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Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England | [Thomas Penn]

Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

“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))

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    nursebettyknitting Boise, ID USA 05-29-13
    nursebettyknitting Boise, ID USA 05-29-13 Member Since 2012

    knitting fiend

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Informative but depressing..."
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 09-01-15
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    "Excellent !"

    The book and narration really bring to light the day to day activities and intrigue of the period.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    N. halliwell 07-14-15 Listener Since 2007

    I love books in any form. I find audio books to be very relaxing.

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    "Excellent narration"

    Simon Vance does an excellent job narrating Winter King. Note to big authors: hire him for all your audio books! The only reason this book does not get 5 stars on the story is because it is very in depth about what Henry VII did to keep the nobles in check, the financial blackmail, the use of obscure laws and crippling fines. For someone who is a casual history buff, it will probably be too much. For someone who is interested in the Tudors and especially how a man with very little claim to the throne gets it and manages to keep it, it is a great book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Hillary São Paulo, Brasil 05-11-15
    Mark Hillary São Paulo, Brasil 05-11-15 Member Since 2014

    Mark Hillary

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    "Fantastic overview of Henry VII"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    VirginiaMom Virginia 04-25-15
    VirginiaMom Virginia 04-25-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Fascinating."

    Enjoyed it thoroughly. Henry VII is the prince Machiavelli could have been thinking about as he wrote The Prince. Recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hallie California 04-25-15
    Hallie California 04-25-15
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    "Nice enough story.."

    But I got lost many times with so many names thrown out and I felt sometimes the narration diverted to stories of other people when it should be more on the reign of the King. Most of the details were like.. Junk. But overall one would learn a thing or two listening to this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    john Battery Point, Australia 03-29-15
    john Battery Point, Australia 03-29-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Brilliant"

    Highly recommended.

    Get it if you have any interest in the period. Nothing startling and new but delivered in a clear way that others could do well to emulate.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Dallas, TX, United States 02-12-13
    Christopher Dallas, TX, United States 02-12-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Can be tedious, but generally interesting"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Winter King to be better than the print version?

    I dont know. I didnt read the print version.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Winter King?

    Learning about the domestic and foreign policies of Henry VII and how he ran his kingdom in comparison to his more famous son


    What does Simon Vance bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Im not sure. He was good. But Im not sure he was transcendent or anything..


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    A good historical book. The topics back then are all the same.. intrigue, secret plots, marriage alliances, doing odd things in the name or religion... if youre interested in the history and can get through the first part. its a good listen

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Molly phoenix az 11-25-12
    Molly phoenix az 11-25-12 Member Since 2015

    luckymolly

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    ""Glorious summer" made winter once again..."
    Would you listen to Winter King again? Why?

    Definitely would listen to this one again. Nonfiction can be dry but this was well-written and well read. There was a lot of information presented that I'd come across before but it was woven into a pretty smooth narrative. The author does have a couple of phrases, expressions, words, that are noticeably repeated, but I didn't find this to be an annoyance, just something I noticed.


    What other book might you compare Winter King to and why?

    The subject matter here makes it difficult to compare to another book. SB Chrimes wrote the Yale English Monarchs series entry on Henry VII and that suffers a bit from being that type of dry academic work that is so difficult to stick with to the last page. If you like David Starkey's biographies, this is probably up your alley.


    What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?

    His voice was even and steady but not at all monotonous.


    Any additional comments?

    Given that Henry VII was a cipher in life and has remained so or become more of one in death, it isn't surprising that this book comes across as a portrait of a man painted by filling in the space around him. It is nearly impossible to know much of Henry that isn't a reflection off of someone or something else. This is more apparent in the 2nd half of the book, as first Prince Arthur's and then Queen Elizabeth's death marks the point at which Henry, always secretive, always guarded, retreats and even the glimpses of a happy behind-the-scenes family life fall away and all we are left with are records of a reign descending into a feudal police state. The book ends with the beginning of the reign of Henry VIII and based on what he's done in Winter King, I'm hoping that Mann will continue into that reign with his work.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ellen Chesterton, IN, United States 10-21-12
    Ellen Chesterton, IN, United States 10-21-12 Member Since 2008

    I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.

