The Children of Henry VIII

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The royal family may have its problems these days, but as Alison Weir reminds us in this cohesive and impeccably researched book, the nobility of old England could be both loveless and ruthless. Weir, an expert in the period and author of a book on Henry's VIII wives, focuses on the children of Henry VIII who reigned successively after his death in 1547: Edward VI, Mary I ("Bloody Mary") and Elizabeth I. The three shared little--living in separate homes--except for a familial legacy of blood and terror. This is exciting history and fascinating reading about a family of mythic proportions.

"Fascinating . . . Alison Weir does full justice to the subject."
--The Philadelphia Inquirer

At his death in 1547, King Henry VIII left four heirs to the English throne: his only son, the nine-year-old Prince Edward; the Lady Mary, the adult daughter of his first wife Katherine of Aragon; the Lady Elizabeth, the teenage daughter of his second wife Anne Boleyn; and his young great-niece, the Lady Jane Grey. In this riveting account Alison Weir paints a unique portrait of these extraordinary rulers, examining their intricate relationships to each other and to history. She traces the tumult that followed Henry's death, from the brief intrigue-filled reigns of the boy king Edward VI and the fragile Lady Jane Grey, to the savagery of "Bloody Mary," and finally the accession of the politically adroit Elizabeth I.

As always, Weir offers a fresh perspective on a period that has spawned many of the most enduring myths in English history, combining the best of the historian's and the biographer's art.

"Like anthropology, history and biography can demonstrate unfamiliar ways of feeling and being. Alison Weir's sympathetic collective biography, The Children of Henry VIII does just that, reminding us that human nature has changed--and for the better. . . . Weir imparts movement and coherence while re-creating the suspense her characters endured and the suffering they inflicted."
--The New York Times Book Review

Customer Reviews:

  • Could Not Put This Book Down
    I had absolutely no interest in the Tudor monarchy. The only related book I have ever read was a biography on Sir Francis Drake. I was in the bookstore, however, and was tempted to read the author's forward. Her style is so personal that I was immediately captured. It doesn't matter if you are interested in British royalty. If you are interested in politics and how they are affected by interesting personalities you will love this book.

    The only complaint I had was that very little information was provided on Elizabeth I (ruling years). I understand that she had a long reign and that there are several other books that go into her story but Alison Weir could have given us a forward to her next book. Maybe she felt that would have been too commercial......more info

  • Mrs. Weir clearly did not do the in-depth research required.
    Mrs. Weir clearly did not do the in-depth research that she should have. Among the glaring inconsistencies is on page 248 in which Mrs. Weir indicated that Elizabeth was taken from Ashridge on Feb. 12, 1554 later spending a night on Feb 21 at the village of Highgate. Raphael Holinshed in his chronicles of 1587 indicates that Elizabeth was taken from Ashridge on the 15th of March.
    John Foxe and Henry Ellis (Two early historians)concur that Elizabeth was moved to the Tower on Palm Sunday, the 17th of March, not February 22nd as Mrs. Weir indicates.
    There are other inconsistencies, please enjoy the story and do not rely on the facts.
    Speaking as a professor of early European history for 18 years, these types of accounts only serve to distort history for future generations....more info
  • Readable history....
    I like Alison Weir's books because she is able to extract the pertinent facts from the most complex of sources and present a great deal of information in an immensely readable book. THE CHILDREN OF HENRY THE VIII is no exception. Although she is a "popular" writer, Weir does not shun primary materials. Her bibliography is very impressive and she seems to have "done her homework".

    CHILDREN covers the lives of Henry's three children by Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boylyn, and Jane Seymour. I find it amazing that one of England's greatest monarchs, Elizabeth I, was the daughter of a woman who reigned for a mere 1,000 days. Known as the "French whore" by the Catholics who hated her, she was a lady in waiting to Katherine of Aragon the mother of Mary.

    According to Weir, the young Mary was most solicitous for the life and welfare of her young sister Elizabeth after Anne Boylyn was beheaded. Had it not been for Mary's care, perhaps there would have been no Elizabeth I. Both of young princesses were at risk from various parties after Anne died. Mary, a bit older than Elizabeth was aware their lives were at risk and she did what she could to protect her self and her sister from whom she was later cruelly separated. Sadly, as they grew older and were kept apart by various scheming interest groups, Mary and Elizabeth grew more estranged and distrustful of each other until finally there was a parting which nearly cost Elizabeth her life.

