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The Divorce of Henry VIII: The Untold Story from Inside the Vatican
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The Divorce of Henry VIII: The Untold Story from Inside the Vatican

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  178 ratings  ·  38 reviews
In 1533 the English monarch Henry VIII decided to divorce his wife of twenty years Catherine of Aragon in pursuit of a male heir to ensure the Tudor line. He was also head over heels in love with his wife's lady in waiting Anne Boleyn, the future mother of Elizabeth I. But getting his freedom involved a terrific web of intrigue through the enshrined halls of the Vatican th ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 19th 2012 by St. Martin's Press (first published February 2nd 2012)
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3.79  · 
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 ·  178 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Lolly's Library
2.5 stars

I tell you something, after reading this book, I think I could write a dissertation on the machinations and intricacies in the papal court of the 16th century with enough detail and scholarship to merit a Ph.D. Okay, so perhaps I'm exaggerating, but not by much. This is not an easy book. This is not a book for the general public, for someone who's read a Tudor novel or two and wants to find out a bit more about the subject. For those persons I'd recommend an accessible history as writte
Adrienne Dillard
Apr 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2018
I honestly do not understand some of these reviews...this book was fantastic. Yes, it is a bit denser than those "popular" histories because most of those are pure fluff pieces. Fletcher really delves into the material here and gives a very intriguing analysis. Not only thoroughly researched, it's engaging and thought-provoking. It's not often that we get to read a new perspective on this turbulent time in English history, and I really enjoyed Catherine Fletcher's take on it.
Claire Ridgway
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I was kindly sent a copy of Catherine Fletcher's "The Divorce of Henry VIII: The Untold Story from Inside the Vatican" by the publisher, Palgrave Macmillan, and I'm so glad that they sent me a copy.

I have been researching Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII for three years now, but I must admit to only looking at the English sources and the letters of men like Eustace Chapuys, in Letters and Papers or the Spanish Calendar of State Papers, when digging into Henry's Great Matter, the struggle for the annul
Mar 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own, vine, non-fiction
This is the first time in many years that I have been compelled to not finish a book. I usually devour everything Tudor-related, and I did give this a solid chance, 150 pages. But it just didn’t keep my interest. The political implications behind Henry VIII’s attempts to divorce Catherine of Aragon are certainly well documented here, but the correspondences between various diplomats, ambassadors, and the curia read like petty, whining brats wrote them. The book mainly focuses on Henry’s Italian ...more
Helene Harrison
Review - This book offers a very different view of the divorce of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon. Instead of seeing it from Henry's perspective only this book looks at it from the Vatican end and what the English ambassadors had to cope with while in Italy at this trying time in politics and diplomacy. Perhaps because it isn't an area I am particularly interested in (I often get confused with the Papacy) I didn't enjoy this as much as perhaps I should have.

General Subject/s? - Tudors / Henry
Jun 05, 2012 rated it liked it
I was intrigued by the premise of this book. There are numerous books out there on this topic, mainly that just focus on Henry, Anne, and Catherine. However, this is the first book I came across that focuses on Henry's ambassador and what he had to go through during this important time period. I actually had not thought much about Henry's ambassador. That was the reason I was excited to read this book. This is a good book that was well researched but I found it difficult to read. Part of that is ...more
May 13, 2012 rated it liked it
This book was an ARC.

