A fun romp through royal history, looking at some of the most scandalous royals and what they did. There is very much a focus on English history, with just some of the more famous foreign rulers thrown in like Catherine the Great and Vlad the Impaler. The focus is also largely on the modern period, with nearly half of the book covering just the 20th century. There is only one Roman Emperor discussed, when they must have had enough scandals to fill most of the book!
It is a fun read, but with a couple of errors that I spotted including the Pilgrimage of Grace as happening in 1541 when it was 5 years earlier, and one of Anne Boleyn’s ‘lovers’ Mark Smeaton being hanged and quartered when he was actually beheaded. There are also a few grammatical errors where it doesn’t read as well as it could.
A fun short book to dip in and out of but seemed to gloss over some of the scandals of history to focus on the modern royals, which was a little disappointing for me, being a history buff. However, the sections on the modern royals were also very interesting, reading back on things that I heard on and off in the news growing up, but reading about them now as an adult puts a bit of a different spin on things.
A Summary of Monarchs Since 1066
Scandalous Rulers Before the Fifteenth Century
Scandalous Rulers of the Fifteenth to Nineteenth Centuries
So, as you might have guessed from my previous post on the ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature’ exhibition (click here) I have been on holiday in London. How could I not visit some Tudor-related sites? I was with a friend who had never visited the Tower of London before, so we used the tickets that had been booked way back at the beginning of 2020 when the pandemic hit.
We arrived early and spent five hours wandering around, stopping for a café break as well. We walked the walls, and took in the exhibitions, seeing displays on the Medieval Palace, Imprisonment at the Tower, and the Tower in War. We were using my guidebook from 2010 as I haven’t got an updated version and, in one display, there were guidebooks from the past and the same copy as mine was in a glass case! That was weird.
The Beauchamp Tower is where we saw all of the graffiti left by those imprisoned there, notably this coat of arms likely carved by one of the Dudleys in 1553-4 after Jane Grey’s failed reign (the photo isn’t great because of the light from behind). There were also several pieces of graffiti left by those involved in rebellions against Elizabeth I which was especially interesting for me to see.
The Bloody Tower includes Walter Raleigh’s study and an exploration of the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower, something that I’ve read quite a lot about. Raleigh wrote his ‘The History of the World’ while imprisoned here. The Salt Tower was the place of imprisonment of Hew Draper who was incarcerated for sorcery during the reign of Elizabeth I. There are some fascinating astrological drawings on the walls of various places in the Tower where he was kept. A zodiac design contains the date 30 May 1561.
Of course, a visit to the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula (Peter in Chains) was a must. It’s an absolutely beautiful space where lie buried the remains of Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard, Lady Jane Grey, Jane Boleyn Lady Rochford, Edward Seymour Duke of Somerset, John Dudley Duke of Northumberland, and Guildford Dudley within the main body of the chapel. In the crypt are the remains of Sir Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher of Rochester who were executed on nearby Tower Hill.
The armouries in the White Tower were fascinating, though I had seen them before. I almost looked at the rooms anew and visited St John’s Chapel in the White Tower for the very first time. It’s starkly simple but incredibly profound with plain walls and some stone carving, quite a contrast to the better-known St Peter ad Vincula in the grounds. The armouries themselves contain armour from Henry VIII, Charles I, and James II, and a collection of swords, cannon, and other arms from across the ages and across the world. Possibly of more interest to a military historian but seeing the detail on the armour was a highlight of the White Tower for me.
On the way back to our hotel we visited the memorial on Tower Hill where the likes of Edward Stafford 3rd Duke of Buckingham, Sir Thomas More, Bishop John Fisher of Rochester, and Robert Devereux 2nd Earl of Essex were executed, among many others. The names and dates of execution are places on blocks around a small square within the First World War memorial gardens. It’s very easy to miss if you don’t know it’s there. More were executed there than are named, but the names of those who were the most notable are written. It is worth a visit if you’re going to the Tower of London as many of those executed there spent time in the Tower itself.