    Weir tells Mary's tale from the standpoint of a sympathetic viewer. After all, Mary had been raised to expect her place would be with her parents and that someday she would be queen if she had no brothers. Henry was married to Katherine for 20 years, and she bore him many children. Alas, only Mary survived.

    The English could accept a woman on the throne, but most preferred a man. Hence, Henry VIII continued to father dozens of children with a succession of wives until at last a son lived. Edward was born to wife number three, Jane Seymour, and although he survided infancy Edward was frail and easily became sick in an era filled with plague and other misasmas.

    Edward was crowned king however he died young. Although he was to be followed by his sister Mary who was next in succession for the throne of England, Edward's ministers plotted and placed Lady Jane Grey on the throne. Jane was a cousin to Edward and a direct descendent of Henry VII. Jane was Protestant, the main reason certain parties supported her. Jane was destined to be overthrown by Mary's forces nine days after she seized the throne. When Mary eventually claimed her throne she was not above buring a few Protestants including the ill-fated Jane who had plotted against her.

    Most of us grew up reading history books written by Protestant historians who did not tell Mary's story objectively. In THE CHILDREN OF HENRY VIII, Alison Weir has redressed this wrong. Mary was indeed a queen of vengence, but she lived in times that tried women's souls....more info

  • Cheers for Children of Henry VIII
    Aison Weir never fails to bring history alive. This novel was so engrossing I found myself reading it everywhere from the bathtub to my job. The intricate detail of the reign of Henry VIII's successors is so great that I am able to understand the Tudor monarchy even better. A vast amount of research went into this novel and the documented correspondance allows readers to have an introspective look into the personalities of Henry's heirs. An excellent read!...more info
  • Captivating Read!
    I was pleasantly surprised by the book. This is really my first delve into the history of the Tudors and I was pleasantly surprised. I was extremely well-written and a great read!...more info
  • Wow, wow, and more wow
    I know it's an asinine way to start a review, but it's honestly the most apt title I can think of: this book is absolutely outstanding. I was completely absorbed the entire time. "Bloody" Mary is given fair treatment, as is Lady Jane Grey; Weir doesn't play favorites and tells the story in compelling and thrilling detail. Hate history? This book is a good place to start, as the rich personalities of the Tudor monarchs and their contemporaries are fleshed out into truly lifelike figures. Is there anything this woman can't write?...more info
  • A pretty standard overview of Edward, Mary, Lady Jane & Liz
    This book was a dissapointment after reading Weir's excellent Eleanor of Aquitaine. This book is a fairly straighfoward accounting of the lives of Henry 8th's children (plus Lady Jane Grey) from his death to the accension of Elizabeth to the throne.

    There's not much particulary new in this book, and you would probably be better served by individual biographies if you want their lives in depth. In particular I found the lives of Edward VI and Lady Jane quite sketchy, with Elizabeth and Mary being better delt with.

    However, if you don't know much about this period of England's history this book would be an excellent introduction and overview as the author's writing style is very clear and staight forward....more info

