Book Review – Following in the Footsteps of Henry Tudor by Phil Carradice

By Nathen Amin

‘Following in the Footsteps of Henry Tudor’ is part of Pen & Sword’s ‘Following in the Footsteps’ series, which has so far followed historical figures such as Oliver Cromwell, the Princes in the Tower, and Edward II, with the promise of more to come, no doubt. This Henry Tudor edition has been penned by Welsh author Phil Carradice, a veteran of more than two dozen books and a native of Pembroke, and follows the first Tudor king through eleven chapters from his birth at Pembroke to his victory at Bosworth.

Carradice astutely notes in his introduction that when one considers Henry Tudor, or Henry VII as he’s become known, it is “hard to know where the truth stops and the stories begin”, for his early life before becoming king was one “shrouded in mystery and confusion”. Considering “for years he has been overshadowed by his children and grandchildren”, a scenario “both oversimplistic and unfair”, a book uncovering these early years of Henry then makes much sense for such a project.

The result is eleven chapters, the first of which includes a curious fictional account of Henry Tudor’s return to Wales in 1485 after fourteen years in exile. Though not in keeping with what is a non-fiction book, it is nevertheless one of the finest written passages I’ve read on the matter, and suggests to me this is where the author’s talent truly lies; if Carradine was to produce a full-length fiction book on Henry Tudor, I’d certainly pick up a copy without hesitancy.

The remainder of the book follows a traditional non-fiction narrative, with separate chapters covering Henry Tudor’s birth and childhood, his exile and return, the march through Wales and England, and the battle of Bosworth with a brief analysis of his time as king. Each chapter is presented in a simple, easy-to-read format that serves as a suitable introduction to the topic for the beginner. Those well-versed in the life and times of Henry VII, however, may find the basic overview somewhat too simplistic as Carradice tries to cover over 50 years in just 121 pages. The odd typo has slipped into the book (mixing up the white rose with the red, for example, or attributing the Richmond greyhound to the Woodvilles) but nonetheless it serves as an adequate springboard to learn the basics of the subject ready to delve into deeper research in future.

Two interesting aspects stand out; the first is Carradice’s intriguing argument that, contrary to several centuries of tacit acceptance, that Henry Tudor did not land at Mill Bay, but rather elsewhere on the Pembrokeshire coast. This is the one aspect of the king’s life that Carradice goes into fair detail, being otherwise restricted by the limited nature of the book. His employment of a modern geologist and personal knowledge of the coast area make for a compelling analysis that deserves some further examination. The other unusual approach Carradice takes is to include the memories of someone who personally followed in Henry Tudor’s footsteps in 1985 by walking from Pembrokeshire, through the heart of Wales, and on to Bosworth Field, gaining a unique perspective on this period in the would-be king’s life. The gentleman in question, Peter Lewis, provides us personal testimony such as the following, which is certainly new information to this reviewer:

“It was lonely up there on the hills. Every five or ten minutes a car would pass or speed towards me but mostly I was alone, staring out at the grass, the rocks and watching the buzzards and kestrels. Back in 1485 those soldiers would have seen nothing, no passing traffic. It must have been mind blowing. I know that by the end I was in poor shape. God knows what Henry’s soldiers must have felt like.”

It is not a contemporary source, but nevertheless allows the reader a moment to really visualise what the march must have been like. In a well-trodden subject, it’s certainly a different way of looking at old history. In short, ‘Following in the Footsteps of Henry Tudor’ is not, nor was it intended to be, a comprehensive account of the life and times of the first Tudor king, but it does provide a readable overview of events between 1457 and 1509, and should prove a useful introduction to the topic for the casual reader looking to learn more about the Welshman who became king of England. For the more seasoned reader, you will lose nothing by having this on your bookshelf. And Carradice should certainly consider penning a full-length fictional novel on the topic.

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Book Review – Richard III: Loyalty Binds Me by Matthew Lewis

By Nathen Amin

Of all the monarchs in English history, not many commands more interest than Richard III, and indeed very few have more biographies written about them than this last Plantagenet king of England. There is a certain irony in the fact that whilst scores complain this particular monarch is overlooked or maligned, it does appear to this reviewer that more books exist on his life and times, many revisionist in nature, than all other kings and queens combined, Henry VIII and his flock of wives excepted. Certainly, since the astonishing rediscovery of his remains in 2012, there have been several books on the subject of Richard III with each passing year, a fact which may lead one to wonder why there is a need for yet another biography of a king who barely ruled these lands for two years.

