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The Six Wives of Henry VIII

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  50,084 Ratings  ·  1,323 Reviews
The tempestuous, bloody, and splendid reign of Henry VIII of England (1509-1547) is one of the most fascinating in all history, not least for his marriage to six extraordinary women. In this accessible work of brilliant scholarship, Alison Weir draws on early biographies, letters, memoirs, account books, and diplomatic reports to bring these women to life. Catherine of Ara
Paperback, 643 pages
Published 1991 by Grove Press (first published January 1st 1980)
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Wendy Get it from your local library. Most libraries have digital versions too. Super easy.
Emily If it is Gregory or Gortner go in order. Otherwise I would read them in order by oldest publication date.

Community Reviews

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Dec 09, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfictions
i have never before spent so long reading a book and having less to say about it at the end. before reading this book, what i knew about henry VIII came mostly from one pbs (week-long)special and the herman's hermits song, which turns out to be historically inaccurate and not actually about henry VIII at all. kids, don't get your historical information from novelty songs...

what i know: henry may be one of history's shittiest spouses - after reading this, i find myself able to cut warren zevon s
May 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Extensively researched and fascinating - a must-read for anyone interested in the women behind Henry VIII, aka the patron saint of man-whores. (I just made that up on the spot, but it works so I'm keeping it)
Weir isn't completely unbiased in her description of Henry and his various women, but I can't blame her. With this family, it's hard not to take sides. This is especially clear when Weir describes the way Henry felt about Anne of Cleves, his wife for about ten minutes. Weir talks about how H
Oct 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
Watch "The Other Boleyn Girl." Then watch an episode of "The Tudors." Afterward, immediately go to confession for such shameful and useless acts. Do penance by reading "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" to save your soul lest ye go through life thinking that the Tudors were all about bad acting and awkwardly placed sex scenes. Be warned that ye may lose friends when someone tries to talk to you about an episode of "The Tudors" and you turn it into a teachable moment about what *really* happened becau ...more
Mar 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Where I got the book: purchased on Amazon UK.

Ah, I do enjoy an Alison Weir. I am not enough of a historian to have Opinions about history, so my comments are about the writing rather than historical merit, and the writing is good. Weir is always lively and entertaining, perfect for a recreational history reader like me, and I found myself zipping through this as if through a novel, even though I knew how each character's story ended!

It's strange, though, that my interest is always greatest up to
Oct 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
I’ve read some Phillipa Gregory and Hillary Mantel titles about Henry VIII and was totally entranced. Which is weird because I’m Afrikaans, live in South Africa, and never even had history at school. The only problem with the historical fiction titles, is that they only deal with one or two wives at a time, so I could never get a complete picture. I also wasn’t sure how much of the stories I’ve read was fictionalized. So I decided to try a non-fiction, and I was very impressed by Alison Weir. He ...more
Oct 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This prodigiious work on the wives of King Henry the 8th of England is so well written. It reads like a novel of suspense, passion, treachery, European History, betrayal, obedience, faith, God and love. It did what I really enjoy in books--made me want to read more about other characters mention such as Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. Also to review maps and learn of the royalty of Spain, France, and Germany. Many words to be looked up to enhance your vocabulary as well. Learn about the fir ...more
Alexander Santiago
Mar 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Yes
Henry VIII, England's most famous and rougish king, takes somewhat of a back seat (though still figures prominently) while his six wives (their courtship, marriage, and their fate) are front and center by one of England's most preeminent storyteller of royal history. Intrigue, duplicity, executions, and, of course, Henry's marital infidelities that led to a major and cataclysmic reformation of religion in England, Weir weaves her spell that gives breath and personality to each of Henry's wives, ...more
Sotiris Karaiskos
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Ένα πολύ ενδιαφέρον βιβλίο που αφηγείται τη σχεδόν θρυλική ιστορία των έξι γυναικών που είχαν την τύχη - ή την ατυχία αν προτιμάτε - να στεφθούν βασίλισσες στο πλευρό του Ερρίκου του 8ου. Μέσα από την ιστορία αυτών των γυναικών η συγγραφέας μας μεταφέρει με εξαιρετικό τρόπο στην ταραγμένη εποχή όπου κυριαρχούσε αυτή η πολύ ενδιαφέρουσα προσωπικότητα. Παράλληλα όμως δεν ξεχνά ότι πρόκειται για έξι ανθρώπινες ιστορίες που αξίζει να τις εξετάσουμε και από τη συναισθηματική τους πλευρά για να μπορέ ...more
Jan 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, biography
This was a very lucidly written and entertaining history of Henry VIII's six wives. Weir's style is straightforward and factual, but her warm, wry tone come through occasionally in her word choice. This makes for a very conversational story, easy to follow, and engaging. In fact, it's what I had hoped Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France would be like.

