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The Six Wives of Henry VIII

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  33,337 ratings  ·  964 reviews
The tempestuous, bloody, and splendid reign of Henry VIII of England (1509-1547) is one of the most fascinating in all history, not least for his marriage to six extraordinary women. In this accessible work of brilliant scholarship, Alison Weir draws on early biographies, letters, memoirs, account books, and diplomatic reports to bring these women to life. Catherine of Ara ...more
Paperback, 656 pages
Published March 10th 2000 by Grove Press (first published January 10th 1991)
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The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa GregoryThe Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison WeirThe Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa GregoryThe Constant Princess by Philippa GregoryThe Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory
Best Books About Tudor England
2nd out of 425 books — 1,168 voters
The Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonFreakonomics by Steven D. LevittIn Cold Blood by Truman CapoteA Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill BrysonGuns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
Best Non-Fiction (non biography)
105th out of 3,042 books — 5,011 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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i have never before spent so long reading a book and having less to say about it at the end. before reading this book, what i knew about henry VIII came mostly from one pbs (week-long)special and the herman's hermits song, which turns out to be historically inaccurate and not actually about henry VIII at all. kids, don't get your historical information from novelty songs...

what i know: henry may be one of history's shittiest spouses - after reading this, i find myself able to cut warren zevon s
Extensively researched and fascinating - a must-read for anyone interested in the women behind Henry VIII, aka the patron saint of man-whores. (I just made that up on the spot, but it works so I'm keeping it)
Weir isn't completely unbiased in her description of Henry and his various women, but I can't blame her. With this family, it's hard not to take sides. This is especially clear when Weir describes the way Henry felt about Anne of Cleves, his wife for about ten minutes. Weir talks about how H
Where I got the book: purchased on Amazon UK.

Ah, I do enjoy an Alison Weir. I am not enough of a historian to have Opinions about history, so my comments are about the writing rather than historical merit, and the writing is good. Weir is always lively and entertaining, perfect for a recreational history reader like me, and I found myself zipping through this as if through a novel, even though I knew how each character's story ended!

It's strange, though, that my interest is always greatest up to
I’ve read some Phillipa Gregory and Hillary Mantel titles about Henry VIII and was totally entranced. Which is weird because I’m Afrikaans, live in South Africa, and never even had history at school. The only problem with the historical fiction titles, is that they only deal with one or two wives at a time, so I could never get a complete picture. I also wasn’t sure how much of the stories I’ve read was fictionalized. So I decided to try a non-fiction, and I was very impressed by Alison Weir. He ...more
This prodigiious work on the wives of King Henry the 8th of England is so well written. It reads like a novel of suspense, passion, treachery, European History, betrayal, obedience, faith, God and love. It did what I really enjoy in books--made me want to read more about other characters mention such as Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. Also to review maps and learn of the royalty of Spain, France, and Germany. Many words to be looked up to enhance your vocabulary as well. Learn about the fir ...more
Watch "The Other Boleyn Girl." Then watch an episode of "The Tudors." Afterward, immediately go to confession for such shameful and useless acts. Do penance by reading "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" to save your soul lest ye go through life thinking that the Tudors were all about bad acting and awkwardly placed sex scenes. Be warned that ye may lose friends when someone tries to talk to you about an episode of "The Tudors" and you turn it into a teachable moment about what *really* happened becau ...more
Alison Weir’s book is just fantastic. Instead of applying today’s moral standards, today’s laws, rules, views etc. onto the events that happened almost five hundred years ago Weir, at the beginning of her book, gives such a detailed outline of what life was really like back then. She talks about the roles and responsibilities of women, the expectations of Queens and mistresses and of those at court who all played a role in some way or another in the life of Henry VIII. You get an idea of what li ...more
This was a very lucidly written and entertaining history of Henry VIII's six wives. Weir's style is straightforward and factual, but her warm, wry tone come through occasionally in her word choice. This makes for a very conversational story, easy to follow, and engaging. In fact, it's what I had hoped Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France would be like.

Weir tries very hard to be balanced and manages for the most part not to pick sides between Protestant/Catholic/Church of England. Th
Although the fact that Henry VIII had six wives is remarkable alone; even more interesting is the unique personalities and lives of these six women. Alison Weir opens the door to the marital ups and downs of Henry and his partners in, “The Six Wives of Henry VIII”. Note: I initially read this book over a decade ago when I was less versed in Tudor history than I am now. Thus, this review is based on the impressions of one who has more knowledge on the topic during a second reading.

Alison Weir’s
Scott Sheaffer
“Off with their Heads” . . . Oh wait that wasn’t Henry the VIII or was it? Find out why Henry had the heads of two of his wives lopped off. Was it that they were unfaithful or because they were not considerate of the French term Ménage à trios or was he simply looking for a way out of a bad relationship and couldn’t bring himself to tell them that “it was over”?

