Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him
'An outstanding work of historical artistry, a brilliantly woven and pacy story of the men who surrounded, influenced and sometimes plagued Henry VIII.' Alison Weir Henry VIII is well known for his tumultuous relationships with women, and he is often defined by his many marriages. But what do we see if we take a different look? When we see Henry through the men in his life, a new perspective on this famous king emerges... Henry's relationships with the men who surrounded him reveal much about his beliefs, behaviour and character. They show him to be capable of fierce, but seldom abiding loyalty; of raising men only to destroy them later. He loved to be attended and entertained by boisterous young men who shared his passion for sport, but at other times he was more diverted by men of intellect, culture and wit. Often trusting and easily led by his male attendants and advisers during the early years of his reign, he matured into a profoundly suspicious and paranoid king whose favour could be suddenly withdrawn, as many of his later servants found to their cost. His cruelty and ruthlessness would become ever more apparent as his reign progressed, but the tenderness that he displayed towards those he trusted proves that he was never the one-dimensional monster that he is often portrayed as. In this fascinating and often surprising new biography, Tracy Borman reveals Henry's personality in all its multi-faceted, contradictory glory.

Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him Details

TitleHenry VIII and the Men Who Made Him
Author
ReleaseNov 1st, 2018
PublisherHodder & Stoughton
Rating
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Biography, English History, Tudor Period, European Literature, British Literature

Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him Review

  • Beata
    January 1, 1970
    I requested this book for at least three reasons. The first one was that I enjoy Tracy Borman's ways of presenting history and having read some of her books, I am still a fan of hers. The second reason was my interest in the Tudor period and the need to extend my (not scholarly) knowledge. Full satisfaction after reading this book. And, last but not least, I thought that reading more about the men who stood behind Henry VIII, and not just the king himself, might be an insightful. I honestly admi I requested this book for at least three reasons. The first one was that I enjoy Tracy Borman's ways of presenting history and having read some of her books, I am still a fan of hers. The second reason was my interest in the Tudor period and the need to extend my (not scholarly) knowledge. Full satisfaction after reading this book. And, last but not least, I thought that reading more about the men who stood behind Henry VIII, and not just the king himself, might be an insightful. I honestly admit that I was absolutely right to request this particular book. It reads very, very well, and is a source of information which is often ommitted for different reasons in biographies of this famous Tudor monarch. The book concentrates on men who surrounded the king and who had influence on him in various ways, not only political. I definitely recommend this non-fiction to anyone interested in monarch were influenced .......*Many thanks to Tracy Borman, Grove Atlantic and Netgalley for provong me with ARC in exchange for my honest review.*
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  • Thomas
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars rounded up to 4.Thanx you Grove Atlantic for sending me this eARC through NetGalley. It is a solid biographical study of the men who served Henry the VIII. Most books about this period focus on his six wives or Henry the VIII. The author has done an impressive amount of research, quoting extensively from primary sources, letters, diaries, official records, etc. Henry the VIII was obsessed with producing a male heir to carry on his reign. His father had ended a civil war and Henry the V 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.Thanx you Grove Atlantic for sending me this eARC through NetGalley. It is a solid biographical study of the men who served Henry the VIII. Most books about this period focus on his six wives or Henry the VIII. The author has done an impressive amount of research, quoting extensively from primary sources, letters, diaries, official records, etc. Henry the VIII was obsessed with producing a male heir to carry on his reign. His father had ended a civil war and Henry the VIII worried that there would be another civil war without a male heir.A personal note: I just returned from a UK visit and toured Castle Howard, in the Howard family for more than 500 years. It is now owned by The National Trust. The last Howard turned it over to the Trust with the proviso that he continue to live there. He died recently, but used to give tours while he was alive. Castle Howard was a stately mansion and not a Castle. Actual castles in the UK have the town name first, as in Caernarfon Castle. Katherine Howard was one of Henry the VIII's wives.Interestingly, many of the men who served Henry the VIII were named Thomas-- Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Cranmer, and Thomas Howard.One complaint: Chapter 2 has 57 footnotes, but only two and a half are listed in the footnote section.
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  • Juli
    January 1, 1970
    My first thought when I think about King Henry VIII is this:Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced Beheaded, Survived.It's almost automatic to think of Henry in terms of his disastrous marriages....and the effect those dramas had on English history, religion, and the monarchy. Tracy Borman wants to redirect the focus from the women in Henry's life to the men -- his father, his older brother who died, his advisors, councilors, friends, frenemies, servants -- all the men surrounding Henry from childho My first thought when I think about King Henry VIII is this:Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced Beheaded, Survived.It's almost automatic to think of Henry in terms of his disastrous marriages....and the effect those dramas had on English history, religion, and the monarchy. Tracy Borman wants to redirect the focus from the women in Henry's life to the men -- his father, his older brother who died, his advisors, councilors, friends, frenemies, servants -- all the men surrounding Henry from childhood, helping form his character and behavior. From Hans Holbein, the court painter who created the portraits we still see today, to the powerful Dukes of Buckingham and Norfolk, all the way down the court pecking order to Will Somer the Court Fool...Henry was surrounded by men all his life from his birth to his death at 55. And those men had a profound effect on Henry, his decisions, his personality....and his cruelty. I enjoyed this book! I read it slowly over a two week period, letting the history and information soak into my brain. I came to this conclusion...if Henry VIII was truly fickle, paranoid, vain, obsessed with a male heir, cruel and horribly misguided at times....who made him that way? The men who surrounded him -- giving advice, scrounging for power and favor, practicing deceit to influence Henry's decisions, always watching, always waiting, always wanting.... No wonder Henry was paranoid. No wonder he was obsessed with leaving an heir to the throne. No wonder he turned on faithful advisors, friends, and nobility when it pleased him to have them executed. The treatment of Henry's wives was brought about not only by Henry's obsessions and fickle nature, but also by the advisors that surrounded him. They whispered the lies. They arranged the trials. They pushed their daughters in front of him. They gave Henry what they told him he wanted. They created the king who has a high spot on the list of worst monarchs in history. So while Henry VIII is responsible for his own behavior (as are we all), the men around him that helped mold him are also partially (maybe even mostly) to blame. Awesome book! I thoroughly enjoyed this look at Henry VIII, the men in his life and court, and how they molded the king. This book is non-fiction and contains a lot of names, dates, historical facts, etc. Great for those who love reading about the Tudors....not so great for those who don't enjoy non-fiction or pure history. Those who enjoyed Borman's earlier book -- The Private Lives of the Tudors -- will also enjoy this book. I enjoy Borman's writing style. She presents the facts in an interesting way. I never feel like I'm reading a stuffy textbook. Great information -- I loved it!**I voluntarily read an advanced readers copy of this book from Grove Atlantic. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. No advisors or spouses were beheaded in the writing of this review.)
