Book Review – ‘Lancaster and York’ by Alison Weir

Alison Weir, ‘Lancaster and York: the Wars of the Roses’ (London: Vintage Books, 2009) Paperback, ISBN 978-0-099-54017-5

Alison Weir 'Lancaster and York'
Alison Weir ‘Lancaster and York’

Title: The title is very apt, as the book covers mainly the first part of the Wars of the Roses – when Lancaster and York were at war, and not the latter part where the war was between York itself (Richard III and the Princes in the Tower or Edward IV vs. the Duke of Clarence). It focuses on the role of Margaret of Anjou, and the conflicts between her and the Duke of York, which led to York triumphing over Lancaster.

Preface: The preface / introduction is quite short, but gives a quick overview of the main focal points of the Wars of the Roses, and explains where the idea came from to write about the Wars of the Roses when most of her books are written about the Tudors. Weir discusses the meagre amount of surviving sources, but then fails to build on that in the book itself.

Citations: There aren’t really any citations to speak of, which makes it difficult to track where certain information comes from. All there is is a general bibliography at the end, with a couple of family trees, which are useful as the period is a complicated one. What would probably have been more useful even than citations, particularly for a reader relatively new to the period, would have been a list of who was on the side of York and who was on the side of Lancaster. Continue reading “Book Review – ‘Lancaster and York’ by Alison Weir”

Book Review – ‘Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens’ by Jane Dunn

Jane Dunn 'Elizabeth and Mary' (2003)
Jane Dunn ‘Elizabeth and Mary’ (2003)

Jane Dunn, Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens (London: HarperCollins Publishers, 2003), Hardback, ISBN 978-0-00-257150-1

Title: The lives of Elizabeth and Mary are always tied together – noticeably because one queen orders the execution of another. They are tied together not only by blood (Elizabeth’s father and Mary’s grandmother were brother and sister) but by their rivalry over their respective countries and their queenship of the same.

Preface: Explores the surface relationship of Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I. Gives some background to them both, and the popular sources and existing biographies on the pair. It outlines the relationship between the two, and what caused them to develop a deadly rivalry. Gives an overview of what will be discussed in the book itself. Continue reading “Book Review – ‘Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens’ by Jane Dunn”

Book Review – ‘Catherine of Aragon: Henry’s Spanish Queen’ by Giles Tremlett

Giles Tremlett 'Catherine of Aragon' (2010)
Giles Tremlett ‘Catherine of Aragon’ (2010)

Giles Tremlett, Catherine of Aragon: Henry’s Spanish Queen (London: Faber and Faber Ltd, 2010), Paperback, ISBN 978-0-571-23512-4

Title: The book is exactly what the title suggests – a biography of Katherine of Aragon, who was Henry VIII’s first wife, and the only one who was Spanish. It was this Spanish connection which made it so difficult for Henry to divorce Katherine, because Katherine’s nephew was Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, the most powerful man in the world at  that time.

Preface: The preface pens with the thing that everyone knows about Tudor England – Henry VIII’s divorce from Katherine of Aragon so he can marry Anne Boleyn. Tremlett then moves on and looks at the changing political scene, the religious divisions due to the Reformation and the rise of Lutheranism, and Katherine’s popularity as Queen, compared to Anne Boleyn’s lack of popularity as Queen. Continue reading “Book Review – ‘Catherine of Aragon: Henry’s Spanish Queen’ by Giles Tremlett”

‘The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England’ Part 3 ‘Brave New World’

First Broadcast 14.06.2013

Ian Mortimer
Ian Mortimer

Ian Mortimer

Craftsmen, architects, writers, explorers, etc

Middle-classes who will radically alter our nation

Provinces – Stratford-upon-Avon = small-town merchants where money is king

Towns are driving social change

1570s buzz in the air, traders on the high street 6 days a week = wool merchants, butchers, bakers, tailors, etc


Great names of the age emerge from these towns – leave a lasting impact on society

William Shakespeare = upwardly mobile family, father a glover, tanyard at the back of the house

Unpleasant smells, chimneys come into vogue – can now heat every room in the home, can rise above one floor and keep them heated, cheap bricks Continue reading “‘The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England’ Part 3 ‘Brave New World’”

The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England Part 2 ‘The Rich’

