Henry VIII: And the Men Who Made Him

Atlantic Monthly. Jan. 2019. 320p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780802128430. $30. BIOG
Using manuscripts and other primary materials, historian Borman (Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant) offers a new twist on the life of Henry VIII, choosing here to focus on how his reign and reputation were affected by the men who surrounded and advised him throughout his adulthood and long tenure as king, including councilors Thomas Cromwell and Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, scholars and intellectuals Erasmus and Sir Thomas More, and aristocrats such as the Dukes of Buckingham and Norfolk. Also mentioned are lesser-known figures, including servants, barbers, doctors, and Henry's court jester Will Sommers. In chronicling Henry's career against the backdrop of the rise and fall of these relationships, Borman emphasizes certain key themes: Henry's character, motivations, and insecurities; the evolution of his image; and the legacy he left to his survivors. What emerges is a portrait of a contradictory man: loyal and tender yet also paranoid and cruel. The story of his celebrated love affairs is not ignored, nor is his schism with Roman Catholicism.
VERDICT A thorough read for all interested in the Tudor era, the Reformation, and the British monarchy.
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