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An Alternative History of Britain: The Tudors (Paperback)

Military P&S History > British History > Tudors & Stuarts

By Dr Timothy Venning
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Series: An Alternative History of Britain
Pages: 240
Illustrations: 1 black and white map
ISBN: 9781526781925
Published: 21st July 2020



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Continuing his exploration of the pathways of British history, Timothy Venning examines the turning points of the Tudor period, though he also strays over into the early Stuart period. As always, he discusses the crucial junctions at which History could easily have taken a different turn and analyses the possible and likely results. While necessarily speculative to a degree, the scenarios are all highly plausible and rooted in a firm understanding of actual events and their context. In so doing, Timothy Venning gives the reader a clearer understanding of the factors at play and why things happened the way they did, as well as a tantalizing view of what might so easily have been different.

Key scenarios discussed in this volume include:

• Did the pretenders Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck ever have a realistic chance of a successful invsasion/coup?

• If Henry Fitzroy, Henry VIII's illegitimate son, had not died young, might he have been a suitable King or at least Regent on the King's death?

• What if Edward VI had not died at 15 but reigned into the 1560s and 70s?

• How might the Spanish Armada have succeeded in landing an army in England, and with what likely outcome?

An interesting read that I'm glad to have discovered. I'll definitely be seeking out more by this author.

NetGalley, Claire Meadows

Venning's book is imaginative and unique. His paths to speculation are filled with well-researched information, but also are fun and easy to get into.

NetGalley, Shonda Wilson

This was a fun book to read. Alternate histories are always fun to read, and this one did not disappoint on that front. I liked the writing style of the book. The Tudor era is also a fascinating era in my opinion, so I enjoyed reading it.

NetGalley, Linde Boon

This was a truly fun read for me! I have a fairly decent knowledge of the events of British history--particularly the Tudor period--but not as solid an understanding of the systems and structures of the time. I have often found myself wondering, "what if....." for specific events, such as "What if Henry VIII had not been reconciled to his children before he died?" and while the possibilities are captivating, I have little grasp on how realistic each of the scenarios would be. Enter this book--enjoyable and accessible but well-researched and grounded in a solid grasp of history. It has filled the gap between history and historical fiction. I will certainly be picking up other Alternative History of Britain titles next!

NetGalley, Jess Lafferty

Alternative histories are always fun and there isn’t a historian alive (myself included) that hasn’t enjoyed playing make believe.
As such this book is a fun, lively read. It is well researched and interesting.

NetGalley, Rebecca B

I have always been fascinated by British history, especially the Tudor Dynasty, and this was an interesting read for me. It helped that I was already familiar with them before reading this book, as the details keep right into descriptions, expecting that you already have rudimentary knowledge. The author did an excellent job detailing everything. It was obvious that Mr. Venning is passionate about his subject and is well versed. I loved the concept of the book and the fact that events were described chronologically. A lovely trip through time.

NetGalley, Sheri O'Neill

Timothy Venning masterfully created all hypothetical scenarios at a certain point in the history of Britain's Tudors, stating what would have happened if decisions and responses had been made any other way.

The first thought that sprang to mind was how soap operas are nothing new or invented by someone, but constitute a summary of life and the history of humankind itself from different cultural and/or personal perspectives. The Tudors could have done everything much better and been considerably more strategically intelligent.

Another aspect to analyse from the way in which Vennings tells us this important section of history, I found to be how easy it is for people to establish all possible scenarios for others. We tend to believe we know what is or was best for others, why a certain step they took was a mistake; however, we not only have the whole perspective and -as with a piece of art- can see the whole situation from the right spot -or not-, but also see the issue from our own perspective, which is not necessarily correct for the other person.

His sense of humour was finely sarcastic, asking the right rethorical and not so rethorical questions to set on each title and hypothesising about the reasons each royalty member had, to do what they did at a specific point, and which were the consequences of these actions.

A funny and creative way to explain history.

