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Henry VIII and the men who made him
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Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Do we know enough about England's most famous king? Popular historian Borman (The Private Lives of the Tudors, 2017) obviously thinks not. Her beautifully perceptive and dynamic reassessment of Henry VIII places emphasis, as the book's subtitle indicates, not on the monarch's infamous marriages but rather on the kaleidoscope of male figures both high- and middle-born who were drawn to the king throughout his life as moths circle a bright flame. Borman closely analyzes Henry's complicated relationships with friends and rivals, both those who influenced his course through his formative years and those who came on board "the Henry train" later in his reign, proffering important advice but at the same time risking the ire of the increasingly despotic king. Readers will be intrigued by Borman's tales of the interactions between the king and Charles Brandon, Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas More, Eustace Chapuys, and Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk. Here in this highly engrossing biography, the notoriously larger-than-life English monarch, seen from an original and revealing perspective, lives anew in full color and in the epic proportions he so well deserves. For all Tudor enthusiasts. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Library Journal Reviews

England's joint chief curator of Historic Royal Palaces (and author of the recent historical fiction The King's Witch), Borman looks at Henry VIII from the perspective of the ministers, confidants, and servants who helped, influenced, and sometimes even led him.

Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Library Journal Reviews

Using manuscripts and other primary materials, historian Borman (Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant) offers a new twist on the life of Henry VIII, choosing here to focus on how his reign and reputation were affected by the men who surrounded and advised him throughout his adulthood and long tenure as king, including councilors Thomas Cromwell and Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, scholars and intellectuals Erasmus and Sir Thomas More, and aristocrats such as the Dukes of Buckingham and Norfolk. Also mentioned are lesser-known figures, including servants, barbers, doctors, and Henry's court jester Will Sommers. In chronicling Henry's career against the backdrop of the rise and fall of these relationships, Borman emphasizes certain key themes: Henry's character, motivations, and insecurities; the evolution of his image; and the legacy he left to his survivors. What emerges is a portrait of a contradictory man: loyal and tender yet also paranoid and cruel. The story of his celebrated love affairs is not ignored, nor is his schism with Roman Catholicism. VERDICT A thorough read for all interested in the Tudor era, the Reformation, and the British monarchy.—Marie M. Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., NJ

Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Borman (Thomas Cromwell) essentially puts aside Henry VIII's notorious and well-hashed relationships with women in favor of showcasing stories of the advisers and servants who surrounded the intelligent, mercurial king. Henry relied on these men for everything from privy concerns to matters of state, but betrayals and a series of escalating backstabbing, power-grabbing maneuvers helped transform him from a jovial, fresh-faced king into an aging, paranoid caricature. The tumultuous careers of the four Thomases—Wolsey, Cromwell, Cranmer, and More—help frame the detailed narrative, but Borman also elaborates on lower-status figures such as Will Somer, the beloved fool; trusted royal physician William Butts; and the Reformation-minded court painter Hans Holbein the Younger. While such a large cast of figures could easily allow some to get lost, Borman's enjoyable narrative revisits many of these men over a span of several years, noting major events or deaths, the latter of which Henry sometimes hastened. Borman's astute analysis of Henry's personality demonstrates how both low-born and noble advisers affected his reign. It's generally agreed that to be a woman in Henry's circle was to throw caution to the wind in hopes of great reward; Borman's ambitious narrative shows that being a man in Henry's court could be just as fraught—and fascinating. Agent: George Lucas, InkWell Management. (Jan.)

Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Author Biography

Tracy Borman is England’s joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces and Chief Executive of the Heritage Education Trust. She is the author of many highly acclaimed books, including The Private Lives of the Tudors, Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant, Elizabeth’s Women, and a first work of fiction, The King’s Witch. Borman is a regular broadcaster and public speaker. - (Perseus Publishing)


Presents a portrait of Henry VIII through the lens of his relationships with the men who surrounded him--companions, confidants, servants, ministers, and rivals--and explores how they impacted his life and historic reign. - (Baker & Taylor)

An acclaimed historian offers a new portrait of Henry VIII and the men who greatly impacted his life and historic reign. - (Baker & Taylor)

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, behavior, 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 sport, 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. - (Perseus Publishing)

From acclaimed historian Tracy Borman, a penetrating new portrait of Henry VIII and the men who greatly impacted his life and historic reign - (Perseus Publishing)

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