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The Rise of the Tudors: The Family That Changed English History

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  234 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
On the morning of August 22, 1485, in fields several miles from Bosworth, two armies faced each other, ready for battle. The might of Richard III's army was pitted against the inferior forces of the upstart pretender to the crown, Henry Tudor, a twenty–eight year old Welshman who had just arrived back on British soil after fourteen years in exile. Yet this was to be a figh ...more
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published January 14th 2014 by St. Martin's Press (first published May 13th 2013)
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Leanda Lisle
Jun 27, 2013 Leanda Lisle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although Richard III was five foot eight inches tall, his spine was so twisted he stood as short as four foot eight. Imagine him hacking his way towards Henry Tudor at the battle of Bosworth, a furious human pretzel, ‘small in body and feeble of limb’, a contemporary noted, he cut his way towards his rival, ‘until his last breath’.

Five million people in the UK watched the Channel Four programme The King Under the Car Park that first revealed Richard really did have slight bones, and one shoulde
If recent English history book shelves are solid indicators of trends, then it appears that the obsession with the Tudors has slipped backwards in time with a focus on how the Tudors came to gain the throne in the first place. Chris Skidmore joins this group of Tudor-background exploration in “The Rise of the Tudors: The Family That Changed English History”.

Having thoroughly enjoyed Skidmore’s book on Edward VI but not so much the book concerning Amy Robsart (sadly, because I love her); I was un
Nov 16, 2013 Russ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Battle of Bosworth, the last significant battle in the War of the Roses, has become the stuff of legends. Who hasn't seen Shakespear's dramatic reimagining in the play, Richard III? But there are two sides to this story and since only victors write history, the problem with Bosworth has always been teasing out fact from legend.

The Tudor kings and queens were, rightly, concerned with their image, and what better way to establish the validity of a new royal house than to have God sanction it
Apr 18, 2014 Louise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(I read the edition published under the title The Rise of the Tudors)

I had been looking for a clear narrative on the War of the Roses. At last, here it is! Chris Skidmore whose work I know through his books earlier books:Death And The Virgin: Elizabeth, Dudley and the Mysterious Fate of Amy Robsart and Edward VI: The Lost King of England has pulled this all together.

The first section shows the problems of the reign of Henry VI and Richard of York's reaction to the many slights and the costs he b
Athena Ninlil
The Battle of Bosworth Field is an enigma as for the location of the battle itself. With the name Bosworth not being cited until decades later to the point it had become common by 1534 when Polydore Vergil's History of England was published. Redemore, Ambion Hill -Crown Hill, Stoke. These are all synonymous to where the battle is supposed to take place to Sande Hill where Richard was unhorsed and killed in battle. Drawing from various accounts and archaeological evidence, Chris Skidmore tries to ...more
Oct 25, 2015 Sarah rated it it was amazing
I love the Tudor period however I have not read a great deal related to the reign of Henry VII so when I saw this book available on Amazon for a great price I just knew that I had to get it. And I will say that I am so glad that I purchased this book as it is one of the best books that I have ever read, not just about the early Tudor period but related to the Tudor period in general. Chris Skidmore’s book is a brilliant read, thoroughly researched and written in such a manner that once I started ...more
Pete daPixie
Five stars for a thoroughly researched, 'up to the minute' history. Published in 2013 and already a change in the sub-title from 'The Rise of the Tudors', my copy changed to 'The Birth of the Tudors'. The birth comes after a great labour from Chris Skidmore that takes us back to the boudoir of Catherine of Valois (widow of Henry V). The reader has around one hundred pages prior to the sudden demise of Edward IV. Then, all hell breaks loose. Richard Plantagenet's coup and Henry Tudor's manoeuvres ...more
Tony Riches
Jan 24, 2016 Tony Riches rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story of the Battle of Bosworth has to be one of the great examples of why we need to keep our wits about us when we study history. Supporters of Richard III argue that the record of events that summer’s day was distorted by the Tudors and, as Chris Skidmore points out, few of the chroniclers were present (or even alive at the time) and relied on the testimony of men such as Sir John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, who had good reason to emphasise the importance of his own role.

