Henry VIII, The King and His Court
by Alison Weir
This book, though written in 2001, deserves reviewing given the incredibly rich detail of King Henry VIII’s court and many of the events that led up to the English Reformation.
It is not a biography per se, but rather a very well-researched account of life at court with Henry and his wives. Alison Weir goes into elaborate detail about the vast amounts of money that Henry spent on refurbishing his castles and estates (actually converting the amounts he spent to today’s equivalent), buying presents for his many wives, feeding his many courtiers as well as enumerating the vast quantities and types of food served by his cooks.
If you enjoy architecture, you will definitely be impressed with Weir’s description of Henry’s many castles and progress houses. If you are at all an anglophile, you will recognize many of the historical characters that Weir brings to life, including Anne Boleyn, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas More, Cardinal Wolsey, Hans Holbein and Jane Seymour to name a few of the many members of the nobility that frequented Henry’s court.
Alison Weir does an excellent job of character development, particularly with Henry by showing his progress in his youth from a kind and generous king (sensitive and compassionate) to a suspicious, murderous and tyrannical ruler towards the end of his life. If you are interested in a smattering of politics, court scandals, social life and culture during this era, you will definitely enjoy this well-researched read.