of Gloriana. Above all, it is a timely story of courage and frailty, repression and reaction and the terrible consequences when religion and politics collide.’
15 March – The Family of Richard III by Michael Hicks
‘The Wars of the Roses were quarrels within the Plantagenet family, of which Richard’s dynasty, the house of York was one branch. The house of York won the first war, with Richard’s elder brother becoming king as Edward IV. In 1483, after decades of family infighting, there was a sudden violent resolution following Edward IV’s death. Richard III claimed to be his brother’s heir, the Yorkist establishment refused and shared in Richard’s destruction. With the recent discovery of Richard III’s skeleton and his reburial in Leicester Cathedral, Professor Michael Hicks, described by BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE as ‘the greatest living expert on Richard III’ reassesses the family ties and entrails of his wayward and violent family. Many thousands of descendants of Richard survive, some more interested in their linage than others, and the book will conclude with an analysis of Richard’s DNA and his ‘family’ as it exists today.’
15 March – Henry VIII’s Last Love: The Extraordinary Life of Katherine Willoughby, Lady in Waiting to the Tudors by David Baldwin
‘In 1533 Katherine Willoughby married Charles Brandon, Henry VIII’s closest friend. She would go on to serve at the court of every Tudor monarch bar Henry VII and Mary Tudor. Duchess of Suffolk at the age of fourteen, she became a powerful woman ruling over her houses at Grimsthorpe and Tattershall in Lincolnshire and wielding subtle influence through her proximity to the king. She grew to know Henry well and in 1538, only three months after Jane Seymour’s death, it was reported that they had been ‘masking and visiting’ together. In 1543 she became a lady-in-waiting to his sixth wife Catherine Parr. Henry had a reputation for tiring of his wives once the excitement of the pursuit was over, and in February 1546, only six months after Charles Brandon’s death, it was rumoured that Henry intended to wed Katherine himself if he could end his present marriage. This is the remarkable story of a life of privilege, tragedy and danger, of a woman who so nearly became the seventh wife of Henry VIII.’
15 March – Inside the Tudor Court (Paperback) by Lauren Mackay
‘The reports and despatches of Eustace Chapuys, Spanish Ambassador to Henry VIII’s court from 1529 to 1545, have been instrumental in shaping our modern interpretations of Henry VIII and his wives. As a result of his personal relationships with several of Henry’s queens, and Henry himself, his writings were filled with colourful anecdotes, salacious gossip, and personal and insightful observations of the key players at court, thus offering the single most continuous portrait of the central decades of Henry’s reign. Beginning with Chapuys’ arrival in England, in the middle of Henry VIII’s divorce from Katherine of Aragon, this book progresses through the episodic reigns of each of Henry’s queens. Chapuys tirelessly defended Katherine and later her daughter, Mary Tudor, the future Mary I. He remained as ambassador through the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn, and reported on each and every one of Henry’s subsequent wives – Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Katharine Parr – as well as that most notorious of ministers Thomas Cromwell. He retired in 1545, close to the end of Henry VIII’s reign. In approaching the period through Chapuys’ letters, Lauren Mackay provides a fresh perspective on Henry, his court and the Tudor period in general.’
6 April – Richard III’s ‘Beloved Cousyn’: John Howard and the House of York (Paperback) by John Ashdown-Hill
‘In 1455 John Howard was an untitled and relatively obscure Suffolk gentleman. Thirty years later, at the time of his death at the Battle of Bosworth Field, he was Earl Marshal, Duke of Norfolk, Lord Admiral and a very rich man (and his direct descendant is Duke of Norfolk today). How had Howard attained these elevations? Through his service to the House of York, and in particular to King Richard III during the setting aside of Edward V. John Ashdown-Hill examines why Howard chose to support Richard, even ultimately at the cost of his life; what secrets he knew about Edward IV; what he had to do with the fate of the ‘Princes in the Tower;’ and what naval innovations, hitherto ascrided to the Tudors, he promoted. Based on original research and containing previously unpublished material, Richard III’s ‘Beloved Cousyn’ is an important contribution to Ricardian scholarship.’
