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The Tudors: The Complete Story of England's Most Notorious Dynasty

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  7,245 Ratings  ·  374 Reviews
For the first time in decades, here, in a single volume, is a fresh look at the fabled Tudor dynasty, comprising some of the most enigmatic figures ever to rule a country. Acclaimed historian G. J. Meyer reveals the flesh-and-bone reality in all its wild excess.

In 1485, young Henry Tudor, whose claim to the throne was so weak as to be almost laughable, crossed the English
Hardcover, 612 pages
Published February 23rd 2010 by Delacorte Press
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Claire M.
Aug 14, 2010 Claire M. rated it really liked it
I was a history major at U.C. Berkeley, and my specific field was English Tudor-era history, so you can imagine that a huge hunk of my bookshelves are devoted to this subject. There is something of an embarrassment of riches on this topic, from J. J. Scarsbrick's definitive biography on Henry VIII to Antonia Fraser's book on Mary, Queen of Scots. I can say with confidence that there isn't a popular history of the Tudors that has been published that I haven't read, and I've read a great number of ...more
While author G.J. Meyer would be the first to admit that there is no way to cram the minutiae of more than a century of history into a single volume. However, he's captured a whole heck of a lot in this book. Furthermore, as promised, The Tudors: The Complete Story of England's Most Notorious Dynasty is not just the Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn show. Frankly, “The King's Great Matter” (the euphemism employed by those in the know to refer to the whole Catherine/Anne annulment debacle) doe ...more
May 20, 2010 John rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, history
Historically accurate perhaps, though incredibly slanted.

Henry VIII was a bully/monster/tyrant. Period. End of Story. Most of the coverage of his reign focused on the men around him, and their roles in enforcing the break with Rome, as well as persecution of monks during the dissolution of the monasteries.
Edward VI was a fervent Protestant, but ... that was okay as he truly respected his sister Mary (in spite of their religious differences) - not a syllable to acknowledge the fact that (accordin
Rebecca Huston
This book is bad. It reeks, it is derogatory to its subjects, it insults the reader, and the author is pushing his own agenda here. I really wanted to like this one, and went into it with some optimism that I could learn something new. But no, the author is fixated on religion here, especially in what makes evangelical protestantism different from everyone else. I could have handled this much better if the same amount of space and effort had been devoted to five (almost six) Tudor monarchs -- He ...more
May 21, 2012 CS rated it it was amazing
"The Tudors" is not exactly a "complete" story, as the title promises, but it is a very entertaining and illuminating look at the socio-political life and times of the Tudor dynasty (if a family that dies out after three generations can be called a dynasty.)

I'm a huge fan of putting history into context rather than the usual dull recitation of chronological events, and on that account "The Tudors" excels. While Meyer more or less does stick to a chronological approach in his main chapters, he in
Apr 10, 2010 Jodi rated it liked it
Not sure what to rate this book. Meyer promises to write a book that doesn’t dwell on Henry VIII and Elizabeth like all other authors do and then spent about 300 of 569 pages on Henry –focused on the “King’s Great Matter”. Would have enjoyed more on Henry VII.
Elizabeth was not admired at all by this author (actually not too many of the women in power were—John Knox’s influence perhaps) to the point that any characteristic or action of hers was placed in a negative light. But what irked me about
Feb 04, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
I have to admit that I was a little daunted when I first picked up this book to read. Not because of the size of the book (it is over six hundred pages and my edition is hardcover and rather big) but because of the sheer amount of information that was held within the pages. In this book Meyer aims to cover one hundred and eighteen years of Tudor monarch history. Considering all the momentous changes that Henry VIII alone brought to England, I could only imagine how much information would need to ...more
Oct 17, 2010 Manuel rated it really liked it
I was really pleasantly surprised by this book. I picked it up expecting an ode to joy to the soap opera style of history as told in the silly TV series of the same name.

