I was gifted Terry Deary’s previous book ‘The Peasants’ Revolting Crimes’ and I so enjoyed it that I knew I get to get this one when it came out and I wasn’t disappointed! I’ve always enjoyed Terry Deary’s style of writing, right from when I was little reading the Horrible Histories. He makes you feel engaged and want to read on.
What I like about this book, and the previous one, is that it is scattered with quotes, both contemporary and modern, related to what he’s discussing in any given chapter. This could feel disjointed, but Deary makes it work. It covers so many areas including education, warfare, sickness, work, entertainment, and courtship. You can really begin to get a sense of what things would have been like and how, when people say they would rather live in a past century, they haven’t really thought about what it would be like.
His focus on the peasants offers a new insight into the history we think we know – that of monarchs, politicians, and the nobility. We can begin to see what life would have been like for the bulk of the population, rather than focusing on a small percentage of the elite. It’s so well-written, but there was a small error I noticed when it was said that James II was the son of Charles II, rather than his brother! Overall, you could tell it was incredibly well-researched and that Deary was really engaged with his subject.
It’s thought-provoking in the sense that it’s a section of the population often overlooked and seeing how things didn’t really improve much through the centuries, just being trodden down in different circumstances, was quite an eye-opener. I would really recommend this, to find out more about a section of society which we don’t really focus on.
Thanks to The History Press for a copy of this book to review.
I really enjoyed this book. It’s a refreshing new look at the Tudor period through the objects that have survived. I’ve read several other books by John Matusiak before, including his biographies on Henry VIII and Thomas Wolsey. This one is my favourite because it is so different.
Objects examined in the book include the silver-gilt boar badge found at Bosworth, Lady Jane Grey’s prayer book, and a lock of Elizabeth I’s hair. These more famous artefacts are examined alongside things like a sun mask, a birthing chair, a pocket pistol, and the world’s oldest football. There are so many different objects and some that you didn’t realise even existed in this period.
There are images of all of the artefacts discussed and a discussion of each object, along with the context in which they would have been used and were discovered. Some are quite recent discoveries, like the bedhead of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, and others had been handed down through generations or are in museums. The history of these individual objects is almost as interesting as the contextual history.
The writing is clear and concise, giving plenty of detail without going overboard. I also like how each object has its own section, so no one object is given more attention and information than any other, even the more famous and well-known ones. In a way this book gives more attention to the lesser known and general objects because there are more of them, which is quite nice.
I would thoroughly recommend this to anyone with an interest in Tudor history or of historical objects and the history of them. One that I’ll definitely come back to!
- Dynasty, Politics, Nation
- Birth, Childhood, Marriage, and Death
- Women, Work, Craftsmen, and Paupers
- Food, Drink, and Fashion
- Home, Hearth, and Travel
- Culture and Pastimes
- Health and Healing
- Warfare, Weapons, and Defence
- Crime and Punishment
- Novelties and New Horizons