  • Her best
    In my opinion this is book is her best in the series. The title I think is misleading a bit. The book mainly deals mostly with King Edward and Queen Mary. Of course, she deals with Queen Elizabeth more than adequately in her next book. This book is an excellent bridge between 'The Wives of Henry the VIII' and 'Elizabeth I'. The attempted coups, rebellions and assassinations in interesting stuff. A must read....more info
  • Filled in a gap!
    I had read a couple of books about Elizabeth I, and some about Henry VIII, but I did not know a whole lot about the time between Henry's death and before Elizabeth's accession. This book satisfactorily filled in that gap for me! Covers everything from young King Edward's reign through the intrigue that nearly got Elizabeth beheaded, the brief reign of the unfortunate Jane Grey, and Bloody Mary's years on the throne. The pace is very quick, and it's so interesting that it reads more like a novel. This is one of my favorite historical books on my shelf, and I've reread it more than once....more info
  • Henry VIII- First Dysfunctional Family?
    I've read almost every book about this Tudor King. This one gets into the moral background of the family and Henry really blew it. I suppose Elizabeth I, his daughter by Anne, second wife, must be the winner for her strenght and fortitude alone. However, it is sad because that is when the Tudor Dynasty ended. She bore no offspring and wasn't a boy. That meant everything then-and now! Interesting read. I'd recommend it just to find out who was the mother to whom. He did have 6 wives!...more info
  • A Great Book
    The Children of Henry VIII was a wonderful book. Alison Weir gave accurate historical information while keeping the book on a personal level. She really got in touch with the relationships of Henry VIII's four heirs: Prince Edward, his only son; Princess Mary, his daughter by his first wife Katherine of Aragon; Princess Elizabeth, his daughter by his unfortunate wife Anne Boleyn; and Lady Jane Grey, granddaughter of Henry's sister Mary of France. Not only did the book show the relationships between the heirs, but it showed how they related to and got along with important men and women in the era of British history that took place during the reformation. The devoutly Catholic Mary and her faction was hardly a match for the protestant views of Edward, Elizabeth and Jane. The book also shows how the people of England felt about the changes taking place in their homeland while not leaving out the effects of foreign powers on the decisions of the kings, queens and powerful men in Britain at the time. Overall the book was easy to follow although Alison Weir called the same person by different names on several different occasions which made things a little confusing. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in British royalty, other royalty of the era, Holy Roman Popes of the era, and the reformation....more info
  • Another Winner
    This is a fantastic book. Alison Weir doesn't write a conventional history about these elusive monarchs. She instead, brings them to light by uncovering all of the hidden factors that came to play in their dealings with each other as siblings; and how these same factors affected each of their reigns. This is a book that reveals the complex workings of the government, the extreme divisions of religious sects, and the reactions and expectations of the British people during a difficult period in history. This is not a light read, and it is sometimes disturbing and gruesome; yet, at the same time, this is a compelling and fascinating book. It does focus primarily on the short-lived terms of Edward VI, Mary, and the Lady Jane Gray. The life of Elizabeth I is written about very beautifully in Weir's book by the same name....more info
  • Worth the money
    This biography of four young English aristocratic children--Edward VI, Elizabeth I, Mary I, and Lady Jane Grey--tells their life stories and shows the backstabbing nature of the Tudor court. Alliances were changed often for political and social gain, with these children often being used as pawns. Weir's book shows this and more, and is well worth your money....more info
  • The Children of Henry VIII
    Set during the end of the second phase of the Renaissance period, Alison Weir's biography of the four charismatic sovereigns is an enthalling tale of power, religious fantasism, and the tumultuous relationships among the heirs. Weir sprightly establishes the spirit and tempo of this work prefacing with a condensed account of the lives, wives, and reign of Henry VIII. By describing the four monarchs with such zeal, the author brings to life the four monarchs. This book is immpecably researched and written....more info
  • Perfect and in time
    Once again (I bought three books related with Henry VIII) the contents were the expected, the conditions in wich I received the book were perfect, and in a very reasonable lapse of time...more info
  • Royal Mob
    Weir illuminates her characters in an unforgettable way that is familiar even today. Henry VIII was a sixteenth century mob boss who demanded that his kids take over the business. Some paid with their souls--or their lives. Lady Jane Grey is an especially affecting figure....more info
  • No mention of Henry VIII's bastard son, Henry Frizroy!
    This book gives in depth factual information that quenches my thirst for Tudor information. Although the book covers Jane Grey, Edward VI, Elizabeth, and Mary I well, Alison has failed to mention Henry VIII bastard son, Henry Frizroy, the son of one of Henry's mistresses, Elizabeth Blount. Although Frizroy played no part in England's political history, it would have been nice to have some information on him. Other then that, this book is probably one of Alison's best, showing both the personal and political sides to each person. Keep writing!...more info
  • This is real history - not a whitewashed novel. I loved it!
    Recently I've become interested in the Tudors. I've been following the series on television and have also read a few historical novels. This book, however, is different because it is not a novel. It is a biography. All I can say is WOW - truth really is stranger than fiction - and much more fascinating.

    It starts with a short history of the three Tudor siblings. Then, we meet King Edward VI I, a child being manipulated by the men in power. We get to know him as he grows more and more aware of his own power. He believes in the Protestant religion and he and his advisers have put restraints on Catholicism. Of course his oldest sister, Mary, who is in her late twenties and has been raised Catholic is unhappy and resists all the new laws, but he is firm in his own beliefs. By the age of 15, though, he is dying. It is a painful and tragic death and takes a long time. The reader is not spared any of the details. In order to keep England Protestant, on his dying bed, he chooses the next in succession - his cousin Lady Jane Grey, merely 15 years old at the time. She didn't want to be Queen, but was forced into it. Her reign was short (only nine days) and tragic. Soon, Mary became Queen.

