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Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII
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Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  830 ratings  ·  67 reviews
The women who wed Henry VIII are remembered mainly for the ways their royal marriages ended: divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.

This book helps to restore full humanity to these six fascinating women by applying the insights of feminist scholarship. Here they appear not as stereotypes, not simply as victims, but as lively, intelligent noblewomen doing
Paperback, 231 pages
Published May 3rd 1995 by Da Capo Press (first published 1995)
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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
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,950)
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Jenn (Booksessed)
Okay, I should preface by saying that I am a history junkie, and that Tudor England is my drug of choice. Seriously, it’s like my crack. I know all the major players, I know how most historians view each person, I know who participated in who’s downfall. I’m the person to go to for any Tudor related question. I’m also the person who loved the tv show The Tudors because of all the sexy men but grumbled about the historical accuracies, mostly due to the timeline. Also, I love the Spanish Ambasador ...more
Eh. It's kind of interesting, but it was supposed to be some groundbreaking feminist take on the wives of Henry VIII...besides focusing on THEM rather than HIM, I didn't see anything in the book as a radical new feminist reinterpretation.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jess Gofton
3.5 Stars.

A very interesting read, but I would have liked the chapters to be longer and to include more specific detail about each of the Queens than it did. That being said, it was a lot of fun to learn about the women around the Queens and the Tudor court at the time.
Sep 23, 2012 Joan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: English history fans and feminists
I found this book ok but that is all. I didn't find out much new information, simply some reinterpretation of old information. I am not so sure that I completely buy that Henry VIII was an egotistical SOB and nothing else. He ruled a difficult country successfully for many decades and even this author admitted that people were genuinelly grieved by his death. Was he egotisitical? well, yes, of course. In his position, how could he not be egotistical, the most important person in the entire count ...more
If it deals with British history, I, like Ron Burgundy, will read absolutely anything that's put in front of me, so I know my shit when it comes to the Tudors. I picked this one up because it offered a new take on the traditional narrative on the six ladies unlucky enough to be Henry's bride.

Normally, I steer clear of modernist takes, especially feminist re-workings, as these often attribute modern attitudes and social norms on historic people and societies. That said, Lindsey's book had some
Mar 14, 2010 Brigid rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those interested in an overview of Henry VIII's wives
The more I thought about the content of this book, the less I liked it. It purports itself as a "feminist reinterpretation" of Henry VIII's collection of wives. However, because the author does not make more than a handful of references to source material, the reader does not feel the presence of Andrea Dworkin, Gloria Steinem or Adrienne Rich. We hear, instead, the voice of the author herself passing judgments that, though not all that controversial, do not ring of researched or informed rhetor ...more
A good quick read for those interested in Henry VIII and English history. Most historical non-fiction is so long-winded that ones tends to forget almost anything they learned through the book, but the author kept her facts brief and had an interesting modern day spin on a lot of topics brought up. I do think her some of her interpretations were a bit far-fetched, but overall a quick and interesting read on those poor women who fell victim to Henry VIII.
Tessa Hunter
I wanted so badly to enjoy this book. And, in some points, I did! Especially when opening the book found me face to face with a chapter with the label of "Margaret Beaufort: Kingmaker". The real issue was, outside of this, the author didn't introduce any new information. She wrote detailed chapters full of waxed poetic over Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn because it's easy to paint such women under a feminist perspective.

But what happens with the women who have received less attention?

