Sunday, January 11, 2009

Book Review: Henry VIII

Henry VIII by Alison Weir was a very very good read. :)

Henry VIII came to power when he was a teenager. His administration was set by his father and for the first third of his reign he relied heavily on his father's administrators to guide the country. The King kept himself busy with games both on & off the field, dressing very elegantly and sampling new thought, and new culture.

If it was new in Europe, Henry wanted some and he wanted some created locally if possible. He was a forward looking youth, schooled in philosophy more than kingship, he set the economy for many areas of England.

The first portion of his reign, he was married to his brother's widow, Katherine of Aragon.

Once recognizing his manhood and kingship, he took control of England. This second part of his reign, one might call the wife years, as he went through several wives in an attempt to satisfy his yearning for an heir.

Wife #2 Queen Anne was so exciting. Her faction that she brought into power with her was ruthless. But the group along with their Queen fell out of favor and either made the mistake of being unfaithful to the king or was set up. No matter. The cost for the political misstep was her head.

By the later part of Henry's life, he trusts no one and plays each of the factions against the other mixing politics and religion with court life. Quite the exciting combination until he's exhausted, unwell and seriously overweight.

The end is sad, he dies. But we all die in the end.

Some of the information was absolutely fascinating. Tidbits about cleanliness ordinances King Henry put into place were tale-telling: There were indoor toilets and sewers, which makes the 16th century seem more civilized. Along with some of the following rules that I wish applied in all restaurants today. "Don't piss into the kitchen hearths." "When cooking, don't sweat into the food."

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