All in all, an incredibly fascinating historical day out, even if we were exhausted afterwards having been on our feet most of the day and then going on a Jack the Ripper walking tour that evening! A blog post on that to follow …
I thought I’d do a walkthrough of my history bookshelves, as pictures on my Instagram of different books that I’ve bought or been sent by publishers are always very popular. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt through the #HistoryGirls community on Instagram, it’s that historians and history lovers are always looking for new reading material!
And, no, before anyone asks, I haven’t read all of these yet. I’m steadily working my way through them. I’ve had some very lovely publishers (The History Press and Pen & Sword Books) send me some complimentary copies for review and these are currently top of my list, though this lockdown has slowed me down rather than speeding me up! I promise, I will get there.
Shelf 1 – Monarchy and Wars of the Roses
This shelf starts with my books on the monarchy in general, before moving onto the Plantagenets, Wars of the Roses, Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, the Princes in the Tower, and Richard III.
From left to right:
John Burke – An Illustrated History of England
David Loades – The Kings and Queens of England
J.P. Brooke-Little – Royal Heraldry: Beasts and Badges of Britain
The Royal Line of Succession: Official Souvenir Guide
Andrew Gimson – Kings and Queens: Brief Lives of the Monarchs Since 1066
David Starkey – Monarchy: England and Her Rulers from the Tudors to the Windsors
Mike Ashley – A Brief History of British Kings and Queens
Elizabeth Norton – She Wolves: The Notorious Queens of England
Alison Weir – Britain’s Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy
Peter Ackroyd – History of England Volume 1: Foundation
E.F. Jacob – The Fifteenth Century 1399-1485
Ian Mortimer – The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England
Desmond Seward – The Demon’s Brood: The Plantagenet Dynasty That Forged the English Nation
David Grummitt – A Short History of the Wars of the Roses
Desmond Seward – A Brief History of the Wars of the Roses
Sarah Gristwood – Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses
Michael Jones – Bosworth 1485: Psychology of a Battle
John Ashdown-Hill – Elizabeth Widville: Edward IV’s Chief Mistress and the ‘Pink Queen’
Amy Licence – Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville: A True Romance
Jeffrey James – Edward IV: Glorious Son of York
Andrew Beattie – Following in the Footsteps of the Princes in the Tower
Alison Weir – The Princes in the Tower
David Horspool – Richard III: A Ruler and His Reputation
Philippa Langley & Michael Jones – The Search for Richard III: The King’s Grave
Michael Hicks – The Family of Richard III
Kristie Dean – The World of Richard III
Amy Licence – Richard III: The Road to Leicester
Matthew Lewis – Richard III: Fact and Fiction
Peter A. Hancock – Richard III and the Murder in the Tower
Matthew Lewis – Richard III: Loyalty Binds Me
Shelf 2 – General Tudors and Henry VII
This shelf consists of all my books on the Tudor dynasty as a whole, then just manages to start Henry VII and Elizabeth of York on the end.
From left to right:
David Loades – Chronicles of the Tudor Kings
Frances Wilkins – Growing Up in Tudor Times
Peter Marsden – 1545: Who Sank the Mary Rose?
