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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

"Winter King" by Thomas Penn

This fascinating biography of Henry VII focuses on the years between 1500 and his death in 1509. This was the time when Henry, having fought his way to the throne and married Elizabeth of York to legitimise his issue, suffered the twin succession crises of losing his first born and his queen leaving a very young Henry VIII (still only 17 when he ascended in 1509) as heir at a time when father to son succession had not occurred for nearly a century and with the Plantagenet pretender de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, waiting abroad.

And Henry VII became the richest monarch in Europe through tax avoidance (he smuggled Venetian alum to circumvent the papal monopoly) and extortion (by accusing almost anyone of trumped up crimes and then either fining them or binding them over in excessive sums).

A fascinating and compelling portrait of one of England's lesser known (and least charismatic) kings. 

But I so wanted to lerarn about the first half of the reign. After the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, Henry had to reunite the country still reeling from the divisive Wars of the Roses. His own claim on the throne was marginal (Henry V's widow, ex Princess of France, had married her household steward). So how did he persuade everyone to follow him? This story deserves to be told.

Quotes: 

  • John Skelton exhorted us to "Love poets: athletes are two a penny but patrons of the arts are rare."
  • Henry VIII's tutor Lord Mountjoy lived near Greenwich Palace at Sayes Court (later lived in my John Evelyne, Admiral Benbow and briefly Czar Peter the Great)
  • Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, lived at Collyweston Palace near Kettering
  • Henry VII confiscated Ampthill from the Earl of Kent because Kent was in debt here there and everywhere and mismanaging his lands
  • Another compulsory purchase was Hanworth which he made into a palace. 
  • Catherine of Aragon's wedding procession (to Henry VIII) went [ast the Cardinal's Hat Tavern near where the Globe now is.
A wonderful, beautifully written book. April 2012; 378 pages

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