    This all seems so simple, but, it fact it is quite complicated. The book describes the many plots and subplots, intrigues and politics of the time. Long imprisonments and beheadings were common. And later, during Mary's reign, Protestant heretics were burned at the stake. The reader is not spared any of the grisly details. There were times I got the shivers but I was glad this was not whitewashed history. This was real, it happened, and the writing was so good that I felt I was right there. The author managed to insert constant historical references, including actual letters, into the narrative.

    I learned a lot. I didn't know that Queen Mary had been married to a Spanish prince. I hadn't realized that the younger sister, Elizabeth, had spent much of her life imprisoned. I didn't understand the complexities of the constant warfare with other countries. And, even though I knew about the division between the Protestants and Catholics, this book really described the ends that Mary went to in order to force Catholicism on the English people.

    It's all here, packed into a mere 366 pages. Well, almost. The book ends with Mary's death and Elizabeth's ascension to the throne. It then simply mentions that Elizabeth enjoyed a 45-year reign. I definitely plan to read some other biography about that reign. But I now have the background to understand it better.

    I loved this book and was sorry it ended. Highly recommended.
    ...more info
  • Reads like a novel.
    This is one of the most interesting historical novels I have ever read. Based on only a superficial interest in the era, I picked up this book and put it down with a very clear idea of events and chronology related to the events surrounding Elizabeth I, "Bloody Mary" and Lady Jane Grey, and all the other players in this fascinating drama. Highly recomended for lovers of history and historical fiction....more info
  • A very good resource for character research
    For anyone wanting a well-written, detailed work about the characters of this period, this is the book to begin with. It provides valuable information on the life of the times, the relationship among the children, and further, it furnishes a wealth of valuable detail for any actor or researcher. As a portrayer of historical characters, I found this book to be exciting to read. The only disapointment was that it ended too soon; right at the beginning of Elizabeth's reign. Perhaps the author believes that this ground has been covered by others, but there is never enough material for an avid researcher to digest. So, read her next book, "The Life of ElizabethI"...more info
  • Fascinating study of the Tudors
    A wonderful account of the eventful period between Henry VIII death and Elizabeth I succession. By focussing on the characters, their private lives and motivations, it read like a thriller and awoke a new interest in history for me! N.B. In response to other customer reviewers of this book who commented on its misleading title (as Jane Grey was not Henry VIII daughter) this only occurs with the American edition; my British edition is titled "Children of England; The Heirs of King Henry VIII"....more info
  • Another Fine Piece of Tudor History from Alison Weir
    Alison Weir has created another fine addition to her group of histories surrounding the Tudors. The Children of Henry VIII will fit quite nicely between the Wives of Henry VIII and The Life of Elizabeth. This particular volume covers the period from the death of Henry VIII to the beginning of the rule of Elizabeth. It is a wonderful period to study and read about as it covers the reigns of Edward and Mary and the almost reign of Jane Grey (not a child of Henry, of course, but a fine addition to this history). This tumultous period is seen through the eyes of the children themselves and the religion confusion occuring at this time is truly brought to life. Ms. Weir does no disservice to this rich tapestry she is given and in her usual readable and exiciting style brings all of this royal madness directly to the reader. A wonderfully entertaining read. I was sorry when it was over....more info
  • No "Part II Syndrome"
    Although not advertised as such, this book should really be considered "Part II" of Weir's Tudor trilogy. If you haven't read "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" first, you really should; and "The Life of Elizabeth I" picks up right where this one ends. Usually part 2 in a trilogy is the weakest link between the beginning and the end, but this is an exciting and engrosing book chronicling the reign of Edward and Mary.

    Edward VI usually gets more or less ignored: probably a combination of his father and sisters seeming much more exciting, and the fact that he became king at age 9 and died only a few years later. Weir shows that this is unfair: despite his age he managed to smoothly manipulate those who held power over him, and shows a surprising maturity in the letters and papers that he left behind.

    Mary, poor Bloody Mary, is so easy to despise and/or mock, but Weir turns her into a sympathetic, if pathetic, character. With no interest whatsoever in ruling, the pressures of the throne, her marriage, and her inability to conceive basically caused her to go mad.

