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House of Tudor (Hardback)

A Grisly History

British History P&S History Tudors & Stuarts 15th Century Royal History

By Mickey Mayhew
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 200
Illustrations: 40 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399011044
Published: 28th February 2022


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Gruesome but not gratuitous, this decidedly darker take on the Tudors, from 1485 to 1603, covers some forty-five ‘events’ from the Tudor reign, taking in everything from the death of Richard III to the botched execution of Mary Queen of Scots, and a whole host of horrors in between. Particular attention is paid to the various gruesome ways in which the Tudors despatched their various villains and lawbreakers, from simple beheadings, to burnings and of course the dreaded hanging, drawing and quartering. Other chapters cover the various diseases prevalent during Tudor times, including the dreaded ‘Sweating Sickness’ – rather topical at the moment, unfortunately – as well as the cures for these sicknesses, some of which were considered worse than the actual disease itself. The day-to-day living conditions of the general populace are also examined, as well as various social taboos and the punishments that accompanied them, i.e. the stocks, as well as punishment by exile. Tudor England was not a nice place to live by 21st century standards, but the book will also serve to explain how it was still nevertheless a familiar home to our ancestors.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Peek into the lives of the Tudors and their connections throughout Europe. Author Mickey Mayhew sheds light on what makes the Tudors so fascinating by describing medicine of the time, plots and counterplots, power struggles, torture, past times, the splintering of Europe and England through the Reformation and subsequent split off of the Church of England, and so much more. Chapters are short and focus on a single character and their role in all the squabbles and drama. Connections and comparisons are made between actual history and many of the popular books, TV series, and movies that have centered around this family dynasty. Detailed without getting into gore, this felt akin to a historically accurate Grimm's Fairytales read to me (though, not always with a happy ending for those involved). Sources are carefully cited and speculation (whether of the author or other persons) is laid bare as purely that. A great read for those who need a quick read (thanks to the concentrated chapters) or those who have been pulled into one of the many series/movies and want to check the veracity of these renderings. Bibliography, index, and assortment of pictures and paintings are included at the end of this title.

NetGalley, Katherine Wehrle

Mayhew offers us the history of the Tudors, told in 45 “episodes” spanning the death of Richard III through the death of Elizabeth I. Rather than solely focusing on Henry VIII and his wives or the saga of Mary Stuart’s reign and downfall, the events are woven together with a nod to pop culture references and some bits of humor sprinkled throughout.

NetGalley, Shannon Jones

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

While I was reading this book, I was thinking of my university years, when I was working as a tour guide in an imperial palace in Vienna, Austria. Back then, I would have killed for a book like this one (albeit on the Hapsburgs rather than the Tudors, of course), full of intriguing, sometimes touching, sometimes gruesome historical anecdotes with which to sprinkle my guided tours. That means, yes, this was an awesome read, both instructive AND entertaining. The author understands perfectly well that the way to captivate an audience is to treat history like a story, i.e. to “spin a good yarn”, the only (and biggest) difference being that here it’s a yarn based on historical data and facts insomuch as we have them.

If you are looking for a full-scale history of the riveting Tudor-saga, you might be disappointed. This is more a collection of details, but how satisfying it was! Compendiums like this one have the advantage to be readable by amateur Tudor-istas as well as by more enlightened Tudor-ologists, who already know the basic facts and just want to learn a few more tales of those characters and their times. Mickey Mayhew delivers, and he especially delivers those tasty morsels and juicy bits we all, let’s be honest, love to read.

Cherry on the cake, Mr Mayhew is a good writer, too. He knows how to construct his anecdotes, knows how to add atmosphere and paint a vivid picture of those times. He does so in a slightly tongue-in-cheek-y tone that I really appreciated—nothing is duller, I’m afraid, than historians who take themselves and their topics too seriously. Yes, history and historical research should be DONE with a high degree of seriousness; it’s just that that seriousness doesn’t necessarily need to be reflected in history books, in my humble opinion.

So, an interesting book, a perfect read (especially during these cold, windy November nights), which I recommend.

NetGalley, Dieter Moitzi

This book covers the terrible treatment suffered by many, many people during all of the reigns of Henry, Mary and Elizabeth Tudor. It also includes various facts from regions of other sovereigns... fascinating.

NetGalley, Joyce Fox

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book get a solid 5 star stars from me. If you like reading about the history of this time , you will enjoy reading the guts ( pun intended ) of the backstory to the ones you probably have already heard about .
Well researched via a plethora of well known Tudor loving authors , Hillary Mantel , Philippa Gregory etc.
A great read.

NetGalley, Angela Thompson

About Mickey Mayhew

Lifelong Londoner Mickey Mayhew recently completed his PhD on the cult surrounding 'tragic queens' Anne Boleyn and Mary Queen of Scots. In that time, he was also co-author on three books relating to Jack the Ripper, published by The History Press. His first non-fiction work, The Little Book of Mary Queen of Scots, was also published by The History Press in January 2015; I Love the Tudors, by Pitkin Publishing, arrived in 2016. He has a column in the journal of The Whitechapel Society, having previously been a film and theatre reviewer for various London lifestyle magazines. Through 2018/2019, he was an assistant researcher on several projects for London South Bank University.

Perfect Partner

Henry VIII in 100 Objects The Tyrant King Who Had Six Wives (Hardback)

Henry VIII is one of history’s most memorable monarchs. Popularly known for his six wives, and the unfortunate fate which befell Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, Henry initiated many reforms and changes which still affect our lives today. The annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon set in motion the separation of the English church from Rome and the establishment of the Church of England, which in turn led to the dissolution of the monasteries, the hauntingly evocative remains of which can be seen across the United Kingdom. Henry also oversaw the legal union between England and Wales,…

By Paul Kendall

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