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  • Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)
    January 1, 1970
    This review can also be found on my blog!I received an ARC through Netgalley and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.This is probably the first book that’s purely about Henry (in a way) that I really liked. Earlier this year, I read Henry VIII: The King and His Court by Alison Weir, which was a complete disaster. So, I was hopeful that this one would be better. It definitely was!Borman takes the stance that Henry is such an enigma — and he is; he’s a hard man to capture because he was so This review can also be found on my blog!I received an ARC through Netgalley and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.This is probably the first book that’s purely about Henry (in a way) that I really liked. Earlier this year, I read Henry VIII: The King and His Court by Alison Weir, which was a complete disaster. So, I was hopeful that this one would be better. It definitely was!Borman takes the stance that Henry is such an enigma — and he is; he’s a hard man to capture because he was so changeable — so it’s easiest to get to his character by looking at the various men he considered favorites. Namely, the Boleyns and Howards, Seymours, Charles Brandon, Thomas More, Cardinal Wolsey, and Thomas Cromwell to name a few. All of these relationships fluctuated through his reign, especially since he beheaded quite a few listed.What I really enjoyed was that this was a great summary of Henry’s reign and a good analysis of the men. It didn’t get bogged down on the wives like many books would, but kept that light and focused more on the men who were behind these various power grabs.I definitely learned a lot about the men and I felt like I came away from the book with a little more knowledge on the topic. Sometimes, these books can be a review for me. But this felt like a review with extra detail. It didn’t feel like a wasted read.However, I do have my cons.Borman tackled a very heavy topic here because she never set out with specific men in mind. I think that if she had limited herself to a few men rather than try to talk about every single man, it would have been a stronger book. Henry got lost a lot of the time. It was hard to find him and his personality because the strong men around him swallowed him up sometimes.Another thing was that I did not like her analysis of Anne Boleyn. She relied very heavily on Chapuys and old historical “fact” that has been largely disproven (such as Jane Boleyn hating her husband, George) by modern historians.So, this was good. It was very enjoyable. I had minor issues with the book, but I’d love to have a finished copy of this for my Tudor shelf.
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  • BAM The Bibliomaniac
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks go to Grove Press and Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for my unbiased review.
  • Melisende d'Outremer
    January 1, 1970
    Much to the ire of Tudorphiles everywhere - I did not find this especially enlightening. And like Oliver Twist - I wanted more and was left wanting.
  • Orsolya
    January 1, 1970
    The life of Henry VIII concerning his court, wives, and politics is widely known and is certainly no secret. However, Henry was surrounded by ambitious men in both his political and personal spheres which are somewhat lesser discussed. How did these men and their personalities shape Henry’s own? Tracy Borman explores this question in, “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him”. “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him” curtails a traditional recap biography and focuses more on the interactions between He The life of Henry VIII concerning his court, wives, and politics is widely known and is certainly no secret. However, Henry was surrounded by ambitious men in both his political and personal spheres which are somewhat lesser discussed. How did these men and their personalities shape Henry’s own? Tracy Borman explores this question in, “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him”. “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him” curtails a traditional recap biography and focuses more on the interactions between Henry and key figures such as Thomas Wosley, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Cranmer, and Charles Brandon alongside such noteworthy names as Will Somers (Henry’s court fool) and Sir Nicholas Carew (to name some examples covered in the text). Borman’s presentation is a cocktail mix of chronological biography infusing an almost mini-bio of each figure as they respectively enter Henry’s life. This is where the key issue with “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him” arises: the text doesn’t meet Borman’s thesis at attempt to portray the effect these relationships had on Henry that makes sense being we don’t have a diary or psyche breakdown of Henry’s mind. This, however, means that the text is basically a biography of each figure and the political and/or personal events/connections to Henry. Despite the theme of the text not being met; the angle is still unique focusing more on the masculine relationships rather than just politics, wives, or the overall reign of Henry VIII. Elaborating on this note, it is clear beyond measure that Borman is well-educated on the subject and has conducted massive amounts of research. Even those readers familiar with the subject will encounter information either not expressed at all in other texts or simply not explored making for an intriguing reading. That being said, Borman has the habit of including speculative statements, including opinions as fact without backing arguments, and repeating facts. Occasionally, “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him” must be taken with a grain of salt.Borman’s writing style meshes together an academic style with a smooth narrative educating readers while ensuring a storytelling arc that engages and excites. This doesn’t mean that “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him” doesn’t have a slow pace at times with a repetitive density: it does. Overall, though, the text is strong enough to be readable and encourage page-turning. Notably affecting the flow of “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him” are the consistently long chapters offering insufficient breaks for material to soak in and being heavily clumsy with over-saturated, run-on content. This mars readability and dampers the text. The progression of “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him” brings an advancement to the meeting of the thesis at hand. Although Borman still fails to truly portray how the discussed figures affected Henry; she does offer a unique view of the webs between the men themselves and therefore shows hidden behind-the-scenes happenings surrounding such events as the King’s “Great Matter” and the Reformation. In this way, readers do get a rare glimpse into the King and are able to self-decide how these men contributed to his actions and personality and of what consequence each entailed. Although Borman had the habit in her previous works to quote Shakespeare as though he was a historian; she luckily only does this once in “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him”. Borman does, however, constantly refer to Henry VIII’s weight and boasts him as ‘gigantic’ and ‘huge’. We get it: Henry was obese in the later years of his reign. It is not necessary, though, to continuously mention such a superficial note in this context.The ending of “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him” feels somewhat rushed and incomplete resulting in a conclusion that is less than memorable and doesn’t fully encompass the entire text. Borman includes a section of full-color photo plates, bibliography (with an adequate amount of primary sources) and notes (although hardly annotated). Borman’s “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him” doesn’t fully meet the aim of her thesis yet it is notably interesting, unique, and get stronger throughout the course of its progression. There are some facts and revealing material that is new even to those familiar with the topic and despite its flaws; “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him” is suggested for all readers interested in Henry VIII and the Tudor period.
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  • Juliew.
    January 1, 1970
    I have to confess I love Borman's writing just not a particular fan of some of her research or her point of views on certain people within the Tudor sphere.I'm giving points though for her topic of focusing on just the men who influenced Henry VIII rather than focusing on the much written about and discussed wives.This was basically a very long,detailed who's who of the Tudor court.Not only rehashing old favorites such as Charles Brandon,Thomas Moore and Thomas Cromwell but going deeper into the I have to confess I love Borman's writing just not a particular fan of some of her research or her point of views on certain people within the Tudor sphere.I'm giving points though for her topic of focusing on just the men who influenced Henry VIII rather than focusing on the much written about and discussed wives.This was basically a very long,detailed who's who of the Tudor court.Not only rehashing old favorites such as Charles Brandon,Thomas Moore and Thomas Cromwell but going deeper into the court to find the stories of William Blount,William Fitzwilliam,Hans Holbien,Henry Guilford,Ralph Sadler,Thomas Heneage and many other lesser know men.Following them on their many years of service to the king or in some cases their brief service.But as much as I did enjoy this some research was just off to me.With every Boleyn insult with no source note I found myself rolling my eyes.Not to mention her thoughts on Katherine Howard.Using sources such as eighteenth century librarians or Elizabethan courtiers who had never even been to Henry VIII's court has its drawbacks,I suppose.Nevertheless,very much enjoyed this and it is my favorite book of hers to date.
