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   The Medieval World: A Period Of Change And Ferment Europe 1100 - 1350

By Friederich Heer.
  Translated from the German by Janet Sondheimer
 
"Friedrich Heer's incisive history describes how the buoyant, fluid society of the twefth century Europe solidified into the medieval world - a fourteenth century of religious and intellectual intolerance, fortified frontiers, and bitterly competitive states.  He dicusses the Crusades: the alienation of Rome and Byzantium; the rising of power of the Church and the aristocracy; the life of the peasant, the town dweller, and the tradesman."
 
An older book but very well written and the author's sly humor pops up at the oddest moments.  Wonderful photographs as well.
 
Recommended by MSN NicknameDoodlesUS, 6/15/2002.

   Anne of Cleves

By Julia Hamilton.
This book is a bio-novel on Anne of Cleves, from the time of her betrothal to Henry VIII until her marriage to him. 
 
It is a well-written book, and seems hard to tell where history ends and fiction begins if you are not familiar with her story.  It also tells the thoughts of Henry VIII, Cromwell, Mary I, and Elizabeth I as well as Anne herself.
 
Wouldn't suggest it for research, but it does give an interesting, though not 100% accurate, portrayal of Henry's fourth wife.
Recommended by Anne of Cleves Novelist , 8/29/2002.

   Bloody Mary

By Caroly Erickson.
If you are interested in a longer look at the life of Mary I, I highly suggest this book.
 
Erickson portrays Mary asa woman caught in a precarious position: she is ordained power over all her subjects, however, as a wife, she must (according to how she was raised) concede power to her husband over her.  She was ordained to rule, yet as a woman and a wife, be ruled by her husband.
 
Mary comes across as a pitiful person, whose fate is determined by the men in her life, whom she loves unconditionally despite the pain they put her through.  It tells of her childhood, considered as the jewel of her father's crown, her sad, troubled adolescence where she was declared a bastard and disinherited, and tumultous adulthood where she was torn between her people and the will of her foreign husband.
 
My only "complaint" about the book was, for my own personal reasons, the lack of accuracy in the discussion of Anne of Cleves. 
 
However, everything I read about Mary I is consistent with other sources I have read on her.
 
 out of 5
Recommended by Anne of Cleves Novelist , 8/24/2002.

   British Monarchy Series

By Jean Plaidy.
This is an epic series begging with William the first, the book is entitled "the Bastard King" and going thru seventy some odd books to end with several on QueenVictoria.
 
These are fiction, but include so much factual information as well that they are worth reading. 
Recommended by AnnieBme , 6/14/2002.

   Catherine of Aragon

By Garrett Mattingly.
This is an oldie but a goodie!  Though Anne Boleyn is my favorite wife, one can't help but sympathize with Catherine's sad life while reading this. Mattingly has meticulously researched the minutest aspects of Catherine's existence and made fabulous use of contemporary sources in telling her tale.  Poor Catherine was such a victim of the men in her life!  An eye-opener on the treatment of royal women in the Tudor period.  I have yet to read a biography of Catherine done as well as this one was back in 1941!  Mattingly IS the standard when it comes to this tragic figure.
Recommended by ForeverAmber , 8/28/2002.

   Children of King Henry VIII

By Alison Weir.
From what I have read, Alison Weir by far has some of the best books I have came across on Tudor history.  Her books are always well researched and written, and this is no exception.
 
Alison tells of the relationships between the royal siblings (Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I) and their cousin, Lady Jane Grey.
 
Weir presents an unbiased view of each of these royal children, leaving the reader to form their own opinion of each.
 
Highly recommended!
Recommended by Anne of Cleves Novelist , 8/24/2002.

   Daughter of Time

By Josephine Tey. Was Richard III really guilty or has his memory been defamed all these years? In this novel, Grant, Tey's eminent detective lies ill in hospital. His attractive actress friend, Marta, interests him in determining the answer to this question. Tey manages to tell an interesting story even with an ill protoganist and points out many flaws in historian's arguments about this fasinating man. Recommended by MSN NicknameLegendaryLisette7, 8/8/2005.

   Divorced Beheaded Survived: Feminist Interpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII

By Karen Lindsay.
Don't let the word "feminist" in the title scare you off.  At first glance, my boss, a man, thought this was a "men are pigs, especially this one" book.  It's not.  It is merely the reinterpretation of the lives of these women by a modern-day woman.
 
The book has a more personal, biased, and sympathetic touch to it.  It is not as detailed as Weir or Fraser's books, but focuses more on the thoughts and feelings these women may have had.  Many stories are told from the point of view of Henry and his counselors.  This one focuses on the feminine point of view.
 
