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Henry: Virtuous Prince

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  886 ratings  ·  68 reviews
The highly-anticipated biography of Henry VIII's early life. Published to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Henry's accession to the throne, 'Henry: Virtuous Prince' is a radical re-evaluation of the monarchy's most enduring icon. Henry VIII was Britain's most powerful monarch, yet he was not born to rule. Thrust into the limelight after the sudden death of his elder ...more
Hardcover, 413 pages
Published March 1st 2009 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published January 1st 2008)
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3.93  · 
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 ·  886 ratings  ·  68 reviews

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Jan 24, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: history, england
Abysmal. I am shocked how poor this book is. The author, David Starkey, I have seen on several television documentaries and have always enjoyed them for what they are, popular history that those without the need to read can enjoy. Yes he comes across as a sanctimonious, pompous know-all but he, at least, told a good story.

This, my first read of any of his books has left me cold. I could not wait to finish this as it was so poorly presented and so badly written as to be of little use to the seri
Pete daPixie
'Henry-Virtuous Prince', published 2008, is the first book that I have read by this author. Starkey is not just a famous writer on the Tudor period, but is a well known media personality here in the U.K. His popular television productions also feature this dynasty, i.e. 'The Six Wives of Henry VIII' and 'Henry VIII:The Mind of a Tyrant.' He was also an advisor to 'The Tudors', a t.v. series I found to be simplistic and riddled with historical inaccuracy. From Starkey's many television and radio ...more
Youth ends where marriage and fatherhood begin. Starkey's definition is sensible enough and all though he may make a psychological assumption too many where the source material gets sketchy, his easy-going narrative style befits the theatrical nature of Tudor kingship.

We see Henry growing up in a female household, separated from his older brother, the carefully groomed Crown Prince, but not lacking neither attention or a rounded upbringing. Indeed, the overall impression is the status of Second
Oct 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Youth ends where marriage and fatherhood begin. Starkey's definition is sensible enough and all though he may make a psychological assumption too many where the source material gets sketchy, his easy-going narrative style befits the theatrical nature of Tudor kingship.

We see Henry growing up in a female household, separated from his older brother, the carefully groomed Crown Prince, but not lacking neither attention or a rounded upbringing. Indeed, the overall impression is the status of Second
Oct 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: uk, biography, history, tudors
Henry VIII and David Starkey - this book had to be a topper. And it was. Not only did it give some background information on the War of the Roses for the uninitiated, but as a major Henry fan, all the information about baby Henry's christening, infant Henry's creation as Duke of York, little Henry and his love for jousting, and teenage Henry inheriting the throne was a fabulous read.
Sep 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
An interesting look at Henry VIII - but before he was king. A look at Prince Henry from birth to the rise of Cardinal Wolsey.

Interesting. A big plus for me was that I learned a few things about the Tudors that I hadn't known before, so that always endears a book to me.

Recommended if you are interested in the nurturing of the man who became, arguably, England's most notorious monarch.
Kristin Davison
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting look into the younger Henry. I'm looking forward to seeing the author speak tonight.
May 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is authored by the renowned UK historian who is currently the curator of a special Henry VIII exhibition at the British Library (at least as of August 2009). I have read some of his other books, and what I consistently find refreshing about his writing is that it reads more like a narrative story than the usual dry historical biographies.
Sep 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love David Starkey he writes wonderfully and is much easier to follow than a lot of historical biographers. This is the first part of his Henry series and is really interesting and detailed...would you expect anything less???
I like that the book concentrates in time before Henry became king or seeks divorce from Katherine.
But I find his writing style annoying. It also made me think that does he think he's Henry or his best fiend?
Robert Clear
May 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Well-written and engaging, this book delves into the early life of Henry VIII.
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book is quite informative, if you want detail regarding Henry VIII's lifestyle whilst he was a prince. Starkey presents a fairly well researched and (thankfully) readable account of Henry's early life. However, he tends to delve into unnecessary detail that can become tedious, especially at the beginning, where he explains exactly how Tudor nurseries functioned. But if you're looking for that type of academic research that is actually easy to read (yet rather pretentious at times?), then St ...more
Joseph Ramsden
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this biography of the young Henry. The reason I've only given it the 4 stars is because the content was just not gripping enough, though Starkey set himself a tough task in tackling Henry's early life because it's simply not as interesting as when he becomes the 'older, greater, badder Henry' that Starkey refers to on the final page.

The part that really grabbed me was the mention of an attempted affair when Henry was just 18. That's what I wanted throughout, though I guess for t
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
A really interesting history of the early years of Henry VIII from birth to becoming a young man and then king. Most historians are more interested in the latter period of his life, when he was wife-hopping and generally being a tyrant, so it was interesting to learn more about this oft-neglected period of his life when he showed real promise and bore no resemblence to the tyrant of later years. Looking forward to reading the second biography about his later years - David Starkey does tell a goo ...more
Helene Harrison
Review - I thought that this was a good overview of the early years of Henry VIII. I think, however, that it could have ended at a more definite point, as it just sort of tailed off rather than ending per ce. Sources are clearly referenced and events are often explained in detail. I think that the chapter on ancestors could have done with more explanation on why these people had such an affect on Henry, but otherwise a great read.