    Throughout the book we see Elizabeth, but really only as she interacts with her half-siblings. Still, this book offers the foundation of her personality and drive. This, as well as the 2 other books I mentioned in the first paragraph, is an essential book for anyone who is interested in learning more about the Tudor period, or Queen Elizabeth. Best of all, it is exhaustively researched and written in a simple, accessible style that you don't have to be a historian to understand....more info

  • An Historical Treat
    When Alison Weir is the author, the book is unquestionably accurate and a wonderful read. The children of Henry VIIl were exceptional. Elizabeth and Edward were incredibly intelligent. They always fascinate me. Mary, hummmm, maybe not so much. I love anything Alison Weir writes. I have yet to be disappointed in any of her books. ...more info
  • Wonderful Biography
    This is a wonderful, interesting, and detailed read on the children of Henry VIII; Edward VI, Mary I, Elizabeth I, and Jane Grey (Henry's great-neice). The book describes each one of their reigns (although shame on Weir, two pages on Elizabeth's reign), their impact on the country, and their relationships with each other. A book no history enthusiast should be without!...more info
  • Tedious history
    The author demonstrates meticulous research in this book. This is the fourth of her books I have read and find her style clear,dull and somewhat easier to read than the Congrsssional Record.If you are seeking an accurate history with overmuch detail, Alison Weir is the author for you. I prefer a history book with a theme which holds my attention and doesn't wander into taxing paragraphs of detail,dull detail. ...more info
  • Wonderful book! Wonderful author!
    Alison Weir knows her British history and this book is another winner. Although not as perfect as THE SIX WIVES OF HENRY VIII, this is an interesting follow up and enlightens us to the intimacies of Henry VIII's royal brood. If you're a fan, you probably already own it... otherwise, you will certainly enjoy their dramatic biographies....more info
  • Fascinating look at the Tudors
    This book got me hooked on the Tudors & on Alison Weir. It's an excellent look at the monarchs usually overlooked between the larger-than-life figures of Henry VIII & Elizabeth I--Edward & Mary. Edward proved to be a fascinating, intelligent young man who might have turned out to be a maginificent ruler in his own right. And it's very sympathetic to "Bloody" Mary--showing that she never really had any happiness or security after her mother was passed over for Anne Boleyn.

    It also gives interesting insight into Jane Grey--another brilliant young woman whose religious fanaticism (& abuse by her father) condemned her to an early death.

    Above all, it's a testament to the excellent education Henry VIII gave to his children. All of these young people were extremely well educated, even the girls--fascinating in light of the oppression that women lived under in those days. Even though he may have ignored them & treated them cruelly, Henry did make sure his children received the finest educations. And all turned out to be strong-minded, interesting characters.

    If you're interested in Elizabeth I, this is the 2nd part of 3 books Weir wrote covering her life (starting with "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" & ending with "Elizabeth I")....more info

  • Very Enjoyable
    Gave additional understanding of Henry's children, Prince Edward and Princess Mary, as well as the English people. As always, Weir's style is meaty enough to engage, without reading like a thesis....more info
  • Great history in a readable format
    This is an incredibly fascinating story, full of intrigue and insight into some of the most famous of English monarchs. What impressed me the most about this book is that not only it was very readable, but the author has great integrity. She clearly presents the situations and explains the different rationales for various theories when the facts are a bit cloudy. Often, history books directed at the lay person are dumbed down, dramatized well beyond what is not only true but also necessary for an interesting story, and/or lack integrity. For a book to be so thorough and engaging is a true feat.

    This book will make a great gift for those with a mild interest in history, England, Elizabeth I, or the English monarchy....more info