If you're interested in the intricate relationships that made your culture -including gossip- what it is, I would highly recommend to read this book.

NetGalley, Anne Secher

I was always fascinated by the Tudors and this was a perfect read for me!

NetGalley, Lara Belošević

I was seriously impressed by Venning's obvious knowledge of the subject matter. He demonstrated great knowledge of all the different avenues of Tudor history, even those that weren't directly related to English history. I was always very impressed by his ability to take the subject and make it understandable and easy to comprehend.

NetGalley, Maja Hansen

This is a very interesting thought piece. Because, that's what this is. It basically takes you through other alternatives that could have happened in Tudor history. What if Prince Arthur had lived? What if Anne Boleyn had lived or had other kids? What about Jane Seymour or the other wives? Then into the different reigns all the way through to Elizabeth I. I found it really fun and interesting to read! While certain topics were more interesting to me, I still thought it was a fun book and I'd definitely read some of the others in this series.

NetGalley, Caidyn Young

This was very interesting reading. Being a history buff this intrigued me through out and I'm glad I got to read it. Somethings made me question what the truth is but I nevertheless can't rate this enough as an alternative to other books out there if you want to read something new and fresh.

NetGalley, Louise Corrigan

An intriguing and thought-provoking look at the 'what-ifs' of the Tudor reign. As a bit of a Tudor History buff I am definitely going to purchase a physical copy of this to add to my shelves.

NetGalley, Julianne Freer

This was really interesting! I've often wondered what if Henry had died from his jousting accident? What if Katherine's son had survived? So many questions and this looks to review what may have been the alternative if these matters had been different.

Definitely worth reading! Highly researched and thorough alternatives proposed.

NetGalley, Amy McElroy

I read this on the back of reading the Wolf Hall trilogy. It helped sate the book hangover I am currently feeling, missing Cromwells world. A book of what ifs in essence- something’s I have contemplated myself. How would Tudor history have played out if this or that happened- if Catherine of Aragon’s babies had lived, for example. Would Henry have still gone on to so many wives!? A good read and some interesting insights.

NetGalley, Samantha Oloughlin

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Nonfiction is not often a genre of choice, but when I am in the mood there is nothing finer. This book fit the need in the middle of the night when I had insomnia and needed a break from real world drama. I was a history major so the information was not new to me, but nonetheless it was an enjoyable read and refreshed the knowledge.

NetGalley, Tammy Howard

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was much better than I thought it was going to be and quite intriguing as whole. All the what-ifs gave the reader a lot to think about and contemplate about the Tudor dynasty, in particular King Henry VIII. What if Katherine of Aragon's sons had lived? What if Anne Boleyn's son survived? What if Jane Seymour had lived after the birth of Edward? What if Edward had lived longer? So many questions and more.

I have many books on the Tudor dynasty but never has there been a book of what ifs? Quite fascination actually and a must read if you consider yourself a Tudor dynasty buff. Well written and researched to be historically accurate about all of Henry VIII.s wives.

NetGalley, Lisa Konet

As a major fan of everything-Tudor, I inhaled this book in one fell swoop.

NetGalley, Janet Pole Cousineau

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Anyone who knows me personally knows that I have a deep fascination with the Tudor Dynasty. This novel takes an interesting twist. Timothy Venning goes through and step by step explores what might have happened if fate had fallen a different way. Every possible time line is explored. From what would have happened if Arthur Tudor had lived to possible suitors for Henry's daughters. Essentially we get a glance at alternate time lines. For those readers who are not up on their Tudor history this was a great way to learn some history. To explore alternate possibilities you have to have a basic understanding of what really happened.
This was a nice break from all the crime serials and an enjoyably educational time travel experience.

NetGalley, Delia MacDonald

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed how the author gave us all the what ifs version of the Tudor History. I have always been a big fan of the Tudor family. As a fan of history, I have always wondered the same questions. Great read!!!