14 April 2015 – The Story of the Tower of London by Tracy Borman
‘This book reveals the fascinating stories, dramatic events and colorful characters that make up the Tower of London’s remarkably long and varied history. Written from a social perspective, it presents a fresh appraisal of this world-famous site and sets it apart from any other available book. It offers a comprehensive history of the fortress, from its Roman origins right up to the present day. With over 200 color illustrations and a comprehensive and chronological narrative divided into thematic chapters, it conveys brilliantly the many and varied stories which make up the Tower’s history from the menagerie and royal mint to the roll call of its famous prisoners. The story of the Tower of London is, in many respects, the story of England. When building work began on the fortress, the capital was little more than a small town with no more than 10,000 inhabitants. Almost 1,000 years later, the fortress still stands as a symbol of royal power, pomp and ceremony, tradition, heritage, military might, treachery and torture. Its myriad roles are reflected in the complex series of buildings that make up this formidable, magnificent fortress an iconic site that still attracts millions of visitors from across the world each year.’
15 April – In the Footsteps of Anne Boleyn (paperback) by Sarah Morris and Natalie Grueninger
‘On the morning of 19 May 1536, a French blade stilled the heart of an English queen. Her name was Anne Boleyn and her story has made an indelible mark on history. This book will take you through stately homes, castles, chapels and artefacts with a connection to Anne. Explore Hever Castle, Anne’s childhood home where two breathtaking Books of Hours both signed and inscribed by Anne Boleyn herself are housed; visit Thornbury Castle where Henry VIII and Anne stayed during their 1535 royal progress and see the octagonal bedchamber where they slept; stand in the very room in Windsor Castle where Anne was made Marquis of Pembroke. Each location is covered by an accessible and informative narrative, which unearths the untold stories and documents the artefacts. Accompanied by an extensive range of images, including photographs, floor plans and sketches, this book brings the sixteenth century vividly to life – and takes you on your own personal and compelling journey in the footsteps of Anne Boleyn.’
30 April – The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses and the Rise of the Tudors (Paperback) by Dan Jones
‘The fifteenth century experienced the longest and bloodiest series of civil wars in British history. The crown of England changed hands violently seven times as the great families of England fought to the death for power, majesty and the right to rule. Dan Jones completes his epic history of medieval England with a new book about the Wars of the Roses – and describes how the Plantagenets tore themselves apart and were finally replaced by the Tudors.
With vivid descriptions of the battle of Towton, where 28,000 men died in a single morning, to Bosworth, where the last Plantagenet king was hacked down, this is the real story behind Shakespeare’s famous history plays.’
7 May 2015 – Joan of Arc (Paperback) by Helen Castor
‘We all know the story of Joan of Arc. A peasant girl who hears voices from God. A warrior leading an army to victory, in an age that believes women cannot fight. The Maid of Orléans, and the saviour of France. Burned at the stake as a heretic at the age of just nineteen. Five hundred years later, a saint. Her case was heard in court twice over. One trial, in 1431, condemned her; the other, twenty-five years after her death, cleared her name. In the transcripts, we hear first-hand testimony from Joan, her family and her friends: a rare survival from the medieval world. What could be more revealing? But all is not as simple as it seems, because this is a life told backwards, in hindsight – a story already shaped by the knowledge of what Joan would become.
In Joan of Arc: A History, Helen Castor tells this gripping story afresh: forwards, not backwards, setting this extraordinary girl within her extraordinary world where no one – not Joan herself, nor the people around her, princes, bishops, soldiers or peasants – knew what would happen next.’
15 June – Cecily Neville: Mother of Kings (paperback) by Amy Licence
‘ Known to be proud, regal and beautiful, Cecily Neville was born in the year of the great English victory at Agincourt and survived long enough to witness the arrival of the future Henry VIII, her great-grandson. Her life spanned most of the fifteenth century. Cecily’s marriage to Richard, Duke of York, was successful, even happy, and she travelled with him wherever his career dictated, bearing his children in England, Ireland and France, including the future Edward IV and Richard III. What was the substance behind her claim to be ‘queen by right’? Would she indeed have made a good queen during these turbulent times? One of a huge family herself, Cecily would see two of her sons become kings of England but the struggles that tore apart the Houses of Lancaster and York also turned brother against brother. Cecily’s life cannot have been easy. Images of her dripping in jewels and holding her own alternative ‘court’ might belie the terrible heartache of seeing her descendants destroy each other. In attempting to be the family peacemaker, she frequently had to make heart-wrenching choices, yet these did not destroy her. She battled on, outliving her husband, friends, rivals and most of her children, to become one of the era’s great survivors.’