I have a fairly avid interest in Henry VIII and especially the history of the Church in England. So I began this book with an open attitude towards this subject matter: Henry's divorce. Unfortunately, this author lost me pretty quickly. So many cronies of both the King and the Pope, the intensive description of their lives and behaviors and how they all was too much for my tiny mind! This is clearly a book written for someone much smarter than myself. I just co
Jun 07, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up
Ouch!! No stars for this one; couldn't even get past the prologue! Thought it was gonna be Henry's story from a different perspective but .... got fooled. This was a very dry, very densely written history book about an obscure Italian that was the guy working to secure the divorce. Still would have been interesting if it had been written in first-person or even as a narrative; but was a straight history (and not a well written one at that). Gave up ... way way too many other books on my list!
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Jun 05, 2012 marked it as maybe-read-sometime
Recommended to Snail in Danger (Sid) by: GR June 2012 recommendation
Shelves: history, biography
I started reading this but stalled out. It's this weird combination of super-dry and trying to make things seem exciting. Constantly referred to the local consultant (as distinguished from the English ambassadors) as "our man in Rome." This was jarring when compared to the rest of the book.
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Thoroughly researched account of the doings of the English ambassador to Rome during the years of Henry VIII's Great Matter: his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, which was to enable him to marry Anne Boleyn. Gregorio Casali was of Italian birth; he and his large family of brothers and cousins, all active as diplomats, walked on eggshells for years trying to negotiate an acceptable settlement from Clement VII. Two or three things stood in their way: Catherine's intransigent insistence on her pos ...more
Sarah Bryson
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have read a great deal into Henry VIII’s “Great Matter”, the King’s desire for an annulment from his first marriage to Queen Katherine of Aragon. These books have always looked at the matter from a purely English perspective, the English diplomats that were sent to Rome, their letters and correspondence and their view. Yet Catherine Fletcher’s book gives a whole new light to the happenings behind the scenes of Henry VIII’s Great Matter. In her book she examines a key player in these events, Gr ...more
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: henry-viii, tudors
This book looks at in fine detail an untold story from the most infamous divorce of British history; the divorce of Henry VIII from his long-suffering wife; Catherine of Aragon. However, this book does follow the divorce, but not from the perspective of Henry or his ministers, but from someone who was HIGHLY important in the discussions, although they are unknown. This important figure is called Gregorio Casali, and the book follows him and his family through the divorce and the break from the V ...more
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
While an interesting perspective on the divorce of Henry VIII, the book mostly dwelt on the Roman ambassadors and their various intrigues. I didn't find that the two main characters really had much to do with Henry or his wives. It was more of the tangled webs of politics in Italy at about that time. I left the book unconvinced that the main characters had much influence at all on the proceedings of the divorce. It was a little better than simply a historical timeline, but was unsatisfying as an ...more
Jill Meyer
Nov 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
British scholar Catherine Fletcher has written a fascinating view of both the political and religious machinations behind the divorce of Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, Her book, "The Divorce of Henry VIII: The Untold Story from Inside the Vatican", is just that, and spotlights the work done by "agents" of Henry and their work in Italy. Also interesting are the actions of the pope, Clement VII.

One of the most interesting points that Fletcher makes is that through Henry's "age
Jun 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is highly recommended for those interested in Henry VIII and the Tudors, the Vatican, and history lovers who enjoy learning behind-the-scenes details. Thoroughly researched and annotated, The Divorce of Henry VIII divulges the machinations his diplomats employed in their ultimately unsuccessful attempts to obtain Papal permission for Henry to divorce Catherine of Aragon. In this high-stakes world, anything was possible, and that includes kidnapping, bribery and theft.