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  • Krista
    January 1, 1970
    Rating: 3 stars Tracy Borman’s most recent entry into the history of the Tudors, “Henry VIII and the men who made him: The secret history behind the Tudor throne” is a good solid work of non-fiction. It joins her previous book about the Tudor dynasty, “Elizabeth's Women: Friends, Rivals, and Foes Who Shaped the Virgin Queen” and it does a serviceable job of painting the picture of Henry’s court and the myriads of men surrounding him throughout his life. Unfortunately for me, it paints the pictur Rating: 3 stars Tracy Borman’s most recent entry into the history of the Tudors, “Henry VIII and the men who made him: The secret history behind the Tudor throne” is a good solid work of non-fiction. It joins her previous book about the Tudor dynasty, “Elizabeth's Women: Friends, Rivals, and Foes Who Shaped the Virgin Queen” and it does a serviceable job of painting the picture of Henry’s court and the myriads of men surrounding him throughout his life. Unfortunately for me, it paints the picture in fits and starts. Due to how it is structured, I often had a hard time keeping track of all the significant players in Henry’s court. The book is told in chronological order from the beginning to the end (and a bit beyond) of Henry’s life. It focuses on how Henry used to his men in often impetuous and petulant ways. He was nothing if not mercurial. There is no better illustration of this than by seeing the multiple times those close counselors and nobility swung rapidly from boon companions and confidants, to traitors on trumped up charges where the best outcome that could be hoped for was a swift death by beheading.I have read quite a bit about all the Tudors, so I am familiar with Henry’s story. This book did shed new light on how capricious Henry could be, and suggests some of the reasons why that was. While the book did provide good information, it was a bit long. At times I found it either tedious or hard to follow. I’m not sure what suggestion I’d make to help organize it a different that would have enlightened me in a more entertaining way. Currently, it’s just a bit too fragmented for my reading taste. I think it’s suited to a reader with a fairly good knowledge of Tudor history. The casual reader might soon be daunted or discouraged by all the details.‘Thank-You’ to NetGalley; the publisher, Grove Atlantic; and the author, Tracy Borman; for providing a free e-ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Joyce
    January 1, 1970
    5 starsI read the Kindle edition.“You shall, in your counsel-giving unto his grace, ever tell him what he ought to do…For if (a) Lion knew his own strength, hard were it for any man to rule him.” – Sir Thomas MoreThis is a wonderful history of the men who surrounded King Henry VIII. Born both high and low, these men surely shaped the king’s reign through their influence with him. They were advisors, courtiers, friends, servants – and even his rivals. While most often remembered for his split wit 5 starsI read the Kindle edition.“You shall, in your counsel-giving unto his grace, ever tell him what he ought to do…For if (a) Lion knew his own strength, hard were it for any man to rule him.” – Sir Thomas MoreThis is a wonderful history of the men who surrounded King Henry VIII. Born both high and low, these men surely shaped the king’s reign through their influence with him. They were advisors, courtiers, friends, servants – and even his rivals. While most often remembered for his split with Roman Catholicism and his six wives, it was these men who perhaps had more influence on Henry than his wives. The Duke of Suffolk Charles Brandon was probably Henry’s closest friend and sometimes advisor. The scheming and ambitious Cardinal Wolsey whose drive to wealth and control of his king overrode his good sense and essentially drove him to ruin, Sir Francis Bryan who was another friend and confident of the king, Sir Thomas More…Thomas Cromwell…The poet Thomas Wyatt , Hans Holbein the painter who immortalized Henry in his famous painting, Thomas Boleyn, Francis I who was the King of France, Charles V of Spain and the Holy Roman Empire who Henry ultimately didn’t trust but forged on and off again alliances with Charles and many, many others.Ambassador to King Charles V Eustace Chapuys was very intelligent and a keen observer of human nature. His frequent writings and reports back to Spain were insightful and often noted the changeable nature of the king. Cardinal Wolsey took an immediate and intense dislike of Sir Thomas More for his closeness to the king. It’s no wonder that after Wolsey’s fall, More’s name appeared at the top of the list of forty-four charges against the Cardinal. Most of the charges were outlandish and clearly made up, but the drive by his detractors had gained momentum and there was no turning back. It is believed that Wolsey’s failure to gain an annulment or divorce from Queen Catherine was his final downfall. Henry wanted to marry Anne Boleyn. Wolsey was long-time trusted advisor to Henry, but he overstepped his bounds one time too many.Thomas Cromwell was a protégé of Wolsey’s and carried many messages between Wolsey and the king during Wolsey’s exile. Wolsey also believed that being a Cardinal protected him against a charge of treason. He was sadly mistaken. Henry could and would do anything he desired to do. His wives also had a great influence on Henry’s demeanor. As time passed he grew more fractious, mercurial and vindictive. Some of this must have been down to his wives’ influence and their perceived “wrongs” against Henry.Henry was passionate about sports of all kinds: hunting, tennis, dancing, shooting and especially jousting and so on. He was also drawn to intelligent, educated men such as Sir Thomas More and Desiderates Erasmus. He was easily manipulated as Cardinal Wolsey was to discover and very changeable. In his later years he became more paranoid and suspicious of his ministers and confidants. He would profess undying affection one moment and utterly destroy them the next, sometime even having them beheaded – as he did to so many people. He was also a raging hypochondriac.Upon Wolsey’s fall from grace, Thomas Cromwell came to the king’s notice. He was not formally educated, but he was intelligent and quick to learn. He was more intelligent and articulate than most of the nobles at the court even though he was a lowly son of a blacksmith and bar owner. Cardinal Wolsey died of dysentery on his way to (probably) the Tower of London. While some believed that he committed suicide, this has largely been disproved. The Cardinal was known to be very ill on his journey southward. Thomas Cromwell, Cardinal Wolsey’s protégé, quickly ascended a rise to power as the king’s newest counselor and confident. Cromwell had reasons of his own to promote the annulment of Henry’s marriage to Catherine and to make Henry the richest King in Europe. He secretly desired a break with Roman Catholic Church as he was a protestant. Cromwell was witty and humorous, and spoke the bald truth, even to his detractors. These were qualities that the king appreciated.While Archbishop Cranmer and Thomas Cromwell did much to further their Protestant agenda, Sir Thomas More, as now the Lord Chancellor, was horrified. He was firmly opposed to King Henry’s move to annul his marriage to Catherine and any break with Rome. His sympathies clearly lied with Catherine. When the clergy of England formally announced the Submission to the King in religious affairs, More resigned his office as Lord Chancellor. He promised never to speak publicly of King Henry’s “Great Matter” or speak openly of his criticism of the upcoming break with Rome. But More did not keep silent. When Thomas Cromwell ran afoul of Queen Anne, he was put on dangerous ground with the King in spite of garnering him millions (in today’s money), of pounds to add to his treasury. When Henry’s displeasure with Queen Anne became obvious Cromwell then schemed to get rid of Anne and install Jane Seymour as the new Queen. He knew he must be careful, however, for Anne was both astute and vindictive. He carefully constructed a plan whereby he could have Anne accused of adultery. Her love of flirting with men in her chambers was well known, for she did not surround herself with ladies, but preferred the company of men. Thus Cromwell was not only the architect of Anne’s marriage to King Henry, he was also the planner of her ultimate downfall.Within ten days of her death, King Henry was betrothed to Jane Seymour. She was to give Henry his much longed-for son. Henry was overjoyed and named him Edward. Jane, sadly, was to die only a few days following the birth of Edward.The Pilgrimage of Grace caused another serious threat against Cromwell. Started by those staunch Catholics who lived in the North of England against what they saw as the unfair dismantling of their monasteries and abbeys. They mostly directed their ire against Cromwell and his councilors; this also was to affect the king mightily. Henry’s fourth wife was Ann of Cleves. He disliked her from the start and claimed he only married her to assure him an alliance with Cleves against the new treaty signed by the Emperor Charles V and Francis I of France. For his part in the marriage, Cromwell was arrested and sent to the Tower. He demanded that Cromwell, from prison, find a reason to annul the marriage. A reason was found. Ann was content to live in England as Henry’s “sister” from that time until her death. At first Henry did not mourn Cromwell’s death, but later he came to realize that Cromwell ran his offices so smoothly and efficiently that Henry didn’t even realize how much he relied on him. He then missed him. Henry’s fifth wife was Katherine Howard. She was very young and she failed to disclose her former love relationships to Henry. But worse was the fact that Henry was now getting to be elderly by 1500’s standards, and he by this time was also obese and his leg pained him almost all of the time. Katherine started up a love affair with Thomas Culpeper, a young man who was of questionable virtue. He raped a young woman in the village, but Henry pardoned him. He was controlling and mean and perhaps Katherine, once ensnared, couldn’t see a way out of the relationship. For whatever reason, she was soon found out and suffered the ultimate punishment, along with her lovers. Henry’s sixth wife was Catherine Parr. She was about thirty when they married and since one doesn’t refuse the King, had to marry him in spite of the fact that she was in love with Thomas Seymour, the late Queen Jane’s brother. Catherine was to outlive Henry. She did much to bring the family together – Mary, Elizabeth and Edward and they more often came to court. Stephen Gardiner who was then a Bishop and a staunch Catholic contrived to have Queen Catherine arrested on charges of treason because of her Protestant beliefs. However, his plan backfired when Henry put his foot down and told Gardiner to get lost. After Henry’s death on January 28, 1547, there was a great deal of fighting over the Protectorate of his son, Edward, then aged just nine. Also, the arguments over the interpretation of Henry’s will went on and on. Edward Seymour grabbed the opportunity to name himself Lord Protector and shut out everyone else. However, he was to get his. Some amendments were made to Henry’s will following his death of which Henry would not have approved. This was a period in time that I would not like to live. Or if I did, I would want to remain as far from the court as possible. It was filled with backbiting and treachery. The level of scheming and fabrications created by those closest to Henry were astounding. There was no one be they high or low who escaped Henry’s wrath and mercurial temperament – save his good friends Charles Brandon and Thomas Wyatt. This is a very well-written told tale of the men who were closest to King Henry VIII. It is very well researched and thought out. I am in awe of Ms. Borman’s attention to detail and the patience with which she pens her books. I have read many of her books, and have very much liked them all. I tip my hat to the author and will read any more of her future writings. I want to thank NetGalley and Grove Atlantic/Atlantic Monthly Press for forwarding to me a copy of this most interesting and well-written book for me to read, enjoy and review.