Rosemary Weinstein – Tudor London
Peter Ackroyd – The History of the England Volume 2: Tudors
Amy Licence – In Bed with the Tudors: The Sex Lives of a Dynasty from Elizabeth of York to Elizabeth I
Leanda de Lisle – Tudor: The Family Story
David Loades – The Tudors: History of a Dynasty
Chris Skidmore – The Rise of the Tudors: The Family That Changed English History
Terry Breverton – Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Tudors But Were Afraid to Ask
Tracy Borman – The Private Lives of the Tudors
Timothy Venning – An Alternative History of Britain: The Tudors
Kirsten Claiden-Yardley – The Man Behind the Tudors: Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk
A Guide to Tudor and Jacobean Portraits
John Matusiak – A History of the Tudors in 100 Objects
David Loades – The Tudor Queens of England
Alex Woolf – The Tudor Kings and Queens
Carola Hicks – The King’s Glass: A Story of Tudor Power and Secret Art
J.D. Mackie – The Earlier Tudors 1485-1558
Annie Bullen – The Little Book of the Tudors
Alison Weir – The Lost Tudor Princess
Alison Plowden – The House of Tudor
Dave Tonge – Tudor Folk Tales
Jane Bingham – The Tudors: The Kings and Queens of England’s Golden Age
Elizabeth Norton – The Lives of Tudor Women
Ruth Goodman – How to be a Tudor
Jasper Ridley – A Brief History of the Tudor Age
G.J. Meyer – The Tudors: The Complete Story of England’s Most Notorious Dynasty
John Guy – The Tudors: A Very Short Introduction
Christopher Morris – The Tudors
Phil Carradice – Following in the Footsteps of Henry Tudor
Shelf 3 – Henry VIII and the Six Wives
This shelf has the rest of my books about Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, all of my Henry VIII books and those overarching books about the Six Wives.
From left to right:
Thomas Penn – Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England
Alison Weir – Elizabeth of York: The First Tudor Queen
Joan MacAlpine – The Shadow of the Tower: Henry VII and His Background
David Loades – Henry VIII
David Starkey – Henry: Virtuous Prince
John Matusiak – Martyrs of Henry VIII: Repression, Defiance, Sacrifice
J.J. Scarisbrick – Henry VIII
George Cavendish – The Life of Cardinal Wolsey
John Guy – The Children of Henry VIII
Robert Hutchinson – Young Henry: The Rise of Henry VIII
Alison Weir – Children of England: The Heirs of King Henry VIII
John Matusiak – Henry VIII: The Life and Rule of England’s Nero
Philippa Jones – The Other Tudors: Henry VIII’s Mistresses and Bastards
Kelly Hart – The Mistresses of Henry VIII
Alison Weir – Henry VIII: King and Court
David Starkey – The Reign of Henry VIII: Personalities and Politics
Robert Hutchinson – Thomas Cromwell: The Rise and Fall of Henry VIII’s Most Notorious Minister
Derek Wilson – A Brief History of Henry VIII
Robert Hutchinson – The Last Days of Henry VIII
Sarah Morris & Natalie Grueninger – In the Footsteps of the Six Wives of Henry VIII
Amy Licence – The Six Wives and Many Mistresses of Henry VIII
Karen Lindsey – Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII
Alison Weir – The Six Wives of Henry VIII
Lauren Mackay – Inside the Tudor Court: Henry VIII and His Six Wives Through the Eyes of the Spanish Ambassador
Antonia Fraser – The Six Wives of Henry VIII
David Starkey – Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII
Shelf 4 – Six Wives
This shelf is broken down into books on each of the Six Wives – Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn (by far the biggest section, as you can see!), Jane Seymour (zero books), Anne of Cleves (zero books), Katherine Howard and Katherine Parr.
From left to right:
David Loades – The Six Wives of Henry VIII
Amy Licence – Catherine of Aragon: An Intimate Life of Henry VIII’s True Wife
Giles Tremlett – Catherine of Aragon: Henry’s Spanish Queen
Patrick Williams – Katharine of Aragon
Paul Friedmann – Anne Boleyn
Elizabeth Norton – Anne Boleyn: In Her Own Words and the Words of Those Who Knew Her
Alison Weir – The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn
Elizabeth Norton – The Boleyn Women: The Tudor Femmes Fatales Who Changed English History
David Loades – The Boleyns: The Rise and Fall of a Tudor Family
Amy Licence – Anne Boleyn: Adultery, Heresy, Desire
Lissa Chapman – Anne Boleyn in London
Lacey Baldwin Smith – Anne Boleyn: The Queen of Controversy
Susan Bordo – The Creation of Anne Boleyn: In Search of the Tudors’ Most Notorious Queen
Alison Weir – Mary Boleyn: The Great and Infamous Whore
Carolly Erickson – Mistress Anne
Eric Ives – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn
Francis Bacon – The Tragedy of Anne Boleyn
Love Letters of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn
Retha Warnicke – The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn
Josephine Wilkinson – Mary Boleyn: The True Story of Henry VIII’s Favourite Mistress
Josephine Wilkinson – Anne Boleyn: The Young Queen to Be
Elizabeth Norton – Anne Boleyn: Henry VIII’s Obsession
G.W. Bernard – Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions
Joanna Denny – Anne Boleyn
Marie Louise Bruce – Anne Boleyn
Josephine Wilkinson – Katherine Howard: The Tragic Story of Henry VIII’s Fifth Queen
Conor Byrne – Katherine Howard: Henry VIII’s Slandered Queen
Robert Hutchinson – House of Treason: The Rise and Fall of a Tudor Dynasty
Linda Porter – Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr, the Last Wife of Henry VIII
Shelf 5 – The Later Tudors
This shelf goes through Edward VI, Jane Grey, Mary I and Elizabeth I, onto Mary Queen of Scots and the English Reformation. As you can probably tell from the number of books on the later Tudors compared to the likes of Henry VIII, my primary focus is on the earlier period.
