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Monday, June 21, 2010

The King & His Court by Alison Weir

This week on Royal Reviews is the King & His Court week. Throughout the week our Royal Reviewers will be reviewing books pertaining to Henry VIII and his court. Join us this as we take a look into the world of Henry VIII.

-The Queen of the Quill

Title: Henry VIII: The King & His Court

Author: Alison Weir

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Genre: Historical Non-Fiction

Publishing Date: 2001

Rating: 4 Crowns

Synopsis: Henry VIII, renowned for his command of power and celebrated for his intellect, presided over one of the most magnificent - and dangerous - courts in Renaissance Europe. Never before has a detailed, personal biography of this charismatic monarch been set against the cultural, social, and political background of his glittering court.
Now Alison Weir, author of the finest royal chronicles of our time, brings to vibrant life the turbulent, complex figure of the King. Packed with colorful description, meticulous in historical detail, rich in pageantry, intrigue, passion, and luxury, Weir brilliantly renders King Henry VIII, his court, and the fascinating men and women who vied for its pleasures and rewards. The result is an absolutely spellbinding read.

My Review: I remember when I was younger and still in school, before the days of Google and Wikipedia, I found it so frustrating that great, yet interesting, historical biographies seemed difficult to find. It's too bad this book didn't exist back then!

Prior to reading this book, I had heard that Alison Weir managed to make a historical biography seem almost as easily read as a historical fiction novel, and she certainly does. Once you get past the initial chapters where the details of money and administration are mostly passed, the story is so lovely that you really do forget you're reading a biography rather than a fictional tale.

This book does a great job of reminding the reader of why so many people genuinely loved Henry VIII, describing his charm and intellect, and I even found myself wishing I could have known him. The majority of the historical fiction novels we read are from the perspective of the women, and Henry himself is very often portrayed as a crazed villain. While I'm still not convinced he made fair decisions in all circumstances, this book did a lot to win me over as far as he was concerned.

Aside from changing my mind about Henry VIII, this book provides a lot of facts that I never would have even thought to ask: how expensive the court was to feed, the number of women who actually existed at court, and even how much power Henry allowed his advisers to think they had. It's also easy to forget how difficult life was back then, but this book is a good reminder of what a life really must have been like. A life where everyone, even the King, doesn't really have it so easy.

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Daphne said...

I thought this book was interesting as well - who knew everything it took to keep a court up and running!

Crystal - Princess of Pop Culture said...

I completely agree Daphne! It's incredible to see how much it took, especially since the court was traveling so much!