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  • SonOfYork
    January 1, 1970
    This has got to be by far one of the most interesting reads I have ever had; rivaled by Sharon Penman herself, who I hold as the best of historical writers and my favorite author in general. I have always wanted Penman to continue from her Sunne in Splendour and have been disappointed in the attempts of authors who have ventured to touch on the reigns that followed Bosworth. I was relieved to find one who stood out. Tracy Borman’s take on Henry VIII was refreshing, interesting, which one might e This has got to be by far one of the most interesting reads I have ever had; rivaled by Sharon Penman herself, who I hold as the best of historical writers and my favorite author in general. I have always wanted Penman to continue from her Sunne in Splendour and have been disappointed in the attempts of authors who have ventured to touch on the reigns that followed Bosworth. I was relieved to find one who stood out. Tracy Borman’s take on Henry VIII was refreshing, interesting, which one might expect to be no surprise, as it focuses one of England’s most controversial kings but as I have said above, the work I have read on Henry was not like Borman's and it is only because most historical authors (in my opinion) can't do what Penman has done, that I have only read a couple of Henry VIII studies. Borman is a great writer, great expresser of facts and who I cannot wait to read again! I was so engrossed from the start, enriched by the style and the research and I was thoroughly entertained as I followed the King through his relationships with his wives, his children, but in this case, and most importantly, the men who served him. Well done Ms Borman and thank you!
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  • Sarah Bryson
    January 1, 1970
    Tracy Borman’s book on Henry VIII was a refreshing look at one of England’s most controversial Kings. So often when books examine the life of Henry VIII they study the King through his relationships with this many wives and his children, but Borman’s book takes a very different approach. She studies the life and reign of Henry VIII through the men that served him. Through the courtiers and friends whom lived with the King, men who served his most intimate needs as well as those that carried out Tracy Borman’s book on Henry VIII was a refreshing look at one of England’s most controversial Kings. So often when books examine the life of Henry VIII they study the King through his relationships with this many wives and his children, but Borman’s book takes a very different approach. She studies the life and reign of Henry VIII through the men that served him. Through the courtiers and friends whom lived with the King, men who served his most intimate needs as well as those that carried out the daily, very hectic and heavy, duties of keeping the Kingdom running. Some of these men were closer to the King than his own wives and it was these men that helped to inform and ultimately shape Henry VIII’s thoughts, views and decisions.There was no better way to the King than through those closest to him - his friends and the men that served him. If one wished to gain access to the King, to receive help or petition the King, it was best done through those that held his ear. It was these men that Borman studies and gives details about their lives. She discusses who these men are, some low born who raised to great heights such as Thomas Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell and others coming from great and influential families such as the Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham and John Howard, Duke of Norfolk. There were also men who Borman details who history has glossed over such as William Butts, physician to the King and Anthony Denny who had the grievous task of informing the King he was dying. To learn about these men helped to gain an understanding of who Henry VIII was, why he made the decisions he did during his life as well as his fears and desires. I thoroughly enjoyed Tracy Borman’s book. It is clear Borman’s book was well researched and I found it fascinating to see learn about Henry VIII through the eyes of the men that surrounded him. I learnt a great deal about Henry and how he was influenced at times and how, especially in his earlier years as King, relied heavily upon these men that served him. Borman also explains what a difficult position it was to serve the King. To be honoured and favoured meant great rewards, but to fall from the King’s grace could mean death and ruin. This is one book I highly recommend people read!
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  • Janet
    January 1, 1970
    I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher --- Henry VIII is best known in history for his tempestuous marriages and the fates of his six wives. However, as acclaimed historian Tracy Borman makes clear in her illuminating new chronicle of Henry's life, his reign and reputation were hugely influenced by the men who surrounded and interacted with him as companions and confidants, servants and ministers, and occasionall I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher --- Henry VIII is best known in history for his tempestuous marriages and the fates of his six wives. However, as acclaimed historian Tracy Borman makes clear in her illuminating new chronicle of Henry's life, his reign and reputation were hugely influenced by the men who surrounded and interacted with him as companions and confidants, servants and ministers, and occasionally as rivals--many of whom have been underplayed in previous biographies. These relationships offer a fresh, often surprising perspective on the legendary king, revealing the contradictions in his beliefs, behaviour, and character in a nuanced light. They show him capable of fierce but seldom abiding loyalty, of raising men up only to destroy them later. He loved to be attended by boisterous young men, the likes of his intimate friend Charles Brandon, who shared his passion for sports, but could also be diverted by men of intellect, culture, and wit, as his longstanding interplay with Cardinal Wolsey and his reluctant abandonment of Thomas More attest. Eager to escape the shadow of his father, Henry VII, he was often trusting and easily led by male attendants and advisors early in his reign (his coronation was just shy of his 18th birthday in 1509); in time, though, he matured into a profoundly suspicious and paranoid king whose ruthlessness would be ever more apparent, as Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk and uncle to two of Henry's wives, discovered to his great discomfort, and as Eustace Chapuys, the ambassador of Charles V of Spain, often reported.Recounting the great Tudor's life and signal moments through the lens of his male relationships, Tracy Borman's new biography reveals Henry's personality in all its multi-faceted, contradictory glory, and sheds fresh light on his reign for anyone fascinated by the Tudor era and its legacy.I admit it – I am a Tudor freak and I thought that I knew everything about Henry VIII and his legacy. I was wrong! Usually, when you read a book about Henry VIII you hear all about the women and wives in his life: it is interesting to see the relationships with the men in his life explored. (They didn’t necessarily keep their heads either 😊 ) This is a fascinating read that any history fanatic will love: book clubs would gobble this up as well. GREAT book!!!