15th June – The Seymours of Wolf Hall: A Tudor Family Story by David Loades
‘Although the Seymours arrived with the Normans, it is with Jane, Henry VIII’s third queen, and her brothers – Edward, Duke of Somerset, and Thomas, Lord Seymour of Sudeley – that they became prominent. Jane bore Henry his longed-for son, Edward VI, and both her brothers achieved prominence through her. Her brother Edward was central to Henry’s activities in Scotland and became Lord Protector for the young king, his nephew, a hugely powerful position. Thomas married Henry’s sixth wife, Catherine Parr, and after her death in 1548 aimed to marry Princess Elizabeth (the future Elizabeth I), with whom he had flirted when she was in Catherine’s care, and for this he was executed for high treason. Edward fell foul of his fellow councillors and was also executed. Edward’s son was restored to the title of Lord Hertford by Elizabeth I, but was sent to the Tower when it emerged that he had secretly married Jane Grey’s sister, Catherine, who was Elizabeth’s protestant heir. Both her marriage and pregnancy were an affront to the queen. This is the epic rise and fall of the family at the heart of the Tudor court and of Henry VIII’s own heart; he described Jane as ‘my first true wife’ and left express orders to be buried next to her tomb at Windsor Castle. The family seat of Wolfhall or ‘Wolf Hall’ in Wiltshire is long gone, but it lives on as an icon of the Tudor age.’
18 June 2015 – Watch The Lady (Paperback) by Elizabeth Fremantle
‘The daughter of the Queen’s nemesis, Penelope Devereux, arrives at court blithely unaware of its pitfalls and finds herself in love with one man, yet married off to another. Bestowed with beauty and charm she and her brother, The Earl of Essex, are drawn quickly into the aging Queen’s favour. But Penelope is saddled with a husband who loathes her and chooses to strike out, risking her reputation to seek satisfaction elsewhere. But life at the heart of the court is not only characterised by the highs and lows of romance, there are formidable factions at work who would like to see the Devereux family brought down. It seems The Earl of Essex can do no wrong in the eyes of the Queen but as his influence grows so his enemies gather and it is Penelope who must draw on all her political savvy to prevent the unthinkable from happening.
Told from the perspective of Penelope and her brother’s greatest enemy the politician Cecil, this story, wrought with love, hatred and envy, unfolds over two decades in which we see the last gasps of Elizabeth’s reign, and the deadly scramble for power in a dying dynasty.’
18 June – The Rival Queens: Catherine de’ Medici, her daughter Marguerite de Valois, and the Betrayal That Ignited a Kingdom by Nancy Goldstone
‘ Set in Renaissance France at the magnificent court of the Valois kings, The Rival Queens is the history of two remarkable women, a mother and daughter driven into opposition by a terrible betrayal that threatened to destroy the realm.
Catherine de’ Medici, the infamous queen mother of France, was a consummate pragmatist and powerbroker who dominated the throne for thirty years. Her youngest daughter Marguerite, the glamorous ‘Queen Margot’, was a passionate free spirit, the only adversary whom her mother could neither intimidate nor control. When Catherine forces the Catholic Marguerite to marry her Protestant cousin Henry of Navarre against her will, and then uses her opulent Parisian wedding as a means of luring his Huguenot followers to their deaths, she creates not only savage conflict within France but also a potent rival within her own family.
Rich in historical detail and vivid prose, Nancy Goldstone’s narrative unfolds as a thrilling historical epic. Treacherous court politics, poisonings, international espionage and adultery form the background to a story whose fascinating array of characters include such celebrated figures as Elizabeth I, Mary, Queen of Scots, and Nostradamus.
From Catherine’s early struggles with her husband’s exquisite mistress, Diane de Poitiers, and her exultant rise to power, through Marguerite’s poignant sacrifice of love and happiness to save her husband’s life, and ultimately to the political awakening that leads to a threat to her very survival, The Rival Queens is a dangerous tale of love, betrayal, ambition and the true nature of courage, the echoes of which still resonate.’
