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))
This is the first modern biography of Henry VII, and it is long overdue. Penn does an excellent job of pulling together the complicated story of Henry's reign, its improbable and contested beginning, and its tragedies and betrayals. Henry is a difficult man to sympathize with, which perhaps explains the dearth of biographers, but the strains and disappointments of his reign explain a good deal about the subsequent Tudor preoccupations with legitimacy, continental standing, and continuity. This should satisfy both serious history students and those wishing for a general introduction to Tudor England. The narrator is quite good, as well.
This is a very solid and well researched book. I will probably listen to it again because my main problem was that I lost track of some of the characters of Henry VII advisors and they switched from help to hindrance so many times I had trouble keeping track of them, but this is as likely a problem with my memory as with the book. It does a really good job of describing not only Henry VII and his personality but how it came to influence his famous son, Henry VIII. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in English Monarchical history.
This book is incredibly in-depth and yet an easy listen.
This is the first Simon Vance performance I have heard, but I would definitely listen to another.
Everyone has heard and read about Henry VIII. But his father, Henry VII???
I certainly knew very little before listening to this book but know much more now. Thomas Penn's magnificently written biography is a magnificent, interesting all encompassing read. Simon Vance, once again, is an outstanding narrator.
This is a must if history interests you.
I've become a sucker for Audible. I love audiobooks, to the point of addiction. Especially a good romance audiobook... :)
If you have an interest in the war of the roses or in the Tudor dynasty, this book is a must read!
In this book, all the characters who make such a stir in the Tudor history appear, even those who make history all on their own... The Dudley's first appearance, the Howard's and Boleyn's; then we read of the Borgia Pope, Alexandre and his famously evil son Cesare; even the Hapsburgs (Marie Antoinette's powerful family) make an appearance. The list goes on... Henry himself is a most unique and intriguing character, who lived a difficult life to bring stability to England in many ways. one of the most important to him was ending the civil wars! He eliminated any chance for a contested succession, among many other things he did, but is not remembered for.
On its own merit, it's very well written and doesn't feel like a textbook. It's fascinating, well-read, and I was sorry to finish the book if the little known but ultimately extremely important monarch: Henry VII!
Very impressive book!
"fabric artist and quilter"
This was a most interesting book - we all know about Henry 8 and Elizabeth 1 and probably know about Bloody Mary and the fact that Edward, H8's only son, reigned for a short time but the first in the Tudor dynasty is glossed over. After this book I don't understand why - Henry VII is a most interesting and complex man. He was also a most unfortunate and unlucky man loosing his son and heir and his wife in quick succession - he never full recovered from that despite the fact his second son was to go on to be the most famous King in English history.
There was lots of information and interesting facts and it has rewetted my appetite for all things Tudor. I enjoyed the book and recommend it for those interested in Tudor history and to those that want to know more about H8's father.
Winter King is a detailed, clearly written and logical account of the life of Henry VII. I had previously read little about this English king, founder of the Tudor dynasty, so I appreciated the depth the author provided in this biography of the man. However, Henry wasn't a particularly admirable or charismatic person, so while learning this much about him was "good for my mind," it was not especially enjoyable or inspiring.
I recommend this book only for readers who are seriously interested in the Tudors and want a more complete understanding of the man who began their period of rule. The account explains much about the infamous Henry VIII who more than made up for his father's basic dullness with his own flamboyant, ostentatious reign. In many obvious ways he counter-scripted his father's style of kingship. However, both men were very aware of the tenuousness of their claim to the English throne and were therefore scrupulous in surrounding themselves and their court with a number of blatant outward symbols of royalty and wealth. They both could be extremely ruthless in holding onto power and obtaining what they wanted personally, showing little regard for the rights of their subjects or even those of their own family members.
Listening to Winter King was a worthwhile use of my time because the biography was well done, but mostly because I have a fascination with Elizabeth I and this book fills in an important piece of her family puzzle.
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.
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.
His voice was even and steady but not at all monotonous.
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.
I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.
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.
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