  • Captivating
    I truly enjoy history and with a writer like Alison Weir it's a captivating learning experience. I've also read her PRINCES IN THE TOWER and have purchased SIX WIVES of HENRY VIII and ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE. There is nothing as enjoyable as diving excitedly into a read when you know you won't be disapointed. . Bravo!...more info
  • I found this book to be enthralling, educational and excitin
    This is the first historical biography I have ever read and I am grateful to Alison Weir for that. Since reading this book I am hooked. Befor ereading this I knew nothing of that period of time n'or the players involved. The subject matter is enthralling, shocking and I have enthusiastically recommended it to everyone I know. The format is easily digestible and allows the story to tell itself without being dragged down by dates and dull facts. She tells history as it is meant to be told, as a tale....more info
  • Outstanding
    An excellent book. Allison Weir includes historical facts mixed with the perfect amount of personal history. I couldn't put this book down! I really recommend this book, I've just ordered several other books that she has written. The way she has presented the various subjects in this book is really very creative. This is not one of those 1,000 page text books that are filled with footnotes every other word. Very easy to read. Again, just the perfect mix! I'm just sorry it was not longer....more info
  • Alison Weir writes history like a suspenseful novel
    It's hard to believe that a history book can keep you at the edge of your seat, but Alison Weir has managed to hook me on this period in English history. I was interested in learning more about this time in history but I was afraid that this would be dull and dry. Alison Weir has made history suspenseful as well as enlightening. As a result I am reading the "sequel" in the series, Elizabeth the 1st and loving it!...more info
  • Interesting documentary of heirs to Tudor Monarch
    Overall, I found The Children of Henry VIII surprsingly more enjoyable then I though it would be. When I first picked up the book, my thoughts were, "This is just great. I've already skimmed through three other books and this one is going to be just as boring also." Halfway through the introduction, I decided that it wasn't so bad. The book was filled with vivid details that captured each scene and pulled me in right away plus kept my attention. At times, I felt like I was witnessing a scene up close. It was as if I had traveled back in time and joined another world. Something that I always thought would be fun to do, but of course, it's not possible. The vivid details are especially helpful if you're the visual type of learner which I am. One thing that I really liked about the book was the the author, Alison Weir, didn't spend endless pages babbling on about the same subject. Just enough pages were spent examining each topic that came up. She made me develop a curiosity about the subject first before continuing. I never had to flip through pages that were filled with the same information that I had just read. By the time all the explaining was done, I didn't have any quesitons left in my head because they had all be answered. However there were a few pages that I wish I hadn't read. If you're the type that can't stand the sight of blood or thinking about it, then the vivid details used to describe executions are not what you're looking for. One suggestion I would make though would be that a page or two in the back of the book listing all the characters and their titles be added because I found it a little confusing when in nearly every chapter a man was given another title. It made it somewhat hard for me to keep track of who was who. Other than that the book was easy to read and understand....more info
  • A fascinating look at a tumultuous time
    If you'd like to gain a better appreciation for the necessity of separating church and state, or for the orderly change of governments (for the most part) today, check this book out. Ms. Weir does a great job of putting together history books that communicate the intrigues and difficulties of British politics in the 15th and 16th centuries. I can't wait to see her book about Elizabeth I; this one ends just as Elizabeth gains the throne of England. I learned so much about the short lives of Edward and Lady Jane Grey, and the politics of marriage, through Weir's books. "The Princes in the Tower" and "Six Wives of Henry VIII" are also terrific reads....more info
  • An enthralling book about some interesting people.
    I was already a fan of Alison Weir's after reading The Princes in the Tower and The Wars of the Roses, and this book did not disappoint me in any way. The equal amount of time allotted to each character as well as descriptions of what each was doing during the time of another's reign made this book read like a story and hard to put down....more info
  • Entertaining and easy to read. Find out who lost Calais.
    Alison Weir has made reading about the High Middle Ages very entertaining. It is most enlightening to read how human each of the monarchs during this period were. I also like how even minor characters are detailed. For instance, what happened to Katherine Parr after Henry VIII died, Alison will tell you....more info
  • Fascinating glimpse at the Tudor children
    Alison Weir's book is emmensly readable; her prose reads like a novel. This means that her carefully researched account of the Tudor children is accessable to a much wider readership than alot of historical biographies. Lively and sensitive, the narrative really captures the feel of late 16th century England. By focusing on the private side of her subjects, distant and legendary monarchs become human; Edward the Fourth, Mary the First (Bloody Mary), Elizabeth the First, and Lady Jane Grey. As children, they were coddled, banished, abused, seduced, saw loved ones jailed and executed; they were used as pawns by those around them vying for power. Makes today's Royal Family look like the Cleavers! If you like to immerse yourself in history this book is a must. Even if you think you don't like history, this book will probably change your mind. This is the first of Weir's books I've read; I can't wait to get my hands on the others....more info
  • henry's children
    This was a very well written and entertaining book. It was not dry and historical. I was very engrossed in it and found it a very good read if you are interested in Tudor history. I am glad she she spent time on Mary Tudor, because not as much is written about her or her brother as Elizabeth. I found this to be a very good book....more info
  • The Children of Henry VIII
    This is a subject relating to Henry VIII one never seems to read or hear about. Definitely defines how his children survived that period of history.
    siamnancy...more info
  • Readable without eshewing Historical Analysis
    I'd been trying to find a History on Anne Boleyn and/or Elizabeth I for a while, but most books that I came across were either clearly historical fiction, or they were "popularized" histories that did not distinguish between historically documented fact and the author's imagination. Alison Weir has done a brilliant job at taking the best of both worlds. "The Children of Henry VIII" is extremely readable: Weir really explores relationships and character development, by dwelling not only on famous actions but also on critical moments of indecision/inaction. Simultaneously, she very carefully notes where documentation is lacking and gives her rationale behind her "best guesses" (esp. Queen Mary's pregnancies, Elizabeth's encounters with Seymore, etc.). The fact that Weir succeeds in being so true to her sources without breaking up the flow of the writing or reverting to a textbook style is quite impressive. I read this book over 3 days of vacation, and had to be cajoled to put it down.