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    "Interesting and Tight"

    I've been working my way backward and forward through British royalty, starting with Elizabeth 1. This is a nicely done history that is juicy enough to keep you going. More than anything, it reminded me how very unpleasant it has to be to be so public that all your quirks and warts are there for all to see.
    All in all, a good read.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Marcus
    London, United Kingdom
    4/12/12
    Overall
    "Classy reconstruction of the period"



    Fascinating but selective. A  very enjoyable history of Henry VII and how he managed to size the English throne, and keep it,  in very unsure times.  The Battle of Bosworth is skated over very quickly, as is how Henry secured the throne.  But longer passages are devoted to more  obscure persons such as the  poet Skelton who became Henry VIII tutor.  It gives a good back ground to the early lives of Henry VIII and Catherine, and all the machinations around their eventually marriage. The final passages on the the death of Henry VII are some of the best, in showing what it was like to be around a dying king.   In the  end Henry VII still remains an  elusive character. A knowledge of the ins and outs of the period is useful, Wikipedia was very helpful.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs.
    Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
    6/24/12
    Overall
    "Winter King"

    I am an avid reader of all aspects of history, I have studied Henry V11's reign at A Level and read other material to supplement my interest. This is a well researched, intelligent and easy to listen/read book. I found the narrative on the many colouful characters of the Tudor court particularly interesting and Mr Penn succeeds in humanising them for good or ill in a way that I have not experienced before. A refreshing and thoroughly enjoyable read which avoids the current trend of authors to follow practically every sentence with 'they probably attended', 'probably thought'. I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in Tudor History. The audio version is one of the best i've listened to.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Olivier
    thouare sur loire, France
    9/23/12
    Overall
    "A Lesser-Known But Fascinating King"

    Not having been to school in the UK, I had never heard of Henry VII, and purchased this title on a whim, based on other reviewers' praise for this audiobook. I do not regret it.



    On the one hand it is a perfect "prequel" to the life of Henry VIII and sheds much light into the context in which Henry VIII became king (in particular his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, the immense wealth he found when acceding to the throne, and the wild popularity he enjoyed at the beginning of his reign).



    On the other hand it depicts Henry VII, an immensely interesting king in his own right. At a time when all European monarchs were cash-strapped due to their incessant wars, Henry VII studiously avoided wars and became the only cash-rich king of Europe. His attention to details (micromanagement) was probably also a plus as compared to other kings who let councilors run amok.



    The book is a bit frustrating at times as it often doubles-back to tell the story of a new protagonist, just at the time when we are getting to a crucial point (such as the wedding of Arthur to Catherine of Aragon).



    One point I liked about the book is that it did not end abruptly with the death of Henry VII, and goes on for about 30 minutes with the aftermath of his reign. Having had other biographies (Jean Edward Smith's FDR and Eisenhower come to mind) stop within half a page of the death of the biography's subject, it was nice to have the author's take on the transition to come.



    The reader is excellent and nicely emphasizes the quoted, old English, parts of the text, so that one always knows what is a quote and what is the author's text.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Kate
    Sheffield, United Kingdom
    12/7/13
    Overall
    Performance
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    "A different perspective on the wrong side"
    What did you like most about Winter King?

    Thomas Penn has done a very good job in not only investigating this period but peeling back the layers of history to make it an informative, enjoyable and accessible listen. As a Yorkist Wars of the Roses reenactor my interest has often ended after Bosworth but to hear the rest of the story once Henry VII is on the throne makes me see how much I was missing.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    With all the intrigue and politics going on favourite is not the right word. The portrayal of Henry VII in relation to the continental kings with his supposedly bottomless pot of gold was certainly very interesting.


    What does Simon Vance bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Keeping my attention held on the story and adapting his portrayal of the characters to more easily reflect who was who.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Usually films of historical events are done very badly so the tag line might well be:

    "Don't watch this drivel where the director and production team has no knowledge or respect for history. Go listen to Simon Vance read the intrigue to you instead!"

