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Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England
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Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  3,156 ratings  ·  413 reviews
It was 1501. England had been ravaged for decades by conspiracy, violence, murders, coups and countercoups. Through luck, guile and ruthlessness, Henry VII, the first of the Tudor kings, had clambered to the top of the heap--a fugitive with a flimsy claim to England's throne. For many he remained a usurper, a false king.

But Henry had a crucial asset: his queen
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Hardcover, 480 pages
Published March 6th 2012 by Simon Schuster (first published September 29th 2011)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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Orsolya
Quite ambitious in nature, Thomas Penn attempts to write a portrait of Henry VII and his reign. Why is this ambitious? 1) The number of books on Henry VII can basically be counted on one hand 2) This is Penn’s first book. To say the least, “Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England” is quite an interesting read…

Initially, Penn’s writing is slightly disorganized, disjointed, and lacking a strong cohesive bond. “Winter King” doesn’t follow the traditional (centralized) histo
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Mara
After reading Thomas Penn's Tudor England oeuvre (aka this book), I am now substantially less impressed by the imagination of George R.R. Martin because *Holy Toledo Batman* this stuff like really happened!

Having been MIA from the Land of Reads and Reviews for a while, I'm admittedly not writing this book the review it deserves (a theme which, alas, will likely become the chorus of my next few updates). That being said, I really think you should read it because this sh*t be crazy!

4.5/5 stars (and, like Lucille Bluth, I
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Leanda Lisle
Jun 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Thomas Penn’s Winter King in a brilliant mash-up of gothic horror and political biography.

David Starkey once declared Henry VII ‘boring’. But in writing his magnus opus on the supposedly more interesting Henry VIII he got so caught up in the drama of Henry VII’s court that Henry VIII is now largely being relegated to volume two of his own biography.

The first Tudor King had no legitimate English royal blood and no legal right to the throne. His father was the product of a scandalous
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Rick Riordan
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I found this really interesting, but I’m a history nut. After Wolf Hall, I wanted to find out about Henry VII, the lesser-studied father of Henry VIII, who founded the Tudor Dynasty. The author does a good job drawing on his sources and bringing the characters to life while staying true to the history, but the subject matter is just not inherently as ‘sexy’ as Henry VIII’s or Elizabeth I’s reigns. Henry VII comes across as a talented micromanager and financier. He made huge gobs of money binding ...more
Warwick
Dec 20, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, tudor
I was disappointed by this – it was decent but I think it was somewhat overhyped. Having seen it pop up in a lot of papers' Books of the Year lists, I think I was expecting something altogether more gripping and dramatic, but in the end I thought the story of Henry VII and the Tudor succession was just not an especially thrilling tale. Henry himself was clearly a distant figure who governed through his ministers, but this means that it's quite hard to get much of a sense of his character from th ...more
Margaret Sankey
May 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Henry VII is usually treated as a charmless and thrifty prelude to the big reign of Henry VIII, with the inevitable marriage of Henry and Catherine of Aragon, and the reversal of his father's bully policies for a golden age of chivalry and, you know, all the crazy shit Henry VIII was about to do. For inheriting an unstable throne, holding it for 25 year and leaving England relatively stable, Henry VII deserves his own biography and a lot more credit. Much of the ruthless machinery of control was ...more
David Sarkies
Aug 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Shakespeare Lied
1 August 2017

Everywhere where this book is concerned there are statements about how it won all these awards, and how wonderful it is as a history book, yet I found it on the clearance table at a bookshop I was exploring in inner city Sydney. Normally I wouldn't have purchased it, but it grabbed my attention, and a part of me actually thought it was about Richard III. Actually, maybe I bought it because it was about Henry VII and then promptly forgot, but I do know tha
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☙ percy ❧
this was well-written and i love henry vii for how he managed to a) get the throne of england and b) keep it and make the crown so solvent after the devastating years of the Wars of the Roses, but i can't help but think that a lot of this was... rather dry. of course, a large proportion of my opinion is probably due to the fact that i knew a lot about henry vii already, and Penn tried to create quite a thrilling/mysterious feel, which is all well and good if you don't already know how everything ...more
GoldGato
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it

Levissimus = lightest, quickest, smoothest

In medieval times, Levissimus was also used to refer to the 'least of men'. It is a word that aptly describes Henry VII, the first Tudor king and one of the most wily leaders of the royal line. That familial connection wasn't as strong as other lineages, but the Winter King moved quickly to extinguish Richard III's life and to grab the throne. He effectively ended the Wars of the Roses, but many learned to never turn their back on him.