    I would say that the weakest portion of the book is during Queen Mary's reign, perhaps because Weir is trying to cover 5 extremely eventful years in a short amount of space. Because this is a history of the relationships between Henry VIII's kids, Weir speaks to the socio-political state of England only in-so-far as it pertains to her central story. During Queen Mary's reign, MUCH happened socio-politically, but much of that period was relatively stagnant in terms of Queen Mary's relationship with Elizabeth. As a result, this part of the book seems rushed. By contrast, Weir's discussion of Jane Grey's 9 day reign, or the childhood/adolescent relationships among the kids are incredibly rich and fascinating.

    All in all, a great book and a great author. I'm about to order her "The Life of Elizabeth I."...more info
  • I Simple CANNOT Put It Down!!
    Nothing short of a briliant glimpse into the lives of Henry's hiers.
    WARNING: This book is NOT about how each had ruled but thier relationship to one another and the people around them, namely, councillers, rebels, and family. Northumberland and Edward, Mary and the Emperor, Jane and her parents, Elizabeth and the widowed Queen Katherine. Plus SO much more! I could not put this book down and Alison is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.
    From Henry's Death to Elizabeth's succession, she chronicals (and with historical accuracy) The inner lives of these monarchs and I would recommend this book to others. ...more info
  • Better Titled as Bloody Mary
    Alison Weir's style is captivating. She makes these historic figures come alive to the reader. Reading this book was more like reading a dramatic novel than reading a history book. The vast majority of the book is devoted to Mary with the story of Elizabeth I, mostly left for readers of her excellent book on the same. Edward's short life is addressed in some detail, but how much could there be about one who died so young. The information on Lady Jane Grey is limited, but then again she wasn't a Child of Henry VIII!...more info
  • Ignore the "creative" title and jump in...
    Fans of Alison Weir are familiar with her "style" of historical biography, and Ms. Weir uses the same style in this book. I rather enjoyed this work, finding many new details I'd never read before. However, besides the dull title, the work incorporates Lady Jane Grey as a sort-of "child" of Henry VIII, and the incorporation doesn't work. Firstly, the information provided about Grey is scant. Secondly, Weir (with her ever-present bias) turns toward the grandiose with Mary's "glorious" re-claiming of the throne...I really heard the blowing of trumpets and a burst of "ah-ha" strings at the court intrigue (fine in a novel, but a bit silly in historical biography). Lastly, Lady Jane isn't Henry's kid (!)...she stole the throne, albeit by her father's cunning and overbearingness. Flaws aside, I think you'll gain much by reading this one!...more info
  • Their lives and relationships
    Based on extensive research Alison Weir traces the lives of Henry VIII's 3 children, Edward, Mary and Elizabeth, as well as their cousin, the ill fated nine days queen, Lady Jane Grey.
    Weir begins the chronicles with the death of Henry VIII in 1547.
    She stresses that the book is not a history of England during the reign of these 4 monarchs but rather an account of their personal lives and the relations between them in the 11 years after Henry's death.

    While Mary and Elizabeth suffered from their mothers being removed and themselves disinherited and labelled as 'bastards' (Elizabeth when she was only three), Edward grew up secure in his father's love and protection.

    In the introduction to these chronicles Weir discusses the psychological and physical health of Mary.
    The onset of puberty had coincided with the separation of her parents and this in turn resulted in a succession of serious illnesses that were most likely psychological in origin, and which she suffered from until the end of her life.
    These included severe depression, palpitations, headaches, and what would now be referred to as premenstrual tension and most likely also seasonal affective disorder.