1 July – Exploring English Castles: Evocative, Romantic, and Mysterious True Tales of the Kings and Queens of the British Isles by Edd Morris
‘A guide to some of the most historical and picturesque castles in England for romantics and Anglophiles alike. Castles have shaped England. For almost one thousand years, castles have been the settings of siege and battle, dens of plotting and intrigue, and refuges for troubled kings. Today, the romantic yet ruinous shapes of once grand fortresses stud the English countryside–a reminder of turbulent times past. Exploring English Castles provides readers with a breathtaking tour through the grandest castles of England. It brings ruins to life through true stories of royalty, chivalry, deception, and intrigue, played out within formerly majestic walls. Uncover the secret of Bodiam Castle, Sussex–a fortress seemingly from a fairy tale, built for a knight returning from the Hundred Years’ War. Discover how Mary Tudor, first queen of England, took refuge in Framlingham Castle, Suffolk, overturning a wily plot to deny her the throne. Unearth a delicate love story between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, which unfolds against the genteel backdrop of Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire. Filled with evocative photographs, awe-inspiring historical tales, and gentle humor, Exploring English Castles will delight any armchair historian, travel aficionado, or fan of historical fiction.’
16th July – The Boleyn Reckoning by Laura Andersen
‘A choice to forever change the course of history.
While English soldiers prepare for the threat of invasion, William Tudor struggles with his own personal battles: he still longs for his childhood friend. But Minuette has married William’s trusted advisor, Dominic, in secret – an act of betrayal that puts both their lives in danger.
Meanwhile, with war on the horizon, Princess Elizabeth must decide where her duty really lies: with her brother or her country…’
13 August – The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory
‘Why would a woman marry a serial killer?
Because she cannot refuse…
Kateryn Parr, a thirty-year-old widow in a secret affair with a new lover, has no choice when a man old enough to be her father who has buried four wives – King Henry VIII – commands her to marry him.
Kateryn has no doubt about the danger she faces: the previous queen lasted sixteen months, the one before barely half a year. But Henry adores his new bride and Kateryn’s trust in him grows as she unites the royal family, creates a radical study circle at the heart of the court, and rules the kingdom as Regent.
But is this enough to keep her safe? A leader of religious reform and the first woman to publish in English, Kateryn stands out as an independent woman with a mind of her own. But she cannot save the Protestants, under threat for their faith, and Henry’s dangerous gaze turns on her.The traditional churchmen and rivals for power accuse her of heresy – the punishment is death by fire and the king’s name is on the warrant…’
1 October – The Lost Tudor Princess: A Life of Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox by Alison Weir
‘Royal Tudor blood ran in her veins. Her mother was a queen, her father an earl, and she herself was the granddaughter, niece, cousin and grandmother of monarchs. Some thought she should be queen of England. She ranked high at the court of her uncle, Henry VIII, and was lady of honour to five of his wives. Beautiful and tempestuous, she created scandal, not just once, but twice, by falling in love with unsuitable men, which led to the passing of the first Act of Parliament to regulate royal marriages. Fortunately, the marriage arranged for her turned into a love match.
Throughout her life her dynastic ties to two crowns proved hazardous. A born political intriguer, she was imprisoned in the Tower of London on three occasions, once under sentence of death. She helped to bring about one of the most notorious royal marriages of the sixteenth century, but it brought her only tragedy. Her son and her husband were brutally murdered, and there were rumours that she herself was poisoned. She warred with two queens, Mary of Scotland and Elizabeth of England. A brave survivor, she was instrumental in securing the Stuart succession to the throne of England for her grandson.
Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, was a prominent and important figure in Tudor England, and yet today, when her Tudor relations have achieved almost celebrity status, she is largely forgotten.
Her story deserves to be better known. This is the biography of an extraordinary life that spanned five Tudor reigns, a life packed with intrigue, drama and tragedy.’
15 October – Margaret Pole: The Countess in the Tower
‘Of the many executions ordered by Henry VIII, surely the most horrifying was that of sixty-seven-year-old Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, hacked to pieces on the scaffold by a blundering headsman. From the start, Margaret’s life had been marred by tragedy and violence: her father, George, Duke of Clarence, had been executed at the order of his own brother, Edward IV, and her naive young brother, Edward, Earl of Warwick, had spent most of his life in the Tower before being executed on the orders of Henry VII. Yet Margaret, friend to Catherine of Aragon and the beloved governess of her daughter Mary, had seemed destined for a happier fate, until religious upheaval and rebellion caused Margaret and her family to fall from grace. From Margaret’s birth as the daughter of a royal duke to her beatification centuries after her death, Margaret Pole: The Countess in the Tower tells the story of one of the fortress’s most unlikely prisoners.’