First Broadcast 07.06.2013

Ian Mortimer
Ian Mortimer

Ian Mortimer

Elite of society

Paintings from the period focus on the rich – dancing, feasts, furs, silks

Confidence, privilege, wealth, power – doubt, uncertainty, fear

Those who have the most also have the most to lose

Hampton Court Palace = keeping up appearances, Elizabeth I inherited 20 palaces and gave 7 away, packed with the possessions of Henry VIII

Need a letter of introduction – need money

Strict hierarchy – status denoted by clothes, changed by the years, eclectic mix of styles from all over the continent

Queen encourages a feminine look, oversized codpieces gone, allowed to reveal cleavage, but not bare arms or legs = become more lavish as Elizabeth’s reign progresses Continue reading “The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England Part 2 ‘The Rich’”

The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England Part 1 ‘The Common People’

First Broadcast 31.05.2013

Ian Mortimer
Ian Mortimer

Ian Mortimer.

“Continual struggle to survive.”

Quarter of England was wild heaths, moors and forests – no roads, only paths. Dangerous.

Cottages were dark – no light, very basic. Earth floor, one fire always lit, very smoky, holes in walls.

Candles were expensive – most only had a few possessions, pots and pan, a bench, a basket, a straw mattress.

Hierarchical society = rigid class system ordained by God.

Yeoman employs workers and owns land. Husbander rents land. Labourers work on other people’s land.

Most people work on the land dawn until sunset.

Pay for a full day = 1 groat. Also equals 4p=4d. Chicken costs 4p a day to keep. Buys a small amount of ale a day, meat and fish for a week. Not enough to raise a family. Continue reading “The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England Part 1 ‘The Common People’”

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. Continue reading “Book Review – ‘The Tudors: History of a Dynasty’ by David Loades”

Book Review – ‘A Brief History of the Tudor Age’ by Jasper Ridley

Jasper Ridley 'A Brief History of the Tudor Age'
Jasper Ridley ‘A Brief History of the Tudor Age’

Jasper Ridley, ‘A Brief History of the Tudor Age’ (London: Constable and Robinson, 2002), Paperback, ISBN 978-1-84119-471-4

Title: This book is not a history of the Tudor monarchs, like so many history books are, but the age as a whole. It includes chapters on the likes of fashion, law-enforcement and vagabonds, for example. However, it is brief, as the title also suggests.

Preface: Unusually, there is no preface as such to this book. However, it does include a very helpful chronology for those not as familiar with the period.

Citations: These aren’t brilliant, as notes aren’t made within the text to suggest where information came from. There aren’t footnotes or endnotes, either, just a list of sources used in each chapter, which means that you can’t follow up where Ridley got certain pieces of information from. You just have to trust that he’s telling the truth. Continue reading “Book Review – ‘A Brief History of the Tudor Age’ by Jasper Ridley”

Book Review – ‘Mistress Anne’ by Carolly Erickson

'Mistress Anne' by Carolly Erickson (1984)
‘Mistress Anne’ by Carolly Erickson (1984)

Carolly Erickson, ‘Mistress Anne’ (London: Simon & Schuster, 1984) Paperback, ISBN 978-0-312-18747-7

Title: The title of this particular book is a little vague, not specifically about Anne Boleyn – could do with some clarification as it doesn’t specify which Anne through history. Apparently it comes from a letter where Anne is addressed as ‘Mistress Anne’, and it is what she was popularly known as before she was crowned as Henry’s queen.

Preface: The preface mainly explains why changes had to be made in the reissue of this book to account for more modern scholarship. The preface also explains the title as a term Anne was commonly known as in her own time.

Citations: Not brilliant – there must be more direct references that haven’t been listed. There is a comprehensive bibliography, but it isn’t listed as to which are actually used within the text itself, and which is further reading. Continue reading “Book Review – ‘Mistress Anne’ by Carolly Erickson”

Book Review – ‘Tudor: the Family Story’ by Leanda de Lisle

Leanda de Lisle
Leanda de Lisle

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).

Citations: The citations are very well done. They are clear and concise, and make it easy to find exactly the text you’re looking for. Divided down by chapter and then numbered within that makes it very easy. The extra information also included in the notes adds something to your knowledge. Continue reading “Book Review – ‘Tudor: the Family Story’ by Leanda de Lisle”