Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Henry VIII: The King and His Court” as Want to Read:
Henry VIII: The King and His Court
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Henry VIII: The King and His Court

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  12,085 ratings  ·  296 reviews
Henry VIII, renowned for his command of power and celebrated for his intellect, presided over one of the most magnificent–and dangerous–courts in Renaissance Europe. Never before has a detailed, personal biography of this charismatic monarch been set against the cultural, social, and political background of his glittering court. Now Alison Weir, author of the finest royal ...more
Paperback, 2nd edition, 642 pages
Published 2008 by Ballantine Books (first published May 1st 2001)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Henry VIII, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Kilian Metcalf Two: Anne Boleyn was his second wife. She was probably innocent of anything but bad judgement, overconfidence, and arrogance. Her innocence of any tre…moreTwo: Anne Boleyn was his second wife. She was probably innocent of anything but bad judgement, overconfidence, and arrogance. Her innocence of any treason has been fairly well established. His fifth wife, Katherine Howard, was in her mid-teens when they married. She had a history of promiscuity and sexual activity before her marriage to the aging, ailing king. This pattern of foolish bad judgement continued after her marriage. She was guilty of adultery, which under the laws of the time, was treasonous. Her death is sad because of her age, but she was not innocent. Alison Weir writes wonderfully readable, well-researched books about the Tudors and other prominent royals in England. I'm reading her bio of Eleanor of Aquitaine right now.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  12,085 ratings  ·  296 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Henry VIII: The King and His Court
Caidyn (he/him/his)
This review can also be found here!

What can I say about this book…

Oh yeah.

I hated it.

I fucking hated this book.

(I would insert the Instagram picture of how I annotated every single page, but GR won't let me and I'm lazy so you can click the link to my blog if you really want to see it.)

I mean, look at all of those sticky notes. Look at those annotations. Look at the pure rage that I have for it.

Let’s start with the thesis:

My aim in this book is to draw together a multitude of strands of resea
...more
Pete daPixie
I have to rate Alison Weir's 'Henry VIII-King and Court' a five star read. You get exactly what it says on the tin. A vast and fully comprehensive work, covering over five hundred pages, along with the obligatory sixty pages of notes.
As the author states in her introduction, this is not a political history of the reign, her brief here is to record the events that help to build up a picture of the life and ethos of the King and the court. The reader of Tudor history may well have to go elsewhere
...more
Arukiyomi
Nov 25, 2012 rated it liked it
There, in a charity shop, completely unblemished as in a proper bookshop, lay Weir’s encylopaedic description of one of the most magnificent courts of English royalty. And it was mine for only 95p.

I’ve not read any of Weir’s books before. She’s written about pretty much every Tudor monarch or individual connected with Tudor monarchy you can think of. I used to read books like this all the time but the 1001 list has my heart set on novels. Because this was immaculate and a tenth of the price it w
...more
Caroline
Jul 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
I always enjoy Alison Weir's books - she has a lively, engaging style and a knack for bringing both her subjects and the world they lived in truly to life, and this book is no exception. Henry VIII is a larger than life figure anyway: after all, every schoolchild grows up knowing 'divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived'. But there was a lot more to the man than the simple stereotype of a fat, bloated tyrant who chopped his wives' heads off. Charting his evolution from a handsome ...more
Luv_trinity
Jul 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andre
Jan 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a maticulously researched history, not a novel. In fact, this books from its first pages points out how poorly researched are most novels about this great English king. If you want to know Henry the 8th, I would recommend reading and studying this book by Alison Weir.
April Spaugh
Nov 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Steven Peterson
Jun 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
In one sense, I am at a disadvantage in assessing this volume. I am not an historian of this era, so I cannot confidently judge well the accuracy of Alison Weir's rendering of events and people.

That said, I am most impressed with this work. The author covers many aspects of English history--including day-to-day life--of the time. We read of medical practice (ugh), music, art, architecture, customs, drama, clothing, sports (e.g., hunting, archery, tennis, jousting, and so on), the internecine po
...more
Kathleen
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
Alison Weir is one of my very favorite historians. I do not at all recommend reading her historical fiction for many and varied reasons, but her straight history is great. Well-researched, well backed up, and she frequently has some pretty interesting new theories to throw in the mix to make her books even more fun to read. She specializes in Tudor history, which, you know, my crack, so naturally I was quite pleased to find a book of hers that I hadn't read.