Jane S
Madison Park
I read this book for AP Euro History. We had to pick one of the options and I chose this one.
I was very interested in the claim of it being a 'feminist' reinterpretation. Truthfully, I went into the book not believing this claim. Nevertheless, Henry VIII is known for having many wives and I had always been interested in the story.
Truthfully, it was an interesting read. Lindsey managed to keep me engaged and it almost seemed like a story of a spoiled king who courted different, yet strong, women.
My book blog ----->

Do not be fooled. This is not a 'feminist reinterpretation' of anything. In fact, it is an insult to the feminist movement to call this a feminist reinterpretation. In truth it is a thinly veiled attempt to once again make Anne Boleyn a victim, and be wholly sympathetic to the emerging Protestant cause in the last years of Henry's reign (that being said, I myself am of a Protestant persuasion, so that in itself is not the problem. Th
We're all familiar with the six wives of Henry VIII and how they died. But have you ever thought of the women themselves and how they felt about marriage to such a selfish and egocentric King? How did the split in religious ideas of the time (Catholic vs Protestant) affect them? Were their lives constrained by religious beliefs and the social structures of the time?

Karen Lindsey has written a well-researched book about these women (and others) who lived and were affected by the royal court of K
Jul 17, 2011 Kim rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: women's history surveyists, tudor england enthusiasts
Shelves: tudor-nonfiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I don't read a whole lot of history, but I generally enjoy it when I do. This I had a really exceptional time with. The writing was clear with very few digressions, which is great for someone (me) who doesn't have a really solid background in British History. I would have sometimes like a little more detail, but I really can't complain. I thought this was a very fair feminist interpretation (of course even when reading the most flattering biographys I've always felt that "king Hal" was at best d ...more
Mary Catelli
Despite the subtitle, it's an investigation into what can be reconstructed of their character and their interactions with the king. It's very hard on Henry, but never without evidence. (I'm using her spellings. She used the irregular orthography of the day to separate the women of the same name with different spellings.)

It actually opens with his grandmother Margaret Beauford and her intrigues to put her son, Henry VII, on the throne. And it ends with the reign of Elizabeth, having briefly gone
Okay, so a month ago I gave in and starting Netflixing "The Tudors." For reasons I can't even explain, I've been completely drawn into this world. Last week I had some kind of food poisoning and in my state of delirium/vertigo I had strange nightmares about beheadings, childbirth, etc. On Tuesday at our beer-induced trivia night I was waiting on pins and needles for a Henry VIII question to pop up, but nada.

Anyway, this book gave me some verification that the series has historical merit, and gav
Jan 06, 2015 Meaghan rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: feminists
This book was feminist claptrap. The author is not a trained historian and her feminist bias was obvious throughout this book. All the women were GOOD, and all the men were BAD, and Lindsey went to great lengths to show them as being this way all the time, and made up flimsy excuses when the women (rather than the men) behaved badly. She excused Catherine Howard's adultery on the grounds that her life would have been "unbearable" if she couldn't get all the sex she wanted. She also completely ig ...more
Suzanne Hakeos
I have always been a fan of 1500's English and Scottish History. Henry VIII is quite a character that as I learned more about him I was drawn to the stories of each of his wives.

One marriage proposal to a princess was returned with her remarking that she would only accept if she had two reference to the beheading of his second wife. Though he did have two beheaded by the time he was done.

I have many Tudor biographies in my collection but I have to say if you want a great overview of
Helene Harrison
ISBN? - 9780201408232

General Subject/s? - History / Tudors / Women / Politics

Title? - Not really a feminist interpretation, more just a focus on the women rather than the men around them.

General Analysis? - Although the idea of a feminist history of the wives of Henry VIII was a good idea, I don't think Karen Lindsay executed it very well. Most of the book was vague, particularly for the wives where there is the most information available (Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn), and I felt that sh
I've read so much about Henry VIII and seen so many movies and tv shows so I was wondering how (if?) this book might give a fresh perspective of historical figures I feel like I know so well. While the beginning coverage of Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn seemed like the usual fare, I really appreciated the analysis of the later wives. The "feminist reinterpretation" was in no way heavy-handed or obvious--it may have been fresh in the early 90s but now I question the need for that subtitle. ...more
I liked that she tried to tackle this issue that women in history (especially the six wives) have been treated pretty harshly by biographers and historians. That she tried to portray them in a more realistic and humanistic light. But I think she was patting herself on the back too early when I feel like she didn't tackle what she set out for.