The Welsh bards were
Apr 12, 2015 Simon rated it really liked it
Not sure why this is being seen as Tudor "propaganda"; Skidmore has written a very well-researched story of the, well, rise of the Tudors. His description of the Battle of Bosworth itself is also good, considering that the battle (1) by all accounts only took two hours (2) had as a major component a prolonged failure to move on the part of the Stanley contingent, which while it must have been nerve-wracking as all get out for Henry Tudor and Richard III, doesn't lend itself to a lot of descripti ...more
Tudor Times
Jan 12, 2015 Tudor Times rated it it was amazing
In a nutshell…

A gripping account of the battle that brought the Tudors to the throne of England – ideal for readers who appreciate detail and non-partisan reflection.

Read reviews by Tudor Times at

Full Review

This is a superb account of the battle, beginning some 60 years earlier as the seeds of the Wars of the Roses were sown in Henry VI's incapacity for his great office, and carrying the reader along in a well-researched and detailed narrative that never
Sep 12, 2014 Caitlin rated it really liked it
Like many other historical readers, I have had a phase where I was obsessed with the Tudor dynasty. I read novels, histories, and biographies of those involved with the Tudors as well as the Tudors themselves. However, I was never able to understand the Cousin's War (more commonly called the Wars of the Roses) until I read this book.
For that alone, Chris Skidmore deserves 4 stars.
Another aspect I liked was the timeline of events since it allowed greater detail and more information about the act
Rachel Beaver
Beginning with the reign of Henry VI, this covers the entire struggle for power from Richard Duke of York, right up to Henry VII's victory at Bosworth.

Skidmore seems to be a Henry VII backer, and the pro-Richard sources downplayed or omitted (Kendall has given me high expectations). This makes his work appear to lack conviction and confidence. Would love to see an amalgamation of Skidmore & Kendall - the pro-Henry & pro-Richard sources, in context with the history of the York/Lancaster
Linda Humberstone
Jul 07, 2016 Linda Humberstone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: just-read
This is not just another book about Richard III, it is one of the best detailed history books I have read. It explains in detail the facts, foibles and fates surrounding the major characters that played important roles in the upheaval of the civil war that lead to the battle of Bosworth in 1485 and the resulting repercussions. One must admire the relentless ambition of Henry VII to occupy the throne and the dubious circumstances that made this possible. The fact that so many of Richard's knights ...more
An absolutely phenomenal book which surpasses by very high expectations!

I was surprised that Skidmore discusses the early part of the wars of the roses in great detail. Despite this, he did it incredibly well, with particular detail to the movements f the Tudors at this time, something perhaps not often discussed.

Relating to this, he often provided personal anecdotes of events which really brings the topic to life. For example, Henry when fourteen spoke to Commynes "since the age of five he had
Brian Page
Jul 30, 2013 Brian Page rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Masterful! The level of detail is simply breath-taking with such insights into the myriad subtle connections amongst the characters of all stations. Were this a work of fiction the editor would have protested that the plot was far too complex.
John Eliot
Jan 08, 2016 John Eliot rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. A very full account of the end of Richard III reign and start of Henry VII. Well researched, well written. I've read many books about Richard and Henry and I learnt a few new things here as well as looking at certain events from a different slant. A slight irritation, all historians that I have read say Richard's bones were found in a council car park, yes, but the area had also been a school playground. I along with tens of thousands of other boys played on his bones.
A very readable
Caveat--I have a chapter left to read, but I am saving that one for the day before book club meets. This was a great exploration of a topic with which I am not actually all that interested in. I have a hard enough time remembering the names of people I've met, much less English nobility. Plus, I cannot read battle descriptions, they go in through my eyeballs, and are immediately lost in the dark recesses of my brain. All that said, it was excellently written and made me want to research the old ...more
Jul 08, 2015 Pirate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nicely written and brings the principal characters to life, from Edward IV to mad Henry VI, Warwick the Kingmaker, Hastings and the Stanley brothers as well as the impressive uncle of Henry VII Japser Tudor. Learnt a lot about the intrigues of the court, not only in England but also in France and Brittany, then a powerhouse of Europe, the wavering loyaltiess as well as the climax at Bosworth where having been brought up on a tale of how Stanley betrayed Richard it wasn't quite as clear cut, yes ...more
Jun 29, 2015 Kyle rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A historical account of the events leading up to the establishment of the Tudor monarchy. I picked this up hoping to get a comprehensive account of the full Tudor dynasty, but this book only covers the rise of the first Tudor king and the 30 years of war and destruction beforehand. It is primarily concerned with the power struggle between the Lancaster and York houses, and how political events led to the unlikely rise to power of Henry VII (Henry VIII's father), including a long segment on the B ...more
Norman Revill
Feb 05, 2015 Norman Revill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yup, it's all here and you can't fault Skidmore's attention to detail, but then he is a historian, not a historical novelist, so there's tons of the stuff. Detail. About who did what and when and to whom, so that after a while it starts to teeter on the tedious. As a historian, he's keen to let us know what actually happened because he has the facts to prove it. And to that end, he's not a Ricardian. The last Plantagenet was a usurper, as far as he's concerned, who probably did organise the deat ...more
Mac Daly
Dec 29, 2014 Mac Daly rated it really liked it
For the Tudor fan or those who want to know more about the famous family. This could be called the prequel to the Henry VIII story.
Covering the 30 years prior to the reign of Henry VII, or the period known as the Wars of the Roses, there is more intrigue, murder, betrayal and marriage brokering than anything that took place in Henry VIII's time. The book ends with a section on the recent discovery of the bones of Richard III in a car park, giving some previous unknown details on how he died.
Myke Cole
A potentially great read, hamstrung. Skidmore's Bosworth has two major problems: 1.) hamstrung by a lack of primary sources, the author is forced to provide a dry recounting of events rather than the kind of in-depth character studies that engage readers. In the end, readers come to history for the same reason they come to fiction: because they want to know about *people*.

