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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
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

I really loved this book though what that says about me I am not sure. It is Horrible Histories for grownups. Despite its often gory and gruesome accounts of the lives and deaths of some of the more famous Tudors, it was gripping and readable... it was good humored and entertaining and highly recommended.

NetGalley, Sue Burnside

This book was such an engaging read! Typically, I read the glittering and illustrative side of the Tudor history but this offered a bit darker take on many well known historical figures and stories I have previously read. There was just SO MUCH DRAMA and SO MUCH DARKNESS in the lives these people had to endure. I highly recommend this as I feel it offers balance to the typical fantasy type reads where we all imagine our lives transported back to a much earlier time. Was I learning while I read? Of course! However, the style in which this is written is appealing and engaging and it tricked me into retaining many new facts and ideas while I thoroughly enjoyed the reading experience. I recommend this very much and hope to see more books of this nature in the future!

NetGalley, Larinda Agee

The author did a great job using accessible language for those new to Tudor history. It was inviting and peppered in different pop culture references for those wanting to learn more with film, book, and television.

I really enjoyed this book.

NetGalley, Julie Herringa Cirone

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A very well-researched book, showing the reader the reverse side of the Tudor coin. Instead of jewelry, masques and feasts, we are presented with the nastier side of life in sixteenth-century England. Unpleasant natural events such as sweating sickness, alcoholism, miscarriages, death in childbirth, and immoral liaisons are only part of a larger picture filled with torture, executions, poisonings, and warfare. Violence and rivalry are joint rulers despite the lavishness of the court, This book is full of all the grisly, horrid details.. although, on a lighter note, written with a sense of humour.


I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Tudor and Mary Queen of Scot's history.

NetGalley, Zoe Pollock

House of Tudor is exceptionally interesting as a layout of major ‘dark’ events during the reign of the Tudors.

NetGalley, Ellysa Hermanson

Even for someone who has read a lot of various Tudor books, this one still has a lot to offer. The author uses humour to tell the Tudor story and give it a new lease on life. I got a kick out of this book, it is factual history, but told in such a way that it makes you forget you are learning something.

If you enjoy lighter history books without all of the lengthy scholarly discourse, this would be a perfect book to choose. I thought the author did a good job of keeping up with the theme of the book and not getting sidetracked. I found myself laughing in some spots and cringing in others, but enjoying the read the entire time. It also made me grateful, Once more; that I am not a woman in Tudor times. Or a priest. Or anyone else, to be honest.

This book is not extremely long, so it would be great for an afternoon escape. I would recommend it to anyone with a curiosity about the stranger side of royal history.

NetGalley, Ionia Froment

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Modern soap operas have nothing on life in Tudor England. Neither do horror movies. Subtitled A Grisly History, House of Tudor describes the darker details of life under the Tudors. Botched beheadings, disease, poison (intentional and unintentional), oozing wounds, torture, burning at the stake - it’s all here and it is fascinating. From the mystery of the princes in the Tower of London to the lonely death of Queen Elizabeth l, author Mickey Mayhew tells the stories behind historic facts. For instance, Henry Vlll injured his leg in a joust and reinjured it several years later. The suppurating wound caused intense pain. But the pain also led to a personality change that turned him into a mean, angry, paranoid ruler. Elizabeth l wore makeup whitened with lead but she also painted blue lines on her forehead to mimic actual veins. One of the princes In the Tower may have been spirited away and raised in a distant village. The House of Tudor is full of intriguing stories like this and is a 5 star enjoyable read for all lovers of English history.

NetGalley, Kathleen Hughes

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The book is brilliant. Informative and to the point. The writing is concise and enjoyable. One thing I have found with some reference and history books is that you get an air of almost pretentiousness (not all of course but some) and this is not the case with Mayhew. We certainly are aware that Mayhew is an authority on the subject. I was able to finish this in two sittings and have since gone back to it several times. It is definitely a must read for those interested in or specialising in the Tudor and Renaissance period who want an accessible and in depth history of the darker aspects of the period, a refreshing look in and of itself.

NetGalley, Siobhain McCormick

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I truly enjoyed reading this book. I am glad that I toured the Tower of London before reading it though because now I would visualize exactly what took place there making it so real!

Having read over 30 different novels on the history of the Tudors, I was eager to read Mayhew's book which delves into the more gruesome aspects of that time period. The book was very interesting to read although the distinct description of beheadings, burnings, and drawing and quartering of bodies did cause me to flinch occasionally.

House of Tudors gives us a behind the scenes look at the ghastly ways in which the criminals and those in court were "brought to justice." And yet the townsfolk found it quite entertaining!
" Mass executions meant a whole day out for all the family, and people would arrive early or even sleep out overnight in order to get the best positions. There would be stalls set up selling fruit and drinks......"

If you have any interest in the Tudors or medieval history, you'll want to grab this fact filled book.

NetGalley, Dona Burke

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The stories of the various monarchs and the political dealings and double crosses will keep you entertained and intrigued. If you are interested in this period of time and the individuals involved, this is a must read!

NetGalley, Ron Baumer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is subtitled "A Grisly History" and that is the perfect description! Do not read if you have a weak stomach.

When you think about the Tudors, the beheadings of Henry VIII's wives quickly come to mind. But there's so much more than that. This presents 45 chapters ranging from Richard III's death all the way through Elizabeth I. The stories cover gruesome events like executions (including Anne Boleyn and so much more), torture, animal cruelty, as well as just the health risks of living in that timeframe, such as disease or childbirth.

I found this absolutely fascinating, and the short chapters were easy to digest and get through. I love learning about the Tudor era, and I also love gory horror, so this was really the perfect blend for me!

I also really liked how popular myths or pop culture interpretations were dispelled throughout, putting into context why the book Wolf Hall or the show The Tudors might choose a certain interpretation, even if it's likely inaccurate (or just unknown.) Having read or seen most of the references in the book, I really enjoyed getting that extra context. If you haven't seen/read those, the references are not excessive, so you can easily skip those sentences.

This does assume some knowledge of the Tudor era and the key players. There are some short explanations as to who people are, but if you don't have that baseline knowledge, it might be hard to follow.

But if you're already familiar with the timeframe, and are interested in a somewhat morbid view, this is a great book to pick up!

NetGalley, Karen Dowling

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Wildly Entertaining! If you are a Tudor or Stuart fan, do not miss this book. Put it on your list and you will not be disappointed. Told in 45 chapters of just the right amount of detail, I was surprised how much "truth" I found to be false and how much I didn't know of certain events that I thought I was pretty educated about. The author does a great job of detailing without it being dry and with a sense of humor where appropriate. I loved this book! And if this book wasn't great enough - the author has added some amazing pictures at the end.

NetGalley, Christine Cazeneuve

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

Click here to buy both titles for £46.00
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