Winter King

Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England
Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England. S. & S. Mar. 2012. c.480p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781439191569. $28. BIOG
Though he ended the Wars of the Roses and became the first Tudor monarch, Henry VII often is overshadowed by his better-known descendants Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. Penn (publisher, Verso Books) attempts to rectify this, skimming over the king's early years to explore the conflicts that pervaded his reign—in particular the issues raised by his tenuous claim to the throne. Complex, shrewd, and well aware of the instability of his position, Henry solidified his rule not only through carefully constructed propaganda celebrating a new dynasty—the Tudors—but also by use of an extensive network of informers and a ruthless system of taxes and fines to keep English subjects in check. Penn's focus on these darker aspects results in a somewhat slanted portrait of the king himself, but his thoroughly researched history quite successfully evokes the king's web of advisers, associates, and enemies, as well as the overall atmosphere of England during this period.
VERDICT Recommended for anyone seriously interested in Tudor history; the denseness and amount of detail may be overwhelming for casual readers. [See Prepub Alert, 9/22/11.]

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