NetGalley, Amber Archambault

I found this book to be delightful and a great aid for anyone wishing to write alternate historical fiction for the Tudor period. I highly recommend this book and will be posting it in my group Tudor Books in Every Nook.

NetGalley, Laura Riddling

I appreciated looking at the possibilities of the changes that could have occurred that would have changed how history played out. especially in Tudor England an era in time that I am absolutely fascinated with, this was well written for sure.

NetGalley, Makenzie Erickson

Mr. Venning posits some very valid questions about the Tudor era in British history. His “what if” scenarios ask such questions as: “What if Queen Jane hadn't died in childbirth?” “What if Queen Anne had given birth to a son, or if Queen Katherine's sons had lived?” what about Prince Arthur, Henry VII's eldest son? What if he hadn't died?

He also asks questions about the political machinations of the era such as the closing of the monasteries by Cromwell or the failure of Wolsey to secure a “divorce” thereby allowing Henry VIII to remain in the Catholic Church.

The decisions made by the other rulers, such as King Francis and Emperor Charles cast a great deal of influence on Henry VIII. Politics of the day perhaps prevented Henry making a suitable match for his daughter Mary.

All in all, a very interesting book and I enjoyed it immensely. These are questions that I have pondered myself. Mr. Venning does a very thorough job putting forth his theories and the reasons why he states the outcomes he predicts.

NetGalley, Joyce Fox

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Very informative.

Interesting and extremely factual.

I love the tudors anyway- my favourite part of history and this has been a great read.

NetGalley, Vikkie Wakeham

Overall, I think this book was interesting. It really gives the reader a better understanding of how the Tudors survived during a very precarious time period in order to make England a better place for their people.

Read the full review here

Adventures of a Tudor Nerd

It is a really interesting book and thoroughly recommended as it opens your mind to things you might not have considered before, while giving a comprehensive overview of how things actually played out.

Read the full review here

Tudor Blogger

Timothy Venning has translated his formidable knowledge of the medieval history of Britain into a thoughtful 'what if' series of scenarios... A very credible work.

Medieval Warfare

Useful for the gamer for both general campaign ideas and points of historical departure, and also for more in-depth ideas that could easily translate to the tabletop for certain period events.

Miniature Wargames with Battlegames
Dr Timothy Venning

About Dr Timothy Venning

Timothy Venning obtained his BA, followed by PhD at King's College, University of London, on Cromwell's Foreign Policy and is a gifted historian, deep and critical researcher and attractive writer, with wide range of historical interests. He can slip easily and effectually into early history, the middle ages and to the early modern period with the academic rigour, accessibility, and with both non-specialists, students and academic reference in mind. Publications: Dictionary if National Biography contributions (OUP 1996-2001); Cromwellian Foreign Policy (Palgrave 1995); A Compendium of British Office-Holders Palgrave 2005); A Chronology of the Byzantine Empire (Palgrave 2006); A Chronology of the Roman Empire (Continuum 2010); A Chronology of the Crusades (Routledge 2015); A Chronology of Early Medieval Britain and Europe, AD 450-1066 (Routledge 2017); Anglo-Saxon Kings and Queens; The Kings and Queens of Wales; The Kings and Queens of Scotland; Lords of the Isles; Kingmakers: Lords of the Welsh Marches (Amberley 2011-2016); If Rome Had Survived (Pen and Sword 2010); Alternative History of Britain: The Anglo-Saxon Age; The Hundred Years War; Normans and Plantgenets; The Tudors; The English Civil War; (all Pen and Sword 2013-2014); plus e-books and currently with Pen and Sword: Cromwell's Failed and the Monarchy; The Fall of the British Republic and Return of the King: From Cromwell's Commonwealth to Stuart Monarchy, 1657-1670; The King Arthur Mysteries: Arthur's Britain and Early Medieval World; The Anglo-Saxons and Early Britain; Royal Mysteries of the Medieval Period; Royal Mysteries of the Tudor Period.

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