Matthew Lewis himself opens his work ‘Richard III; Loyalty Binds Me’ in acknowledgement of his, noting that king ‘has perhaps been the cause of more spilt ink’ than any other domestic figure over the last five hundred years. He justifies his own attempt to capture the enigma that is Richard by intending to ‘place an authentic man in the complex context of his times’, to try and produce a biography that looks at the entirety of the king’s life and not just the final years, and to do so by providing ‘a measured and balanced opinion’.

Whether the authors intend to or not, books on Richard III can often be so replete with bias and agenda, whether for-Richard or anti-Richard, that they become unreadable to the casual reader with little interest in confirming to prejudices they may not possess. As such, the real Richard, the Richard who lived and breathed, is often regrettably concealed by the Saint Richard or Tyrant Richard caricatures of his modern supporters and critics.

Despite his humble assertion that as a staunch Ricardian this work is naturally sympathetic to his subject, and will perhaps be considered revisionist, Lewis does not fall into the trap of sanctifying Richard III as many of his ilk have done before him. For him, Richard was ‘neither victim nor evil mastermind’.

The eminent historian GM Trevelyan once wrote “Since history is our interpretation of human affairs in the past, it could not exist without bias. But with a wrong bias, it can be gravely distorted”. This book does not, in my opinion as someone who has been critical of Richard’s actions, possess a wrong bias, and the result is an exceptionally readable, deeply engrossing, and valuable resource for the shelf of any medieval enthusiast or curious novice.

Written chronologically from cradle to the grave, Lewis’s book covers all aspects of Richard’s life, and often seeks to place the boy, duke, protector and then king into the context of his time and surroundings. Despite the wealth of books on the subject, such an extensive project has rarely been produced, preferring to focus only on parts of Richard’s life such as his brief reign. Yet to understand the king, you must know the background. Lewis does not shy away from the controversial aspects of his subject’s 32 years on this earth, and whilst he does, at his own admission, often assume a sympathetic reading of events, the author always provides valid reasons for his deductions whilst acknowledging the counter-arguments that may often be the default positions.

This final point is important – it ensures we do not have a partisan propagandist preaching at the reader with every paragraph, a refreshing change when it comes to this particular king. The reviewer does not always concur with Lewis’s conclusions, but does see validity in the arguments presented.

Despite claims to the contrary, nobody can say, with absolute certainty, that Richard III was guilty or innocent of many crimes he has allegedly committed, and if they do, they do a disservice to the study of history. Lewis, to his credit in a difficult subject which often demands an uncompromising stance is assumed, often presents his case like a courtroom lawyer and leaves it to the jury, in this case the reader, to make their judgement.

Where required, the author goes into great detail to examine key events in the life of Richard III, and in particular the thorough investigation into the demise of Henry VI and the likely culprits was impressive, with extensive use of primary sources and how each must be judged on its own merit and motivation before arriving at a conclusion. This section has educational value in how to assess and use various sources to reach a conclusion, and as he shows you his process, it enables to reader to agree or disagree with his findings.

In short, Lewis’s ‘Richard III’ book succeeds where many before him have failed – he doesn’t seek to hoodwink the reader, or foist upon them a disingenuous depiction of Richard that a cursory glance at the sources renders nonsense. He does advance a sympathetic interpretation of those sources, but not to the extent it becomes overly generous, whilst working hard to expose the failures of previous historians who have sought to create a monster from a man. The result is a book that at no point in time did I slam down and walk away from, a rarity when one deals with the delicate subject of Richard III.

I fall short of calling this book the definitive Richard III biography, as I feel such a lofty title is simply not possible about such a complex, controversial and divisive figure, but regardless Lewis’s effort is a highly recommended addition to one’s library that is far more worthy than many similar studies which have preceded it. ‘The study of history is the asking of questions’ writes Lewis, and in this fine book that will likely stand the test of time, he has asked many fair questions of Richard’s reputation that must no longer be ignored. This is the story of Richard the man, not Richard the myth.

