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Sisters to the King: The Tumultuous Lives of Henry VIII's Sisters - Margaret of Scotland and Mary of France

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  2,633 ratings  ·  85 reviews
The author of the highly acclaimed 'Elizabeth I' and the classic 'Knightsbridge Woman' presents an analysis of the fundamental role of Margaret, Queen of Scotland and Mary, Queen of France in the European power politics of the Tudor age.
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 5th 2009 by Andre Deutsch Ltd (first published 1998)
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Start your review of Sisters to the King: The Tumultuous Lives of Henry VIII's Sisters - Margaret of Scotland and Mary of France
Modern-day drama enthusiasts are much interested in the marital exploits of Henry VIII. However, readers of all-things Tudor are well-acquainted with the sisters of Henry, Margaret and Mary, whom had drama of their own to contend with. Maria Perry attempts to portrait these Tudor princesses and Queens in, “The Sisters of Henry VIII: The Tumultuous Loves of Margaret of Scotland and Mary of France”.

Unfortunately, “The Sisters of Henry VIII” suffers from a slow start—and by ‘slow’, I mean the firs
Eleanor (bookishcourtier)
I can't do it anymore. This started out fine but just ended up so mind-numbingly boring. The author comes up with these ideas that she has no evidence for, and the chapters are not linked by anything but chronology. The lives of the two sisters are not linked together at all in this biography, and almost feels like two biographies smushed together. I wasn't enjoying this, so I am going to leave it there.
Jan 12, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elena by: Goodreads
Sisters to the King is a biography of Margaret and Mary Tudor, Henry VIII's sisters.

Margaret and Mary are not very popular in non fiction or historical novels. Their infamous brother and his wives are much more featured. However, their absence is a pity, because both of them lead tumultuous (as the title says) and scandalous lives; and both proved themselves to be very modern women, always ready to fight for their rights and their own happiness.

Perry discusses Mary's and Margaret's lives not se
Feb 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kind of dry but the detail is fantastic. She goes into who spent what amount of money for what amount of clothes or education.
It really goes into detail about what everyday family life was like for the Henry VII his queen Elizabeth of York and their children.
I am surprised by what she has uncovered vs what other historical authors have written.
Caidyn (NO LONGER ACTIVE; he/him/his)
This review can also be found on my blog!


There’s no secret on this blog that I enjoy Tudor history. This is one of those books that I found at a bookstore and snatched it up, then never got to. So, I put it on my Top Ten list for 2019. And, I read it!

It wasn’t a bad book, although it is on the lower side of the 3.5 that I gave it.

Why is that?

First, the book spends far too much time talking about people other than Mary and Margaret. There are chapters where they are not in the picture. Such
When I picked up this book, even though I've read a lot about Henry VIII and his wives and children, I had no idea his sisters' lives had been so interesting. Margaret and Mary were both strong, confident, self-sufficient women, sometimes a little out of place in the sixteenth-century world.

The research that Maria Perry did for this book is amazing, and she tells the story of both sisters going from one to the other in an interesting and easy to comprehend way.

Only two things bothered me - one
Oct 23, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This could have been an interesting read. However, I had to stop reading it a couple of chapters in. The writing was all over the place, it had no flow or chronology, and the main character so far is Henry VIII.

Perhaps the publishers received the author's notes for a book and mistakenly printed those? Because at the moment what we appear to have is a book about the cost of clothes, what Henry VIII's childhood was like, Margaret Beaufort and her struggle for the throne, a few things about the War
Sarah Bryson
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I admit that my initial reason for purchasing this book was because I am quite fascinated with the life of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. Charles Brandon was a lifelong friend of Henry VIII and in my opinion he is quite a remarkable man, he dared to marry Henry’s sister Mary without permission, which could amount to treason, and yet he still kept his head on his shoulders! I was interested in reading about the marriage of Charles and Mary Tudor and what their relationship was like and I thoug ...more
I very much enjoyed how detailed the descriptions in this book were. Also, the author mostly let the subjects speak for themselves, which seems to be a rarity in biographies, where authors play amateur psychologist and constantly impose their own thoughts/feelings. My only complaint would be that too much time is spent on Henry VII himself, particularly the divorce from Katharine of Aragon. I felt that by doing that, Mary and Margaret were pushed to the sidelines.
Bonnie Wilson
Feb 11, 2017 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
I'm sure this is a good book if you like this sort of detail ... I just don't have the patience for it.
3.5 stars

This is a nonfiction account of the lives of Henry VIII's sisters. Margaret, his older sister, was married to James IV of Scotland. She moved there and married him at 13 years old. He died young, and Margaret went on to marry two more times. Henry's younger sister, Mary, was married off to the much older King of France, Louis XII. They were only married for a few months before he died, giving Mary a chance to return to England and marry the man she loved, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffol
Jul 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When focusing on the Tudor period, we tend to focus largely on Henry VIII and his Six Wives, followed by a quick dash of Edward and Mary, before focusing on Elizabeth I and the Armada, plots with Mary, Queen of Scots, and various suitors for her hand in marriage, particularly that of Lord Robert Dudley. Henry's two sisters- yes two, ignore the TV series the Tudors- tend to get overlooked, apart from a little mention here and there. When in fact, they actually played a huge part in the politics o ...more
A very enlightening and interesting biography.

The lives of Margaret of Scotland and Mary of France, the two surviving sisters of Henry VIII is tumultuous indeed. Both sisters share their brother's characteristic of loving wholly and passionately as both choose their second husbands for love despite the consequences.