Sadly, it's not her best. Henry VIII:
...more
Joyce
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
5 stars

This comprehensive covers just about everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Henry VIII. From his undergarments, weapons, food, servants and so on, it is a complete picture of a day in the life of this King. The book is far more detailed than any prospective reader can imagine.

Ms. Weir briefly discusses the six wives, but this is primarily a book about Henry, not his wives. It speaks of the separate chambers and the servants both Henry and his wives had, and the rooms and rooms in wh
...more
Emily
Apr 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
This book did not take me as long as some other dense history books I've read, so I am overall proud of myself.

In school I was told that I should steer clear of Alison Weir when doing research for a paper. For the life of me I can't understand why! This book was thoroughly researched and crafted, why should it be discredited because it's considered 'popular history.' Then I noticed while reading Lucy Worsley's "If Walls Could Talk," that in her acknowledgements she thoroughly thanked Weir for "
...more
Maria
May 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the fourth book by Weir I've read on the Tudor dynasty and it did not disappoint. Her focus is on the people in Henry's life and goes into great detail about everything: the many departments in his court, his friends, family, enemies, protocol and etiquette, religious devotions, and the minutiae of everyday life in medieval England. This is the stuff that makes history rich and fascinating.
Christopher Riley
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
Just not a very good book at all, there was no chronology or themes, it was pretty much exclusively about what cutlery Henry used.

I don’t mind the odd section on the finer details of court life but the title does also include KING so I expected a little bit (any) information on the life and time’s of the king himself.
Hirondelle
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
All the stars! It was such an interesting read, I just couldn't put the book down. It helped me immensely with uni work.

Bless you, Alison Weir.

HenryVIII
...more
Freda
2020 Popsugar Reading Challenge: A fiction or nonfiction book about a world leader
Jennifer
This book actually rates 3.5 stars, but as before, I tend to round up. The main issue I had with this book is that it wasn't one where I could just sit down and start reading. The first several chapters dealt with the court and fashion and everything else, and so it seemed to me that the author expected her readers to have a more-than-passing acquaintance with things like architectural terms. She talks about donjons, Perpendicular architecture and so many other things that there were sections th ...more
LibraryCin
This book is not only a biography of King Henry VIII, but it also takes a close look at the culture of the royal court in 16th century England.

I really liked this. Often, Weir's nonfiction books read like fiction and I would say this is one that did. I really enjoyed all the extra behind-the-scenes look at court life. This included detailed information on all the people at court, their positions, their pay, as well as the design of the palaces, food, fashion and probably more that is just not c
...more
Pierre
May 06, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not a good book. This is an incredibly long and dull look at a most fascinating monarch that rarely flirts with being interesting, and when it does is not at all due to the author. The first 200 pages or so are spent detailing the minutiae of 16th century court life, from the types of entertain to the food served to everything in between, in excruciatingly dull detail. Once the actual biography gets going, the author still sees fit to interject with yet more superfluous information about anythin ...more
Stephanie
Mar 01, 2009 rated it liked it
This was quite interesting once I was 1/2 way in. The beginning was v e r y slow, giving lists of all the properties Henry inherited, how many men had the right to empty his chamberpot at different times, etc. Once the (long) first chapters were over, the reading got better and focused more on Henry's reign, as opposed to Tudor court life. A major critique for the casual reader is that Weir was not consistent enough in using people's names. Sometimes she would use a first name, sometimes a last ...more
Becky
Sep 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, read-in-2010
It took me a while to get into this book - maybe 80 pages (and when I say "a while" I mean several months.) There is just SO much detail, which is great, but it can make it drag in the beginning. It gets better when Weir stops detailing how many men watched Henry VIII sleep at night and starts talking about the actual history, but still weaves those details into it. I guess you could consider it a biography of Henry VIII, but the focus is really on the surrounding elements of his reign - his pro ...more
Alice
I liked this book because it concentrates on how Henry VIII fashioned England from a Medieval Kingdom into a modern Nation State; with all the good and bad that this entails. Many do not realize that Henry VIII was the founder of the British Royal Navy.