Book Review – The Tudor Crown by Joanna Hickson

By Nathen Amin

Joanna Hickson is one of the most popular fiction scribes currently producing work on all things 15th and 16th century, a position well-earnt by her consistently entertaining and insightful writing. Already a multiple best-selling author through her previous critically acclaimed work The Agincourt Bride and The Tudor Bride, The Tudor Crown follows on from last year’s triumphant release First of the Tudors, a captivating tome which followed the life and struggles of Jasper Tudor.

Hickson’s latest release features Jasper as a background character, continuing this hardy adventurer’s story somewhat, but the narrative has switched to his young nephew Henry Tudor, and the boy’s redoubtable mother, Margaret Beaufort. This manoeuvring mother-and-son team, separated by the English Channel and living in the precarious world of their dynastic enemies, the Yorks, work tirelessly towards the end goal – the place Henry upon the throne of England, an unlikely scenario that gradually hurdles towards reality as you race through the book.

The tagline of the Tudor Crown is ‘She’ll betray her king to crown her son’, though there is much more to Margaret’s story than mere betrayal – as her real-life inspiration, it’s about responding to external factors and seizing the opportunities presented her with remarkable determination. It is refreshing to see this resolute woman portrayed in a positive light rather than as a villain, as has depressingly been the case in recent times. She is a good person trying her best in a ruthless world, though unquestionably tough, and willing to do whatever it takes – “I quashed my Lancastrian pride and thought of my son’s future; I would kneel at my enemy’s feet”.

The book is written in the first-person, albeit from the eyes of two protagonist, namely the aforementioned mother-and-son. The chapters alternate between the two, reflecting their unfolding story as one battles through the world of the York court in England, and the other struggles and strives abroad in exile. The result is almost two different books in one, with two distinct perspectives from two unique individuals – and yet this premise works well as we are catapulted from one intrigue to another, their stories bonded only by the letters regularly exchanged between our two heroes. We see Margaret grow bolder in her schemes, and the resilient Henry grow from reluctant youth into a regal pretender, and naturally we find ourselves rooting for a pair who are scrapping against the odds for a positive outcome to the dreary hand life has dealt them.

Though the outcome is one of the most famous episodes in British history, Hickson calls on her full evocative repertoire to make us feel as though we are alongside Margaret and Henry for their turbulent journey, living the drama with them and uncertain of our destiny. She must be commended for this, as it’s not easy to maintain tension writing towards a finale already known by most readers. Hickson captures the hopes and dreams of the pair well through their story, clouding our mind with the same frustrations and worries her sympathetic characters experience several times over during their tribulations. Meanwhile enough names of real-life figures are mentioned for one to note the research Hickson has undertaken, as well as provide breadcrumbs for further research.

The mentioned finale is a masterpiece of fiction writing – the detail leading up to the fabled Battle of Bosworth almost transports the reader to the very field in question, through the eyes of the victor Henry Tudor himself – “The next hour was the most dreadful I had ever known…those clashing lines of screaming, swearing, charging men consisted of fathers and husbands, uncles and sons and I had led them into this hellish maelstrom of blood and guts and madness”.

In short – this author with a growing repertoire of excellent books has produced yet another winner. Oh, and the cover alone is beautiful. One hopes Hickson continues the story of Jasper and Henry into the successful twilight of their life.

 

Book Review – La Reine Blanche: Mary Tudor, A Life in Letters

By Nathen Amin

It is never easy to emerge from the considerable shadow of Henry VIII, but it’s fair to say that during her brief life, the mighty king’s younger sister Mary tried her damndest to seize at least some of the attention. Unlike Elizabeth Woodville, as recent fiction work might have you believe, Mary Tudor truly was known as the White Queen during her lifetime, referred to by the French for the colour of her mourning clothes after the death of her husband Louis XII in 1515, and it is this particular Tudor queen that author Sarah Bryson chooses to explore in her latest work ‘La Reine Blanche; Mary Tudor, a Life in Letters’.

The author notes in her introduction that the Tudor age was a period dominated by men, but there were nonetheless many strong, independent and intellectually gifted women, one of which she asserts was Mary, the youngest daughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. As this book, a chronological biography, progresses, it is difficult to argue otherwise with Bryson’s opinion.