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    Could not stick with this one. There was no clear outline, and there was a ton of rambling. I thought at one point, ok, let’s talk Wolsey, but after a few pages of good material, the author moved onto another subject. I couldn’t tell if the goal was to describe the men in Henry’s life chronologically or to describe one man at a time. Either way, it was painful reading although I am very much a Tudor fangirl.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    The blurb was very promising, but the book did not meet all my expectations. It was a pleasant read, it’s the Tudors after all, but I had hoped for a more comprehensive work.The focus is indeed on the men surrounding Henry, an approach that I found very intriguing. Though interesting, informative and obviously well-researched, I disliked the author's at times too subjective, strongly expressed or oversimplified conclusions. I prefer more historical background information and nuance in a biograph The blurb was very promising, but the book did not meet all my expectations. It was a pleasant read, it’s the Tudors after all, but I had hoped for a more comprehensive work.The focus is indeed on the men surrounding Henry, an approach that I found very intriguing. Though interesting, informative and obviously well-researched, I disliked the author's at times too subjective, strongly expressed or oversimplified conclusions. I prefer more historical background information and nuance in a biography as well as a better clarification of the sources used, with their bias and the agenda of the narrator always clearly kept in mind. The author often quotes from the Spanish Chronicle, which I didn’t much care for since it is considered a rather unreliable source, feeling more like a gossip mag at times. Occasionally, she used sweeping statements herself, without giving a source or the reasoning behind her conclusion. I also feel that the author made far too light of Henry VIII’s religious scruples and his genuine and legitimate concern regarding the importance of an heir for his dynasty and the benefits of a peaceful succession to the nation itself. I don’t mean to imply that he was a stand-up guy, but perspective and nuance are so crucial for any historical research. Well-known aspects of Henry’s life like his being conferred the title of Defender of the Faith for writing his Defense of the Seven Sacraments, his genuine grand passion & love for Anne Boleyn, the reformation of the Church of England etc. are only touched upon in the briefest manner, or even made light of.The women are understandably relegated to the background in this book on Henry and “the men who made him”, the author didn’t stop at shifting focus in this way, however, but went a bit too far the other way, diminishing their actual importance in Henry’s life and their worth as people in their own right. She treats Henry’s wives almost like mere puppets on a string being moved about by the men in their lives and doesn’t give them enough credit for their many qualities like piety, loyalty, intelligence, courage, political acumen and resourcefulness, to name a few. The e-book didn’t have any pictures in it, which really should go hand in hand with a biography. A pity.
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  • Shoshana
    January 1, 1970
    Over the last few years I have come to rely on Tracy Borman’s books about Tudor England. She is an excellent historian, and has a clear-eyed and fresh approach to this well-traveled subject. In this book we do not spend the majority of our time on Henry’s wives, interesting though they are, nor on his split with Rome, momentous as that was. This book is a look at the men with whom Henry surrounded himself, men great and small, and their influence on the king.Henry was not meant to be king, as th Over the last few years I have come to rely on Tracy Borman’s books about Tudor England. She is an excellent historian, and has a clear-eyed and fresh approach to this well-traveled subject. In this book we do not spend the majority of our time on Henry’s wives, interesting though they are, nor on his split with Rome, momentous as that was. This book is a look at the men with whom Henry surrounded himself, men great and small, and their influence on the king.Henry was not meant to be king, as the second son he was the spare of the “heir and a spare.” He became king after his brother Arthur’s death, upon the death of their father. He was only eighteen, and who knows how this affected his personality? Borman makes the case that it is hard to grapple with Henry as he was so changeable over the course of his life, and she is very persuasive. Notwithstanding his marriages, I have always thought of Henry VIII as, in that old-fashioned phrase, a man’s man. Although much-married, Henry was surrounded by men after he left the nursery, and had them as his friends and mentors. These men ranged from the high-born to the low, and from those in positions of grandeur and power to those of lower estate. The interesting biographies of many of these men, drawn from a number of sources, are fascinating, and for many of them would be even without their connection to the king.I am glad to say that this book is as readable as Borman’s other writings. Without in any way compromising her solid scholarship, “Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him” is never dry nor dull which is another mark in her favor. All in all, for anyone interested in Henry, or one of the major figures covered therein, or for anyone interested in the period in general, this is an excellent work to add to one’s interest, and is highly recommended.Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC.
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  • Victoria
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars I've always known a fair amount about the women of Henry VIII's life, the Queens who in their own ways helped shape him into the monster he became. But until now I didn't know very much about the men, who probably did more to shape Henry. They jousted, feasted, swayed and convinced him. Back stabbing, conniving and loyal only to themselves for the most part they helped shape Henry into the tyrant he became in his later years This book only really covers the main players, because to inc 3.5 stars I've always known a fair amount about the women of Henry VIII's life, the Queens who in their own ways helped shape him into the monster he became. But until now I didn't know very much about the men, who probably did more to shape Henry. They jousted, feasted, swayed and convinced him. Back stabbing, conniving and loyal only to themselves for the most part they helped shape Henry into the tyrant he became in his later years This book only really covers the main players, because to include all the men would make the story many thousands of pages long, and dilute the message. Some of them such as Cromwell, Wolsey and Cranmer I knew about already but others I didn't know about at all This book was fascinating because it really shed a light on how mercurial Henry could be. One second a companion would be close to his heart and his boon companion the next they would find themselves in the Tower on trumped up charges hoping for a swift death by beheading. I did find it a bit confusing in places, and a bit fragmentary which is why it has received only 3 stars from me
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  • Lissa
    January 1, 1970
    It is hard to find new history books on Henry VIII that explore any new instances in his life. What this book does different is focus on his male relationships and those that were exploited for power and those that suffered from them with their lives. I am ceaselessly fascinated by the Tudor reign and this book does a great job of exploring the relationships between the men such as Wosley, Cromwell and Cranmer and the mercurial king. I have done quite a bit of reading about the Tudors so am fami It is hard to find new history books on Henry VIII that explore any new instances in his life. What this book does different is focus on his male relationships and those that were exploited for power and those that suffered from them with their lives. I am ceaselessly fascinated by the Tudor reign and this book does a great job of exploring the relationships between the men such as Wosley, Cromwell and Cranmer and the mercurial king. I have done quite a bit of reading about the Tudors so am familiar with most of the players so since the mass quantity of names and title didn’t trip me up, I found this thoroughly enjoyable. I received a digital ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • ken
    January 1, 1970
    Quality writing, not a bombardment of dates, and contains the subtle kind of courtly humour that cracks me up (you know, the kind of humour that you have to imagine or read too much into). Endorsed by Alison Weir who’s a leading Tudor historian, I look forward to reading more of Borman’s work. Especially The Private Lives of Tudors.
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  • Helen Carolan
    January 1, 1970
    An excellent read as usual from Ms Borman detailing the men who shaped Henry 8th. Many men passed through his life some more important than others. Statesmen, tutors,friends and his father all played a part in shaping the man and king.Henry in his youth was loyal but as the years passed he became more bullying and suspicious of those around him and his loyalty counted for nothing. This was a man who was happy to demonstrate that he could raise men up, but he could also bring them down again. A f An excellent read as usual from Ms Borman detailing the men who shaped Henry 8th. Many men passed through his life some more important than others. Statesmen, tutors,friends and his father all played a part in shaping the man and king.Henry in his youth was loyal but as the years passed he became more bullying and suspicious of those around him and his loyalty counted for nothing. This was a man who was happy to demonstrate that he could raise men up, but he could also bring them down again. A fascinating read.