Author Catherine
Margaret Sankey
Aug 28, 2012 rated it liked it
This is somewhat misnamed. It should be Codename "Little Bald Man": Gregorio Casali and the Adventures of a Renaissance diplomat. When Henry VIII was still just a wanna-be in the scale of European monarchies, he employed an envoy to the Pope to handle his and Wolsey's business. Quickly, this regular business was entangled in the war between and papacy and the Holy Roman Empire, as well as complicated by the king's demands for an annulment, and then a divorce from Catherine of Aragon (who was the ...more
Daniel Kukwa
Jan 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Highly informative, with a fresh, enthusiastic perspective that is often ignored when looking at Henry VIII's "great matter". However, it's the enormous detail involved in keeping track of the soap opera that is Italian renaissance politics and family connections that left my head spinning. Trying to keep track of everyone, trying to follow the tangled web, didn't make for comfortable reading. It's a first rate historical resource...I only wish the subject matter lent itself to a more pleasant, ...more
Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
This book was tough to get through. I enjoyed the supplemental background to the infamous Henry VIII story and I was excited to see history from a completely new perspective but this book read like a college history textbook. Though I have always had an interest in the Henry VIII story and I've read a lot about his life ranging from Queen Catherine to Henry's death, this book was not something I would generally pick up just to read. I do appreciate all the work that Catherine Fletcher put into h ...more
Anne Marie
May 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An outstanding book. Meticulously researched; not with the English accounts that we hear or the accounts of Eustace Chapuys, but the correspondences between Henry’s Ambassador to the Pope, communications with Wolsey, letters from the Casali family.
It is brilliantly documented, bribes, pleas, Papal avoidance, and transactions, the knowledge in there is remarkable and all backed up with verifiable references. It puts to rest many misconceptions, such as Katherine’s nephew Charles V did little to
Jun 23, 2012 added it
Although this book is full of facts, it lacks a sense of closure upon the death of Catherine. How and why did she die? The only reference is that she may have been poisoned. By whom? I understand there was a huge amount of information gathered in the writing of this book, but it lacks that certain something that would keep the average reader reading. Someone who is interested in facts, and just facts would be interested in reading this.
Feb 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the fascinating story of Gregorio Casali, who found himself Henry VIII's 'Man in Rome' at the time of Henry's attempts to divorce Catherine of Aragon. As Casali was emeshed in the King's 'great matter' he attempted to plead Henry's case with Pope Clement. When Wolsey fell, Casali's power was curtailed and it soon became apparent that Henry intended to divorce not only his wife, but the Church itself. Tudor power and politics - what could be better?!
Jun 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
When I saw the title and read the synopsis of the book, I was excited to read it. But after getting it and diving into the book, it was rather boring and dry. It was interesting to read what the people involved with the "King's great matter", but I found myself skipping paragraphs and pages, just to get to the good parts.

I liked it, but it just wasn't interesting enough to really hold my attention.
Jan 28, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tudors
Wish I could give it 3.
I've read lots of books on Henry VIII's 'Great Matter'(his divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon) but this is the first one from the Italian Ambassador's point of view.
Well researched and very well written although the huge cast of characters sometimes got a little confusing.
Jun 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
I won an ARC of this book here. Unfortunately, I could not get through it. I really wanted to like it, but as some other reviewers have mentioned it felt more like a history textbook than a novel. Great idea for a novel. However, this was just a little too dense for me, or maybe I am a little too dense for it. LOL Sorry I could not give it more stars! (less)
Zach Vaughn
Apr 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
I've never been particularly interested in the Tudor period; however, Fletcher presents an interesting perspective of Henry VIII's divorce and a brief history of 16th Century diplomatic relations through this specific event.
Kelly Buchanan
Jul 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Got a copy of this one through the Early Reviewers group on LibraryThing. Informative and detailed (perhaps too much so, at times), but could use some tighter organization. A bit of a different take on a much-told story.
Brad H
Dec 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to know what to rate this. The story is brilliant and nothing like what I expected when I picked up the book. However, it is also very dense and detailed and at times hard to follow. I found myself spending quite a bit of timing on Google finding out more about key characters.
G. Lawrence
Sep 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Good book, admittedly a little hard going in places and definitely for those already with knowledge of the events of the Tudor court in the reign of Henry VIII, but a fresh and enlightening perspective on the divorce from the view point of the ambassador of England within the Vatican.
Jun 30, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: royalty
I'd have to be in prison--with nothing better to do--to read this all the way through. Could not retain my attention.
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Catherine Fletcher holds a PhD in history from the University of London. She is the recipient of many awards and fellowships at the British School at Rome and the European University Institute in Florence and takes up a position as a Teaching Fellow in History at the University of London in the Fall. Divorce of Henry VIII is her first book.