Book Review – ‘The Tudors: History of a Dynasty’ by David Loades

David Loades, ‘The Tudors: History of a Dynasty’ (London: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2012), Hardback, ISBN 978-1-4411-3690-9

David Loades 'The Tudors: History of a Dynasty'
David Loades ‘The Tudors: History of a Dynasty’

Title: The title suggests a history of the people – the royal family and the succession. It doesn’t disappoint in that regard, as it is all about the people, but does sometimes lack elements that make the people seem real; like they lived and breathed.

Preface: The preface examines the controversies and debates within the dynasty – it brings them to light and outlines what will be looked at within the text itself.

Citations: Very detailed endnotes followed by a comprehensive bibliography. Endnotes include little tit-bits of extra information, and there is a huge variety of both primary and secondary sources which are well-logged.

Contents: They aren’t as clear as they could be – chapter titles don’t clearly tell us what is in the chapter. Some are better than others, but could do with subtitles to give more information. The index is fairly comprehensive, but within titles they could be further broken down, particularly under the likes of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, as it is difficult to discern what about them is where.

Genre/Audience: It is clearly a history book, more scholarly than popular history. It is definitely not recommended for people who have only little or no knowledge of the Tudors, as you might find yourself in over your head. Not history that is focused specifically on people or places or events, more a general survey.

Professor David Loades
Professor David Loades

Concepts: An interesting idea not to look at it chronologically, as it gives more scope for comparison and analysis than a plain chronological exploration would have. It could, however, do with more detail on some of the more minor people that influenced the monarchy, for example, Thomas Seymour and Thomas More.

Sources: Very well-documented, and a large variety. They are cleverly used to analyse key events like battles, rebellions and treaties. Not, however, used to full advantage, as they could be used to better try and explain the motivations behind the people. Nevertheless, it is a handy book full of what can be covered with the surviving sources.

Illustrations: They aren’t very clear in places, and only in greyscale. Colour images would have been advantageous and would have drawn the eye more, giving increased clarity, particularly with portraits. Some unusual images that I don’t recall seeing before, but not very well captioned i.e. no dates or current locations.

'The Six Wives of Henry VIII' by David Loades (2010).
‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’ by David Loades (2010).

Other Works: David Loades has written a positive mountain of books on the Tudors, including ‘The Tudor Queens of England’, ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’, ‘The Boleyns’, ‘Intrigue and Treason’, and a wide selection of biographies, including ones on ‘Henry VIII’, ‘Elizabeth I’ and ‘The Reign of Mary Tudor’. Similar survey texts on the Tudors include ‘Tudors’ by Peter Ackroyd, ‘A Brief History of the Tudor Age’ by Jasper Ridley, and ‘Tudor: the Family Story’ by Leanda de Lisle.

My Rating: 15/20

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