Henry's govern/>Henry's
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Bettie
Jun 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommended to Bettie by: spotted on Susanna's updates
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marie Z. Johansen
Apr 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have to admit to being a history geek. For me, history is alive and energizing - not something static and remote. My obsession is European history from the 12th through 17th centuries - especially British history - so of course, when I was offered the chance to review this book, my interest was piqued immediately.

I had not read too terribly much about Henry VII in the past and, with this book, Thomas Penn, brings this most important of English monarch to life in a very enjoyable fa
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Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Thomas Penn's Winter King is not really a biography of Henry VII, and more a study of what he was directing his government to do in his name. (We certainly can, and do, decide what sort of king Henry was based on what he had his government get up to, however.)

For a further review: http://susannag.booklikes.com/post/67... .
Susan
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are an awful lot of books written about the Tudor era, both fiction and non-fiction, so you have to ask whether this book adds anything new. I am glad to say that I think it does, for it concentrates on the reign, and court, of Henry VII, giving a different slant to the well known story. Henry VII ruled from 1485-1509 and had a dubious claim on the throne, spending most of his time before the famous Battle of Bosworth Field in exile and gaining credibility from his marriage to Elizabeth of ...more
K.J. Charles
This was excellent. Well written and really interesting about an often ignored king. I had an idea Henry VII was a force for stability; in fact he was a terrifying kleptocrat, abusing the law with arbitrary fines and imprisonment, scheming to effectively steal entire estates and wring every penny out of subjects as well as impose political control through financial means. The parts on how he abused his position and the law to enrich himself while an entire nation watched helplessly are, frankly, ...more
happy
Sep 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Interesting look at the founder of the Tudor dynesty. I thought the book was well written, even though a bit dry is spots. Henry was a remarkable man. I thought the way he controled the nobility was fascinating - keeping them in check as well a raising vast sums of money at the same time.

The book brings out his successful diplomacy - keeping England out of the various wars in Europe and managing to marry his son to the daughter of one of leading houses in Europe.

I thought
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Claire M.
Sep 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
In my never-ending quest to read possibly every single published book on the Tudor monarchy, I spied this little gem a few weeks ago and picked it up. It's difficult to get a handle on Henry VII. Some of it is due to his personality--he played his cards close to the vest, unlike his son--and some of it is due to Tudor spin--they were, after all trying to bolster up the royal credentials for a man who didn't have that many. Overblown prose trumpeting his reign seemed to be the order of the day. ...more
John Wiltshire
I'm not giving this a star rating because I suspect it's me at fault not the book. I couldn't even stay awake reading this. Seriously, got nudged by my partner when I'd nodded off. Wolf Hall this is not. Wow, it was like being battered by facts without remission for good intentions.
Robert Hall
Apr 03, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crap
The author makes too many judgements which made me ask "How does he know that"; on one occasion he claims to know what Henry 7th "thought". these unproveable assertions put me right off.
Claire Ridgway
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Taken from my full review at http://reviews.theanneboleynfiles.com...

Winter King by Thomas Penn is a book on Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty, but it is not a full biography. I just wanted to clear that up before I launch into my review. Henry VII was born in 1457 and ruled England from 1485 to 1509, but this book opens in autumn 1497 and so does not give you all the details of Henry's early life, his rise, his claim to the throne etc. and the Battle of Bosworth is only mentioned in the prologue. That surprised me and
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Aaron
Sep 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
While most of us are familiar with Henry VIII and Elizabeth I and we probably have a sense of the Wars of the Roses in England, but how many of us are familiar with Henry VII. He was the founder of the Tudor dynasty, and his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville brought together the too sides that were facing off during the Wars of the Roses (the Lancasters and the Yorks) basically uniting the two houses into a single family.