Weir tries very hard to be balanced and manages for the most part not to pick sides between Protestant/Catholic/Church of England. Th
Mar 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
ערפו את ראשה. זה המוטו על פיו חי הנרי ה 8 אחד המלכים הססגוניים, המרתקים, המוכשרים והאכזריים ביותר בהיסטוריה האירופאית.

הספר סוקר את תקופת חיו ופועלו הפוליטי, הבינלאומי, הכלכלי ואת יחסיו הבינאישיים עם נשותיו ופלגשיו. הספר מקדיש חלק נרחב לתיאור חייהן, פועלן והתפיסות הדתיות של נשותיו.

אין ספק שהנרי בחר לו נשים חזקות ואינטיליגנטיות, למעט קתרין האוורד שמתוארת כריקנית וחסרת אינטיליגנציה (ואכן היא היתה מספיק טיפשה לבגוד במלך מתחת לאפו בזמן שהוא מאוהב בה עד מעל לאוזניו השמנמנות ). אך גם אין ספק שנשותיו נכ
Apr 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I am notoriously slow reading non-fiction (I still have not finished John Adams). So I gave this book 5 stars as I could not put it down. I read it in a week (and it is a substantial size book). It reads as nicely as any fiction (much like I thought seabiscuit was).

I learned so much about stories that I was a little familiar with already -- I just had no idea that they were in reality even crazier than I learned. Politics, deception, ambition, religion, and a tad bit of "crazy" make for some of
Although the fact that Henry VIII had six wives is remarkable alone; even more interesting is the unique personalities and lives of these six women. Alison Weir opens the door to the marital ups and downs of Henry and his partners in, “The Six Wives of Henry VIII”. Note: I initially read this book over a decade ago when I was less versed in Tudor history than I am now. Thus, this review is based on the impressions of one who has more knowledge on the topic during a second reading.

Alison Weir’s
England zu Beginn des 16. Jahrhunderts. Kronprinz Arthur soll mit der spanischen Königstochter Katharina von Aragon verheiratet werden. Doch wenige Monate nach der Hochzeit stirbt der Prinz. Da Henry VII. die Verbindung zum spanischen Königshaus unbedingt aufrechterhalten möchte, wird Arthurs jüngerer Bruder Henry, der nun auch der Thronfolger ist, mit Katharina verlobt. Die Verbindung steht jedoch von Beginn an unter keinem guten Stern, denn es gibt Gründe, die gegen ihre Rechtmäßigkeit spreche ...more
Jul 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
School just started so I am not feeling up to a detailed, cohesive review. Here are some numbered complaints instead:

1) Weir interjects with what I can only assume is her own opinion on numerous occasions. (I counted 24.) She glosses over this by adding "probably" while not detailing why something "probably" was or was not true. I did not often mind this because she is obviously informed about her subject, but her own thoughts were not well integrated with...

2) ...the boring subject matter. And
Scott Sheaffer
Sep 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
“Off with their Heads” . . . Oh wait that wasn’t Henry the VIII or was it? Find out why Henry had the heads of two of his wives lopped off. Was it that they were unfaithful or because they were not considerate of the French term Ménage à trios or was he simply looking for a way out of a bad relationship and couldn’t bring himself to tell them that “it was over”?

What motivated these women to marry Henry knowing that if they didn’t please him they could/would be killed? Was the last wife of Henry
Dec 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, it was amazing.

• If you like to know about history THIS is your book. It is so so so so great!!!!
• It’s a huge book but you can read it very very fast.
• The historical characters! Their stories are amazing, you can like them or not but i’m sure that at least you will try to “understand” their choices and theirs personalities.
• It is about The Tudors.
• You can learn A LOT.
• You will not get bored.
• You will love Alison Weir's writing.

Please read
Jan 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I bought Alison Weir's "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" to read at the beach one summer. I thought it would be helpful to have a refresher course on Henry VIII and his ladies from one of the best popular historical writers and scholars. I could hardly put it down. It surpasses most novels in readability and intrigue. Since Henry was married to Katherine of Aragon the longest, there is more about her and I learned more than ever before about that stubborn, passionate, implacable queen. The loss of s ...more
Ray Campbell
Jan 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2013
Excellent read. I have read several books that cover the lives of the Tudors and more specifically Elizabeth, Mary and Henry. However, none had done much with the wives of Henry VIII beyond Jane Seymour having been the mother of Edward VI. So I picked this one up and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Weir has written several first class histories on this period so there is much overlap. The first third of the book was not only familiar, but in some cases a direct re-tracing of steps. However, the details we
Jun 29, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: history buffs, feminists
Recommended to Andrew by: Lori
Shelves: history
Well, that was a lot of history. This was a new genre for me: serious non-fiction (humor is what has made non-fiction palatable for me in the past). It was certainly a little dry, but the Tudor court adds spice. The introduction presents an overview of life in the Tudor court, particularly for women. I was hoping more of the book would be like that, and for some kind of conclusion that sums up the lives of the six wives. I'm not entirely sure why I was hoping for a sixth grade essay, but the boo ...more
Jan 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
I became interested in the reign of Henry VIII after watching the Showtime series, "The Tudors." After reading Alison's Weir's well-researched book about the six wives of Henry VIII, I can understand why so much has been written about the period and why it still fascinates more than 500 years later. King Henry was married to his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, by far the longest, and I'd always assumed it was simply his infatuation with Anne Boleyn that made him discard Katherine. Katherine was ...more
Duffy Pratt
May 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I really liked this, and especially liked the fairly even handed treatment Weir gave to these people. But there is one notable exception. Compared with everyone else, Weir seemed to take delight in Thomas Cromwell's execution and even in the fact of the executioner botching the job and taking two swings of the axe to finally sever his neck. With others, Weir seems to see both sides of a person's character. But, for her, Cromwell was Henry's evil genius, and she seems to think ill of Cromwell eve ...more
Jul 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, library
If you have any interest in history and the Tudors then you need to buy this book, it is fantastic. I was so impressed by the attention to detail, it gives you such a great understanding of Henry VIII and the Tudor court and of course his six wives. It is not like reading a text book, it is biographical and therefor very interesting. I borrowed it from the library and had it on audio, I started listening to it but switched over to reading it. By the time I was half way through the book I had ord ...more
The rhyme that has stuck with me since school is divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. Which of course refers to the final outcome of each of Henry VIII wives.

