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Winter King : the dawn of Tudor England (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Thomas Penn

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5113119,954 (3.83)59
Member:MissWatson
Title:Winter King : the dawn of Tudor England
Authors:Thomas Penn
Info:London [u.a.] Allen Lane 2011
Collections:History
Rating:***
Tags:English history, Tudor, Henry VII, biography

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Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England by Thomas Penn (2011)

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Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
Occasionally brilliant - occasionally frustrating. Straddles a line between dry academic and popular history writing. The long lists of courtiers and their backgrounds does drag a bit, but I learned a lot about a period of history that's often overshadowed by the preceding and subsequent years. The stuff about Henry's control through debt finance was fascinating. ( )
  sometimeunderwater | Mar 19, 2016 |
This was an interesting look at the transitional King Henry VII. It was nice to find something well researched on this King who is usually overshadowed by his notorious son in the realm of history. Overall, I did not find Penn's approach or presentation of the facts as reader friendly as say Alison Weir's writing, but I might be a bit biased. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 22, 2016 |
I found this to be a highly readable account of the early days of the Tudor dynasty. This well researched history provides good insight into Henry VII’s machinations to maintain his hold on the crown by ruthlessly defeating his opponents and amassing great wealth at the expense of his subjects as well as detailing his interactions with Spain, Philip of Burgundy and the Papacy. Additionally, it provides an interesting view of the formative years of Henry VIII and the early years of many of his courtiers, including Thomas Cromwell, Thomas More and Erasmus. There is also some fascinating information about Catherine of Aragon during the years she was left to flounder in England between her marriages to Arthur and Henry VIII. I found it a little difficult to keep track of all the people and titles during the first part of the book; it helps to have a little familiarity with the time period.

I part read this and part listened to the audio version--Simon Vance gives a great narration. ( )
  Bluebird1 | Jan 14, 2016 |
Overall, I found this disappointing. I had really looked forward to this one and really enjoyed the opening quarter or so. (I remember describing it to my brother as almost like a Tudor-era version of a top-notch Cold War thriller.) But then I found it dragging when it went into the meticulous detail of how Henry's court, and his totalitarian 'Council Learned' operated. I confess that I lost interest in the various methods of taxation and extortion that the king's courtiers and subjects were controlled and oppressed by. Henry VII (like many of his predecessors and successors) was a cruel and ruthless monarch, but his Machiavellian machinations really set the template for how to be the complete bastard dictator. Perhaps this made him a great king? I'm not sure, but it certainly proved a tough act for Henry VIII to follow. Josef Stalin himself would have learnt a lot from reading this. It takes a certain type of tyrant to establish a royal dynasty in late-medieval Europe.

"In London, the information-gathering and persecution, the arrests and financial penalties continued unabated."

To its credit, the author does an extremely thorough job, and his book is obviously a consummate piece of research, but I have to admit that I found it verging on the boring in long stretches. That said, it is without doubt a fascinating period of English history and there was much here that I did relish. The later chapters on the youthful heir Prince Henry were of particular interest. It was compelling to read of how the King's young son was gradually groomed for his kingly role, and how young Henry saw the world around him come into focus as he matured.

Henry Tudor's entire world from the court rulings to the court gossip, and from every show trial to each and every royal jousting tournament, it is all bought painstakingly to life within the covers of this book. One for the enthusiasts undoubtedly. ( )
2 vote Polaris- | Nov 30, 2015 |
This was an excellent book to bridge the gap between Richard III's downfall and Henry VIII. Of course, to do this it focuses on the reign of Henry VII. The majority of the book is focused on the middle and end of Henry VII's reign; there is not much in depth exploration of how he actually gained the throne. This book focuses on how he keeps the throne and how he sets up Henry VIII.

To seal his authority on the throne, there were three things that stood out to me. One was that Henry VII ruthlessly hunted down any other people with royal blood and made sure they were not a threat, either by imprisoning or executing them. Second, he made a ton of money in the buying and selling of alum. Alum had been used for its medicinal properties for some time, but it had recently started being used as a dye-fixer in the textile industry and was in high demand. The money Henry made from buying and selling alum made him the richest King in Europe and money does always help in keeping power. Third, Henry made sure to keep everyone guessing and never feeling secure by using his closest circle to demand money, make arrests, and bring legal charges to people of all ranks, creating something close to a reign of terror.

Henry's reign was interesting to me, but what I found most interesting was the set up of Henry VIII's reign. Of course, Henry was never meant to be King; he had an older brother, Arthur, who was reared to rule. Arthur's sudden death put Henry in place as his father's heir. In this book we see a lot of the familiar faces from Henry VIII's reign get their start - men like Thomas Wolsey, Thomas More, Charles Brandon, etc. I found all of this fascinating since most of the reading I've done about Henry VIII starts at the end of his marriage to Catherine.

There is a lot more in this book (Henry VII is humanized by his love for his Queen, Elizabeth of York) but those are the main things I took away from this very readable but still scholarly account of Henry VII. ( )
1 vote japaul22 | May 26, 2015 |
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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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