What I got was a comprehensive look at the background stories often overlooked by many writers, who portray Henry VIII as a romantic rogue or portray Elizabeth's reign as a golden era of domestic bliss.

I must admit my knowledge of Henry VII was sketchy before I picked up Meyer's book. He did a wonderful job laying the ground wor
Mar 08, 2011 Maja rated it did not like it
Definitely not impressed. Quite the opposite as a matter of fact. First let me comment on the content of the book. If you're looking for a book describing the Tudors as a dynasty, or the overall Tudor era, you have definitely picked up the wrong book. This one only works with the religious aspect of the Tudor reign. Not much else is a addressed. I was appalled at how little Henry VII was explained, though the author himself notes, that it's a problem, that he is so often ignored by other authors ...more
Raquel Monteiro
Nov 22, 2011 Raquel Monteiro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I've always been interested in the history of the Tudor dynasty, in particular its most notable monarchs, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, and started reading the book thinking that I was very well informed on the subject. Then I (quickly) realized that I was wrong.

The book demystifies the image that is conveyed in the movies and series and presents a much harder and less glamorous vision of the two monarchs. I saw the Showtime series a few years ago and loved it, only to discover now that it manipul
Mar 12, 2010 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
I'm a big Anglophile and especially enjoy reading non-fiction of the different English royal dynasties and this caught my eye at the library as being entertaining as well as informative - good combination when reading about history in general.

I'm about 50 pages into it and am really enjoying it. It's well-written and holds your attention (if you thought political shenanigans of today are out-of-control, believe me, it was just as crazy, if not more so, back then. And extremely brutal and bloody.
Burton Bargerstock
Jul 23, 2011 Burton Bargerstock rated it liked it
Shelves: social-science
I enjoyed Meyer's book. It's an extraordinarily accessible piece, demanding little previous study of the period. I agree with others who have pointed out that the author spends most of his time (detail and commentary) on Henry VIII, and that this is unfortunate. After reading it, Henry seemed much more three dimensional than Elizabeth. This is curious, given the author's assertion at the outset of the importance of considering the entire dynasty as a whole. Still, there is much to commend here. ...more
Andrew Obrigewitsch
May 06, 2014 Andrew Obrigewitsch rated it really liked it
Shelves: educational, history
The tutor's where blood thirty, back stabbing, highly destructive to their own friends, selfish and above all else foolish.

This book just proves politics haven't changed one bit since then, and that history texts are pretty much just propaganda until enough time has passed that no one will get offended when the truth comes out.

Recommended reading.
Moon Rose
Mar 16, 2013 Moon Rose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Moon Rose by: Goodreads
There is truth when they say that history is written by the winners as this obviously factual statement can be rendered best to the enigmatic and short reign of the Tudor clan in England, considered by many as the Golden Age despite the conspicuous evidence provided otherwise...
It matters also that both Henry and his daughter Elizabeth were not just rulers but consummate performers, masters of political propaganda and political theatre. They created, and spent their lives hiding inside, fiction
Jan 26, 2012 Lizbet rated it liked it
Meyer declaimed several times that THIS book would cover the entire Tudor dynasty. He said that too many books on the period focused on Henry VIII or Elizabeth exclusively, so he wanted to produce a biography of the dynasty rather than of the individual members in it.

