This hefty (765 pages) history by David Starkey of the six wives of Henry the VIII of England--Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr--is a very useful primer for any fan of the Showtime Television series "The Tudors," and is invaluable in winnowing out the artistic license taken by that dramatic series and the true historical facts (or the facts as they have been recorded for history).
I purchased a paperback copy of Starkey's 2003 book (published in the U.S. by Harper Collins) from Amazon while following the fourth and final season of the series this spring. It is divided into three parts: roughly one-third of the book is found in its Part One ("Queen Catherine of Aragon"), which examines Henry's marriage to his first wife, his elder brother's widow and the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. Part Two ("Rival Queens") follows the process both legal and illegal, political and religious by which he shed Catherine to wed Anne Bolyen, whom he then supplanted with Jane Seymour. The final third of the book covers his brief marriages to Anne of Cleves (whom, despite its mention in nearly everything written about her, Henry never called "a Flanders mare") and Catherine Howard, and his final, relatively peaceful marriage to Catherine Parr.
Starkey writes in a concise, scholarly and highly readable style and the book includes a very nicely arranged middle section made up of reproductions of color portaits of many of the principals involved, which gives its readers a more honest representation of the physical charms (or lack thereof) of not only Henry but not a few of his wives.
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About the reviewer
Mary Wright (marysan)
American but grew up overseas.Work background is in publishing. Live on the Lake Michigan shore. Enjoy reading, cooking, films, doing research on the Internet, cooking. Trying to go as "green" … more
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