While titled, The Children of Henry VIII, the book’s Prologue opens with the history surrounding the death of Henry Tudor’s older brother Arthur, Prince of Wales on Saturday, April 2, 1502. From there it walks us through all the major Tudor royal events; from Henry’s marriage to Katherine of Aragon, to the final years of the Tudor dynasty which ended with Elizabeth I’s death in March, 1603. It encompasses just over 100 years of British and Tudor royal history. So the book title is a just a tad little misleading. This new non-fiction book doesn’t focus solely on the children of Henry VIII as I was expecting.
I have read many different non-fiction books about the Tudors, and the facts outlined here matched what I’ve learned in my study of this historical era. I found it interesting that the author reported on a theory that was new to me. He explained what may have caused the miscarriage of so many of Henry’s unborn children. It could have been a genetic incompatibility between the blood groups of the Henry and his wives. Perhaps Henry was positive for a blood group antigen know as “Kell”, and his partner was negative. (As is 90 percent of the Caucasian populations.) This could have led to the many miscarriages, and still-births that his wives endured.
At 273 pages in length, and spanning 100 years this is more a survey of Henry VIII, his wives, and his children rather than a deep dive into any one historical figure or religious or political movement. The author neatly lays out what caused Henry to break with the Catholic Church (primarily driven by Henry’s desire to divorce Katherine of Aragon in order to marry Anne Boleyn). This dissolution of the Catholic Church in Great Britain subsequently caused radical swings between Catholicism and Protestantism that each ensuing ruler from Henry VIII through Elizabeth I put the country through as they assumed the power of the throne.
I gave this book 3 stars. The history described was accurate and concise. I’d recommend it for someone who doesn’t know much about Henry VIII, and the later era of the Royal House of Tudor. Someone who has a deep background in the history of this era may find that the book isn’t meaty enough for them.
Krista lives just outside the urban sprawl of Portland, Oregon. Lamentably, her work as a technical writer and business analyst often interferes with her reading which is a true passion.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Oxford University Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.