I'm less impressed with that from the outset because my first good grounding in Tudor history was the middle book of a trilogy of popular history books by Mary M. Luke. (I never read the first or third as compulsively, but I devoure
Harry Allagree
Feb 02, 2014 Harry Allagree rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having read Meyer's book on the Borgias led me to this book, and he certainly doesn't disappoint. He has an incredibly smooth writing style, repetitious enough on names and dates that you don't get mixed up, yet not overbearing. His portrayal of Henry and Elizabeth, especially, clarified some of my own muddy thinking about them, not to mention his excellent assessment of the years of the whole Tudor dynasty. His research seems extremely current, and he allows for further understanding & inte ...more
Apr 19, 2015 Dawn rated it really liked it
One of my favorite parts of this authors books are the extra historical content he supplies in between chapters. These often end up being far more interesting and informative than the surrounding chapters.
I consider myself fairly well informed about the Tudors, in a general way, most of the information about Elizabeth, her sister and her father were known to me already.
I didn't know much about the founder of the dynasty and this book did not add to that knowledge much. Very little is said abou
Feb 24, 2011 Lady rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, royals
The Tudors - all five of them, excluding the obscure Jasper Tudor, an ancestor of Henry VII - were all snakes. Poisonous, murderous, selfish, extravagant, cruel, heartless snakes. Even the beloved "Virgin Queen" (virgin my ass) was dismissive of the plight of her subjects, cruel in her persecution of Catholics (she executed over a thousand people), spiteful, vain, and self-centered - and her reign was comprised of one disaster after another. Not at all like the popularly viewed "golden age of En ...more
Joe Faust
May 26, 2015 Joe Faust rated it really liked it
Henry VIII woth not a goode king,
A murd'rous scoundrel and rapscallion he,
Neither prized were his daughters two.
Yet this account of their woes,
By one accomplish-ed scribe,
Fascinates as if passing a wreck-ed ox carte,
And doth not fail to enchant.
Jan 18, 2017 Jeff rated it really liked it
3.5 Stars

This was a very detailed book that I learned quite a bit from about the Tudors. I had a pretty good working knowledge of the Tudors, but this book went into more detail. It gave background on a lot of the influential people around them, some I'd heard knew of, some I hadn't. However, it was at times very dry at times and lingered on certain aspects too long for my taste, not b/c I didn't like it but b/c focusing on them so long seemed superfluous. All in all if you like the Tudors from
Jun 16, 2011 Monica rated it really liked it
Fascinating account, especially of Henry VIII, but of all the Tudors. The information on Henry VII is a bit skimpy, but we get a very full, and an unambiguously derogatory, portrait of Henry VIII, which comprises the longest portion of the book. Meyer presents quite enough evidence to prove that the man was a monster, basically a sociopath, who could have cared less about his kingdom, his friends or his people. Having inherited an enormous fortune from his crafty father, Henry immediately squand ...more
Nov 07, 2012 Gianna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Even though not as thorough as its title suggests, this is a very good introduction to the major events and key figures in Tudor England. The Tudors did not rule for a long time; nor were they particularly good at governing a country; yet, as Meyer claims, they have become “posthumous stars” in our 21st century. If I mention the Tudors, people’s eyes light up in recognition, and they exclaim, “Oh, so you saw The Tudors!" The Tudors is, of course, Showtime’s series, which served to glamorize the ...more
Mar 20, 2011 Seri rated it it was ok
From my tumblr blog at:

Its not often that I read history of this era. However, after reading George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice, I was hungry for more royal treachery, scandalous affairs, murderous plots, and upstart usurpers. Since A Song of Fire and Ice, was based on England’s War of the Roses, the natural progression was to pick up where that left off - with the Tudor dynasty. Also, I couldn’t resist the cleavage on the cover.

Spoken plainly, this book i
Nov 09, 2012 Angie rated it really liked it
There is something so interesting and compelling about the Tudors. It seems like we can't get enough of them. There are tons of books, movies and tv shows about the family or set in that time period. Henry VIII and Elizabeth I will forever be at the forefront of interesting historical characters. The Tudors: The Complete Story of England's Most Notorious Dynasty is a truly fascinating book. It takes us through the entire history of the Tudor dynasty from Henry VII to James I taking the throne. T ...more
Kylin Larsson
Jun 30, 2012 Kylin Larsson rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
Sure, Henry the VIII broke with the Catholic church to get his divorce, but this is really only the beginning of his egomania. I'm not talking about his wives, whom many people know about (it is scandalous, after all -- six wives!) I'm talking about robbing the monasteries to fund badly planned wars and dozens of palaces. In the process, he nearly destroyed England's only infrastructure of hospitals and schools, as well as charitable institutions that helped the poor.