General Subject/s? - History / Biography / Tudors / Henry VIII

Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed, to-insta
This was very interesting, as I'd only ever previously had details about the Tudors from my school lessons.

Definitely one to read if you like Henry, and I'm looking forward to reading the next book
Apr 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting book exploring the lesser known early years of Henry’s life. Starkey is good on the personalities but for me there was a little too much speculation (did he think/do xyz....?). A strong narrative but no real analysis
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library
This was a challenge to read. Not as much history as one would hope from such a knowledgeable author. A sudden ending too.
Beth Flint
This is the only Starkey book I have not enjoyed. Although the style as ever is lovely & simple to read, the content jumps around and deviated from Henry himself
Dec 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
The WORST book ever. The spelling and grammatical errors alone made it a pain to read. Do not recommend. Zero stars.
C.S. Burrough
Apr 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommended to C.S. by: History readers
Being one of the more recent Henry VIII biographies, and being specifically about Henry's youth, this was a popular choice when widespread interest became fuelled by 'that' TV series with Jonathan Rhys Meyers. I checked it for comparison with the 5 others I've read on Henry.

I rate it on par with the good ones for dynastic background and incidental (impersonal) detail, but not for character study. If more drily and stuffily presented than personally accessible, this is academically fine and fault
Feb 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Tells the story of 'good' Henry up to about age 20. Knowing things are going to take a nose-dive gives a sense of perspective to a story I was only really familiar with at all from fictionalised versions and the echoes of these tales colour Mr Starkey's account in a way he probably might object to. But they do it anyway.
Ting Tong
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall I really enjoyed reading this book and learning about the background to Henry's life which is often overlooked in favour of the main events. I also enjoyed the focus on Henry VII as I prefer his era to Henry VIII. Starkey has a talent for incorporating citations seamlessly to add credibility to his narrative. However at times it was confusing as to which Henry was being discussed (VII or VIII) and there are so many different important figures that it's difficult to remember who is relate ...more
Apr 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
There is nothing like finishing a book but not knowing it because you're reading it on an e-reader. This one said their was 100 pages left, I didn't think all of it could be footnotes, but it was. This is not a very good biography, which is surprising because David Starkey is King of the Tudors and making it accessible to the masses. The problems with the book is the heavy reliance on numbers and names. Too many names were dropped, making it difficult to keep track of the characters, Earls, Duke ...more
Helen Corcoran
Apr 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
What marks this out from previous Henry biographies is Starkey's obvious love for the subject himself. Starkey is one of the leading Tudor historians in the UK and is one of the most well-known. His work is also known for being very readable and accessible to those outside of academia. Starkey focuses on those who came before Henry and who helped to shape him into the young man who eventually became king. The follow-up to this book will inevitably focus on his many marriages, which Henry is know ...more
Apr 26, 2009 rated it it was ok
Fascinating and infuriating. I genuinely enjoyed parts of this book, but Starkey's gossipy style really grates with me and I felt he tried to cover so much that he spread himself too thinly. It was cleary a complicated time in England's history, with the political intrigue surrounding the end of the War of the Roses and the rise of the House of Tudor, and Starkey does a good job of explaining this, but most of the rest of this book feels like he has included anything vaguely of interest to him a ...more
Jan 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Tudor history buffs, those who want to know the REAL Henry VIII before he BECAME Henry VIII
I'm putting this one aside for a bit "lighter" reading. Seriously though, this book is in my library, so I can read it anytime I want. I have two borrowed books now, one from my local library (I have 2 weeks to complete it), and one from the Amazon Prime lending library, and I'd rather tackle them first. Starkey as always is a wonderful writer but I'm taking on two fairly new subjects: Ian Mortimer's biography of Edward III (an influential king I know little about), and -- suggested by a coworke ...more
Feb 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, british
An excellent biography of the young Prince Henry, and then his early reign as Henry VIII. Starkey does a fantastic job of seperating the two very different Henrys in history - the young and virtuous one, and the old and mad one. Henry began his reign with so much potential, but was soon drunk with power. This book, however, focuses on the first Henry.

I read this book along side Julia Fox's "Sister Queens: The noble, tragic lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile". I thought the
Jun 20, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: tudor
First let me say that I'd rate it 3.5. It's shy of 4 because it's too biased, opinionated and cliched for me. A book concentrating solely on Henry VIII's younger years is unique and I was very excited to get my hands on it. It's written in a conversational tone which I liked mostly but it was the bias and opinion that annoyed me most often. It's not even that I disagree with many of his suppositions, just annoyed that he passes them off as MUST be's. It was an enlightening read though and I'm ea ...more
Carolyn Thomas
May 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Starkey says of himself as a historian,"I write books as a storyteller. There is room for analysis, the inclusion of original documents and quite detailed reflections on sources, but the thing that holds the narrative together for me is the story." All of this holds true for "Henry: The Prince who would Turn Tyrant", which covers the period of time from Henry's birth to the arrival on the scene of Thomas Wolsey during the first year of his reign. Informative, entertaining and easy reading.
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David Robert Starkey, CBE, FSA is a British historian, a television and radio presenter, and a specialist in the Tudor period.