None of the Queens are portrayed in a bad light.  They are portrayed as loyal, determined, gently strong-willed, sensible, naive and eager to experience life, and intelligent but too human.  Henry is not portrayed as a bad man, but as a King who lives with the knowlege that his hold on the throne is precarious, and it all rests on two "bastard" daughters and a young boy, and he is eager for his dynasty to continue.  He's also seen as an egomaniac, but kind to those who do his will.
 
I strongly recommend this book for a more personal look at the lives of these Queens.
 
 out of 5
 
Recommended by Anne of Cleves Novelist , 8/24/2002.

   Elizabeth

By David Starkey.
I think it is a great book as do so many others:
 
"Fresh and lively... vividly told... He sets before us not only the woman behind the throne but the girl behind the woman"- SUNDAY TIMES
 
"An Elizabeth for our times"- INDEPENDENT
 
"The best account in english of the early years of Elizabeth... one of the most zestful pieces of narrative history written... a racy read and first-rate history"- EVENING STANDARD
 
"Combines a relaxed and unfussy style with a thorough knowledge of the peroid and a sharp eye for detail. Elizabeth's life makes for a compelling story and Starkey tells it well"- SPECTATOR
Recommended by MSN NicknameHistoryGirlLFC1892, 6/30/2002.

   In the Lion's Court: Power, Ambition and Sudden Death in the Reign of Henry VIII

By Derek Wilson.
We all know the story of Henry VIII and his six wives, a testament to the violence that dominated that king's reign.  Derek Wilson examines a set of relationships that even more vividly illustrates how dangerous life was in the court of the Tudor lion.  He tells the stories of six men--all named Thomas--whose ambitions and principles brought them to a violent death:  Thomas Wolsey, Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Howard, Thomas Wriothesley, and Thomas Cramner.  The lives of the six ill-fated Thomases are described in parallel--their family and social origins, their pathways to the Royal Council Chamber, and the tragedies that, one by one, overwhelmed them.
 
I recommend In the Lion's Court to anyone interested in any and all aspects of the reign of Henry VIII.
Recommended by MSN NicknameSkydancer08, 8/8/2002.

   Life of Elizaeth I

By Alison Weir.
Once again, Weir presents us with an unbiased look at one of England's most fascinating monarchs, a woman who rose above the odds and stereotypes placed against her.
 
Weir discusses the personal and political life of Elizabeth: why she shunned marriage, her steadfast clinging to being the "Virgin Queen", her reluctance to name her heir until she was at the point of death.  She discusses her long relationship with Robert Dudley, and why she could not marry the man she loved, and why she could not marry abroad.
 
Elizabeth is presented as a learned woman who places the love and loyalty of her people above that of her own. 
 
For anyone interested in this extraordinary Queen, I highly recommend this book!
Recommended by Anne of Cleves Novelist , 8/24/2002.

   Mary Queen of Scots

By Jenny Wormald.
I've alway read how Mary Queen of Scots was an intriguing person.  This book does not carry that across.
 
For those interested in a book on Mary and her life, this is not the one to read.
 
For those interested in the Scottish government activities during her minority, reign, and exile, I recommend it. It goes into great detail of the workings of the government during the Queen's life.
Recommended by Anne of Cleves Novelist , 8/24/2002.

   Mary Queen of Scots

By Antonia Fraser.
This one I would highly recommend because Antonia Fraser is so good at what she does.  With access to all sorts of primary documents, Fraser debunks the theory of the Casket Letters' validity and paints a vivid picture of Mary Stuart's sad but valiant life.  After reading this, I finally understand the intricacies of the various plots which swirled around her and ultimately sent her to the execution block.  Fraser sees Mary as more of a victim of the Scots' internecine strife than of the wicked Messalina ceaselessly intriguing to her own disadvantage, and offers an interesting take on Mary's lifelong ill-health.  Really a fascinating story, especially when told as well as Antonia Fraser can do it.
 
Recommended by Ghislaine , 9/5/2002.

   Medieval Lives

By Terry Jones.
This entertaining book by medieval scholar and ex-Monty Python member Terry Jones takes a refreshing look at various different medieval stereoptypes, the Peasant, the Damsel, the Knight, the Monk etc, and shows that their lives were not always as they have been portrayed in literature and myth.  Medieval peasants, for instance, were by no means as impoverished and down-trodden as is popularly thought, nor were ladies always as helpless and passive as they are shown to be.  Nor were medieval people as ignorant of science, medicine, geography etc as propoganda would have us believe.
 
A very enjoyable book for anyone who wants to take a fresh look at the Middle Ages.
 
Louise
Recommended by MSN NicknameLouiseOC, 9/10/2007.

   Pillars of the Earth

By Ken Follett.
Superb novel set around the time of Stephen and Matilda and the accession of Henry II, a blindingly well written and researched book. Can't recommend it highly enough.
Recommended by Eddy , 7/10/2002.