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Henry VIII's Children (Hardback)

Legitimate and Illegitimate Sons and Daughters of the Tudor King

P&S History > British History > Tudors & Stuarts P&S History > By Century > 16th Century P&S History > By Century > 17th Century

By Caroline Angus
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 20 colour
ISBN: 9781399095860
Published: 5th May 2023


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Of the five Tudor monarchs, only one was ever born to rule. While much of King Henry VIII’s reign is centred on his reckless marriage choices, it was the foundations laid by Henry and Queen Katherine of Aragon that shaped the future of the crown. Among the suffering of five lost heirs, the royal couple placed all their hopes in the surviving Princess Mary. Her early life weaves a tale of promise, diplomacy, and pageantry never again seen in King Henry’s life, but a deep-rooted desire for a son, a legacy of his own scattered childhood, pushed Henry VIII to smother Mary’s chance to rule. An affair soon produced an unlikely heir in Henry Fitzroy, and while one child was pure royalty, the other illegitimate, the comparison of their childhoods would show a race to throne closer than many wished to admit.

King Henry’s cruelty saw his heirs’ fates pivot as wives came and went, and the birth Princess Elizabeth, saw long-term plans upended for short-term desires. With the death of one heir hidden from view, the birth of Prince Edward finally gave the realm an heir born to rule, but King Henry’s personal desires and paranoia left his heirs facing constant uncertainty for another decade until his death. Behind the narrative of Henry VIII’s wives, wars, reformation and ruthlessness, there were children, living lives of education among people who cared for them, surrounded by items in generous locations which symbolised their place in their father’s heart. They faced excitement, struggles, and isolation which would shape their own reigns. From the heights of a surviving princess destined and decreed to influence Europe, to illegitimate children scattered to the winds of fortune, the childhoods of Henry VIII’s heirs is one of ambition, destiny, heartache, and triumph.

Great book of Henry the eighths children. It talks of his legitimate and illegitimate children. Filled with lots interesting facts. Found out information I didn’t know.

NetGalley, alisha woods

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This biography is incredible! Every time I picked up "Henry VIII'S Children", I was whisked back in time to the Tudor Era, and learned something new about the children of Henry VIII, and the times in which they lived.

This non-fiction book is incredibly thorough, detailed, visceral, and well-researched, and I can only imagine the amount of research Caroline Angus must have done. I felt truly immersed in the history and stories being told throughout, and could envision everything.

This biography focuses on and tells the stories of Henry VIII's children: Mary I (whose mother was Katherine of Aragon), Elizabeth I (whose mother was Anne Boleyn), Edward VI (whose mother was Jane Seymour), and Henry Fitzroy (whose mother was Bessie Blount, and whom Henry VIII acknowledged as his son). Their lives were filled with so much, ranging from true happiness to deep tragedy, and I truly feel like I came to understand them all on a deeper level; many moments in their lives are so clear throughout. Each child is focused on, showing their similarities and differences, and how their lives both diverged and intertwined in some fashion in many ways as well.

If you enjoy anything related to The Tudors, I HIGHLY recommend this non-fiction read! I look forward to reading what the author writes next.

NetGalley, Ashley Maimes

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

'Henry VIII's Children' offers an illuminating and comprehensive exploration of a lesser-known aspect of Tudor history - the lives and struggles of King Henry VIII's heirs. In a narrative brimming with intrigue, ambition, and the ever-changing dynamics of the Tudor court, Angus provides a fresh perspective on a period often overshadowed by Henry's tumultuous marriages and political manoeuvrings.

Angus delves into the complexities of Henry's reign, showcasing his cruelty and the pivotal role it played in shaping the fates of his heirs. The arrival of Henry Fitzroy, an unlikely and illegitimate heir, adds a layer of intrigue to the narrative. Angus expertly draws parallels between the contrasting childhoods of Mary and Fitzroy, revealing a race to the throne that is both compelling and poignant.

While much is known about Henry VIII's marriages, his wives, and the political and religious changes of the time, Angus shines a spotlight on the lives of the royal children who lived in the shadow of their larger-than-life father. She unravels their stories, highlighting their education, the people who cared for them, and the symbolic items and generous locations that marked their place in Henry's heart.