15 October – Charles Brandon: Henry Viii’s Closest Friend by Steven Gunn
‘We don’t really consider Henry VIII to have had friends, rather subjects, cronies and dutiful wives and ministers of state. But Henry was a very sociable person and craved genuine relationships. Charles Brandon, the son of Henry VII’s standard bearer at the Battle of Bosworth, was to be his closest friend and companion for his entire life. They were educated together and Charles would hold a succession of important offices in the royal household. Henry VIII trusted Charles with some of the dirtiest jobs at the Tudor court, including clearing out Katherine of Aragon’s household and later arresting and extracting a confession from Anne Boleyn. Henry also forgave him for marrying in secret his favourite sister, Mary Rose. Yet Brandon’s life was by no means free from misadventure. His marriage to Henry’s sister Mary was disastrous, and his relationship with Anne Boleyn fraught. He was accused of treason and was responsible for a military fiasco. Steven Gunn explains how Brandon not only survived these vicissitudes of fortune and managed to retain the king’s friendship, but steadily increased his own power, wealth and standing. When Charles died in 1545, Henry ordered a lavish funeral and he was laid to rest in St George’s Chapel in Windsor, where Henry had buried his favourite wife, Jane Seymour, and where he would be buried himself a mere eighteen months after his one true friend.’
5 November – The King is Dead by Suzannah Lipscomb
‘On 28 January 1547, the sickly and obese King Henry VIII died at Whitehall. Just hours before his passing, his last will and testament had been read, stamped and sealed. The will confirmed the line of succession as Edward, Mary and Elizabeth; and, following them, the Grey and Suffolk families. It also listed bequests to the king’s most trusted councillors and servants.
Henry’s will is one of the most intriguing and contested documents in British history. Historians have disagreed over its intended meaning, its authenticity and validity, and the circumstances of its creation. As well as examining the background to the drafting of the will and describing Henry’s last days, Suzannah Lipscomb offers her own, illuminating interpretation of one of the most significant constitutional documents of the Tudor period.
Illustrated with portraits of key figures at Henry’s court, including the executors named by Henry in his will, THE KING IS DEAD is a Tudor gift book to cherish, as authoritative as it is beautiful. ‘
5 November – The Temptation Of Elizabeth Tudor by Elizabeth Norton
‘England, late 1547. Henry VIII is dead. His 14-year-old daughter Elizabeth is living with the old king’s widow Catherine Parr and her new husband Thomas Seymour. Ambitious, charming and dangerous, Seymour begins an overt flirtation with Elizabeth that ends in her being sent away by Catherine.
When Catherine dies in autumn 1548 and Seymour is arrested for treason soon after, the scandal explodes into the open. Alone and in dreadful danger, Elizabeth is closely questioned by the king’s regency council: Was she still a virgin? Was there a child? Had she promised to marry Seymour? In her replies, she shows the shrewdness and spirit she would later be famous for. She survives the scandal. Thomas Seymour is not so lucky.
The Seymour Scandal led to the creation of the Virgin Queen. On hearing of Seymour’s beheading, Elizabeth observed ‘This day died a man of much wit, and very little judgement’. His fate remained with her. She would never allow her heart to rule her head again.’
10 November – The Virgin’s Spy: A Tudor Legacy Novel by Laura Andersen
‘Queen Elizabeth I remains sovereign of England and Ireland. For the moment, at least. An Irish rebellion is growing and Catholic Spain, led by the Queen’s former husband, King Philip, plans to seize advantage of the turmoil. Stephen Courtenay, eldest son of Dominic and Minuette, Elizabeth’s most trusted confidantes, has accepted a command in Ireland to quell the unrest. But the task will prove dangerous in more ways than one.
The Princess of Wales, Elizabeth’s daughter, Anabel, looks to play a greater role in her nation, ever mindful that there is only one Queen of England. But how is Anabel to one day rule a country when she cannot even govern her own heart?’