La Reine Blanche covers Mary’s life, and in fact pre-life in the case of the opening chapter exploring the origins of the Tudors, following her early life as part-princess, part-martial pawn, including a commendably detailed look at her childhood betrothal to Archduke Charles, before exploring her brief tenure as Queen of France after she was married at eighteen to the elderly Louis XII in October 1514. The union was part of a treaty between Mary’s brother Henry VIII and her new husband, but the French king only lived three more months. Mary, however, was proud of her rank as Queen of France, and in fact, Bryson tells us, she never stopped referring to herself as such, despite a subsequent marriage.

That remarriage was her controversial decision to wed Charles Brandon, her brother’s close friend and the parvenu Duke of Suffolk, shortly after King Louis’ death, behind the back of the English king to whom they were forced to beg for forgiveness after the fact. What does this impulsive act say about Mary Tudor, a renowned beauty? Bryson tells us it proves it was an “opportunity to show the strong, self-willed, determined woman she had always been”, and this is an understatement. It was a remarkable decision, followed by a fascinating period in which she was forced to beg her brother’s forgiveness through a series of letters.

It is these letters where Bryson’s book has particular worth. Too often narrative history books only carry the odd line or two of contemporary sources, and often even then it is a famous excerpt that is repeated across the board. Bryson has utilised scores of letters written to and from Mary, or involving matters relating to her, and more often than not has included them the source in full, which is refreshing in allowing the reader to formulate their own opinion on the topic in question. In short, we are treated not only to Mary’s story in Bryson’s words, but also Mary’s story in Mary’s words.

We also discover, through these letters, just how wise Mary was, conjuring up all her wiles to convince her brother to forgive her marriage to Brandon, flattering him until he submitted. Bryson is astute when she notes that Mary “was able to manipulate the men around her, to convince them of her loyalty and to gain her heart’s desire by playing the weak female. She wept, she feared for her life, she worried and played herb role perfectly, all the while manoeuvring the men to her purpose; a marriage of her own choosing”. Tudors more often than not got their way, and Mary was no different, even when the person she was up against was her own flesh and blood. How many others went against Henry VIII and lived to tell the tale?

In short, La Reine Blanche is a passionate and detailed account that is a welcome addition to the Tudor genre, in which Sarah Bryson does justice to the extraordinary life and times of Mary Tudor. Essential reading to gain a fresh perspective of the early years in the most famous royal court in English history.

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Sarah Bryson is a researcher, writer and educator who has a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education with Honours. She currently works with children with disabilities. She is passionate about Tudor history and has a deep interest in Mary Tudor, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk and the reign of Henry VIII and the people of his court. She has run a website dedicated to Tudor history for many years and has written for various websites including ‘On the Tudor Trail’ and “QueenAnneBoleyn’. She has been studying primary sources to tell the story of Mary Tudor for a decade. Sarah lives in Australia, enjoys reading, writing and Tudor costume enactment.

Book Review – Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots; The Life of Henry VIII’s Sister by Sarah-Beth Watkins

By Nathen Amin

It is probably fair to suggest that Margaret Tudor, the eldest daughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, is the lesser known of his four surviving children, yet it is her descendants, and not those of her siblings, that currently sit on the British throne 477 years after her death, an astonishing achievement. Everyone knows Henry VIII, Margaret’s little brother, with increasing attention paid in recent years to her other siblings Arthur and Mary, but the Tudor who became a queen of Scotland remains somewhat unexplored, until now.

The sub-title of this very book is perhaps telling when one thinks of Margaret Tudor – “The Life of King Henry VIIIs Sister”, but fortunately Sarah-Beth Watkins valiantly attempts to remove her subject from her brother’s considerable shadow, something in which she succeeds. Born in 1489 and named for her maternal grandmother Margaret Beaufort, our Margaret was the second child of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, inheriting blood from both sides of the Wars of the Roses divide and ensuring she would be a highly-sought after princess on the competitive bridal market. It was the Scottish with whom she was eventually matched, and in 1503 at the age of just 13 travelled north to marry James IV, shortly after the death of her mother and eldest brother Arthur, which must have been emotionally taxing for the young girl. Life as queen, however, would be no plain sailing.