This is a well reasserted book, packed full of details and anecdotes about the martial affairs of Henry VIII. Weir has gone into great depth, especially on the first two wives, Katherine of Aragon and Anne Bolyen. The book goes into detail on the character of the six ladies, and all the court intrigue and political postur
Brittany B.
4.5 stars!

5 stars for the narration

(Well, the internet page just closed, and I lost a review that I worked on for about an hour and a half.
So I am greatly peeved.)

The Six Wives of Henry VIII is an excellent, accessible nonfiction historical biography. Considering that this is my second time reading it, I can easily call this book a page-turner!! It unfolds like a carefully-crafted novel; a fabulous retelling of the allegorical Bluebeard. Thus, The Six Wives of Henry VIII definitely lends credib
Melissa ♥ Dog Lover ♥ Martin
Feb 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own

Aug 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
My respect for Anne of Cleves is strengthened.
Corky Cobon
Nov 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
A very interesting and thought provoking read about the 6 Wives of Henry VIII. For anyone that loves biographies, this hits it on numerous levels. For lovers of history, this is a must read.
It's always fun re-visiting this book. So much great historical detail and perfect narration. Henry VIII was an ogre. The most interesting wives are of course the first 3.
The six wives of Henry VIII are a source of endless fascination for me. They are definitely among my favourite historical figures. I sincerely admire most of them, and even those to whom I relate less, like Jane Seymour and Catherine Howard, have always held a great interest for me. So of course I knew I had to read The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir sooner or later; and, after waiting for quite a lot of time, I finally gave in and bought it as a Christmas present for myself.

I immensely
Lukasz Pruski
Apr 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Alison Weir’s “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” is a monumental work. It is a history book, not a historical novel. It is a serious work of non-fiction. Ms. Weir spent four years researching for this book. The bibliography takes 37 pages, and the list of actual sources takes 28 pages. She must have spent over a year just writing this voluminous book. The quality of the book clearly reflects the tremendous amount of research work.

I do not believe it is particularly appropriate to review this serious,
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • The Wives of Henry VIII
  • Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne
  • The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn
  • Love Letters of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn
  • Bloody Mary: The Life of Mary Tudor
  • Jane Seymour: Henry VIII's True Love
  • The First Queen of England: The Myth of "Bloody Mary"
  • A Treasury of Royal Scandals: The Shocking True Stories of History's Wickedest, Weirdest, Most Wanton Kings, Queens, Tsars, Popes, and Emperors
  • The Sisters Who Would Be Queen
  • The Lady in the Tower (Queens of England, #4)
  • The Sisters of Henry VIII: The Tumultuous Lives of Margaret of Scotland and Mary of France
  • Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens
  • The Life of Thomas More
  • Elizabeth & Leicester: Power, Passion, Politics
  • Sex with the Queen: 900 Years of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, and Passionate Politics
  • Catherine of Aragon
  • Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile
  • Henry VIII: Man and Monarch
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Alison Weir (born 1951) is a British writer of history books for the general public, mostly in the form of biographies about British kings and queens. She currently lives in Surrey, England, with her two children.

Before becoming an author, Weir worked as a teacher of children with special needs. She received her
More about Alison Weir...

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“Katherine of Aragon was a staunch but misguided woman of principle; Anne Boleyn an ambitious adventuress with a penchant for vengeance; Jane Seymour a strong-minded matriarch in the making; Anne of Cleves a good-humoured woman who jumped at the chance of independence; Katherine Howard an empty-headed wanton; and Katherine Parr a godly matron who was nevertheless all too human when it came to a handsome rogue.” 3 likes
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