'Henry VIII's Children' presents a captivating and insightful narrative that offers readers a deeper understanding of the ambitions, destinies, heartaches, and triumphs that shaped the childhoods of these royal offspring. It is a story of ambition, destiny, and the enduring legacy of the Tudor dynasty.

Caroline Angus's meticulous research, engaging prose, and her ability to breathe life into historical figures make this book an absolute must-read for anyone with an interest in Tudor history. 'Henry VIII's Children' is a compelling addition to the canon of Tudor literature, shedding new light on a captivating period in England's past.

NetGalley, Chelsea Littleton-Harper

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was an interesting look at the lives of Henry VIII's children and I really enjoyed it. It explored and explained the history of Mary, Elizabeth, Edward and Fitzhenry (his bastard son) in a way that hasn't really been done before in my experience. A great book for people who love English history and especially Henrician and Elizabethan history.

NetGalley, Gail Gerard

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was written very well and I loved reading about all of his children. This is a great book for all Tudor fans out there. There was something that I never heard and so I loved finding a new book about this subject (due to most other biographies tend to tell the same stories).

NetGalley, Heather Michael

An original and seminal study of an often overlooked aspect of the life and rule of King Henry VIII of England, "Henry VIII's Children: Legitimate and Illegitimate Sons and Daughters of the Tudor King" is a fascinating work of meticulous and exhaustive research the includes a six page Bibliography, illustrations, eighteen pages of Endnotes, and an eight page Index. "Henry VIII' Children" by historian and author Caroline Angus is a welcome and highly commended pick for personal, community, and academic library Royal English Biography and British Royal History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Read the full review here

Midwest Book Review

This book is a compelling read as Angus is a clear, concise, and talented writer who makes even small facets of long ago lives fascinating.

Read the Full Review Here

Lisa Rojany - NY Journal of Books

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I am obsessed with all things Henry! What a man he was.
A great book which tells the stories of his children’s lives. We all know about all three of them as monarchs in there own rights but wow this went deeper into the personal relationships of the children and Henry

NetGalley, Aisha Bari

This was interesting because it included the illegitimate children of Henry VIII that I didn’t know much about. There was a lot of information but it wasn’t a dry, textbook type of reading. The lives old Henry’s children weren’t all luxury and leisure as one might expect. There are a number of color pictures at the end. I recommend this book.

NetGalley, Jeanne Schutts

Caroline Angus’s book is a fascinating look at the lives of the children of Henry VIII. From the longed-for Prince Henry who died at 52 days old to those that survived: Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward. Also included are Henry Fitzroy, Henry’s acknowledged illegitimate son and possible other unacknowledged children.

Through thorough use of household accounts, Angus paints a vivid picture of what everyday life was like for Mary, Elizabeth, Henry and Edward as they grew up and highlights the time the siblings spent together. Both Mary and Elizabeth’s lives changed dramatically when their mothers fell from favour and while Edward did not suffer this, their daily lives were dependent on the whims of the King or his current marital arrangements.

What was particularly interesting was the inclusion of Henry’s illegitimate son by Bessie Blount, Henry Fitzroy. Usually, Henry only gets mentioned in Tudor histories in terms of his birth, whether Henry ever really considered him a potential heir, his presence at Queen Anne Boleyn’s execution and his unexpected death shortly afterwards. Turns out that he was not the most dedicated scholar and when his tutor, Sir Richard Croke, was recalled from Fitzroy’s household and sent to Italy, Angus comments that ‘fighting for the king’s divorce in Italy probably felt like quite a relief in comparison.’

By looking at Henry’s reign through the lives of his children, we get a different perspective to well-known events.

NetGalley, Tamise Hills

In Henry VIII’s Children, Caroline Angus explores the lives and relationships of Henry VIII’s children with Catherine of Aragon, Anne Bolyen, Jane Seymour, and Bessie Blount, as well as some of his alleged illegitimate children. Angus explores Catherine of Aragorn’s struggles to carry children to term and the circumstances which led to Henry VIII becoming the king with six wives with various fates. Angus intertwines Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward’s stories together in her book, focusing on their relationships and experiences as children of the King of England as well as their relationships with their father and their many stepmothers. Angus’s focus on their relationships and the many critical situations they live through rather than their individual reigns as larger political events. Angus’s individual- and relationship-centric approach explores the sibling bonds of all three legitimate children of Henry VIII, and she examines them through the lens of familial relationships rather than a dynasty (though both are inseparable from each other). Her analysis of possible illegitimate children of Henry VIII is also interesting, exploring not only Henry Fitzroy but also Mary Boleyn’s children as well as a few other possible half-siblings of the Tudor monarchs; pairing this topic with the discussion of his legitimate children provides an interesting perspective on the challenges of succession in Tudor England.