Perry is good switching from one sister to the other, informing the reader of those they come into contact with and certain events and displays. She shows the energetic women of the T
Apr 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book jumped around quite a bit. It was hard to follow at times. I enjoyed what i read about the sisters as I did not know much about Margaret, but much of the story is about Henry VIII and his" great matter" trying to get divorced from Katherine to marry Anne. Much of the information I already knew since I had already read pretty many books on him. I'm not sure if more information cannot be found on the sisters, but I would have like more information on his sisters and less about his great ...more
Nelina Kapetsoni
Dec 05, 2012 rated it did not like it
This is a bad book! And I don't say so lightly. To begin with, it is not well written. Whole paragraphs seem to be random notes. There are repetitions and the order of events can be problematic for the reader.
Then, it's the problem of the two subjects. This is definitely not the biography of Henry's sisters but of Henry himself with references to his sisters! We get for example a very detailed account for the preparations for the Field of the Cloth of Gold, but learn almost nothing about Mary's
Sep 03, 2010 rated it did not like it
Mary and Margaret had such interesting lives. Sadly, this biography couldn't convey that at all. Dull in the extreme.
Don LaFountaine
Aug 27, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who are interested in European history
I found this to be a book that was able to keep my interest even though, in general, I am not a huge reader of books about the history of the Royal family from the 15th & 16th centuries. It was about Margaret and Mary, the sisters of Henry VIII, who was King of England.

Margaret was the Henry’s older sister, whose father Henry VII married her off to the King of Scotland, James IV. A with most Royal marriages, the Princess was married for the sake of England, in trying to strengthen an alliance wi
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, tudor
Though I have read extensively about Henry VIII and his daughters, his sisters, Mary of France and Margaret of Scotland, were largely unknowns. I was excited to get my hands on this book at a hospital sale; that was the last of the excitement. Alison Weir is a Tudor historian who breathes life into the personages about whom she writes. This book felt as though Perry had compiled 224 of chronological facts and proceeded to simply write them down, one by one. I feel as though I gained some insight ...more
Dec 04, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Eminently readable it might be, but there is far too much padding. Detailed lists of clothes, banquets and tournaments distract from the narrative. Furthermore for most of the last quarter of the book Mary and Margaret are sidelined as Perry goes over the familiar ground of the King's Great Matter. Neither woman really emerges as distinct personality, but it would have made a good book of some 150 pages or so. And I am now officially fed up of the Tudors.
A double introductive biography to Margaret and Mary Tudor, the sisters of Henry VIII. This generation really had tumultuous marital lives! But it was quite interesting to read. I think some background knowledge in Scottish and French history is required to understand fully the impact of Margaret and Mary's marriages, but it's worth the read.
The writing was pleasant.
Carolyn Thomas
Interesting. I liked the way the author told what was happening in the life of one sister and then covered what was happening over the same period of time with the other sister.
Of course, Henry VIII did loom large and the last 50 pages (1/6 of the book) dealt with his attempt to divorce Katherine, woo and wed Anne and produce a son and heir.
Boyana Yordanova
Jun 21, 2020 rated it liked it
As the cover blurp suggests, "Sisters to the king" really is a very readable experience. The only negative I could point out is that often times events are chaotically presented. This has clearly been done in order to preserve the narrative as chapters mostly focus on either Margaret or Mary, but it becomes a little confusing towards the end, which unfortunatelly comes off as rushed.
Lynne Daiquiri
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m really rubbish at reviews but I just wanted to say I was put off reading this for ages because of the mixed reviews. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and thought the way it was written chronologically was logical and easy to read. Highly recommend.
Nichole Holdorf
May 12, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
Dnf was all over the place. I called it quits around pg 200.
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned-books
While the subject matter of this book is interesting, Maria Perry can't tell a story in chronological order - or use a comma.
May 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book, although it was focused as much on Henry as on his sisters. Royal lives were certainly full of misery.
Didn't give as much background history of Mary and Margaret as I would have liked.
Stephanie Burkhart
Perry pens an enlightening historical account of Henry VIII's sisters, Margaret and Mary, that gives the reader a broader perspective of the Tudors.

The novel starts off with Perry taking a look at their father, Henry VII. He brought stability to the throne, but despite his attempts to secure his male progeny, only three of his seven children lived to adulthood – Henry VIII, Margaret, Queen of Scots, and Mary, Queen of France. Knowing this, Henry VII muses to his councilors, "Supposing, which God
Aug 11, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: English history fanatics
I don't see the justification for calling the younger sister, Mary's, life tumultous. As far as I can tell from this book, she struck a bargain with Henry that if she married the doddering old man who was king of France, and was a good wife to him, she'd get to choose who to marry next. And that turned out to be his best friend, Charles Brandon. The rest of her life seemed fairly quiet. Margaret's life qualifies as tumultous. I had great trouble figuring out Margaret's and Mary's ages in this bo ...more
Jan 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nf-hist-english
Truly excellent, thoroughly enjoyable narrative history. Many readers will be surprised to find out just how much a part in the events of Tudor England was played by Henry VIII's two sisters, Margaret & Mary. Both had completely traditional first marriages, taking place at a young age & arranged for purely dynastic reasons: Margaret to King James IV of Scotland & Mary to King Louis XIII of France, both in hopes of cementing more permanent alliances with these two traditional enemies of England. ...more
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Actress and writer Maria Perry was brought up in Cheshire by a grandmother who liked good diamonds and believed women's education harmed the complexion. Sent to Manchaster High School and a graduate of Somerville College, Oxford, she has had some narrow escapes.

After abandoning a career in journalism for the chorus of Jesus Christ Superstar, she wrote a biography of Elizabeth I and was invited to

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