What motivated these women to marry Henry knowing that if they didn’t please him they could/would be killed? Was the last wife of Henry
I bought Alison Weir's "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" to read at the beach one summer. I thought it would be helpful to have a refresher course on Henry VIII and his ladies from one of the best popular historical writers and scholars. I could hardly put it down. It surpasses most novels in readability and intrigue. Since Henry was married to Katherine of Aragon the longest, there is more about her and I learned more than ever before about that stubborn, passionate, implacable queen. The loss of s ...more
Ray Campbell
Excellent read. I have read several books that cover the lives of the Tudors and more specifically Elizabeth, Mary and Henry. However, none had done much with the wives of Henry VIII beyond Jane Seymour having been the mother of Edward VI. So I picked this one up and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Weir has written several first class histories on this period so there is much overlap. The first third of the book was not only familiar, but in some cases a direct re-tracing of steps. However, the details we
I am notoriously slow reading non-fiction (I still have not finished John Adams). So I gave this book 5 stars as I could not put it down. I read it in a week (and it is a substantial size book). It reads as nicely as any fiction (much like I thought seabiscuit was).

I learned so much about stories that I was a little familiar with already -- I just had no idea that they were in reality even crazier than I learned. Politics, deception, ambition, religion, and a tad bit of "crazy" make for some of
Alexander Santiago
Henry VIII, England's most famous and rougish king, takes somewhat of a back seat (though still figures prominently) while his six wives (their courtship, marriage, and their fate) are front and center by one of England's most preeminent storyteller of royal history. Intrigue, duplicity, executions, and, of course, Henry's marital infidelities that led to a major and cataclysmic reformation of religion in England, Weir weaves her spell the gives breath and personality to each of Henry's wives, a ...more
Paul Cheney
The rhyme that has stuck with me since school is divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. Which of course refers to the final outcome of each of Henry VIII wives.

This is a well reasserted book, packed full of details and anecdotes about the martial affairs of Henry VIII. Weir has gone into great depth, especially on the first two wives, Katherine of Aragon and Anne Bolyen. The book goes into detail on the character of the six ladies, and all the court intrigue and political postur
If you have any interest in history and the Tudors then you need to buy this book, it is fantastic. I was so impressed by the attention to detail, it gives you such a great understanding of Henry VIII and the Tudor court and of course his six wives. It is not like reading a text book, it is biographical and therefor very interesting. I borrowed it from the library and had it on audio, I started listening to it but switched over to reading it. By the time I was half way through the book I had ord ...more
Mar 27, 2008 Andrew rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: history buffs, feminists
Recommended to Andrew by: Lori
Shelves: history
Well, that was a lot of history. This was a new genre for me: serious non-fiction (humor is what has made non-fiction palatable for me in the past). It was certainly a little dry, but the Tudor court adds spice. The introduction presents an overview of life in the Tudor court, particularly for women. I was hoping more of the book would be like that, and for some kind of conclusion that sums up the lives of the six wives. I'm not entirely sure why I was hoping for a sixth grade essay, but the boo ...more
I became interested in the reign of Henry VIII after watching the Showtime series, "The Tudors." After reading Alison's Weir's well-researched book about the six wives of Henry VIII, I can understand why so much has been written about the period and why it still fascinates more than 500 years later. King Henry was married to his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, by far the longest, and I'd always assumed it was simply his infatuation with Anne Boleyn that made him discard Katherine. Katherine was ...more
Lukasz Pruski
Alison Weir’s “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” is a monumental work. It is a history book, not a historical novel. It is a serious work of non-fiction. Ms. Weir spent four years researching for this book. The bibliography takes 37 pages, and the list of actual sources takes 28 pages. She must have spent over a year just writing this voluminous book. The quality of the book clearly reflects the tremendous amount of research work.

I do not believe it is particularly appropriate to review this serious,
Brittany B.
4.5 stars!

5 stars for the narration

(Well, the internet page just closed, and I lost a review that I worked on for about an hour and a half.
So I am greatly peeved.)

