Thank you to The History Press for a copy of this book to review.
This book is the first one I’ve read of this type, looking at the Elizabethan age through portraiture, including the more famous Coronation, Rainbow, and Armada portraits, and the lesser-known Pelican and miniature portraits. Also includes portraits of people of the Elizabethan age like Walter Raleigh, William Shakespeare, and Robert Dudley.
It is divided into digestible sections covering different parts of Elizabeth’s life and reign, in largely chronological order, though with dives in and out of the lives of Elizabeth’s courtiers and favourites. There are lots of implications raised about the portraits, and what little things you might overlook could mean, whether it’s a gift from a courtier trying to curry favour through jewels, or the symbolism of a flower, hourglass, or animal that appears.
It’s not a biography of Elizabeth I but an art history, looking at the life and reign of Elizabeth through the portraiture. It clearly links the portraits to different parts of her life and reign, giving the context of how the portraits link to different periods of her life, and how the imagery changes over her life.
A must-have for any fans or academics of the Elizabethan era because it looks at the age from a new perspective and can offer plenty of insights into self-fashioning, image, and power. It was utterly fascinating and so well-researched.
I have had a re-organise of my bookshelves this week; there wasn’t enough room on my nonfiction shelves anymore as I have had quite a few books gifted to me from lovely publishers for review!
I organise my books chronologically as far as I can – how do you organise yours?
I start at the top move downwards, as follows:
General monarchy, kings and queens
Wars of the Roses general
Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville
Princes in the Tower
Richard III and Anne Neville
Henry VII and Elizabeth of York
Katherine of Aragon
Anne of Cleves
Lady Jane Grey and her sisters
Mary Queen of Scots
Places, palaces, castles, houses, guidebooks
Obviously this list will expand as my interests and book collection expands, I’m hoping to add books on Jack the Ripper, Regency England, and the Holocaust. I have already read around this subjects, but many borrowed from the library rather than books I own.
I have a long list from publishers still to review so look out for reviews on these in the coming months!
John Ashdown-Hill – ‘Elizabeth Widville: Lady Grey, Edward IV’s Chief Mistress and the ‘Pink Queen’ (Pen and Sword)
John Matusiak – ‘Martyrs of Henry VIII: Repression, Defiance, and Sacrifice’ (The History Press)
Matthew Lewis – ‘Richard III: Loyalty Binds Me’ (Amberley Publishing)
Robert Stedall – ‘Elizabeth I’s Secret Lover: Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester’ (Pen and Sword)
Amy Licence – ‘1520: the Field of the Cloth of Gold’ (Amberley Publishing)
Heather Darsie – ‘Anna, Duchess of Cleves: The King’s Beloved Sister’ (Amberley Publishing)
Nathen Amin – ‘Henry VII and the Tudor Pretenders: Simnel, Warbeck, and Warwick’ (Amberley Publishing)
Linda Collins & Siobhan Clarke – ‘King and Collector: Henry VIII and the Art of Kingship’ (The History Press)
Jan-Marie Knights – ‘The Tudor Socialite: A Social Calendar of Tudor Life’ (Amberley Publishing)
Sarah Bryson – ‘La Reine Blanche: Mary Tudor, A Life in Letters’ (Amberley Publishing)
John Jenkins – ‘The King’s Chamberlain: William Sandys of the Vyne, Chamberlain to Henry VIII’ (Amberley Publishing)
Amy Licence – ‘Tudor Roses: From Margaret Beaufort to Elizabeth I’ (Amberley Publishing)
Mickey Mayhew – ‘House of Tudor: A Grisly History’ (Pen and Sword)
Stephen Browning – ‘On the Trail of Sherlock Holmes’ (Pen and Sword)
Tony Morgan – ‘Power, Treason, and Plot in Tudor England: Margaret Clitherow: An Elizabethan Saint’
Thank you to Pen and Sword, Amberley Publishing, and The History Press for sending me complimentary copies of the above, and I promise I will try and get reviews of these up as soon as possible!
Thanks to The History Press for a copy of this book to review.
I really enjoyed this book. It’s a refreshing new look at the Tudor period through the objects that have survived. I’ve read several other books by John Matusiak before, including his biographies on Henry VIII and Thomas Wolsey. This one is my favourite because it is so different.
Objects examined in the book include the silver-gilt boar badge found at Bosworth, Lady Jane Grey’s prayer book, and a lock of Elizabeth I’s hair. These more famous artefacts are examined alongside things like a sun mask, a birthing chair, a pocket pistol, and the world’s oldest football. There are so many different objects and some that you didn’t realise even existed in this period.
There are images of all of the artefacts discussed and a discussion of each object, along with the context in which they would have been used and were discovered. Some are quite recent discoveries, like the bedhead of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, and others had been handed down through generations or are in museums. The history of these individual objects is almost as interesting as the contextual history.
The writing is clear and concise, giving plenty of detail without going overboard. I also like how each object has its own section, so no one object is given more attention and information than any other, even the more famous and well-known ones. In a way this book gives more attention to the lesser known and general objects because there are more of them, which is quite nice.
