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Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor Englandby Thomas Penn
Synopses & Reviews
A fresh look at the endlessly fascinating Tudors—the dramatic and overlooked story of Henry VII and his founding of the Tudor Dynasty—filled with spies, plots, counterplots, and an uneasy royal succession to Henry VIII.
In 1501 England had been ravaged for decades by conspiracy and civil war. Through a combination of luck and ruthlessness, Henry VII clambered to the top of the heap—a fugitive with a flimsy claim to England’s crown who managed to win the throne and become the first of the Tudor kings.
Although he built palaces, hosted magnificent jousts, and sent ambassadors across Europe, for many Henry VII remained a false king. But he had a crucial asset: his family—the queen and their children, the living embodiment of his hoped-for dynasty. However, it would not be his favored son, Arthur, who would succeed him, but the younger Prince Henry, who was never intended to be king. Winter King portrays the transformation of the vulnerable Prince Henry into the aggressive teenager who would become Henry VIII, and of Catherine of Aragon, his future queen, as well as Henry VII—controlling, avaricious, paranoid, with Machiavellian charm and the desire for power.
Rich with incident and drama, filled with wonderfully drawn characters, Winter King is an unforgettable tale of pageantry, intrigue, the thirst for glory—and the fraught, unstable birth of Tudor England.
IN 1501, ENGLAND HAD BEEN RAVAGED FOR DECADES by conspiracy, coups, and violence. Through luck, guile, and ruthlessness, Henry VII, the first of the Tudor kings, emerged as ruler—but as a fugitive with a flimsy claim to England’s throne, he remained a usurper and false king to many, and his hold on power was precarious.
But Henry had a crucial asset: his queen and their children, the living embodiment of his hoped-for dynasty. His marriage to Queen Elizabeth united the houses of Lancaster and York, the warring parties that had fought the bloody century-long Wars of the Roses. Now their older son, Arthur, was about to marry a Spanish princess. On a cold November day sixteen-year-old Catherine of Aragon arrived in London for a wedding that would mark a triumphal moment in Henry’s reign. But Henry’s plans for his son would not happen—and waiting in the wings was the impetuous younger brother, the future Henry VIII.
Rich with drama and insight, Winter King is an astonishing story of pageantry, treachery, intrigue, and incident—and the fraught, dangerous birth of Tudor England.
About the Author
Thomas Penn is editorial director at Penguin Books UK. He holds a Ph.D. in medieval history from Clare College, Cambridge University, and writes for the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, and the London Review of Books, among other publications.
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