This book takes the opportunity to look at the final 10 years of
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Pete daPixie
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-tudor
The front cover displays a short review by Hilary Mantel, part of which states, "I feel I've been waiting to read this book a long time." My thoughts exactly. There are no shortage of history books that cover the Tudor dynasty. Elizabeth I and Henry VIII have been done to death, whereas the twenty four year reign of Henry VII has remained in the shadows of his son and grand-daughter.
'Winter King' shines a bright light on this monarch's government, his ministers, the various threats to the
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Samantha
Jul 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Winter King is an in-depth biography of Henry VII. I found this to be a valuable and well-written resource. It took me a while to get through it because it is so packed with information. It is a book that I will go back to many times.

This was not a regurgitation of rumors and myths about Henry VII and Richard III, but a thoughtful and unbiased look at who Henry really was.

I was at times confused by the author's tendency to organize by topic rather than chronology. He would st
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Brenna
I don't read a lot of NF because I usually find it to be tedious, but The Winter King certainly wasn't that. There were some sections I had to skim because I didn't feel they were relevant to the storyline, but mostly I was hooked into this very complex King. I'm beginning to wonder if all of the kings beginning with the conquest weren't a little off their rocker in some way. If you are new the era, this wouldn't the first book I would pick up because it does flip flop around a bit in the beginn ...more
Matt Brady
Reasonably interesting overview of the reign of Henry VII of England. There's a (relatively) brief explanation of Henry's rather tumultuous childhood and his rise to the throne, before Penn really gets into the nitty gritty details during the second half of Henry's reign, focusing on his intricate foreign policy, his increasing use of finance as a means of control over his subjects and, most entertaining to me, the various plots and conspiracies of Henry's enemies. There's a lot of cloak-and-dag ...more
Donna
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I picked this audiobook up because it was narrated by Simon Vance. I wasn't disappointed because, as usual, he did a great job with the narration. This book is a nonfiction look at King Henry the VII. The research was thorough and it was presented well and kept me engaged. I really enjoyed it. I would read more by this author. Sometimes when reading nonfiction of this type, I never know if it is going to be dry and dull or not. This definitely was not that. So 4 stars.

Suzanne (winterscribbler) Cole
Apr 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've been wanting to read this for so long, I have history crush on Henry vii and it's quite strong. This was not exactly what I expected, but it was still interesting and very well written, which was more important since the story itself was much more stationary than any account of Henry's son, or his predecessor, would be. It was also fascinating to see some well known characters who we are familiar with from what followed, Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, Catherine of Aragon, not to mention a yo ...more
Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)
This is one of those books that I feel could have been very good, but it wasn't. The book focuses on Henry VII's reign without really focusing on it. Does that make sense? Probably not. But, I'll explain myself a bit more. The prologue/introduction of the book rushes through Henry VII's childhood and his role in the Wars of the Roses, something I think needs to be expanded on since it explains who he was as a person and his paranoia in his later reign.

Then, suddenly, we've jumped away from Henr
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Lindz
Just a really solid memoir about a man who had to build a legacy and lineage from scratch. Sometimes it's a little hard to get past the perception of Henry VII and actually look at the man himself. But really solid biography of a time and place under a huge transition. Even if a lot of it feels like place setting for another enormous transition, with multiple wives .
Leah
Apr 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The hybrid rose...

Like many people, I have always had an interest in perhaps the most famous of all the Kings, Henry VIII. However, prior to reading this book, I really knew nothing about the reign of his father, Henry VII, or indeed of Henry VIII’s early years. This book has helped fill much of that gap in my knowledge. As a non-historian, I wouldn’t pretend to be able to comment on the historical accuracy, but I found the book very well written, the arguments convincing and the whole a very i
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Rebecca Hill
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thomas Penn gives an highly insightful account of the reign on Henry Tudor. Masterfully written and well documented.

From the beginning of the reign on Henry Tudor, the new king had quite the fight against him. He had to establish his reign, and procure the funds needed for the running of a kingdom. While he works through the beginning of his kingship, he established his right to rule, not through his wife, Elizabeth of York, but by divine right of inheritance. He did not immediately marry her,
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