A fresh look at the endlessly fascinating Tudors - the dramatic and overlooked story of Henry VII and his founding of the Tudor Dynasty - filled with spies, plots, counter-plots, and an uneasy royal succession to Henry VIII.
Near the turn of the sixteenth century, England had been ravaged for decades by conspiracy and civil war. Henry Tudor clambered to the top of the heap, a fugitive with a flimsy claim to England’s crown who managed to win the throne and stay on it for 24 years. Although he built palaces, hosted magnificent jousts, and sent ambassadors across Europe, for many Henry VII remained a false king. But he had a crucial asset: his family - the queen and their children, the living embodiment of his hoped-for dynasty. Now, in what would be the crowning glory of his reign, his elder son would marry a great Spanish princess.
Thomas Penn re-creates an England that is both familiar and very strange - a country medieval yet modern, in which honor and chivalry mingle with espionage, realpolitik, high finance, and corruption. It is the story of the transformation of a young, vulnerable boy, Prince Henry, into the aggressive teenager who would become Henry VIII, and of Catherine of Aragon, his future queen, as well as of Henry VII - controlling, avaricious, paranoid, with Machiavellian charm and will to power.
Rich with incident and drama, filled with wonderfully drawn characters, Winter King is an unforgettable account of pageantry, intrigue, the thirst for glory, and the fraught, unstable birth of Tudor England.
Thomas Penn has a PhD in early Tudor history from Clare College, Cambridge. Winter King is his first book.
©2011 Thomas Penn (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“I feel I’ve been waiting to read this book a long time. It’s a fluent and compelling account of the cost of founding the Tudor dynasty.” (Hilary Mantel, Man Booker Prize–winning author of Wolf Hall)
“An exceptionally stylish literary debut…[Penn’s] book should be the first port of call for anyone trying to understand England’s most flagrant usurper since William the Conqueror.” (Diarmaid MacCulloch, New York Times best-selling author)
“A definitive and accessible account of the reign of Henry VII.” (Guardian (UK))
A thorough telling of the reign of Henry VII as dry as s pile of fallen leaves in January. All of the intrigue, machinations, scheming personages, beheadings, royal moves and countermoves are detailed but with no juice or passion. What's needed is a Philippa Gregory to stir the pot and make me care.
this book was well written and too often forgotten story that needs to be told. It may not be best for audio format as the names get very tiresome and a bit confusing. if you do listen, keep a note book of names.
I bought this book without realizing this was an "actual" history book and not a historical fiction novel. I listened; I feel like I know so much more now about Henry the VII and his time. It does not make for pleasant pastime: I was shocked by his "regime"'s brutality, deceit, systematic destruction of his subjects' lives and highway robbery of their assets. I can see why "monarchy" and "tyranny"are so close - practically synonyms. I did get quite depressed listening to it, but I would listen to more of Penn's writings if it becomes available on audio.
I really loved this one. You must pay attention as not to loose track of the family tree and players, but if you can keep all that straight, it is very great to listen too.
It is of coarse about Henry VII most of all. Learned a lot about the man and although he is not a beloved character, he was sure a king that a person would be interested in.
I found Simon Vance a good listen. Very good.
No, I think the book is long and needs digesting in steps, but I sure did not want to be away from it more then a day or two.
I usually prefer historical fiction to biographies or history, but I purchased this book primarily b/c Simon Vance is the narrator. Love me some Vance!
Penn did a fabulous job of covering Henry VII. I was only curious about the scant mention of Jasper Tudor; a man who played such a dominant and prolonged part in Henry's early life. Also, I find Margaret Beaufort a fascinating historical character. It's my personal opinion, but I would have liked more on her. But, to be fair, this book wasn't her biography.
I found the methods the author used to jump around different aspects of a theme quite seamless. For example, how he could write about Henry's surprising relationship with Elizabeth (wife) one minute and adroitly transition to his dealing with subversive plots the next was, to me, impressive.
However, if you're looking for something with some action/romance/drama vs. straightforward history, this isn't it. It's history, not historical fiction.
I wish Penn would write more books. Maybe one on Margaret Beaufort...
You're probably wondering, how could the founder of a very successful dynasty be seen by anyone as a nonentity? But when your successors are a homicidal, womanizing king (Henry VIII), a religious zealot (Mary Tudor), and a "Virgin" queen who not only got every monarch in Europe to dance to her tune but also staunchly defended the realm against its biggest threat (Elizabeth I), it is hard to stand out. Indeed, Henry VII seems like such a smart, efficient bureaucrat, that it is hard for anyone to work up a lot of enthusiasm for him. Those very qualities (intelligence, efficiency) made him into a spectacularly successful king. Indeed, if you were a king around this time, Henry VII would be a good model to study to see how to accumulate a lot of money, avoid war, and ensure political stability.
All that being said, Henry VII is just not terribly interesting. I suppose that the biggest indictment to lay against him would be that he didn't really adequately prepare his eventual successor (his second son, Henry) for his role as monarch. Of course, he didn't think he would have to because he had groomed the eldest son, Arthur, for the job. Too, who can predict that Henry VIII's most infamous legacy was as a man who wrenched England away from the Roman Catholic church and married 6 women? I am sure that Henry would not have approved of his son (father was so frugal and grasping with money) but this can hardly be held to his account. What you get in this story is a solid grounding in how Henry VII came to power and used his power to accumulate wealth and prestige which he could pass to his successors. Penn writes a fluid narrative and Simon Vance is his usual brilliant self as narrator.
Enjoyable Tudor History. Helps in my understanding of English Government much controled by the King
"Henry VIII Prequel"
I treated this experience as a prequel to reading I'm heading into following this book--more (always more!) on Henry VIII. My interest has been reignited by the books Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies--both amazing.
I am blown away by the political and marketing savvy of Henry VII and his mother, Catherine Beaufort(?). They created the legend of the Tudors pretty much out of whole cloth. I was not aware of this degree of "sophistication" in that period.
Simon's narration is impeccable. He reads the book, for sure, but it sounds like he's telling the story from his mind and heart.
No--I was engaged enough to do so, but it's very long and covers a long period. "Digestion" between "meals" was vital!
Great narration and the story moves fast. Henry VIII gets most of the attention in popular history do this is an excellent primer on how his father created the monarchy Henry VIII would inherit.
"Dreadful Narration ruins this title"
It was just dreadful! I somehow didn't notice that Simon Vance had narrated this and bought it only to discover it was he! Seriously, ham acting doesn't begin to describe this.
He narrates so many books that I can only conclude that he reads aloud without actually bothering to look at the words he's saying, rendering it pointless really.
It may be a fantastic book, in fact I suspect it is as it's a great subjecct and Penn is usually very thorough. Such a shame about the narration which meant that I listened to about a fifth of the book and gave up.
Dreadful. Renders the book unintelligible as he puts no intelligence into his narration. One may as well have an automaton reading. Truly the worst performance on audible so far.
Hopefully someone else will narrate this at some point as I would truly love to hear it, but preferably by a narrator who has the ability to READ and understand what he is voicing.
"Complex and rewarding"
Not light listening; I'd guess I've listened to some sections of this 4 or 5 times - usually on chapters where I've trotted off to bed and I'm falling asleep.
Dense with facts, names, dates and motivation, it's also a work where you miss a dramatis personae, family tree, timeline or a really good index / cross reference. In a physical book, I'd have been flipping backwards and forwards checking I had the timeline or character right.
Still hugely enjoyable, but does demand concentration.
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