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Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England (2011)

by Thomas Penn

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7203821,802 (3.86)78
Profiles Henry VII as an enigmatic and ruthless king of a country ravaged by decades of conspiracy and civil war, discussing the costs of establishing a Tudor monarchy and the ways he set the stage for Henry VIII's reign.
Recently added by2blackcats, private library, imlee, leezeebee, AldusManutius, ALP-Education, nvkiki
  1. 00
    Thomas Cromwell: The Rise and Fall of Henry VIII's Most Notorious Minister by Robert Hutchinson (Luchtpint)
  2. 00
    The Fears of Henry IV: The Life of England's Self-Made King by Ian Mortimer (Luchtpint)
    Luchtpint: Henry IV and Henry VII had one thing in common: they both usurped England's throne on rather spurious claims, and as a result they both met with stiff internal opposition against their rule.
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Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
Henry VII hasn't had the greatest biographers over the years. Shakespeare snubbed him almost entirely. That treasured almanac of our nation's monarchs, [b:Horrible Histories: Cruel Kings and Mean Queens|120971|Cruel Kings and Mean Queens (Horrible Histories)|Terry Deary|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1305220020s/120971.jpg|116486], gives him a couple of pages and calls him “tight-fisted” and “poorly”. With Thomas Penn's rather excellent Winter King, Henry does at least now have a good biography. But by jove was he tight-fisted and poorly.

The reason for Henry VII's relative obscurity is fairly obvious. Compared to his son and granddaughter his interest isn't so immediately clear. He was the puppet-master, sitting in dark corners and pulling strings; and fascinating as that role is, it doesn't really stir up the imagination like Henry “marry-anything-with-a-pulse” VIII, or Elizabeth “take-that-Spaniards” I. Or, as one of my friends put it: “he's the least interesting Tudor king called Henry.” You almost start to feel sorry for the man.

Except it's not easy to feel sorry for Henry VII. He may have been the progenitor of the famous House of Tudor, but as Thomas Penn doesn't put it: the man was a manipulative bastard. The opening and closing chapters of Winter King deal briefly with Henry's early life and the aftermath of his death; his unlikely return from exile in Europe to beat Richard III at Bosworth and take the crown, and twenty five years later how the key characters who had surrounded him during his reign fit into Henry VIII's new rule. The brunt of the work concerns the reign itself, especially Henry's final decade at the start of the sixteenth century.

The picture painted is of a man who knows his claim to the throne is tentative at best, a trait he shared with numerous men scattered across Europe. We see a man who deals with this not with military might, but with careful manipulation of his European peers, and with a system of financial bonds taken out against his own people that – together with his dabbling in the illegal alum trade – made him perhaps the wealthiest monarch England has ever had. But also one of the least popular by the time of his death. Maybe obscurity is a blessing after all. ( )
  imlee | Jul 7, 2020 |
Henry VII hasn't had the greatest biographers over the years. Shakespeare snubbed him almost entirely. That treasured almanac of our nation's monarchs, [b:Horrible Histories: Cruel Kings and Mean Queens|120971|Cruel Kings and Mean Queens (Horrible Histories)|Terry Deary|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1305220020s/120971.jpg|116486], gives him a couple of pages and calls him “tight-fisted” and “poorly”. With Thomas Penn's rather excellent Winter King, Henry does at least now have a good biography. But by jove was he tight-fisted and poorly.

The reason for Henry VII's relative obscurity is fairly obvious. Compared to his son and granddaughter his interest isn't so immediately clear. He was the puppet-master, sitting in dark corners and pulling strings; and fascinating as that role is, it doesn't really stir up the imagination like Henry “marry-anything-with-a-pulse” VIII, or Elizabeth “take-that-Spaniards” I. Or, as one of my friends put it: “he's the least interesting Tudor king called Henry.” You almost start to feel sorry for the man.

Except it's not easy to feel sorry for Henry VII. He may have been the progenitor of the famous House of Tudor, but as Thomas Penn doesn't put it: the man was a manipulative bastard. The opening and closing chapters of Winter King deal briefly with Henry's early life and the aftermath of his death; his unlikely return from exile in Europe to beat Richard III at Bosworth and take the crown, and twenty five years later how the key characters who had surrounded him during his reign fit into Henry VIII's new rule. The brunt of the work concerns the reign itself, especially Henry's final decade at the start of the sixteenth century.

The picture painted is of a man who knows his claim to the throne is tentative at best, a trait he shared with numerous men scattered across Europe. We see a man who deals with this not with military might, but with careful manipulation of his European peers, and with a system of financial bonds taken out against his own people that – together with his dabbling in the illegal alum trade – made him perhaps the wealthiest monarch England has ever had. But also one of the least popular by the time of his death. Maybe obscurity is a blessing after all. ( )
  leezeebee | Jul 6, 2020 |
This is more of a 3.5 star book, but I gave it the benefit of the doubt, and plumped for 4.

It covers the reign of Henry VII, from just after his battle with Richard, to his successful passing of the crown to his son Henry VIII, and the creation of the Tudor dynasty.

It is very comprehensive, covering all manner of details about the court of Henry VII, and the way he went about establishing his reign. It looks at the way he sidelined or eliminated his rivals, the way that he tried to build alignments with European monarchs.
Henry tried to raise capital by illegal smuggling of alum into the UK and Europe, which had been a source of income for the Vatican. Penn writes with incredible detail of the plotting and intrigue of court life, and writes of the tragedy that befell him, losing his wife and eldest son Arthur. The rise of his second son, Henry, is well documented as well.

Whilst it was well written, there is so much detail that you cannot always keep up with the characters in the narrative, and that is why I cannot give it 5 stars. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
I have been wanting to read this book ever since I first heard about it, because for me, Henry VII had been a bit of an unknown quantity. Thoughtful and considered, I'm not sure how far this book managed to reach the inner depths but it certainly showed a thoughtful, practical and financially clever man. It was also a surprisingly quick read, even with me doing quite a bit in 15-minute chunks on the bus. ( )
  mari_reads | Feb 16, 2019 |
Thomas Penn's biography of Henry VII, the first Tudor king, is well researched and competent, if not very exciting. Much of it focuses on his efforts to stabilize and consolidate his power and to rout out possible enemies at court. A pious and sickly man whose early life was dominated by his mother, the single-minded Margaret Beaufort, Henry's main contribution seems to have been bringing together two warring factions by defeating Richard III and marrying the daughter of the Yorkist King Edward IV and producing four children whose marriages united the Tudors to the crowns of Spain,m France, and Scotland. He was also known (and hated) for his stinginess and his continual efforts to raise revenues, usually by levying more taxes on an already overtaxed citizenry. Overall, a stolid but rather dull king; no wonder the kingdom celebrated the succession of his heir, Henry VIII. ( )
  Cariola | Apr 28, 2018 |
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'I love the rose both red and white,
Is that your pure, perfect appetite?'

Thomas Phelyppes,
'I love, I love and whom love ye?' c.1486
'Since men love at their own pleasure and fear at the pleasure of the prince, the wise prince should build his foundation upon which is his own, not upon that which belongs to others: only he must seek to avoid being hated.'

Machiavelli, The Prince
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For Kate
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A biography
Of Henry VII, founder
Of the Tudor line.
(passion4reading)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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