    Though that isn't very catchy.


    Any additional comments?

    A very enjoyable book indeed and I will certainly be looking for more by both author and reader.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Portia
    Lichfield, United Kingdom
    5/22/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Dodgy geezer steals throne and bleeds country dry"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Great stuff ... Illuminated Henry VII very well. Good style, easy and informative listen. Great narration. Finished it in a few days, just didnt want to stop.
    Yup, recommended.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Hard done by princess? Evil vizier tax-men? His ol' mum? His hero in the waiting son? The perfidious foreigners? Underrated outsider in rags to riches real-life story?
    Got it all, really :)


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Vanessa Barrett
    Shropshire, England
    12/6/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating link between Plantagenets and Tudors"
    What did you like most about Winter King?

    Following on from the recent TV series on Elizabeth Woodville, the book filled a gap in my knowledge of the period between the Wars of the Roses and the mass of books written about Henry VIII and later Tudors. The author gives a convincing story of how Henry VII's complex personality, and obsession with hoarding money, was formed during his childhood exile. I really liked the way that meticulous research and contemporary quotes were woven into the story so that one could envisage the colour and spectacle of great Court occasions as well as feel the terror of loyal subjects who were baffled by the King's secretiveness. I found the most interesting elements concerned what was going on in England at the high point of the Renaissance in Italy. I knew that Henry VII was deeply engaged in European trade, but the book gives insights into his machinations, as well as to the squandering of huge sums to try to 'buy' security from Plantagenet rivals for the English throne.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Thomas Penn? Why or why not?

    I like the way solid research and contemporary quotes that were woven seamlessly into the storyline. If this author has written anything else about a little-known period of history, I would enjoy reading it.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    Philip of Burgundy was shipwrecked on the English south coast when he was trying to get to Spain to claim the crown of Castile from Ferdinand (of Aragon) after Isabella's death. The book illustrates how the usually sombre Henry VII created a series of extravagant Court pageants to lock Philip into a 'gilded cage' until he agreed to give up the main Plantagenet 'pretender' to the English throne that he had protected for years. Henry was an incredibly astute politician.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Our first Renaissance King


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mr.
    Glasgow, United Kingdom
    7/8/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Difficult material well handled."

    This is difficult material concerning an important period, which has all but vanished under the mass of fluff and scholarship which attends the later Tudor era. It is however a very important period in the development of the power of the state, and deserves to be studied for this fact if no other. Thomas Penn has made a very good job of organising a wealth of information and detail, and if he falls into the trap of listing too many names of people and places from time to time, it's hardly surprising. These occasional longueurs and confusions do not really detract from an otherwise informative and stimulating work. Simon Vance's narration is absolutely first class, smooth, measured and fluent throughout. Five stars for the telling and four for the story; jolly good, all in all.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Fenella
    London, United Kingdom
    4/14/13
    Overall
    "Winter King: Henry VII not just a stop-gap!"

    The reign of Henry VII is often seen as rather dull compared with the Wars of the Roses and the glories of the Tudor Court under Henry VIII and Elizabeth I but this book makes it very clear that the cautious Henry VII consolidated his victory at Bosworth by careful financial management as well as bringing together the houses of Lancaster and York by marrying the eldest daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. This is history at its best: strategy and politics as well as human tragedy. The narration makes it a real 'audio page turner'

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs. Virginia H. Stewart
    Dorset, England
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "Very interesting and totally engaging."

    I didn't know much about Henry VII so this was an excellent introduction. It was really well read and filled in so many gaps in my historical knowledge. I'm not sure I liked Henry but I really do admire his ability to govern and bring a measure of peace and stability. Being about Henry VIII's father it also details Henry VIII's childhood and early life including his courtship of Catherine which is very sad when you know how it ends. What a sad lonely life Catherine had.

    I would highly recommend this audio book which once started is quite addictive!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Imogen
    7/20/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very enjoyable"

    I really enjoyed listening to this book, the pace was just right for me. Fascinating

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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