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  • Sam Law
    January 1, 1970
    Read More Book Reviews on my blog It's Good To Read Summary:“Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived”Thus goes the old mantra on how to remember what happened to Henry VIII’s six wives. It is accepted as fact that his marital intrigues were all about begetting a male heir, to bolster and shore up the shaky claim the Tudors had on the throne.Most books on Henry deal with the man’s marital status, but this one is different. The author looks at the king from a viewpoint rarely if Read More Book Reviews on my blog It's Good To Read Summary:“Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived”Thus goes the old mantra on how to remember what happened to Henry VIII’s six wives. It is accepted as fact that his marital intrigues were all about begetting a male heir, to bolster and shore up the shaky claim the Tudors had on the throne.Most books on Henry deal with the man’s marital status, but this one is different. The author looks at the king from a viewpoint rarely if ever considered – that of the men who served him, entertained him, fought and died for him, and most of whom were betrayed by him.Main Characters:- Henry VIII: He is the colossus in this book, and is the hub around which the other characters circle.- Thomas Wyatt: The man who introduced the sonnet to England, he was also in and out of favour. He luckily escaped execution along with Anne Boleyn’s lovers.- Charles Brandon: A life-long friend of the king, temporarily under a cloud when he married the King’s sister without permission, but soon restored to favour. Brave, a womaniser, and the King’s equal in jousting.- Thomas Cromwell: A protégé of Wolsey’s, and highly intelligent in his own right. He was bluntly spoken, and had a wit that even his enemies admired. See my summary of Wolf Hall for more detail on this most complex of men.- Cardinal Wolsey: A faithful servant for over twenty years, he fell from favour when he couldn’t arrange the annulment of Henry’s first marriage, and died on his way to trial.Minor Characters:See below.Plot:Henry VII married Elizabeth of York in 1486 to put an end to the War of the Roses, and create peace in a country torn by civil strife. Elizabeth did her duty, and produced a brood of children, among them Arthur and Henry.Arthur was the heir apparent, and from an early age was schooled in all of the kingly arts, and needed skills. Henry was the spare, and was allowed more freedom than Arthur. Arthur married Catherine of Aragon, but died shortly after without producing an heir. He was a frail boy, and he official cause of death was phthisis. Unbeknownst to everyone, this was to spell a lot of trouble for millions of people for centuries afterwards.Henry was thrust into the spotlight as the heir apparent, and being a gregarious youth took to it like a duck to water. He soon surrounded himself with “lusty bachelors”, and though he did seem to have retained a fear of his father (even after the King’s death), he was refused nothing that he asked for. He married Catherine, his brother’s widow, and in time they had only Margaret who survived to adulthood.Henry was highly intelligent, physically impressive, war-like, and was every inch the Renaissance prince. He could speak two or three languages extremely well, and has at his court the likes of Erasmus, John Skelton, Colet, and Hans Holbein, amongst others. He had at his beck and call the nobility of the land, and the sumptuousness of his court had international renown. He also had a coterie of servants drawn from all other ranks of society.It is the story of all these men that makes up this book.His “minions’ (from the French “mignons”) served his every desire. The author believes the monster king was actually very insecure, and why he was relatively easily manipulated (more so earlier in his life, than later when he took more control over affairs of state).This allowed “low born” but highly capable men such as Wolsey to rise in his service, to attain great heights of power and wealth. It seems it also helped to have Thomas as your first name!Thomas More spent many years at court, sometimes precariously so, but survived and in time he headed the list of forty-four charges that were levelled against Wolsely. He of course was firmly Catholic, and resisted all attempts at Reformation.Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, led the Reformation of the English Church, supported Royal Supremacy, but eventually ended as a Protestant martyr in the pyre upon the accession of Mary I (to be covered in “The Burning Time” by Virginia Rounding, which I am reading).Thomas Cawarden, master of revels, his was the responsibility to remind the king of his former glories by arranging masterful displays and pageants, etc. Upon Henry’s death, Cawarden received a generous sum “in token of special love”William Butts was Henry’s personal physician, and I was surprised to learn he served the Tudors for over twenty years. I was also surprised to learn of the potential influence this relatively unknown man had over the king, in particular his religious views which could have prompted Henry towards splitting with the Catholic Church.George Boleyn  was brother to Anne and Mary, both of whom were lovers of Henry. He comes across as arrogant and scheming, he did act as ambassador for Henry, but was ultimately accused of and executed for treason.While many of those who surrounded Henry were bred to it, and took it as their right to have this level of access to the King, Henry did seem to favour those who were somewhat of the outsider [maybe, the author suggests, he saw something of himself in them]. The author likes to give examples of his heretofore unknown kindnesses [e.g. his treatment of his court jester Somer].What I Liked:- The freshness of this perspective.- The level of research was excellent.- The book was written with a lay reader in mind, so no special knowledge needed of the various characters. The author made an excellent job of keeping the flow seamless.What I Didn’t Like:- The breadth of characters is both a strength and weakness. Some deserved more depth and coverage than others, I think.Overall:The world shows no signs of tiring of all things Tudor, and this is a good book which will stoke interest. It gives an original insight into the very male world of Henry. It does make you think of the huge anxiety levels that must have been so prevalent, as this court was literally a nest of vipers, with constantly shifting loyalties, favours and alliances.Henry’s own fickleness is thrown into greater relief, as we see how callously he treated those around him. He raised people up, and as quickly threw them down, and they were never certain of whether what he asked for was what he really wanted.It is well-researched, and would make a great Christmas stocking filler!Acknowledgements:Thanks to NetGalley for sending me a free copy of this book, in return for an honest and objective review.
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  • John Reid
    January 1, 1970
    Seventy-odd years ago as children going to school, we surveyed Holbein’s famous painting of Henry VIII standing there, tallish for his day, red bearded, broad shouldered, deep chested, in ‘party dress’, with his – ahem – enormous codpiece protruding through the split at the front of his pantaloons, and laugh at the buffoon he so obviously was. Our English history teacher (English as in teacher and in history) upbraided us for our levity and explained that Henry was much more than the fool we tho Seventy-odd years ago as children going to school, we surveyed Holbein’s famous painting of Henry VIII standing there, tallish for his day, red bearded, broad shouldered, deep chested, in ‘party dress’, with his – ahem – enormous codpiece protruding through the split at the front of his pantaloons, and laugh at the buffoon he so obviously was. Our English history teacher (English as in teacher and in history) upbraided us for our levity and explained that Henry was much more than the fool we thought. He was right, our teacher; Henry was more… and less. The second Tudor king is famous for his six wives and how – greatly for personal expediency – he made changes in marriage law that brought about a rift with the Catholic Church. Tracy Borman’s newly released book, Henry VIII And The Men Who Made Him, provides a more broadly encompassing look at a powerful king who came to the throne by accident.In January 1486, Londoners rejoiced in the marriage of Henry VII to Elizabeth of York, thus ending three decades of bitter strife during which two Plantagenet branches fought for supremacy, their union creating the House of Tudor. Eight months later, Arthur, first-born and heir, was born, followed by Margaret two years after him. The Tudor lineage was strengthened a year after that when Elizabeth bore a second son, Henry. This was fortuitous because, at age 15, Arthur died of phthisis, or galloping consumption; the second son, Henry, was now not simply spare but heir.Arthur, when aged fifteen, married Catherine of Aragon. There were some who thought he might have died through having sex too young, while others doubted the marriage had even been sonsummated. A number of delays occurred in Henry marrying – being allowed to marry – Catherine but this came to pass in June 1509, shortly before he turned eighteen.In the meantime, Henry’s life was being readjusted from one of backup to that of monarch. Henry VII died in 1504 and the son, full of youthful exuberance, had no wish for his court to be dour. He established a coterie of ‘fifty lusty bachelors’ and proceeded with the first of many executions in his reign, two of his father’s chief advisors, Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley in August 1510. Even from a young age, he was courted by many, including Thomas More and the Dutch scholar, Erasmus. Perhaps the most important of all his advisors, in time, would be More. First, though, came Wolsey, the low-born butcher’s son and scholar who ingratiated himself to the young prince and made himself so indispensible he was made Archbishop of Canterbury, and elevated to Cardinal. In time, despite creating wealth for his master (while at the same time amassing much property and money for himself), Richard’s increasing suspicion and paranoia brought about Wolsey’s downfall; he actually died of pleurisy on his way to the Tower, to be replaced by the man he so greatly despised, More. Thomas Cromwell, son of a blacksmith, had been a Wolsey protégé, but managed to retain his position as the king’s new advisor and confidant. Relatively uneducated but bright, witty and keen to learn, he was determined to make Richard the wealthiest king in all of Europe. In the meantime, he and Bishop Cranmer, who’d been on the scene for some time – protestants both – had the opportunity to further their religious agenda. And we all know the outcome.As in King Lear, did the retinue rule the king? Perhaps to a great degree, for there is no doubt Henry placed much faith and trust in many of his advisors. Not that it meant, necessarily, they kept their heads, because Henry proved to be more than a little fickle. We, as children, may not have been entirely wrong.Tracy Borman has written an extensively researched, informative and highly interesting record of matters at court. Henry VIII And The Men Who Made Him is much more than a book for the scholar, it is in fact a great read that maintains the reader’s interest. I enjoyed its reading.
