happy's Reviews > Tudor: The Family Story

Tudor by Leanda de Lisle
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really liked it
bookshelves: history-english

In her look at the Tudor Dynasty, Ms. De Lisle has delivered a very reader friendly book. Starting with the Owen Tudor, Henry VII’s grandfather and who gave the dynasty its name, the author looks at the family that ruled England from 1485 thru the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. In telling their story Ms. De Lisle states to understand the Tudors, one must understand how they saw themselves.

This is not your standard history. The author just doesn’t look at the politics surrounding the family, but attempts to explain how the politics affected the various members of the family. Starting with Owen Tudor,a commoner, and his very fortuitous marriage to a Queen (Henry V’s widow - Katherine de Valois), the author gives the reader a peak at the interworking’s of the family. In telling the story of Owen and Katherine, Ms. De Lisle recounts the various stories of how they met and how their marriage was received by the ruling council. To say the Regents were not impressed is an understatement, but other than banning them from court, the Council decided not do anything about it until Henry VI came of age and let him deal with it.
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Ms De Lisle also does a good job of telling Margret Beaufort’s, the great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt, story. She married Edmund Tudor, one of Owen and Katherine's sons and gave her son his royal blood-tainted though it maybe. She successfully protected her son and navigated the rip tides that were the Wars of Roses and is presented sympathetically contrary to the common perception. She was an astute politician in her own right and was able to judge what needed to be done to protect the interests of her son.

In looking at the Tudor Monarchs, De Lisle does not just tell the story of their reigns, but also looks at them as people. She tells of their fears and their aspirations. She tells how the politics affect their lives as people. In telling Henry VIII’s story she illuminates his desire to emulate and even surpass his predecessor, Henry V and become the King of France and how this affected his foreign policy. She also humanizes the story of his marriage to Katherine of Aragon and how he came to see it as an affront to God and that God was punishing him by not giving him a son. Also in telling the story of Henry VIII, the author tells us the story of his sisters who both married kings and how their decendents came into play in the later stages of the story of the dynasty.

In telling the story of the later Tudors, I felt the author was especially sympathetic to Mary. Her portrayal of Mary was one of a monarch who was an astute judge of what her kingdom would accept in religious matters and only after much urging from Catholic authorities began the persecutions that led he to be known as “Bloody Mary”.


Her sister, Elizabeth, is shown as learning from Mary and to a great extent basing her ruling philosophy on her reign. Ms. De Lisle also notes that Elizabeth had more people executed that either her father or her sister. The author spends a considerable amount of time looking at why Elizabeth would not name a successor, in spite of the urging, almost demanding, of her councilors, esp William Cecil.

All in all this is an excellent look at the family that became the perhaps the greatest of the English Monarchies. I would give it 4.5 stars rounded down for Goodreads.
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Reading Progress

July 31, 2013 – Shelved
July 31, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
August 2, 2014 – Started Reading
August 4, 2014 –
page 109
20.22%
August 9, 2014 –
page 245
45.45%
August 14, 2014 – Finished Reading
August 17, 2014 – Shelved as: history-english

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Great review happy, this sounds fascinating. Have added to my ever-growing tbr


happy tnx - the TBR never seems to shrink :)


message 3: by Silvana (new) - added it

Silvana Great review, I am adding this book to my wishlist :)


Judith_Rex I agree with you completely - the book filled in some missing bits for me nd also supported many of the things I already was thinking about the family. I appreciated the author's bravery in taking on the fairytales!


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