    Elizabeth lived with the horrifying memories of her mother's execution when she was only three.
    When Elizabeth was eight, Katherine Howard, who Elizabeth had been close to, was executed for adultery which resurrected the scars of the execution of Anne Boleyn.

    While her father was cruel to her, and for long periods refused to see her for long periods, Elizabeth was fortunate enough to have come under Katherine Parr's protection and influence.

    Edward was intelligent, strong-minded and as fervent a Protestant as his sister Mary was a Catholic, but he could also be cruel.

    King Henry's last wife Katherine Parr was a true saint. She showed great love to all of Henry's children and to Lady Jane Grey, who was so cruelly treated by her ruthless and ambitious parents.
    Jane Grey was a devout Protestant, kind and intelligent, a gem of a soul, her use as apolitical pawn and her execution being one of the great injustices and tragedies of the history of the England of this period.

    Weir tries to present a sympathetic portrait of Mary I, but I believe that for all of the testimonies of Mary's supposed goodness, her importation of the inquisition into England, and the burning of Protestants to try to ruthlessly force Catholicism in England, means she was in the end a bloody tyrant.

    Queen Elizabeth always practised religious tolerance and never persecuted anybody on their faith.

    When a register of martyrs was printed in 1557, each list ended with the rhyme : "When these with violence were burned to death, we longed for our Elizabeth."

    The death of Mary I of England was a great relief to most of her subjects. Queen Elizabeth's accession heralded a golden age in England under that country's greatest monarch.

    Alison Weir, as always has done a fine job of capturing the essence of the four sovereigns combining detail with a fine, pleasurable read....more info
  • Highly accurate, but rather dull in places.
    I found this to be a very accurate book -- good, solid history -- but occasionally boring. I would have liked to know more about Mary and Edward themselves, not just the way they ruled England. The first few pages were full of personal details, saying things like Mary as an adult was so innocent and naive that she didn't know any swear words. I wish there had been more such tidbits throughout the book....more info
  • The Tudors made human at last!
    Beyond all the usual stylisation and incomprehensible pomp and etiquette of the Tudor period this book actually gave me a glimpse into the lives of its characters and some understanding of what life actually felt like for them, and also allowed me to feel the actual spirit of those long gone times. Some of the passages brought tears to my eyes. Very descriptive, informative and addictive....more info
  • Four British Monarchs and Their Relationship with Each Other
    I am fascinated with the Tudors, particularly Elizabeth I and her cousin, Lady Jane Grey. I have read many biographies on the different players in this time frame yet I have read few books that focus on the relationships between those people. I yearned to know those details, however. How did Mary and Jane go from being on friendly terms to rivals? How did Mary react to Edward VI? How did Elizabeth react to the news of Jane's death?

    Weir started off doing a splendid job addressing all of those issues. She started off addressing the character of Mary, Elizabeth, Jane and Edward and their feelings and relationships with each other. She painstakingly chronicled in great detail the tumultuous nature of Mary and Elizabeth's relationship, as well as how Mary viewed Edward VI and him her. Yet after Edward's death, she sort of lost touch of that track, and focused primarily on the nature of Mary's relationship to those around her, which while interesting, still did leave me with some unanswered questions. For instance, I never did get a good feel for how Elizabeth reacted to the news of Jane's death (it might be one of those mysteries of history, but if nothing was written about it at the time, I would at least like to know).

    The writing style is good and clear, especially for a work of history, and the pages seem to fly by. My only complaint was her repetitiveness. For instance, she mentioned that Mary thought that Elizabeth was the daughter of Mark Smeaton three times.

    In all, the book definitely addressed a lot of personal issues I had not yet seen addressed and was a pure pleasure to read. It would also, I believe, serve for those who know little of the time period or of Mary I, be an excellent starting place, for the work is not so bogged down in details as many other historical works are....more info

  • Such a great book!!!
    i'm 12 and i found this book very easy to comprehend and fun to read, like others have said about this book, it takes you into the lives of this past monarchs. i just got this book 2 days ago and already i've read almost 200 pages, which is almost a all time record for me :) but if you are into renassaince history and such this is the book for you, i also recommend reading the book based on the 'elizabeth' movie, i got it right when the movie came out and i haven't seen any for sale since so it may be hard for you to find. this book is worth many more than 5 stars!...more info


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