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The Six Wives of Henry VIII

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  45,513 Ratings  ·  1,201 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 ...more
Paperback, 643 pages
Published 1991 by Grove Press (first published January 1st 1980)
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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 GregoryWolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Best Books About Tudor England
2nd out of 528 books — 1,363 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)
100th out of 4,001 books — 5,777 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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karen
Dec 09, 2009 karen rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfictions
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
...more
Madeline
May 21, 2008 Madeline rated it really liked it
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
...more
Lavande
Oct 16, 2009 Lavande rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jane
May 02, 2013 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
...more
Tania
Sep 12, 2014 Tania rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Camilla
Mar 08, 2009 Camilla rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Sarah
Feb 04, 2011 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
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 ...more
Alexander Santiago
Oct 01, 2016 Alexander Santiago rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Yes
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 that gives breath and personality to each of Henry's wives, ...more
Brittany
Aug 25, 2011 Brittany rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, biography
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
...more
Siv30
Oct 20, 2015 Siv30 rated it really liked it
ערפו את ראשה. זה המוטו על פיו חי הנרי ה 8 אחד המלכים הססגוניים, המרתקים, המוכשרים והאכזריים ביותר בהיסטוריה האירופאית.

הספר סוקר את תקופת חיו ופועלו הפוליטי, הבינלאומי, הכלכלי ואת יחסיו הבינאישיים עם נשותיו ופלגשיו. הספר מקדיש חלק נרחב לתיאור חייהן, פועלן והתפיסות הדתיות של נשותיו.

אין ספק שהנרי בחר לו נשים חזקות ואינטיליגנטיות, למעט קתרין האוורד שמתוארת כריקנית וחסרת אינטיליגנציה (ואכן היא היתה מספיק טיפשה לבגוד במלך מתחת לאפו בזמן שהוא מאוהב בה עד מעל לאוזניו השמנמנות ). אך גם אין ספק שנשותיו נכ
...more
Orsolya
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
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nettebuecherkiste
England zu Beginn des 16. Jahrhunderts. Kronprinz Arthur soll mit der spanischen Königstochter Katharina von Aragon verheiratet werden. Doch wenige Monate nach der Hochzeit stirbt der Prinz. Da Henry VII. die Verbindung zum spanischen Königshaus unbedingt aufrechterhalten möchte, wird Arthurs jüngerer Bruder Henry, der nun auch der Thronfolger ist, mit Katharina verlobt. Die Verbindung steht jedoch von Beginn an unter keinem guten Stern, denn es gibt Gründe, die gegen ihre Rechtmäßigkeit ...more
Maryann
Sep 07, 2016 Maryann rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
School just started so I am not feeling up to a detailed, cohesive review. Here are some numbered complaints instead:

1) Weir interjects with what I can only assume is her own opinion on numerous occasions. (I counted 24.) She glosses over this by adding "probably" while not detailing why something "probably" was or was not true. I did not often mind this because she is obviously informed about her subject, but her own thoughts were not well integrated with...

2) ...the boring subject matter. And
...more
Scott Sheaffer
Dec 10, 2010 Scott Sheaffer rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
“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
...more
Jamie
Apr 11, 2010 Jamie rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Penélope
Mar 28, 2016 Penélope rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Okay, it was amazing.
7 REASONS OF WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK.

• If you like to know about history THIS is your book. It is so so so so great!!!!
• It’s a huge book but you can read it very very fast.
• The historical characters! Their stories are amazing, you can like them or not but i’m sure that at least you will try to “understand” their choices and theirs personalities.
• It is about The Tudors.
• You can learn A LOT.
• You will not get bored.
• You will love Alison Weir's writing.

Please read
...more
Elena
Jan 08, 2010 Elena rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Lisa
Jan 24, 2010 Lisa rated it really liked it
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
Alaine
Jul 25, 2009 Alaine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, library
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 ...more
Paul
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
...more
Andrew
Mar 27, 2008 Andrew rated it liked it
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 ...more
Corky Cobon
Apr 05, 2016 Corky Cobon rated it really liked it
A very interesting and thought provoking read about the 6 Wives of Henry VIII. For anyone that loves biographies, this hits it on numerous levels. For lovers of history, this is a must read.
1CheekyLass
It's always fun re-visiting this book. So much great historical detail and perfect narration. Henry VIII was an ogre. The most interesting wives are of course the first 3.
Nicole
Aug 07, 2016 Nicole rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
My respect for Anne of Cleves is strengthened.
Duffy Pratt
May 18, 2011 Duffy Pratt rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
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 ...more
Elena
The six wives of Henry VIII are a source of endless fascination for me. They are definitely among my favourite historical figures. I sincerely admire most of them, and even those to whom I relate less, like Jane Seymour and Catherine Howard, have always held a great interest for me. So of course I knew I had to read The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir sooner or later; and, after waiting for quite a lot of time, I finally gave in and bought it as a Christmas present for myself.

I immensely
...more
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
...more
Lukasz Pruski
Apr 07, 2013 Lukasz Pruski rated it really liked it
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,
...more
Lawrence
Jul 31, 2012 Lawrence rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
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
...more
Karen
May 11, 2015 Karen rated it really liked it
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 ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • The Wives of Henry VIII
  • Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne
  • The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn
  • Love Letters of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn
  • Bloody Mary: The Life of Mary Tudor
  • Jane Seymour: Henry VIII's True Love
  • The First Queen of England: The Myth of "Bloody Mary"
  • A Treasury of Royal Scandals: The Shocking True Stories of History's Wickedest, Weirdest, Most Wanton Kings, Queens, Tsars, Popes, and Emperors
  • The Sisters Who Would Be Queen
  • The Lady in the Tower (Queens of England, #4)
  • The Sisters of Henry VIII: The Tumultuous Lives of Margaret of Scotland and Mary of France
  • Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens
  • The Life of Thomas More
  • Elizabeth & Leicester: Power, Passion, Politics
  • Sex with the Queen: 900 Years of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, and Passionate Politics
  • Catherine of Aragon
  • Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile
  • Henry VIII: Man and Monarch
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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
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“Only during courtship might a woman briefly gain the upper hand, as both Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour did, but woe betide her if she did not quickly learn to conform once the wedding-ring was on her finger. The” 0 likes
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