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The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir

The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1991)

by Alison Weir

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
I was inspired to read Weir's book after completing the Great Courses lecture series "The Age of Henry VIII," which whetted my appetite to better familiarize myself with this fascinating and not infrequently horrifying era in English history. Although I struggled with the slow pacing at times, I've come away feeling now quite knowledgeable about the time, events and people surrounding this 16th-century king. ( )
  ryner | Jul 29, 2018 |
Even with being a Tudor nerd, when I pulled Alison Weir's The Six Wives of Henry VIII off my shelf to read, I figured I was in for a long haul. Nearly 600 pages of nonfiction tends to be a lot to handle, no matter how interesting you find the subject. But as you can see, I actually read it pretty quickly! Which is attributable in large part to how good Weir's writing is. Although she's presenting facts, she doesn't forget that her job as a writer is to tell a story for the reader. The story of Henry the Eighth and his wives is an inherently juicy one, and she tells it well.

Like many stories about Henry and his wives, the first two (Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn) dominate the narrative. In the case of books based solidly in historical fact, I have to imagine that part of that is simply because there's the most information there about these two women. As royalty in her own right, Katherine's life would have been much more documented than a common woman. And since Henry and Anne's affair lasted seven years before their marriage, there was a lot of time for things to be written about her by the types of people whose correspondence would have been preserved. Jane Seymour, on the other hand, had a very short courtship with Henry, and indeed a rather short life once they married, leaving much less time for a record to be developed. Weir does challenge the prevailing wisdom that regards Jane as a mild-mannered pawn used by her relatives to secure influence. She would have had to have a healthy level of her own ambition to pull it off and there's no reason to believe she didn't.

At the end of the day, this is a history, so if you're looking for deeper cultural analysis along the lines of The Creation of Anne Boleyn, you're barking up the wrong tree. It's obviously very thoroughly researched and told with considerable narrative skill, but there's little in the way of "new" information if you're fairly well-versed in the subject. I did learn new things, like that Henry's outreach to the Duchy of Cleves indicated interest in either of the two duchesses...Anne, who became his wife for a short while, or her sister Amelia. I also learned more about the lives of Henry's sisters...not a lot, because they weren't the subject of the book, but enough to intrigue me and make me want to learn more someday. I'd recommend this book to a pretty wide group...people interested in the time/place/people will get the most out of it, but its size shouldn't intimidate readers without that kind of pre-existing grounding in the subject. ( )
  500books | May 22, 2018 |
I read the Kindle version. I think the paper version would be better, because you'd be able to flip backwards and forwards to the timelines and family trees.

I was a bit confused by the pictures at the end. The names were spelt differently from the way they were spelt in the rest of the book, and some of the information contained there contradicted the rest of the book. ( )
  KWharton | Apr 11, 2018 |
If I could create a genre for this book, it would be "intense history" or "serious history." This was a politically intense and emotionally nerve-wracking time to live in for any woman. The lifespan of a woman in this time is said to be around thirty years of age. The lifespan of a woman as wife of Henry VIII rested on her attitude as Queen and wife and how well he thought of her. While I don't advocate for divorce, I will accept it over a beheading any day!

Divorced, beheaded, died
Divorced, beheaded, survived.

This was how I remembered what happened to each Queen growing up.

Alison Weir did her research thoroughly in the making of this book. If there are any gaps, she acknowledges it. Sometimes papers are missing or its location may not be known. She did mention a fire which may account for other missing evidence that would have answered questions about Henry and his wives. It's long and intense, but it's well done.

However, it's not something I would want to re-read over and over again, which is why I gave it three stars. ( )
  caslater83 | Apr 23, 2017 |
Excellent history of his wives. ( )
  ShelleyAlberta | Jun 4, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Weir, Alisonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The reign of Henry VIII is one of the most fascinating in English history.
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Henry VIII's marital affairs brought the royal marriage into public focus for the first time in our history.
Henry VIII's wives would all have learned very early in life that, as women, they had very little personal freedom.
Infidelity in a wife was not tolerated, but for queens Henry VIII made it a treasonable offence punishable by death, because it threatened the succession.
What was really required of a queen was that she produce heirs for the succession and set a high moral standard for court and kingdom by being a model of wifely dignity and virtue.
Queens walked slowly, danced slowly, and moved with regal bearing, not just because they were born to it, but because their clothes constrained them to it.
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blurb: Henry VIII is perhaps England’s most infamous monarch, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. He was married to six distinctly different women, and in this richly detailed and meticulously researched history, these remarkable, often misunderstood queens come to life once again: Katherine of Aragon, stubborn and devoutly Catholic; Anne Boleyn, proud and fiercely ambitious; Jane Seymour, deceptively strong willed; Anne of Cleves, unappealing and uncomplaining; Katherine Howard, young and foolish; and finally, Katherine Parr, brave, practical, and intelligent. Their full histories and personalities, emerge at last, giving voices to the six extraordinary women who left their distinctive marks on the English throne and thereby changed the course of British history.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802136834, Paperback)

The tempestuous, bloody, and splendid reign of Henry VIII of England (1509-1547) is one of the most fascinating in all history, not least for his marriage to six extraordinary women. In this accessible work of brilliant scholarship, Alison Weir draws on early biographies, letters, memoirs, account books, and diplomatic reports to bring these women to life. Catherine of Aragon emerges as a staunch though misguided woman of principle; Anne Boleyn, an ambitious adventuress with a penchant for vengeance; Jane Seymour, a strong-minded matriarch in the making; Anne of Cleves, a good-natured and innocent woman naively unaware of the court intrigues that determined her fate; Catherine Howard, an empty-headed wanton; and Catherine Parr, a warm-blooded bluestocking who survived King Henry to marry a fourth time.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:28 -0400)

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Well-documented portraits of each of King Henry the VIII's 6 wives. The lives and fates of King Henry VIII's legendary six wives are laid bare in a vivid, in-depth account that is set against the colorful, tempestuous background of the Tudor era.

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