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In the Lion's Court: Power, Ambition, and Sudden Death in the Reign of Henry VIII

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  89 ratings  ·  14 reviews
The story of Henry VIII and his six wives is a well-known example of the caprice and violence that dominated that King’s reign. Now renowned historian Derek Wilson examines a set of relationships that more vividly illustrate just how dangerous life was in the court of the Tudor lion. He tells the interlocking stories of six men—all curiously enough named Thomas—whose ambit ...more
Paperback, 608 pages
Published May 13th 2003 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2001)
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The story of Henry VIII's reign is most often told through his wives and that most famous of rhymes - 'Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived' - but Derek Wilson takes a different approach in this scholarly and enlightening book. He hangs his tale on a different sextet - his Six Thomases: Thomas Wolsey, Thomas Cranmer, Thomas More, Thomas Howard, Thomas Cromwell and Thomas Wriothesley. All of them attained the very heights of power and ambition under Henry VIII; all ran afoul of ...more
Ryan Groesbeck
An interesting book that examines the reign of Henry VIII from the perspective of "six Thomases" (Wolsey, More, Cromwell, Cranmer, Wriothesley, and Howard), rather than the more standard "six wives" approach. I was fairly familiar with 5 of the 6 (Wriothesley was the exception) but primarily checked this out of the library for a biography of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, who apparently is not awesome enough to merit a standalone bio that I was able to find. Wilson even comes up with a cute ...more
Karen Cox
Many of you are reading or watching "Wolf Hall." I can't prove that Hilary Mantel read this one, but this is the essential history book to understand the characters in Mantel's work. The book is about the six most important courtiers in Henry VIII's court, all of whom were named Thomas. Thomas Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell were commoners who rose far about their origins; Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk was uncle to both of Henry's executed wives, Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard. (He comes ...more
This is a very, very boring book. That's not to say it isn't good, because it is very good, it's just also boring, so if you don't like boring books, you probably won't like it. I don't always like boring books, but Henry VIII is pretty interesting, so I still enjoyed the book.

It's well know how Henry VIII went through and disposed of six* wives, many of whom were named Catherine, but it's less well known how he went through and disposed of advisers, many of whom were named Thomas. First, there'
A compelling book which combines strong academic insights with the best elements of popular historical writing. Rather than using the familiar approach of the six wives, Wilson takes six famous Thomases of the era—Wolsey, the accused traitor; More and Cromwell, at opposite ends of the politico-religious spectrum and both beheaded; Howard, reprieved from execution by the death of Henry VIII; Wriothesley, who perished in the aftermath of a failed coup; Cranmer, burnt at the stake as a heretic—to t ...more
Lauren Albert
Now, I don't know if Wilson pushed a bit to get his six Thomases (to match Henry's six wives that have been the focus of so much attention), or how central a couple of them were to the story. But he does show well that what happened during the reign encompasses a lot more than six marriages. The six Thomases were: Thomas Howard, Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Cranmer, Thomas Wyatt and Thomas Wriothesley. He also demonstrates how dangerous it could be to be in the lion's court.
Jun 14, 2012 Rose rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Nobody
Shelves: history
Should have been written in bullet points. It was so dry I couldn't finish it. I, who can plod through the ploddiest of all histories, couldn't plod through this. Made it about 1/3rd of the way through and gave up as a birthday present to myself. Probably the 3rd book I've ever left unfinished in my adult life.

Sorry, Mr. Wilson. I'm sure it was well researched, but it was not presented well at all.
Geo Forman
very tedious and filled with detail. it did provide information and insight into court of Henry VIII, which is what I was after so not a total waste. I'm sure it be more enjoyed by someone already familiar with Henry
"The Tudors" on Shotime (I think) introduced me to the family, but it was this book, bought on sale at the British Museum, that gave me my obsession with the Tudors and Henry VIII in particular.
Very ambitious undertaking. Included many of the figures of Henry's Court. Thorough coverage and exacting.
Julia Hendon
A dense but well researched study of the dangers of political success in Henry VIII's service.
This history book engaged me to the very end and read like a novel. Loved it!
Brings a depth to the historical account. Excellent.
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Derek Wilson has been a writer of historical fiction and non-fiction for 50 years. His much acclaimed prize-winning works have largely centred on 16th and 17th century Europe. He has used various pen names for his fiction, his current Thomas Treviot Tudor crime series being written under the name D.K. Wilson. The first 2 books in this series - The First Horseman and The Traitor's Mark are based on ...more
More about Derek Wilson...
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