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  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    Divorced, beheaded, died.Divorced, beheaded, survived.This oft-repeated rhyme is what many first think of when the name of Henry VIII is mentioned. Thanks to their impact, the conflicts between Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon, and Anne Boleyn is probably the most famous segment of English history outside of World War II. New biographies and novels centered upon one or more of the six wives of Henry VIII come out every year, and each of those queens-- particularly Catherine of Aragon and Anne Bol Divorced, beheaded, died.Divorced, beheaded, survived.This oft-repeated rhyme is what many first think of when the name of Henry VIII is mentioned. Thanks to their impact, the conflicts between Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon, and Anne Boleyn is probably the most famous segment of English history outside of World War II. New biographies and novels centered upon one or more of the six wives of Henry VIII come out every year, and each of those queens-- particularly Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn-- has developed a small but passionate fandom. We view Henry VIII through the lens of his wives, but there was more to the glamorous, yet dangerous, court of this capricious king who changed England so profoundly.If you don't know much about the court of King Henry VIII, then names like Charles Bradon, Duke of Suffolk, Cardinal Wolsey, and Thomas Cromwell won't mean anything to you, but their influence on the king cannot be understated. In her new biography, Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him, Tracy Borman sheds a light on these men and others in order to provide a more rounded view of Henry VIII.The book begins during the reign of Henry VII, the first Tudor king who was desperate to legitimize his line, as his claim to the throne was dubious at best and there were many nobles who had nearly as much claim as he did. Young Henry was the spare heir for the first years of his life and was largely left in his mother's care and that of tutors, who provided the first influences on the young prince. Upon the death of his older brother, Arthur, young Henry's status rose immediately, and his companions changed radically, too. The story passes quickly through Henry's childhood, and once he ascends to the throne, we begin to see the rise of such court officials as Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell. Borman details how these two men learned to handle Henry VIII's changeable nature and navigate the treacherous waters of the Tudor court until they, born as commoners, rose in turn to become some of the most powerful and wealthy men in England. We also see the rise and fall of Thomas More and Stephen Gardiner and discover how a previously unknown church official named Thomas Cranmer helped change the course of England's future. And winding through nearly all of Henry VIII's life, his friendship with Charles Brandon threads through it as Brandon's status rises and falls and rises again, depending upon Henry VIII's moods and Brandon's actions.These are not comprehensive biographies of these men. This book serves as a sort of survey overlooking Henry VIII's life and times, and many lesser names pass in and out of the narrative without seeming to have much impact upon it. But we get a clear sense of how men like Cardinal Wolsey manipulated the king when he was young, and how an aging Henry turned into a moody tyrant who was easily influenced by whoever flattered him the best. We also see how these men worked behind the scenes to bring about Henry VIII's marriages and divorces, and how their own fortunes could rise and fall if they allied themselves with the wrong woman at the wrong time. As a longtime fan of Tudor history, I was fascinated by this book. While I was already familiar with these men and what they did, Borman's decision to focus on their stories rather than looking at them through the lens of Henry VIII's wives brought new life to historical details I wasn't completely familiar with.If you are just starting to look into Tudor history, I would probably not recommend Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him, simply because these men are not as familiar to modern readers as Henry VIII's wives. In that case, I would recommend something like Antonia Fraser's Six Wives of Henry VIII or Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. But for readers who are already familiar with the essential details of the Tudor court and wish to know more, I would definitely recommend this book. It is full of excellent details about the lives of the men who are often pushed to the side in favor of sexier stories about, say, Anne Boleyn or Katherine Howard. These men are fascinating in their own right, and their influence upon Henry VII was every bit as important as his wives.
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  • Anne Morgan
    January 1, 1970
    When people think "Henry VIII" they probably think of beheadings and serial marriages. But there is a great deal more to his legacy than this and Tracy Borman explores all of it in Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him. Borman examines Henry's life by looking at the men he surrounded himself with. Henry loved to have intelligent, active young men around him who shared his interests in hunting, hawking, dancing, and every other form of sport available. After a difficult relationship with his father When people think "Henry VIII" they probably think of beheadings and serial marriages. But there is a great deal more to his legacy than this and Tracy Borman explores all of it in Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him. Borman examines Henry's life by looking at the men he surrounded himself with. Henry loved to have intelligent, active young men around him who shared his interests in hunting, hawking, dancing, and every other form of sport available. After a difficult relationship with his father, Henry wanted to be a king as opposite his predecessor as possible. While he may be more well known today as a harsh and paranoid tyrant, in his youth Henry was trusting and could be easily led by trusted confidants seeking power.Borman explores Henry's relationships with Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Moore, the Howards, the Seymours, and the Boleyns as well as less well known figures. A refreshing amount of the book is based on contemporary sources, most notably ambassador Eustace Chapuys. This means the reader is treated to the gossip and rumors that swirled around Henry's court as well as the reality of court life- brilliantly and subtly illuminating the court's atmosphere of infighting and backstabbing as individuals and factions sought Henry's favor and the money and power that came with it. While Henry's controlling disposition and violent temper increased as he aged, the reader discovers that the popular image of a king who routinely beheads people was enhanced by his followers at court who used their king's paranoia to get rid of their competitors- thinking of themselves more often than the king. A well-researched, well-written, and entirely fascinating book, Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him is a must-read for anyone interested in English history, and the Tudor dynasty. More readable than might be expected from a tome of its length, readers who know something about Henry's reign will discover new fascinating gems of information and readers new to the time period will get a wonderful and thorough introduction to the life and times of Henry VIII and the men who helped make him who he was.I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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  • Cassidy (Reminders of the Changing Time)
    January 1, 1970
    To see all of my book-related content, check out my blog @ http://bit.ly/2zzVt0RTracy Borman’s examination of Henry VIII and the impact that the men surrounding him had on his actions and his characters is an interesting idea: thoughts about Henry VIII almost inevitably always head in the direction of his six wives but, even in cases like Anne Boleyn, the strictly patriarchal structure of the day meant that these women had little agency and the chess pieces of the medieval court were instead bei To see all of my book-related content, check out my blog @ http://bit.ly/2zzVt0RTracy Borman’s examination of Henry VIII and the impact that the men surrounding him had on his actions and his characters is an interesting idea: thoughts about Henry VIII almost inevitably always head in the direction of his six wives but, even in cases like Anne Boleyn, the strictly patriarchal structure of the day meant that these women had little agency and the chess pieces of the medieval court were instead being moved by the women’s male supporters.And, Henry VIII was definitely a chess piece.Reckless, fickle, spoilt - the more I learn about the man, the more I despise him, even when considering him only in the context of the time period in which he lived - he was pushed and pulled by his own whims and the whims that those around him had planted in his mind.More religious reform, less religious reform.More wars, less wars.Same wife, different wife.His mind changed hour by hour and, when considering the strong personalities (and the stronger ambitions) of those around him, it is not difficult to understand why he catapulted himself through a do-si-do of conflicting religious reforms and six marriages.The problem is that, 99.9% of these changes in temperament were not caused by a hive mind or a council of his favourites, but two specific men in his inner circle: namely, Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell. Chief manipulators of the King in their time, villains in the view of the British public and a majority of the aristocracy, these two men cast a dark shadow that manages to obscure the rest of Henry VIII’s favourites.And, therefore, aside from figures like Charles Brandon and Thomas Cranmer (who could be termed as rather like background characters), the rest just fade into little more than nothingness; occasionally mentioned, but often neglected. I think that Tracy Borman wanted to do too much and, by attempting to expel insights on ALL of the King’s men, the book lacked any sort of focus that could have come from streamlining the book. It could have very easily just been a book about Henry VIII’s relationship with Wolsey and Cromwell.Ultimately, it would have achieved far more and, let’s be honest, I don’t even think you would have to cut much out of it.Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.Head on over to http://bit.ly/2y7JSWV for this book, as well as all of the others featured in my reviews, complete with the added bonuses of free worldwide shipping and bringing a little joy to my life.