Margaret was very much a typical Tudor, and exhibited as much determination, stubbornness and questionable judgement as any of her more-famous relations, particularly after her royal husband’s death fighting against her brother in 1513, a period which must have caused considerable anxiety to the queen of Scots. Throughout her life, Margaret’s two loyalties were torn between both her families (and therefore her countries), Tudor and Stewart, and after she made the disastrous decision to remarry to Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, political opinion against her prompted a brief return home to the English court of her brother in London. By 1524, however, Margaret had bravely returned to Scotland and even engineered a coup to reclaim power on behalf of her underage son James V in a manner befitting one of Tudor bearing.

Not dissimilar to her brother, however, Margaret’s personal life obscured any political ambition, and she petitioned the Pope for a divorce, incurring the wrath of Henry VIII who himself would ironically follow suit just a few years later. She married for the third time to Henry Stewart, before falling out of favour in Scottish politics and passing away in 1541. Her legacy as queen of Scots and an English princess endures however; upon the failure of her brother’s line after the death of Elizabeth I in 1603, it was Margaret’s great-grandson James VI of Scotland who inherited the Tudor crown, ushering in the Stuart period of kings of England.

Margaret Tudor’s tumultuous life, therefore, was without doubt a dramatic period in this island’s history, one of far greater significance than either she or her contemporaries perhaps anticipated. At only 168 pages, Watkins’ chronological biography cannot be anything other than a brief exploration of these life and times, but that is not necessarily a negative mark against the author’s work – it covers all the key moments aforementioned, allowing the reader to assume their own extracurricular research on a particular aspect if so inclined.

Perhaps because of the length of the book, the narrative is concise, fast-paced and unrelenting, creating an engrossing and well-written account that the reader will race through in no time, whether expert or beginner. The inclusion of primary sourced material, in particular letters written by the subject herself, were also a pleasing addition, somewhat humanising a woman who lived 500 years ago. I was particularly captivated by her varying relationship with Henry VIII, as explored through her own words. In 1517, for example, we have Margaret writing to Henry where she beseeched ‘your grace to continue good and kind brother to me, as you have ever been’ whilst by 1524 the tone had altered somwhat, Margaret chastening her brother for his meddling in Scottish affairs by saying ‘it is right unkindly that your grace hath done this to me your sister’. Siblings, huh?

Overall, Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots; The Life of Henry VIII’s Sister is a worthwhile read that hopefully goes someway to bringing Margaret , the true conduit of her father’ legacy as Watkins’ explores in her final chapter, firmly out of the shadow of her ubiquitous little brother.

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Sarah-Beth Watkins grew up in Richmond, Surrey and began soaking up history from an early age. Her love of writing has seen her articles published in various publications over the past twenty years.  Her history works are Ireland’s Suffragettes, Lady Katherine Knollys: The Unacknowledged Daughter of King Henry VIII, The Tudor Brandons, Catherine of Braganza, Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots: The Life of King Henry VIII’s Sister and the forthcoming Anne of Cleves: Henry VIII’s Unwanted Wife.

Book Review – The King’s Pearl: Henry VIII and his Daughter Mary by Melita Thomas

By Nathen Amin

Interest in the life and times of the Tudor monarchs is as strong as ever, and so finding new ways to take a fresh look at a well-studied dynasty is always a difficulty for the historian wishing to bring something new to the table. As individuals, Henry VIII and his eldest surviving child Mary I have incurred considerable attention in recent years, but in The King’s Peal by Melita Thomas, the author has focused on dealings between father and daughter, and the result is an accomplished study of a complex and often fractious relationship that helps us understand better Mary the queen.

It is Thomas’ opinion that Mary, ‘a pearl of the world’, was a gambler – a headstrong force who risked everything she had in 1553 – her life, freedom and religion, in bidding for the throne, and this bold if reckless rise to become queen had its roots in her dealing with her father Henry, who both ‘loved and bullied’ his daughter throughout her youth. Recent re-evaluation of Mary’s reign has started to portray a queen who was more tragic than bloody, a victim of her father, but as Thomas exhibits throughout her work, their relationship was more complex than that – Mary was unquestionably doted upon by Henry when a girl but not so much when she developed into an obdurate teenager who questioned his setting aside her mother for Anne Boleyn.

When Mary continued to refuse to recognise Henry as the Supreme Head of the Church after both her mother and Anne’s deaths, matters reached a head in 1536, by which point father and daughter had been estranged for 4 years, when the king wrote to his daughter advising if she didn’t accept his will he would take leave of her forever, thinking her the most “ungrate, unnatural, and most obstinate person living”. Harsh words indeed, and just an insight into the tumultuous relationship of the pair.

And yet, as Thomas explores in The King’s Pearl, Mary remained the only figure to ever publicly clash in such a manner with the mighty king and not be destroyed. Wives, mentors and friends came and went, yet Mary remained, if at times firmly out of favour. Henry could willingly destroy any and every one, but he could never bring himself to wholly ruin his daughter, although it must be speculated upon how much such behaviour later affected her outlook.

Although the father-daughter personal relationship was complex and often confused by external political factors, Thomas’ book retains a gripping narrative throughout, never short on detail but always engaging. Well-referenced and commendably impartial, Thomas succeeds in not treating Mary or Henry as stereotypical two-dimensional parodies, and doesn’t take an obvious side in her study, preferring to present the evidence with reasoned commentary.

The book is a thought-provoking read that will help contextualise the later reign of Mary I, and perhaps explain the decisions taken by pearl who would, against the odds, one day become queen. Mary was far more her father’s daughter than is sometimes presumed, as this book superbly highlights.

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Melita Thomas is the co-founder and editor of Tudor Times, a repository of information about Tudors and Stewarts in the period 1485-1625 http://www.tudortimes.co.uk. Her first book ‘The King’s Pearl: Henry VIII and his daughter Mary’ is available now.

Book Review – Tudor Book of Days by Tudor Times

By Nathen Amin

You won’t forget the first time you hold the Tudor Book of Days, that’s for sure. What a remarkable publication this is from the folk who run the ever-growing Tudor Times empire. Solidly bound with a stunning cover featuring depictions of embroidered Tudor roses, I fell in love with the book before I’d even opened it up.

But first, some context – what exactly is a Book of Days? Well, its based on the Book of Hours, a literary item often owned and used by the great and good of the medieval and renaissance period to aid lay people in practicing their religion to utmost of their ability, such as serving as a remainder of important feast days or to collect biblical texts, liturgies or prayers that could be used by the owner throughout the day. These books were very much a much-revered and highly sought-after fashion accessory at the uppermost levels of society, and were often individually commissioned, bearing the owner’s coat of arms or other family emblems. They were then passed through the generations. They were annotated when important events occurred, such as Margaret Beaufort marking in her Book of Hours when her namesake granddaughter was born in 1489.

What the Tudor Times have done here, is replicate the idea of a Book of Hours but with a more useful, modern twist, coming up with the Book of Hours, creating a composite publication suitable for the 21st Century. It is a perpetual calendar in planner format, allowing you to mark important recurring events, birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, meetings etc on the date they occur. This is a key selling point of the planner – days of the week (i.e. Saturday) and years (i.e. 2017) are not included, just the date (i.e. 15 January), allowing you to keep using this Book of Days for many years. It is not designed to have a 12-month shelf life, just like the original Book of Hours.

Each page of the planner, therefore, has the date (e.g. 1 November), the feast day if one happens to fall on that date (e.g. All Hallows’ Day), a fact of history relating to that date (e.g. Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond, died 1456) and a space to jot down any thoughts or events you want marked yourself. At the start of each month is a summary of all historical facts for quick reference, and a section to write down all birthdays, anniversaries, reminders, project, occasions, festivals etc you want to note.

Other helpful additions to the book, aside from its main section, are a page to input your personal details that you may refer to regularly, and an index of each figure featuring in the titbit of trivia throughout the book with short biographical details.

In short, what the Tudor Times have produced here is a masterpiece, a unique but incredibly useful planner that will help any Tudor enthusiast navigate through the quagmire that is their day-to-day lives. An absolute must on the wish-list of any organised 16th century aficionado, and one I will personally be putting to very good use hereon in.

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Tudor Times is the place to go for a wide variety of information about the Tudor and Stewart period 1485 – 1625. On the website you can find material on People, Places, Daily Life, Military & Warfare, Politics & Economics and Religion. It features Guest Articles from well-known Tudor & Stewart historians. The site has a Book Review section, with author interviews and a book club. It also has comprehensive family trees, and a ‘What’s On’ event list with information about forthcoming activities relevant to the Tudors and Stewarts.