The divorce from Catherine of Aragon is chronicled for the impact it had on the Reformation and England's relations with Europe. Would this modernization have taken place without the Great Matter? When you read this book you will have an opinion.

...more
Katie
Jul 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
This comprehensive biography of Henry VIII was so much fun to read. Weir has a real knack for making historical figures come to life, and making true events read like the events of a novel. And Henry VIII is a person whose very life seems fictitious: especially in regards to his six wives, the beheading of two of them, and his unstable temperament in later life. Through extensive research, however, Weir gives us a fuller picture of Henry VIII, and the period in which he ruled. Very, very interes ...more
Emerald Dodge
It's rather sad that such a large personality and long life can be captured in such a small book, but I suppose that's a lesson for all mortals. In the end, there's nothing that can't be reduced to a few lines of text.

Weir writes ably about Henry VIII's life and court in this biography, giving a clean background to the marriages, wars, and political turmoil of the reign. She treats him fairly, discussing his vices and virtues in equal measure, and offered explanations when one was needed. Of all
...more
Amanda pepos
Mar 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
i always want to know more about this time in history and this book is full of information about what happened during this time. it begins before henry is king and ends with his death and covers everything in betweens and gives the reader a better understanding of who henry VIII was and you begin to see how his madness began and who was behind it. its a good read full of details, and descriptive in every sentence.
Erin
May 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Did you know that Anne Boleyn had an extra pinky nail growing out of the side of her finger (thus the rumors about being six fingered and a witch)? Or that it was hard to get the courtiers to stop pissing anywhere they pleased and to focus on certain specific wall areas inside the palace? An exhaustive and fascinating history.
Rick Hautala
Mar 02, 2010 rated it liked it

I usually love Alison Weir's books, but this one was a bit "chewy" for me ... Lots of good stuff ... but too much about clothes and houses and meals, and not enough about the actual history ... Interesting, but not her best ...
Rebecca Huston
A rather different look at Henry VIII, focusing instead on his courtiers and servants. Very much recommended, and worth the effort to find.

For the complete review, please go here:
http://www.epinions.com/content_22044...
...more
Lauren Sengele
Apr 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Forget everything you knew about Henry VIII and his six wives - this tale of his life shows how he was truly a king to be admired - and occasionally feared. Brilliantly detailed. Full of political intrigue and drama of the Court.
Férial
No rating as I didn't finish this book. I expected something else. Not just a description of Henry VIII's court or an account of its habits and customs and such (I should have had a closer look at the title). Ah well...
Karen
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting..but..very..long..
Not a fast reading book..
Update..could not finish it..
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne
  • Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII
  • The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn
  • The Wives of Henry VIII
  • America's Daughter (Dancing Soul Trilogy, #2)
  • Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens
  • The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers
  • Jane Boleyn: The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford
  • Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France
  • I, Elizabeth
  • Young and Damned and Fair: The Life of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII
  • Jane Austen: A Life
  • Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower
  • Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More
  • Elizabeth I
  • Henry VIII: And the Men Who Made Him
  • Native Son
  • The Last Wife of Henry VIII
See similar books…
5,669 followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Alison Weir is a British writer of history books for the general public, mostly in the form of biographies about British kings and queens, and of historical fiction. Before becoming an author, Weir worked as a teacher of children with special needs. She received her formal training in history at teacher training
...more

Related Articles

Her Favorite Books About Mistresses: Devour these five juicy books about the power and allure of the "other woman" from the historian who wrote...
24 likes · 28 comments
“News of the death of James V on 14 December gave even further cause for rejoicing, because his heir was a week-old girl, the infant Mary, Queen of Scots. Scotland would be subject to yet another weakening regency—it had endured six during the past 150 years—and should give no further trouble.” 3 likes
“Since mediaeval times, the King had been seen as two bodies in one: a mortal entity and “the King’s person,” representing unending royal authority; monarchs therefore referred to themselves in the plural form as “we.” 1 likes
More quotes…