From Henry VIII and his six wives to Elizabeth I, the virgin queen, the Tudor family’s reign was full of change and intrigue that still captivates us four centuries later. Their legacy has spawned a wealth of books and movies, far too much to cover in just one article. So this week I’d like to highlight some of the nonfiction resources the Thunder Bay Public Library has on the Tudors, saving the fiction for next week.
For a great overview of Tudor England, The Tudor Age by Jasper Ridley is the book for you. Ridley looks at everything from law enforcement to food, furniture and entertainment. Another option is Tudor England by John Guy, which focuses more on the political and religious upheavals from the 1460’s right up until Elizabeth’s death in 1603.
For a general overview of the Tudor personalities, look no further than The Tudors: the Complete Story of England’sMost Notorious Dynasty by G.J. Meyer. Meyer examines all of the Tudors from Henry VII to Elizabeth I, giving a great overview of both the people and the changes that they tried to initiate (with varying degrees of success) in Britain.
If you’d prefer to go into depth on a particular Tudor monarch, we have many books to peruse. There’s Jasper Ridley’s Henry VIII, a biography that shows how politically cunning the king was. Neville Williams’ Henry VIIIand his Court is another excellent biography, looking at both the king’s life and his decision to split from the Catholic Church. If you’re more interested in the king’s wife drama, look no further than Tudor Women: Queens and Commoners by Alison Plowden. While the title of this book claims to examine all women, no matter their status, it is primarily interested in the queens (Henry VIII’s six wives, his daughters and Mary, Queen of Scots). Nonetheless it is an interesting look at their lives and affairs. If you’d like an in-depth look at one of his daughters, you may want to give either Mary Tudor: a Life by David Loades or Elizabeth Tudor: Portrait of a Queen by Lacey Baldwin Smith a look. Loades’ book in particular gives a well-rounded look at the woman we remember as Bloody Mary.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. We have books on many other people in the Tudor line, like Henry’s father (Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England by Thomas Penn) his mother (The Women of the Cousins’ War: the Duchess, the Queen, andthe King’s Mother by Philippa Gregory, David Baldwin and Michael Jones), his son (Edward VI, the Young King: theProtectorship of the Duke of Somerset by W.K. Jordan), his sisters (TheRose and the Thorn: The Lives of Mary and Margaret Tudor by Nancy Lenz Harvey), and even specific wives (such as Catherine of Aragon in Sister Queens: the Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon andJuana, Queen of Castile by Julia Fox or Catherine of Aragon: the Spanish Queen of Henry VIII by Giles Tremlett). There are also some books on the Grey sisters (such as The Nine Days Queen: a Portrait of Lady JaneGrey by Mary Luke and The Sisterswho would be Queen: Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey; a Tudor Tragedy by Leanda De Lisle).
Our resources aren’t limited to just the people of the Tudor line. We have many other books on topics including Tudor drama, the Elizabethan underworld, food (including recipes), costume (including patterns), women writers and even a reproduction of a Tudor-era atlas. All of this and more is available at your local library. Next week we’ll take a look at the fiction books written about these fascinating people.
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