From left to right:
Hester Chapman – The Last Tudor King: A Study of Edward VI
Leanda de Lisle – The Sisters Who Would Be Queen: Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey
Nicola Tallis – Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey
Alison Plowden – Lady Jane Grey: Nine Days Queen
Anna Whitelock – Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen
Phil Carradice – Bloody Mary: Tudor Terror 1553-1558
J.A. Froude – The Reign of Mary Tudor
Alison Plowden – Elizabethan England
David Cecil – The Cecils of Hatfield House
Robert Stedall – Elizabeth I’s Secret Lover: Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester
John Guy – Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years
Anna Whitelock – Elizabeth’s Bedfellows: An Intimate History of the Queen’s Court
Carole Levin – The Heart and Stomach of a King: Elizabeth I and the Politics of Sex and Power
J.B. Black – The Reign of Elizabeth 1558-1603
David Birt – Elizabeth’s England
Robert Hutchinson – Elizabeth’s Spymaster: Francis Walsingham and the Secret War That Saved England
David Starkey – Elizabeth
Nicola Tallis – Elizabeth’s Rival: The Tumultuous Tale of Lettice Knollys, Countess of Leicester
Chris Skidmore – Death and the Virgin: Elizabeth, Dudley and the Mysterious Fate of Amy Robsart
Alison Weir – Elizabeth the Queen
David & Judy Steel – Mary Stuart’s Scotland
Mary Was Here: Where Mary Queen of Scots Went and What She Did There
Antonia Fraser – Mary Queen of Scots
Lynda Telford – Tudor Victims of the Reformation
Diarmaid MacCulloch – Reformation: Europe’s House Divided 1490-1700
Derek Wilson – A Brief History of the English Reformation
Shelf 6 – Palaces and Places
The bottom shelf currently stores largely my guidebooks and BBC History magazines, along with a couple of my more general history books.
From left to right:
David Souden – The Royal Palaces of London
Christopher Hibbert – Tower of London
The Private Life of Palaces
Simon Thurley – Houses of Power: The Places That Shaped the Tudor World
Suzannah Lipscomb – A Journey Through Tudor England
Nigel Jones – Tower: An Epic History of the Tower of London
Terry Deary – The Peasants’ Revolting … Crimes
Merry Wiesner-Hanks – Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe
Richard III and Henry VII Experience in York
Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens
The Jewel Tower
The Palace of Westminster
The Church of Saint Michael at Framlingham
St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
Tower of London
Hampton Court Palace
The Mary Rose
Imperial War Museum London
Are there any books missing that you would thoroughly recommend? Sound off in the comments!
‘Talking Tudors’ is a podcast by Natalie Grueninger, author of ‘Discovering Tudor London’ and co-author of ‘In the Footsteps of Anne Boleyn’ and ‘In the Footsteps of the Six Wives of Henry VIII’ with Sarah Morris. Along with Kathryn Holeman Natalie has also released two Tudor colouring books – ‘Colouring Tudor History’ and ‘Colouring Tudor History: Queens and Consorts’.