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  • Svetlana Tishchenko
    January 1, 1970
    ‘The retinue plays the king’ the phrase made immortal by W Shakespeare in his King Lear says it all. The book by Tracy Borman is all about the retinue of Henry VIII: the bold, the bad and the ugly.There were so many men around Henry VIII, I lost my count at Cromwell. Some of them were so memorable, they made their way into The Tudors TV series. Some of them deserved a mere paragraph in Borman’s book. However, all of them together is what made Henry VIII who he was and vice versa.I have read a lo ‘The retinue plays the king’ the phrase made immortal by W Shakespeare in his King Lear says it all. The book by Tracy Borman is all about the retinue of Henry VIII: the bold, the bad and the ugly.There were so many men around Henry VIII, I lost my count at Cromwell. Some of them were so memorable, they made their way into The Tudors TV series. Some of them deserved a mere paragraph in Borman’s book. However, all of them together is what made Henry VIII who he was and vice versa.I have read a lot of fiction set in Henry VIII times. I read Philippa Gregory and Jean Plaidy, Alison Weir and many others. I am yet to surmount The Walf Hall. Also, I have to admit to being changeable fan of the Tudors. Thus, I can say I know a bit of the time period. Plus, I have my personal interest in Henry VIII and his unstable and even hysterical nature. I was married to a man like that.So, reading this book helped me to make sense of some chapters of Henry VIII reign. It made me see the men around him better. The book made me understand some of his favourites or enemies better and to see where and what have started and ended.It also made me to draw a conclusion: father and son. All men around Henry VIII can be summed up in the following way: Henry VIII was always looking for a father he never had and a son he always wanted. All his favourites were trying to fill the gap of either fatherly love, care, and encouragement or help their king to get a son he ached for. Tracy Borman did a great job painting a colourful picture of the times and tastes. She made all the men around the king human giving them all their vices, weaknesses and hungers. What an unpleasant bunch of dressed up boys…The language of this narration is very easy and light. The book reads well and fast. The reader is left to make his/her own opinion of the characters who populate the pages.I am grateful to the author for a work like this. This is the book I would recommend to anyone interested in Henry VIII times.
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  • Celia
    January 1, 1970
    II would give this book a four on just based on its readability. There were some historical figures around Henry VIII that I found uninteresting. However, they might have been interesting to a British audience so I was a little generous in my rating. I am an American and frequently I find when I read English history books I feel that if I were British I would know something about the subject but because I am an American I am totally confused. The strengths of the books are that I learned a lot a II would give this book a four on just based on its readability. There were some historical figures around Henry VIII that I found uninteresting. However, they might have been interesting to a British audience so I was a little generous in my rating. I am an American and frequently I find when I read English history books I feel that if I were British I would know something about the subject but because I am an American I am totally confused. The strengths of the books are that I learned a lot about British history. This book answered a longstanding question I had about how Catholic/Protestant the Church of England was. Sometimes my understanding of the Church of England was that it was really the Catholic Church under an English head. This book made me understand how some members of the Church of England had strong Lutheran sympathies and maybe would have wanted England to become Lutheran if the political establishment allowed that to happen.In addition, I learned that Henry VIII did not only kill two of his wives but he killed other people to whom he had been close. He can turn on people who were once his close associates. Furthermore, Henry VIII was unusual because he promoted some common people into high positions of power which at that time was unknown.Some of the historical figures in the book where more interesting than others. I enjoyed the parts of Erasmus, Thomas Wolsey, Thomas Crammer and Thomas Cromwell. One of the most interesting people in was Will Sommer, Henry VIII’s clown. I wish the author spent more time on him. Previously I thought clowns in the King's court existed only in Shakespeare's plays.In short, I found this book a highly readable and informative book about Henry VIII's inner circle.I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • David Dunlap
    January 1, 1970
    Henry VIII (and his wives!) have been extensively written about. Author Borman has discovered a fresh angle from which to view the monarch: that of his relationships with the men around him throughout his reign. As a second son, Henry was not expected to inherit the throne from his father, Henry VII (founder of the Tudor dynasty). As a young man, he surrounded himself with wild, boisterous contemporaries -- some of whom remained close to him for the rest of his life. But Borman points out the st Henry VIII (and his wives!) have been extensively written about. Author Borman has discovered a fresh angle from which to view the monarch: that of his relationships with the men around him throughout his reign. As a second son, Henry was not expected to inherit the throne from his father, Henry VII (founder of the Tudor dynasty). As a young man, he surrounded himself with wild, boisterous contemporaries -- some of whom remained close to him for the rest of his life. But Borman points out the steady decline in Henry's attitudes as he grew older: being close to the King, while still prized by ambitious courtiers (and there was much in-fighting among the men surrounding him), was no guarantee of continuing favor -- Henry grew suspicious and increasingly cruel as he aged. His court, however, was a meritocracy (for which Borman praises him -- and points to the uniqueness of this fact among his fellow monarchs at the time): Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell, two of Henry's closest associates during his reign, both came from humble (not noble) backgrounds. -- The author shows an admirable mastery of the source material and writes in a clear, straightforward manner. It is both interesting and refreshing to read a book about Henry VIII in which his six wives have little more than walk-on roles!
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  • Casey Wheeler
    January 1, 1970
    This book was interesting from the perspective that the focus was on the men who surrounded Henry VIII and not him. The book addressed the relationships with some of the better known names of that time - Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell and Charles Branson (Duke of Suffolk) and also a number who are not as well known. It clearly shows that being a part of the court of Henry VIII was a challenge due to the swings in mood and personality of the monarch that would have someone in favor This book was interesting from the perspective that the focus was on the men who surrounded Henry VIII and not him. The book addressed the relationships with some of the better known names of that time - Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell and Charles Branson (Duke of Suffolk) and also a number who are not as well known. It clearly shows that being a part of the court of Henry VIII was a challenge due to the swings in mood and personality of the monarch that would have someone in favor one day and losing their head later on.I recommend this book for anyone who has an interest in Henry VIII.I received a free Kindle copy of Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him by Tracy Borman courtesy of Net Galley  and Grove Atlantic, the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon and my fiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus pages.I requested this book as I have always had an interest in Henry VIII and this book focused more on the men around him than Henry himself. This is the first book by the author that I have read.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed Tracy Borman's biography on Thomas Cromwell, so I was excited to start reading Borman's new book, Henry VIII. Henry VIII did not disappoint; like Borman's previous work, this almost read like a novel. It was an entertaining read that had me invested in the various characters that played a role in Henry VIII's life.A good deal of time is spent on the "major players" of the Tudor court such as Wolsey, Cromwell, and the Duke of Norfolk, however, you get a better glimpse at the less I really enjoyed Tracy Borman's biography on Thomas Cromwell, so I was excited to start reading Borman's new book, Henry VIII. Henry VIII did not disappoint; like Borman's previous work, this almost read like a novel. It was an entertaining read that had me invested in the various characters that played a role in Henry VIII's life.A good deal of time is spent on the "major players" of the Tudor court such as Wolsey, Cromwell, and the Duke of Norfolk, however, you get a better glimpse at the lesser known courtiers such as Hans Holbein and Dr. William Butts. My biggest complaint with Borman's Cromwell biography was that the English spelling for cited passages wasn't modernized, so it often took a while to decipher certain passages. However, for Henry VIII, they took the time to modernize the spelling of cited contemporaries which really helped improve the flow of the work.I would recommend Henry VIII to anyone who has a basic understanding of the Tudor court and wants to learn more about the men who influenced Henry VIII throughout his reign. Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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