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Winter King by Thomas Penn
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Winter King (original 2011; edition 2012)

by Thomas Penn

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Member:annalena21
Title:Winter King
Authors:Thomas Penn
Info:Simon & Schuster (2012), Kindle Edition, 482 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
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Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England by Thomas Penn (2011)

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As I understand it, Henry VII is not as well remembered among the English kings in spite of the fact that he united the York and Lancaster houses and brought a measure of peace from the decades of wars, murders, and coups. Shakespeare apparently skipped him, perhaps because most would rather forget his reign.

After exile in France he returned and claimed the throne by defeating his rivals. Henry was from the Lancaster line but his wife, Queen Elizabeth, was from the House of York, and their union quieted some old animosities. But he was still ruthless with any other claimants or pretenders to the crown, and they usually found themselves wasting away in prisons under his watchful eye. He arranged for his oldest son Arthur to marry a Spanish princess for political alliances, and was left devastated when he died shortly thereafter. But what surprised me most was how manipulative Henry was and how he used his initially limited power to amass more power and wealth - and the way he did it using complex financial means to blackmail and extort every last bit of gold from those who soon found themselves hopelessly in his debt.

This is not a full biography of Henry VII and sometimes quickly skips over parts of his life. His exile is covered in some detail as is his assumption of power, but then it skips over the first ten years or so of his rule. The focus is more on the corruption of the latter years of his reign when he and his network of assistants had secured an iron rule over the people and used it ruthlessly. It's not an era of history that I was very familiar with and I found it tough reading - even stopping in the middle for a few months - but also strangely interesting in spite of that. ( )
  J.Green | Aug 26, 2014 |
As I understand it, Henry VII is not as well remembered among the English kings in spite of the fact that he united the York and Lancaster houses and brought a measure of peace from the decades of wars, murders, and coups. Shakespeare apparently skipped him, perhaps because most would rather forget his reign.

After exile in France he returned and claimed the throne by defeating his rivals. Henry was from the Lancaster line but his wife, Queen Elizabeth, was from the House of York, and their union quieted some old animosities. But he was still ruthless with any other claimants or pretenders to the crown, and they usually found themselves wasting away in prisons under his watchful eye. He arranged for his oldest son Arthur to marry a Spanish princess for political alliances, and was left devastated when he died shortly thereafter. But what surprised me most was how manipulative Henry was and how he used his initially limited power to amass more power and wealth - and the way he did it using complex financial means to blackmail and extort every last bit of gold from those who soon found themselves hopelessly in his debt.

This is not a full biography of Henry VII and sometimes quickly skips over parts of his life. His exile is covered in some detail as is his assumption of power, but then it skips over the first ten years or so of his rule. The focus is more on the corruption of the latter years of his reign when he and his network of assistants had secured an iron rule over the people and used it ruthlessly. It's not an era of history that I was very familiar with and I found it tough reading - even stopping in the middle for a few months - but also strangely interesting in spite of that. ( )
  J.Green | Aug 26, 2014 |
As I understand it, Henry VII is not as well remembered among the English kings in spite of the fact that he united the York and Lancaster houses and brought a measure of peace from the decades of wars, murders, and coups. Shakespeare apparently skipped him, perhaps because most would rather forget his reign.

After exile in France he returned and claimed the throne by defeating his rivals. Henry was from the Lancaster line but his wife, Queen Elizabeth, was from the House of York, and their union quieted some old animosities. But he was still ruthless with any other claimants or pretenders to the crown, and they usually found themselves wasting away in prisons under his watchful eye. He arranged for his oldest son Arthur to marry a Spanish princess for political alliances, and was left devastated when he died shortly thereafter. But what surprised me most was how manipulative Henry was and how he used his initially limited power to amass more power and wealth - and the way he did it using complex financial means to blackmail and extort every last bit of gold from those who soon found themselves hopelessly in his debt.

This is not a full biography of Henry VII and sometimes quickly skips over parts of his life. His exile is covered in some detail as is his assumption of power, but then it skips over the first ten years or so of his rule. The focus is more on the corruption of the latter years of his reign when he and his network of assistants had secured an iron rule over the people and used it ruthlessly. It's not an era of history that I was very familiar with and I found it tough reading - even stopping in the middle for a few months - but also strangely interesting in spite of that. ( )
  J.Green | Aug 26, 2014 |
Despite the author's generally clear style of writing, and despite the wealth of detail so painstakingly researched, the more one reads this book, the more Henry VII recedes from view behind the mountain of money he spent his life amassing. If the author was trying to give a rounded portrait of Henry VII then he failed, but it is an honourable failure because Henry VII gave him absolutely no help at all. ( )
1 vote comsat38 | Dec 13, 2013 |
I listened to this book as an audiobook. I've been fascinated by the Tudors ever since I took English history in school. Recently the books by Philippa Gregory about the War of the Roses have caught my interest and when I saw this book was narrated by Simon Vance, one of the preeminent narrators of audio books, I knew I had to listen to it.

This book didn't spend much time on the years before Henry VII took the throne and that was okay with me because of Philippa Gregory's books that have explored that time quite well. However, there is some and probably enough to give the background for the meat of the book which concerned Henry VII's reign. It seems that Henry was a very religious man but he certainly didn't let that stop him from accumulating great wealth by taxing and fining the citizens of England. He was helped in this by various men but he micromanaged all aspects of accruing money. So he was certainly aware that he was not popular. His son and heir, Henry VIII, appeared to be his exact opposite when he came to the throne and the populace responded to him with enthusiasm. However, many of the father's advisors were kept on by Henry VIII. Everyone knows the story of Henry the VIII's numerous marriages and break with the Catholic church. A king who was brought up in the belief that the sovereign could do anything he wished would easily accept the doctrine of the divine right of kings.

Very interesting material and well read by Simon Vance. ( )
1 vote gypsysmom | Dec 9, 2013 |
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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.'

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A biography
Of Henry VII, founder
Of the Tudor line.
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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.

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