NetGalley, Lily Amidon

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I have always loved learning about the Tudors. This was an informative book and it was a really enjoyable read.

NetGalley, Catherine O’Connor

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was a good book, I found the information about all of King Henry's children to be engaging and informative all at the same time.

NetGalley, Heather Bennett

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

When we think of the children of Henry VIII we generally think of Mary, Elizabeth and Edward so it is wonderful that Caroline Angus has expanded to include his illegitimate children including Henry Fitzroy and Henry's relationship with their respective mothers.

The book doesn't focus on one aspect of their lives but instead walks us through their lives, beginning with the early years of their father, the future Henry VIII. Through the following chapters we get to find out where the children were at specific points in time, who they were with, how they spent holidays and even the gifts they received. It's certainly interesting how the lives of Mary and Elizabeth differed to those of their male siblings. We are given a wealth of information on the interactions between the royal siblings including Mary receiving gifts from Fitzroy, this insight is something usually not covered in much detail.

The research Caroline Angus has done is meticulous, referencing primary sources throughout to paint a picture of not only milestones of these children but their daily life and how the actions of their father impacted them. The author keeps the focus on the children and Henry is almost a background figure, enabling the children to step out of his shadow. Through the lives of the children we also gain insight into events of the period, the people the children interacted with such as their governesses, tutors, friends and courtiers. Caroline Angus gives the reader more than enough information to make this a very enjoyable read without filling it with unnecessary fillers.

The epilogue of this book is extremely interesting, discussing other possible illegitimate children of Henry. Catherine and Henry Carey are of course included but there are also others who Caroline Angus provides an overview of, their family and the circumstances surrounding the possibility of Henry being their father. The author does not try to persuade the reader either way, leaving room to come to your own conclusion.

I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of this but enjoyed it so much I've also preordered a hard copy and I will certainly be using this in the future, particularly in my current work in progress as there are references to the subject of my work, Mary Tudor, Duchess of Suffolk. I was thrilled to read snippets of Mary's life and her relationship with her niece, Princess Mary.

With her works on Thomas Cromwell and now this, Caroline Angus has quickly become a favourite author of mine. I am looking forward to seeing what comes next.
For those interested in the Tudor era I'd highly recommend you add this to your shelves. It truly is a wonderful contribution to the contribution to the Tudor book collection.

Lastly, I have to say how much I like this cover, it's beautiful!

NetGalley, Amy McElroy

When we think about the title royal children, images of children who get whatever they want, being spoiled with gems and gowns, and ruling kingdoms, they are married to create alliances. In that sense, it would define a life of luxury. However, for the children of King Henry VIII, luxury was not always in their dictionary. What was life like for the legitimate and illegitimate children of Henry VIII? Caroline Angus explores this question in her latest book, "Henry VIII's Children: Legitimate and Illegitimate Sons and Daughters of the Tudor King."

I want to thank Pen and Sword Books and NetGalley for sending me a copy of this book. I have read quite a few books about the children of Henry VIII, so when I saw the title, I was interested to see what new information Angus would provide in her book.

To understand why Henry VIII desired a large family, especially male heirs, Angus explores Henry's childhood as the second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. We then transition to the marriage of Henry and Katherine of Aragon and her multiple miscarriages until her beloved daughter Mary was born. After Mary, Angus explores the relationships of Henry VIII with Bessie Blount, Anne Boleyn, and Jane Seymour and his other children that were recognized as his own, Henry Fitzroy, Elizabeth, and Edward, respectively.

What I enjoyed in this book is the amount of information that Angus provided about not only Henry's legitimate children but his illegitimate children, primarily the information about Henry Fitzroy. For so long, Henry Fitzroy was a footnote in the Henry VIII story, but it is so fascinating how much he relied on his eldest son even though he was illegitimate. Then, you have Mary's upbringing compared to Elizabeth's, and you see how much of a struggle it was to be a daughter of Henry VIII instead of a treasured son.