The Six Wives of Henry VIII is an excellent, accessible nonfiction historical biography. Considering that this is my second time reading it, I can easily call this book a page-turner!! It unfolds like a carefully-crafted novel; a fabulous retelling of the allegorical Bluebeard. Thus, The Six Wives of Henry VIII definitely lends credib
Duffy Pratt
I really liked this, and especially liked the fairly even handed treatment Weir gave to these people. But there is one notable exception. Compared with everyone else, Weir seemed to take delight in Thomas Cromwell's execution and even in the fact of the executioner botching the job and taking two swings of the axe to finally sever his neck. With others, Weir seems to see both sides of a person's character. But, for her, Cromwell was Henry's evil genius, and she seems to think ill of Cromwell eve ...more
My short synopsis, with tongue firmly in cheek, that I put on Facebook:

Currently reading a book about the 6 wives of Henry VIII. On the 3rd wife, and so far nobody's coming out of this well. Katherine A put her own pride above the good of the country, Anne B was a heartless manipulator who was hoisted by her own petard and Jane S was quick to press for the death of Anne to further her own political motives. Charming bunch who frankly all seem to have deserved their fates: marrying the equally di
This is a really well written, clear and concise account of Henry VIII's six wives. I actually used it as a companion to [Book: The Autobiography of Henry VIII with Notes by His Fool Will Somers] just incase I lost my way with who's who.

With it being non-fiction I found it easy to dip in and out of and Weir clearly know her stuff. I never once felt either out of my depth or partonised (which can piss me off badly) and Weir always gives unbiased information. I partiularly liked the introduction w
I very much enjoy Alison Weir's biographies and historical research, and this was very good. Of course, as all Henry VIII and his wives studies go, the majority of the text is re Anne Boleyn first, and Katherine of Aragon second, even though their orders as wives was reversed. His marriage to Anne basically developed Henry into the King he became, and changed England forever. It was the most formative time of his reign, and just plain makes a great story. I happened to have been reading this whi ...more
This is the first time I have read any of Alison Weir's work. Saying that, I was enthralled and gripped from the first page.
Each Queen is dealt with individually and sympathetically. The longer chapters are given over to Katherine of Aragorn and Anne Boleyn, due to the length of reign and torturous treatment they received at the hands of their King. Would Henry and Anne have had a happier life together if they did not have to wait 6 years to be married is debatable. It did not help matters as th
Very interesting the way people lived in this Tudor era. It has peeked my interest in this time period and because of it I started watching the Tudors on showtime. I wish the book read more like a novel because at times it could be very difficult to read and found myself have to look up a lot of words. Overall I am glad I read it and wished I had payed a little more attention in school. Lol
Janne Varvára
I basically haven't put this book down since I started it. I've always been interested in history and Tudor history in particular, but it does take a certain writer to piece together a very confusing time of upheaval and change to make it understandable to modern day readers. It accomplishes this completely.

It is very easily read, and technically and lingually flowing and seamless.
It's also obviously very well researched and nuanced in its storytelling, and shows both understanding and respect t
♡ Yvette ♡
A lengthy but fascinating read.
Nov 10, 2010 Rebecca rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tudor lovers, history lovers
Apparently it took me over a year to read this book. Ack! This lengthy tome kept my attention through-out, it just took so long because, well, it's long! And I kept primarily reading fiction works in between sections of this. I've just recently discovered a love for history, Tudor era history especially, and this book was a great start to the genre.

I've primarily disliked history reading as I always found it packed full of information like names, dates, places, and people, and find it horribly d
Feb 22, 2011 Cindi rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
I finally read Alison Weir's The Six Wives of Henry VIII. My sister-in-law sent me a copy of this book almost a year ago and I've been trying to fit it into my reading schedule since then. My college roommates and I decided to read it this month for our long distance book club.

I was fairly familiar with the story of King Henry VIII's second wife Anne Boleyn, although mostly the tabloid-style rumors associated with her rise and fall. The history and stories surrounding the other five wives were n
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The Wives of Henry VIII vs The Six Wives of Henry VIII 4 27 Nov 09, 2014 11:54AM  
  • The Wives of Henry VIII
  • Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII
  • The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn
  • Anne of Cleves: Henry VIII's Discarded Bride
  • The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England's Most Notorious Queen
  • Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen
  • The Sisters Who Would Be Queen
  • Love Letters of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn
  • Great Harry
  • Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation Of The Wives Of Henry VIII
  • Elizabeth & Leicester: Power, Passion, Politics
  • The Tudor Chronicles: 1485-1603
  • Catherine of Aragon: The Spanish Queen of Henry VIII
  • The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn: Family Politics at the Court of Henry VIII
  • The Tudors: The Complete Story of England's Most Notorious Dynasty
  • The First Queen of England: The Myth of "Bloody Mary"
  • Catherine of Aragon
  • The Sisters of Henry VIII: The Tumultuous Lives of Margaret of Scotland and Mary of France
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Alison Weir (born 1951) is a British writer of history books for the general public, mostly in the form of biographies about British kings and queens. She currently lives in Surrey, England, with her two children.

Before becoming an author, Weir worked as a teacher of children with special needs. She received her
More about Alison Weir...
Innocent Traitor The Life of Elizabeth I The Lady Elizabeth Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life Henry VIII: The King and His Court

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