I would thoroughly recommend this to anyone with an interest in Tudor history or of historical objects and the history of them. One that I’ll definitely come back to!
My blogging was quite uneven last year with the COVID-19 lockdown and my mental health being quite fragile. Looking forward to 2021 I really want to blog more, and not just about the Tudors and Wars of the Roses – I also have interests in the English Regency, Jack the Ripper, and the British Monarchy.
Read below for my history resolutions for 2021!
1. Blog More on Different Topics
Although my blog is called TudorBlogger, and the Tudors are my first and abiding interest, I also have really started developing other interests over the last few years so I’d love to share some of my other historical passions like the English Regency period, Jack the Ripper, and the history of the British Monarchy. I also like looking at and visiting historical sites including castles and palaces. So keep an eye out for some new content on my blog!
2. Get Up to Date on my Review Copies from Lovely Publishers!
I have a bit of a backlog on my review copies pile which I’ve received from publishers over the last year or so. Because of my mental health issues in 2020 with the lockdown I haven’t felt able to give them my full attention and didn’t want to do half-arsed reviews of them, because they deserve better. So, you can look out for reviews of the following over the next few months!
John Ashdown-Hill – Elizabeth Widville: Lady Grey (Pen & Sword)
John Matusiak – A History of the Tudors in 100 Objects (History Press)
Phil Carradice – Following in the Footsteps of Henry Tudor (Pen & Sword)
John Matusiak – Martyrs of Henry VIII: Repression, Defiance, Sacrifice (History Press)
Matthew Lewis – Richard III: Loyalty Binds Me (Amberley Publishing)
Kirsten Claiden-Yardley – The Man Behind the Tudors: Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk (Pen & Sword)
Robert Stedall – Elizabeth I’s Secret Lover: Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (Pen & Sword)
Amy Licence – 1520: The Field of the Cloth of Gold (Amberley Publishing)
Heather Darsie – Anna Duchess of Cleves: The King’s Beloved Sister (Amberley Publishing)
Paul Dryburgh – Royal Seals: Images of Power and Majesty (Pen & Sword)
Paul Kendall – Henry VIII in 100 Objects: The Tyrant King Who Had Six Wives (Pen & Sword)
Nathan Amin – Henry VIII and the Tudor Pretenders: Simnel, Warbeck and Warwick (Amberley Publishing)
I also have a fiction review coming of Saga Hillborn’s ‘Princess of Thorns’ based on the life of Cecily Plantagenet, sister to Elizabeth of York and daughter of Edward IV. There will also be a surprise guest post from Saga Hillborn to coincide with the release of the book in March 2021.
3. Historical Cross Stitch
I’ve currently got 2 historical cross stitch kits to work on – a Hampton Court mini cushion kit from Sheena Rogers Designs, which you might have seen me start if you follow me on Instagram (@tudorblogger). I also have a Kings and Queens of England cross stitch which I’m excited to start once I’ve done the Hampton Court one. Last year I completed a Henry VIII and his Six Wives cross stitch during the lockdown which has now been framed and is on my study wall. If you want to follow my progress on my cross stitches, updates will be posted to my Instagram.
4. Get Up to Date on my History Podcasts
I have quite a few history podcasts that I listen to, or want to listen to, but I’m really behind on listening to them, again a mental health issue. The following are the podcasts I want to catch up with!
Thank you to The History Press for a chance to read this
I really enjoyed this book. I
felt that the way the book was written, split between the background of the
period and the way that people lived and the folk tales that went alongside
that history was a clever mix. I will definitely re-read and it will enhance
other things I read about the period, being able to glimpse what the person on
the street might have known or read.
The book is split into several
sections examining different parts of Tudor society, including women, the
youth, the poor and the religious. The folk tales within the pages of this book
were all designed to teach a particular lesson or put across a specific view or
opinion. The sections are then divided down into different stories, with names
like ‘Of the Contrary Wife’ and ‘Of the Reward for Lying’. A lot of them seem
to be morality tales, or tales of what can happen when people step out of their
assigned boundaries in the hierarchy.
The drawings and copies of
etchings were also really interesting to see as the people generally in the
sixteenth century wouldn’t have been able to read so the drawings and etchings
might have been all they saw and understood about the stories, to accompany
word of mouth retellings. They’re really interesting to look at because in a
lot of ways they tell us more about how people lived and thought than the kinds
of paintings and cartoons we see today.
The way that the book was
written is engaging and makes for a fairly easy read. The author makes it clear
in the introduction that the stories he retells are not written in the original
language, but have been changed for ease of reading for a modern audience. It
has been very sympathetically done and, from what I can tell, the essence of
the story is still the same as the original.
I would really recommend this
book to any interested in the Tudor period as well as those who already have a
solid grounding in the period, because it sparks an interest in things that you
might not otherwise be aware still survive, and you can really sense what the
general population of England thought about and felt about different people and
what the relationships between them should be.