Some of this is not Skidmore's fault: Much of the action of the Wars of the Roses is between people "so lofty they shit marb
Mark Maguire
Aug 29, 2013 Mark Maguire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book represented an impressive foray into the mercurial ascendancy of Henry Tudor on a battlefield close to Bosworth.

The Author has produced what should be considered an authoritative review of the events leading up to Bosworth, including a balanced and fair assessment of the conduct of Richard III in the build-up to the battle, depicting Richard III as a monarch whom was aware of the fragility of his own rule, and eager to engage with Henry Tudor as soon as practically possible. This was
Mary Arkless
Sep 12, 2013 Mary Arkless rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I saw this reviewed in a national newspaper, where it was giving very strong praise. As it is in hardback - and a hefty one at that - I checked the library's catalogue online, and they had it. It was already being read by someone, but I was able to request it. If not, I probably wouldn't have read this book, and I would have been the poorer for it.

It is very pleasant to read, although there are a few typographical errors, which really should have been caught by any proofreader worth their salt.
Lauren Albert
Sep 18, 2015 Lauren Albert rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-british
The book was not about the Tudors but about how they rose--Skidmore covers the the people who surrounded them both royal and not. He is very good at showing the details that often get missed in popular histories. Who switched sides? When and why? He goes into the motivations of those directly and indirectly involved. I thought it an excellent book.
Cora Lee
Sep 01, 2013 Cora Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well-researched, and well-written (more narrative than textbook), I thoroughly enjoyed this book and Chris Skidmore's writing style. Evidence was presented and primary sources referenced whenever possible, often with reasons why the source was reliable or not, allowing the reader to come to his/her own conclusions (something I as a math teacher particularly liked).

There were a few mistakes, though they looked more like typos than lack of knowledge. For example, there is a reference to "Queen Eli
Mar 30, 2014 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
book written by historian that uses accounts from personal papers and chronicles to tell the story from the perspective of documentation. Story ends with the battle of Bosworth and also circles back to include the 2012 discovery of Richard III's burial place.
Anton Tomsinov
Military history is despised nowadays, so I hope that the author deliberately tried to appear as someone who has a very basic understanding of the medieval warfare. The title is misleading: about 3/4 of the book is simply a brief history of the Wars of the Roses with special attention to Tudor family. It is not better or worse than other short narratives. The most interesting part is the Bosworth campaign itself, but not the military part. It is a collection of personal stories about noblemen wh ...more
Dec 08, 2014 Joan rated it really liked it
An interesting read- it covers not just the battle, but the events leading up to it and the aftermath. It helped my understanding of a very complex time in British history. Very well reasearchedand yet readable.
James Maguire
Jun 07, 2014 James Maguire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A superbly written account of the battle of Bosworth. A must for anyone who takes an interest in the Tudor period. Chris Skidmore is an excellent writer of history.
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