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Publisher's Summary

Henry VIII, who ruled England for almost four decades, provokes questions. What is greatness? How should we judge character? Who or what can be said to "make" or cause history? England's most famous king ruled an island only about the size of Pennsylvania, inhabited by fewer than three million people nearly 500 years ago - yet he remains instantly recognizable to this day, his barrel-chested and bejeweled figure immortalized by the brush of Hans Holbein the Younger.

In this series of 24 revealing lectures, an honored teacher offers an intimate portrait of the monarch who, in a recent biographer's words, "changed the heart, mind, and face of Britain more than anything between the coming of the Normans and the coming of the factory" - a despot who became an accidental great-grandfather of English-speaking democracy.

You'll learn how Henry gave Protestantism its powerful purchase in the English-speaking world and how, given Britain's later significance in world history - made possible in part by Henry himself - he must be accounted a towering figure of history. The Henry VIII who emerges from these lectures is a man of both great charm and terrifying, self-pitying ferocity. He harbored ruthless ambitions and spun grand schemes, yet in the end was shadowed by the historical irony of expectations gone awry. At the same time, you'll grasp how his reign contributed an important legacy to British history and the modern world. The revolutionary effect of the Act of Appeals was to make law itself, or the king-in-Parliament, the supreme authority. Parliamentary law became the basis of the new constitutional monarchy, and Henry's navy was the first standing military force in his day.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2003 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2003 The Great Courses

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  • Fara
  • Longmont, CO, United States
  • 12-18-13

Fascinating and enthralling!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This book is a prime example of history being far more far-fetched than fiction could be. I was familiar with all the characters from previous reading, but this has really fleshed them out for me (and made me shake my head over them a lot more than I previously had!).

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

I didn't listen to it all in one sitting because to be honest, one has to do one's day job sometime. But I did listen eagerly to several hours at a stretch.

Any additional comments?

Well done all around, and thank you!

17 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • John S.
  • Seattle, WA United States
  • 12-19-17

Had to stick with it a while

By the end I found I didn't regret having gotten this title, although at first I wasn't so sure. Author's speaking style took some getting used to as he came off as ... pedantic (shall we say) early on. Also, other reviewers have mentioned digressions, which I can understand, but would say that the material becomes more philosophical, or theoretical, than factually-rooted at times. I'll give him credit that it's a different approach to one of the most well-trodden periods in history, as opposed to a recitation of facts without much interpretation which wouldn't work well.
Bottom line: target audience would be Tudor-philes looking for a fix.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Interesting Study

This is an interesting study of the Age of Henry VIII. The key word in the title is "Age." This course is not really a biography of Henry VIII. Instead, its an in-depth study of Henry VIII's world. I wish the course had given more biographical information about Henry VIII, though it did give a good overview and focused on certain key aspects of his life. All in all, this was an interesting class. I feel like I now know more about this important time.

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Among the Worse of the Great Courses

Having read and researched a trove of material on the Tudors, and Henry VIII in particular, I found this GC wandering, often wildly inaccurate, frequently lost in navel-gazing, and generally worth little. While the topic of the impact of Henry VIII and the Tudor monarchs has great import, I believe the GC should include this topic. However, I strongly urge GC to immediately dispose of this course - especially it's babbling professor, who often interrupts himself, even mid-word, to make inane, odd comments; even comments about comments. To fans of the GC series, I exhort you steer clear of this topic until it has a complete remake, and all trace of Professor Dale Hoak scrubbed from the gleaming academic halls of the GC.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful