The Tudors are a national obsession; they are our most notorious family in history. But, as Leanda de Lisle shows in this gripping new history, beyond the well-worn headlines is a family still more extraordinary than the one we thought we knew.
The Tudor canon typically starts with the Battle of Bosworth, in 1485, before speeding on to Henry VIII and the Reformation. But this leaves out the family’s obscure Welsh origins, the ordinary man known as Owen Tudor who would fall (literally) into a Queen’s lap, and later her bed. It passes by the courage of Margaret Beaufort, the pregnant 13-year-old girl who would help found the Tudor dynasty; and the childhood and painful exile of her son, the future Henry VII. It ignores the fact that the Tudors were shaped by their past - those parts they wished to remember and those they wished to forget.
By creating a full family portrait set against the background of this past, Leanda de Lisle enables us to see the Tudors in their own terms, rather than ours; and presents new perspectives and revelations on key figures and events. We see a family dominated by remarkable women doing everything possible to secure its future; understand why the Princes in the Tower were disappeared; look again at the bloodiness of Mary’s reign; at Elizabeth’s relationships with her cousins; and rediscover the true significance of previously overlooked figures.
We see the supreme importance of achieving peace and stability in a violent and uncertain world, and of protecting and securing the bloodline. Tudor tells a family story like no other, and brings it once more to vivid life.
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Beyond the (Tudor) famous five