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Disability and the Tudors (Hardback)

All the King's Fools

British History P&S History Colour Books Tudors & Stuarts

By Phillipa Vincent Connolly
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 344
Illustrations: 20 colour illustrations
ISBN: 9781526720054
Published: 30th November 2021

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RRP £25.00

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As featured in...

As featured in The Bookseller, December 2018.

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Throughout history, how society treated its disabled and infirm can tell us a great deal about the period. Challenged with any impairment, disease or frailty was often a matter of life and death before the advent of modern medicine, so how did a society support the disabled amongst them?

For centuries, disabled people and their history have been overlooked - hidden in plain sight. Very little on the infirm and mentally ill was written down during the renaissance period. The Tudor period is no exception and presents a complex, unparalleled story. The sixteenth century was far from exemplary in the treatment of its infirm, but a multifaceted and ambiguous story emerges, where society’s ‘natural fools’ were elevated as much as they were belittled.

Meet characters like William Somer, Henry VIII’s fool at court, whom the king depended upon, and learn of how the dissolution of the monasteries contributed to forming an army of ‘sturdy beggars’ who roamed Tudor England without charitable support. From the nobility to the lowest of society, Phillipa Vincent-Connolly casts a light on the lives of disabled people in Tudor England and guides us through the social, religious, cultural, and ruling classes’ response to disability as it was then perceived.

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About Phillipa Vincent Connolly

Phillipa Vincent-Connolly is a historian, writer, author, consultant, and broadcaster, who qualified in History and Humanities with the Open University in 2011. She has written both historical fiction and non-fiction. Phillipa is currently working towards achieving her PhD in History, specialising in Tudor disability, at Manchester Metropolitan University. Among her many interests, she has a deep and abiding love for all things historical: archives, artefacts, architecture, corsetry, fashion, and royalty. Phillipa is also a keen activist, wanting untold disabled voices of the past to be heard, by bringing them into the mainstream. Being disabled with cerebral palsy, Phillipa has an interest in disability equality. She lives in Poole, Dorset, the UK with her two boys.

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This book describes a selection of people caught up in the turmoil that presaged the reformation - a period of change instigated by a king whose desire for a legitimate son was to brutally sweep aside an entire way of life. The most famous and influential of the victims were the two people closest to Henry VIII. His mentor, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, a great churchman and a diplomat of consummate skill. The other was to be the King’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. These two adversaries, equally determined to succeed, had risen above the usual expectations of their time. Wolsey, of humble birth, became…

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