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Book Review: Six Wives

Six Wives The Queens of Henry VIII by David Starkey
Alison Weir wrote an entertaining tome on them, Antonia Fraser wrote a soapy inaccurate take on them and this 2003 narrative by Starkey is a long revisionist take on the six unfortunates who were wed to the King who changed England forever.

Catherine of Aragon was a spendthrift barren lying barren shrewish harpy.

Anne Boleyn was a clever, vindictive, political, wannabe French chic Reformist who ruled Henry until her failure to produce a son caused him to turn on her.

Jane Seymour was a dull, boring, ineffective nobody who achieved three things in life: getting the King of England to marry her, giving him his only living legitimate son and dying before he tired of her.

Anne of Cleeves was a staid tough woman who was a smart survivor.

Catherine Howard was a good time girl whose appalling taste in men doomed her.

Catherine Parr was a staunch evangelical Lutheran who came from a court family. She lost favour suddenly and almost fatally but managed to regain it by giving up what made her unique.

Whilst this had interesting new takes on the wives, explanations of Tudor word play and some interesting reading. It does get bogged down in pages of legalese. Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn and break with Rome took a lot of long dull politicking and no happiness for anyone.

Best Lines:
“Tell him I was of the Queen’s Council before he knew her and shall be when she hath forgotten him.”

“With wit enough to do as badly as the others if she were to try.”

“Go pull them out by the heads!”

“Get you home again.”

“Knave! Arrant knave, beast! and fool!

“There are rumours here of a new queen, although I do not know why.”
Tags: book review, the tudors
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