The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Paperback

The Six Wives of Henry VIII Paperback

Part of the Women in History series

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Antonia Fraser's bestselling biography of Henry VIII's six wives; a subject of enduring fascination.

The six wives of Henry VIII - Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Catherine Parr - have become defined in a popular sense not so much by their lives as by the way these lives ended.

But, as Antonia Fraser conclusively proves, they were rich and feisty characters.

They may have been victims of Henry's obsession with a male heir, but they were not willing victims.

On the contrary, they displayed considerable strength and intelligence at a time when their sex supposedly possessed little of either.




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 I've been on a bit of a Tudor kick recently, what with this, Alison Weir's Innocent Traitor (the life of lady Jane Grey) and a CJ Sansom detective piece set at the courting of Catherine Parr. They've all tied together quite neatly. <br/><br/>It's a long old book, but filled with 6 very different characters. At the start, the author sets out to explore the women who were married to Henry VIII, to get behind the rhymes (Katherine, Anne Jane, Anne, Katherine, Catherine - Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived) and the stereotypes to look at each one as an individual. It deals with the youth an upbringing of each lady, as well as how she interacted with the others, the court and the King. it's interesting that 3 of them were ladies in waiting to their predecessor. <br/><br/>She also makes clear that while we know Henry married 6 times, he never did. To him each match was the last and the progression from wife to wife was driven by many complex factors. <br/><br/>It's a good read, full of facts, but not at all dry. There are anecdotes and where evidence is suspect, the balance of probability is presented. There is even a review of their final resting places, which are wildly different in state. As the epilogue makes clear it's ironic that a man so obsessed with his heirs should have no descendants beyond his children.

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