Saturday, 23 April 2011

Tudor England

This is the one by John Guy, just so you know :)  (I imagine there are a fair few out there with the same/similar title).

It started off a lot better than it finished.  The Tudor Kings were discussed really well, there was a clear layout to the structure (mostly political, followed by mostly religious).  Where it fell down was when it reached Mary and Elizabeth.  Mary because she was skimmed over in what I thought was far too brief an analysis (okay, so she didn't reign for long, but she should still get something of a mention!).  And then probably half the book focussed upon Elizabeth.  Unfortunately, this disproportionate (or at least, what felt as I was reading rather disproportionate) focus didn't lead to greater clarity.  The latter part of Elizabeth's reign was divorced from the beginning with some rather muddled chapters on culture and religion and social stuff.  Maybe it was to avoid the charge that he'd just lumped all the 'unimportant extra bits' on at the end.  I hasten to add that I am not implying that social, economic, or any other bits of history are unimportant.  Just that the book said in the intro it was going to focus on politics, I was hoping for a book that focussed on politics, and that is what I mostly got.  After the narrative had been hopelessly interrupted, became more than a little confused, and the Spanish Armada had been briefly dealt with. 

If you want to know about the Tudors up til Edward VI, then it's great.  Really well written, really interesting.  Unless you already know a reasonable amount of the chronology and fancy untangling a rather awkward mess, avoid the stuff on Elizabeth.  It's not worth the confusion.

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