Book Review – ‘A History of the Tudors in 100 Objects’ by John Matusiak


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!

Chapters:

  1. Dynasty, Politics, Nation
  2. Birth, Childhood, Marriage, and Death
  3. Women, Work, Craftsmen, and Paupers
  4. Food, Drink, and Fashion
  5. Home, Hearth, and Travel
  6. Culture and Pastimes
  7. Health and Healing
  8. Religion
  9. Superstition
  10. Warfare, Weapons, and Defence
  11. Crime and Punishment
  12. Novelties and New Horizons

What do you do when you’ve thought about hurting yourself?


I’m not going to apologise for writing about this on my blog. It might be controversial and if you don’t want to read it then skip past. When I thought about writing this post I wasn’t sure what to say, but I knew I wanted to talk about it. Not what you’d expect to see on a history blog but important, nonetheless.

When you feel like you’d rather hurt yourself than go to work that’s when you know you need to make some changes. I was on sick leave earlier in the year and this is the closest I’ve felt to that again. Right now, I feel as bad, if not worse, than I did then.

I’ve been thinking about going back to my GP but that feels like giving up. Is it giving up? Admitting you need help and time to look after yourself isn’t giving up. It’s being strong and admitting that you can’t cope rather than struggling on alone.

I’m lucky in the fact that I have some fantastic friends. I’ve grown closer to them during this lockdown and I’m looking forward to being able to spend a lot more time with them now. They have helped me get through a lot of hard times and I don’t think I’ve really appreciated just how much they’ve helped me. You know who you are, so thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.

It’s the small things that can make you feel better. I went to the supermarket with my mum over the weekend. I haven’t been for a while as my mum has been ill and I’ve been ordering online as I can’t drive. I bought a new jumper and a new shopping bag. Small things but they made me feel better. Well, that and the roast dinner mum cooked that evening!

Going back to work – my job isn’t what I want to do. I have degrees in History and Library Management and I’m doing an admin job. I want to do a job where I can inspire people and make a real difference to lives, whether that’s working in a library or a university, or some other educational or publishing environment. My job drains me. I feel exhausted afterwards because I don’t feel like I’m using my brain and I don’t feel like I’m making a difference or being valued for what I can bring.

So, I’ve decided to make a change. Consciously. I’ve been looking out for jobs that I’d like but now I’m making a concerted effort. Maybe not the best time with a book deadline looming, but taking small steps is better than taking no steps at all. Maybe it’s my looming 31st birthday next week but I don’t want to still feel like this in 5 years time. I need to feel like I want to get up in the morning, not wishing that I hadn’t woken up at all.

What has kept me going is working on my book and a determination to see my name in print. And my friends. Without these two things I might have given up altogether. I still could but I’ll try not to.

It might take some time, but I’ll get there.

As someone wise keeps saying – kindly, keep going.

I hope this also goes some way to explaining why I haven’t been blogging much recently, for those who are missing my posts. I apologise, I’ve been writing and taking some me time!

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