Shannon Luster's Reviews > The Six Wives of Henry VIII

The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir
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Jun 26, 12

Read in March, 2012

In-Depth Historical Read

The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir chronicles each wife’s story as she is married to the then most powerful man in all of England: King Henry VIII. I have long been fascinated by the Tudor era and started reading this book with much excitement. In Part 1, Weir starts with Henry’s Spanish bride, Katherine of Aragon. I particularly found it interesting that Katherine was first married to Prince Arthur, Henry’s older brother. When Arthur died, then Henry chose Katherine to become his bride. Katherine fails to produce Henry a living son and presents him, instead, with a sole living daughter, Mary. Henry’s eye first falls, then his heart is freely given to a raven-eyed and haired beauty, Anne Boleyn. Although she is not considered a beauty for her time, Henry is struck by Anne.

Part 2 is dedicated to Henry’s mistress and later his second wife, Anne. Part 2 also follows Henry’s hatred for Anne and how his eye turns again to Jane Seymour. After he has Anne beheaded for charges of adultery that may or may not have happened, he quickly marries Jane. She dies days after childbirth, but gives Henry what he desired the most: a son. Part 3 discusses how Henry marries a woman he has never met: Anne of Cleves. Henry soon requests a divorce, because he does not like her; Anne wisely agrees to the divorce. Henry then marries Katherine Howard, a woman many years his junior and oddly Anne Boleyn’s cousin. Katherine strays on Henry by having an affair, and Henry has her head chopped off. Henry is then on the prowl for another wife and decides to marry Katherine Parr. Henry dies before he can dispose of this Katherine and assume another wife (if his marriage pattern shows anything, Henry certainly liked new wives.)

Weir has certainly put a lot of time and dedication in researching Henry and the six wives for this amount of depth in her book. It almost sounds like a research book, which could be used in a college, history course. For this reason, I sometimes found the book to run a little long. Perhaps Weir should have broken it into a series; that way, she could have developed each wife, rather than trying to include all the information in one book. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to be deeply immersed into Tudor history.
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