Natalie interviews guests about their particular interests and the Tudors in general. Each episode ends with “10 To Go” and a “Tudor Takeaway”, and at the beginning often starts with a piece of Tudor-inspired music.
The first 21 episodes guests and topics are listed below (everything live up to this date 8th February 2019).
Title/s: Prince of Wales / King of England and France
Birth / Death: 2 November 1470 – c.1483
Parents: Edward IV 1442-1483 & Elizabeth Woodville c.1437-1492
Siblings: Elizabeth of York, Queen of England 1466-1503 / Mary 1467-1482 / Cecily, Viscountess Welles 1469-1507 / Margaret 1472 / Richard, Duke of York 1473-c.1483 / Anne, Lady Howard 1475-1511 / George, Duke of Bedford 1477-1479 / Catherine, Countess of Devon 1479-1527 / Bridget 1480-1517
Noble Connections: Edward’s father was Edward IV, and his paternal grandfather was Richard, Duke of York. He was a descendent of John of Gaunt through this line. His maternal grandmother, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, was from the Burgundian royal family. His sister, Elizabeth, became Queen of England, and her husband, Henry VII, was Edward’s brother in law. Richard III was his uncle. Continue reading “Spotlight – Edward V”→
Philippa Gregory, David Baldwin and Michael Jones, The Women of the Cousins’ War: the Duchess, the Queen and the King’s Mother (London: Simon and Schuster Ltd, 2011), Hardback, ISBN 978-0-85720-177-5
Title: Although the book is called The Women of the Cousins’ War, the book only examines a few of them – Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Jacquetta of Luxembourg. It doesn’t look at Margaret of Anjou or Anne Neville in a lot of detail. Nevertheless, a good study of those it does examine in detail.
October 1399 8th Plantagenet king Richard II taken down the Thames – 1400 found starved to death.
Henry of Bolingbroke – Henry IV = right of kings undermined and whole dynasties collapsed – turned against each other and ended with the destruction of the dynasty.
1380s peasant’s revolt – Richard II forced to flee to the Tower.
Trigger = tax for war against the French.
Revolt against king’s councillors.
Simon Sudbury, Archbishop of Canterbury, seized and executed. The day after Richard met with the rebels, led by Watt Tyler. Tyler killed in a scuffle by the mayor of London.
Richard single-handedly halted rebellion = god-given right to rule.
Royal displays of kingship. Continue reading “My Notes from the third part of ‘The Plantagenets’ shown 31.03.2014 on BBC”→
Leanda de Lisle, ‘Tudor: the Family Story 1437-1603’ (London: Chatto & Windus, 2013) Hardback, ISBN 978-0-701-18588-6
Title: The title suggests that the book doesn’t just discuss the events of the reigns of the Tudors, but actually the people involved – the monarchs, consorts, politicians and wider royal family. The focus on the people offers a different perspective on the Tudor era.
Preface: The introduction/preface introduces the ideas that shaped the Tudor dynasty and the ideas that allowed them to come to the throne – namely the killing of kings. It also discusses the beginnings of the Wars of the Roses (the Yorkist and Lancastrian lines).
Edward V and Richard, Duke of York, were the only two surviving sons of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, who married in secret in 1464. Edward was born in 1470 and Richard in 1473.[i] Edward V was deposed by his uncle, Richard III, on 25 June 1483, and declared illegitimate the following year, along with his brother and sisters.[ii] It was said that Edward IV (their father) had been married before he married their mother, Elizabeth Woodville. There were also rumours that Edward IV was not himself legitimate.
In the Tower
Towards the end of June 1483 Edward V’s attendants were forbidden from seeing him, and both of the Princes were more rarely seen within the Tower.[iii] Before, they had been seen in the grounds shooting and walking in the gardens. There was an early attempt to rescue the Princes in the Tower in July 1483, but something went wrong in the planning.[iv] Continue reading “The Princes in the Tower – What Happened?”→