Angus also included a section about children who many questioned if they were indeed illegitimate children of the king, including the children of Mary Boleyn. She also included some Tudors I had never heard about, which was interesting to read about how their life experiences differed from their royal counterparts. The king's legitimate and illegitimate children dealt with so much pain and suffering because of who their dear old dad was, and they all craved a little bit of his love in return.

Angus has done an excellent job telling the tales of the rather sad upbringings of the children of Henry VIII. A crown and a king as a father did not mean your life was a fairy tale. By understanding their childhoods, we can understand why the Tudor children became strong-willed leaders. If you want an excellent book that gives you a glimpse into what it meant to be a child of a monarch during the Tudor period, check out, "Henry VIII's Children: Legitimate and Illegitimate Sons and Daughters of the Tudor King" by Caroline Angus.

NetGalley, Heidi Malagisi

Henry VIII's Children brings to life Henry's children both legitimate and illegitimate. I found it an easy to follow book. It also has mentions of other children who he never claimed, who he might have fathered at the end. Most of those names, being ones I had not heard about. It gave me more insight on how many other children he may have had, and what their lives were like.

I was able to finally learn a lot more about the life of Henry Fitzroy, his son, who he fathered with Bessie Blount. I found his parts quite interesting to read about. I knew very little about him, aside from who his mother was and how long he lived. I really enjoyed learning more about him and also his wife Mary Howard.

Mary's bits were quite tragic, I find myself feeling more and more sorry for her every time I read about her, but especially in this book, and her mother Katharine of Aragon as well. What awful times they went through and it's such a shame they were unable to see each other before Katharine died. Mary had such a turbulent teenage years and early adulthood.

I always enjoy reading about Elizabeth's early life, and this book was no exception.

Edward was such a spoiled child! But aren't most princes'?

Overall the book was easy to read and didn't talk long to complete. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to read more about Henry's children. I also enjoyed the photographs at the end.

NetGalley, Traci Hoffman

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

How very interesting! Their was some fun facts I didn't know. I'm happy I picked this up to be sure.

NetGalley, Blind Bat Books Bakunzi

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I have been obsessed with all things Tudor for several years and this was an excellent book about Henry VIII's children. I quite enjoyed the pictures at the back being in color instead of black and white. Great information was provided about each person and even the households were described in detail.

NetGalley, Stephanie Peterson

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Very interesting book, enjoyed learning about his children, well written and worth getting, not often do you find books about all his children.

NetGalley, Karen Bull

Henry VIII's Children by Caroline Angus takes a look at the children of Henry the VIII, the more well-known legitimate ones, and the lesser-known acknowledged illegitimate son. It also makes a note of the various other people who were posited at the time or afterward to have been descended from the king.

This book is very absorbing, and I loved the focus on Mary, being the first who was then shunted to the side when he couldn't get the son heir he so desperately sought. The text is compelling without becoming overwhelming, and it was a quick read (especially given the modest number of pages of which it is composed). I especially enjoyed the author putting in a cost of how much the households ran each year, or each season, and how much was spent for festivals, or dresses, or food, which was then translated into what it would equal today. All I have to say is: my word! They just went through money like it was water; I became numb to the gargantuan amounts after a certain point.

NetGalley, Devon Syndram

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Another gap filled in the history book collection covering the life and times of this fascinating monarch. There is so much interesting detail taking the reader beyond Henry VIII’s own reign (and, of course, marriages) and helping to complete this aspect of British history.

NetGalley, Louise Gray

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was a interesting nonfiction book about King Henry VIII's children both famous and not famous. It was what I was looking for in this type of book. I always enjoy reading something about the Tudors, I knew of the illegitimate children but not how many. It was written well and I enjoyed the way Caroline Angus wrote this.

NetGalley, Kathryn McLeer

About Caroline Angus

Caroline Angus is a New Zealand-based author raising four sons. Caroline studied history at Universitat de València, Spain, spending ten years dedicated to the Spanish Civil War and the resulting dictatorship. Caroline went on to study with King’s College London, specialising in Shakespeare and British royal history.
After a decade of writing fiction, including the Secrets of Spain series, focusing on the lives of Valencian interviewees between 1939 and 1975, and the more recent Queenmaker Trilogy, eleven years of Thomas Cromwell and his fictional attendant Nicòla Frescobaldi, Caroline is now creating non-fiction works on the surviving papers of Thomas Cromwell.

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