The guy was awful and his ch
Feb 06, 2016 Aaron rated it it was amazing
This was an interesting biography of the Tudor dynasty. Coverage of the book spans the Wars of the Roses, which was when the Welsh Tudor's first started taking on an importance in British history, through the death of Elizabeth I. The book was written in a unique way, being less a collective biography of the family and more a historical look of the political organization.

Not surprising, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I dominated the book in the number of pages covering them, but the rest of their sib
Aug 05, 2011 Halik rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great introduction into the history of the British governance system as a whole. The Tudors encompasses that time in British history when the Monarchy was beginning to accommodate a democracy, or i should say pseudo-democracy. The breaches of justice and the spirit (and also frequently the letter) of the law by interference by the king and his court are numerous.

The lifestyle of Henry Tudor is positively horrendous. And the emergence of Martin Luther and the need for the Church of England to fo
Jan 14, 2013 Cait rated it really liked it
To be honest, I picked this up as a "trashy airplane book" for a recent trip. It's not that. It's real historical scholarship.

And...I enjoyed it. For the first time, though, I fully understood what a monster Henry VIII was. In my mind, he had been a bit of a playboy and a pseudo-comic figure, but in fact, he was a horrible, horrible ruler, with no concern for his people that surpassed his momentary need for gratification. I did find myself wondering how the Anglican Church can pretend to any leg
Mar 20, 2011 Chris rated it really liked it
Well, it isn't really the complete story. It's mostly about Henry VIII, trying to get some of Showtime's bling perhaps. It is a good general study, but it does lose some steam after Henry VIII.

Yet, it is worth reading simply because of the time that Meyers takes with Harry. Instead of focusing on the wives, Meyer focuses more on the politics and the real movers and shakers. In fact, Meyern does this for the whole dynasty (except for Henry VII who seems to get an almost footnoted mention). In ma
Jan 26, 2010 Sharon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, england
G.J. Meyer's extensive look at the Tudor dynasty presents history as it ought to be done: engaging *and* factual.

The book focuses primarily on Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, the two best-known monarchs of the Tudor family. It does, however, start with Henry VI and end with James I/VI. Meyer does not, however, pull punches about the bloody reigns of the two monarchs on whom he focuses. Despite Tudor apologist histories that have been written right up to the modern age, neither Henry nor his survivin
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Mar 04, 2015 10:07AM  
  • Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen
  • Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's Obsession
  • Edward VI: The Lost King of England
  • Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings
  • Elizabeth & Leicester: Power, Passion, Politics
  • Henry VIII: Man and Monarch
  • Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England
  • The Mistresses of Henry VIII
  • Tudor Queens of England
  • The Other Tudors: Henry VIII's Mistresses and Bastards
  • Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England's Tragic Queen
  • Catherine of Aragon: The Spanish Queen of Henry VIII
  • Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens
  • Elizabeth's Women: Friends, Rivals, and Foes Who Shaped the Virgin Queen
  • The First Queen of England: The Myth of "Bloody Mary"
  • Love Letters of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn
  • After Elizabeth: The Rise of James of Scotland and the Struggle for the Throne of England
  • The Sisters of Henry VIII: The Tumultuous Lives of Margaret of Scotland and Mary of France
G. J. Meyer is a former Woodrow Wilson Fellow with an M.A. in English literature from the University of Minnesota, a onetime journalist, and holder of Harvard University’s Neiman Fellowship in Journalism. He has taught at colleges and universities in Des Moines, St. Louis, and New York. His books include A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, Executive Blues, and The Memphis Murders, winner o ...more
More about G.J. Meyer...

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“It matters also that both Henry and his daughter Elizabeth were not just rulers but consummate performers, masters of political propaganda and political theater. They” 2 likes
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