I think she still had a bias towards the women and that she should have expanded on the different opinions of them and gone deeper into their actions. Inste
I read this book, after just watching the 4 seasons of "The Tudors" on DVD. This book told what really happened, when in some cases "The Tudors", strayed from history. The book was a little dry, and it took a while to get through it, but since I just wanted the history of the 6 women that Henry the VIII married, this was an excellent book for that.
Stephanie Jewett
A toe-dip introduction to the 6 women who had the misfortune to marry Henry VIII. The subtitle says it's a feminist reinterpretation, but I didn't get a very feminist vibe from it- other than the fact that the author gives each of the women (except for Jane, who is a bit of an enigma) credit for having some brains and a personality outside of that of "queen". Quick, interesting read.
Tracey Sinclair
While not as radical as it might have seemed when published - since most modern histories adhere to its views of Henry as tyrant and his wives as more nuanced than they used to be portrayed, and certainly more sinned against than sinning - this is an easy to read but well-researched look at Henry's wives.
Dominique Lamssies
This is a fine book, but having read this after several other books on the Tudors and taken a class in college, I didn't find anything new or novel about Lindsey's interpretation of things. This book didn't really impress me, but still covers the history solidly.
Conor Byrne
Very interesting and insightful book, with an engaging and lively writing style. I particularly enjoyed the section on Katherine Howard, although other aspects of the book were not as innovative in providing a feminist perspective of the wives and their actions.

I also think this book needs to be taken with a pinch of salt - it is not academic and does not reflect the values, ideals and beliefs of sixteenth century England. The spelling is also a little bit annoying - 'Ann' Boleyn? However, all
Divorced, Beheaded, Survived is an easy, quick read and would serve as a good introduction to Henry VIII and his six wives. However, the book is short on the meaty historical details. The book's thesis is feminism, not history, but unfortunately it is light on the feminist perspective as well. I saw only a few points, mainly related to Katherine Howard, that hadn't been previously covered in the traditional biographies. Readers already familiar with the Tudors aren't likely to find this book enl ...more
Well, I really liked this one: very readable, and chock-full of interesting tidbits I didn't know.
Christina Volkoff
I went back to this book after spending the past year doing research for my senior thesis, which is set in War of the Roses, hoping to do myself a favor and clear my mind for a while.

Yeah, no. I started to notice little factual errors almost from the get go, and had to put the book down before my little history major heart exploded.

I'll probably come back and do a better review of this book when I get the chance. But for now, just know that I'm labeling it as utter crap.
This nonfiction book is a lively summary of the lives of Henry VIII's wives. Even though I have read a lot of Tudor period historical fiction and many of Alison Weir's nonfiction books, I find I sometimes get lost in the dates, friends, foes, politics and religious factions of the times, but this book makes many of those details easy to remember and understand. Karen Lindsey's feminist reinterpretation is an interesting view of the period. Recommended for Tudor history fans.
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  • Anne Boleyn: Henry VIII's Obsession
  • The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn: Family Politics at the Court of Henry VIII
  • Catherine Howard: The Queen Whose Adulteries Made a Fool of Henry VIII
  • 1536: The Year That Changed Henry VIII
  • Henry VIII: Man and Monarch
  • Mary Tudor: The Spanish Tudor
  • Tudor Women: Queens & Commoners
  • Katherine Howard: A Tudor Conspiracy
  • The Mistresses of Henry VIII
  • Tudor Queens of England
  • The Last Days of Henry VIII: Conspiracies, Treason and Heresy at the Court of the Dying Tyrant
  • Mistress Anne
  • Edward VI: The Lost King of England
  • Anne Boleyn
  • The Sisters of Henry VIII: The Tumultuous Lives of Margaret of Scotland and Mary of France
  • The Fifth Queen
  • The Tudors
  • Vengeance Is Mine: A Novel Of Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard, And Lady Rochford  The Woman Who Helped Destroy Them Both

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