Saturday, July 31, 2010

5th (and Final) Book Review for The Tudor Mania Challenge at The Burton Review

The Other Tudors: Henry VIII’s Mistresses and Bastards by Philippa Jones
The Other Tudors: Henry VIII's Mistresses and Bastards
Summary: In The Other Tudors, Philippa Jones uncovers the intrigues behind Henry’s many love affairs and illuminates the tumultuous lives of his many illegitimate offspring, whose paths often entwined with those of their royal siblings, Edward, May, and Elizabeth Tudor. ***I usually write my own summary, but this one from the book jacket was much better than what I had come up with.

My Thoughts: Good book. I usually don’t enjoy fiction as much as non-fiction, but The Other Tudors was a fairly easier read than The Tudor Queens of England. The best feature was that each chapter was proceeded by a family tree for the person highlighted in the chapter which made it much easier to follow…and I didn’t have to make my own this time! It weaved both facts and some hearsay together to paint a relatively complete and accurate portrait of Henry’s lusty appetite for love. The author actually tried to make the point that Henry was not just searching for a bedmate, but was looking for love. The boldest statement made in the book was the revelation that Henry was so beloved by his mother that he always compared women to her and the love that he received from her. It is obvious that he never truly found that same connection with his wives and that his only true love that came close was his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.

The most popular and most written about mistresses are covered including Mary Boleyn, Bessie Blount, Anne Boleyn, Anne Hastings, Margaret Shelton, Jane Seymour, Anne Bassett, Catherine Howard, and Catherine Parr. Again, the author cannot pin point the exact birth order of the Boleyn girls. It did however debate within itself if Mary or Anne were the more “sluttish” of the two during their stay in France. Philippa Jones makes a good attempt at using actual documentation to show that neither of them were really bed hoppers at all and that had they been, the king would not have been as interested. I enjoyed comparing what I thought I already knew about the girls from previous historical non-fiction to what was layed out here. For instance, the time between Mary and Anne’s affair with the king was quite lengthy (she suggests 2-3 years) which is much different that how it has been portrayed by Philippa Gregory’s version in The Other Boleyn Girl. It almost makes me feel like their family wasn’t as plotting, trying to shove one daughter under the king as the other lay in labor.

Some of the other mistresses whom have not been as popular with writers (that I have read so far) included Elizabeth Denton, Jane Pollard, Mary Berkeley, and Joanna Dingley. Although there are no records of the affair between Denton and Henry, she is on record as having received larger than usual sums of pay for her services. It was speculated that she was paid higher because she performed additional duties for the King outside her position at court and that she had been chosen (either by Henry or by persons around him) because she was married and knew her way around the bed and could help “break in”, so to speak, the new King.

The Other Tudors also covered the bastards (and possible bastards) that came from Henry’s promiscuity and included Henry Fitzroy, Henry Carey, Thomas Stukeley, John Perrot, and Etheldreda Malte. I found the chapter on Sir Henry Carey, son of May Boleyn, to be the most informational. As one of the kings known mistresses to have a bastard son, I had not read very much on him and did not know that he went on the serve his cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. Henry Fitzroy, I think, often got all the attention of the bastard sons.

The entire last chapter is dedicated to the “rumored” mistresses and bastards and I found it quite enjoyable to read. This book would be a good reference or jumping off point for an author who wanted to attempt writing about one of the lesser known mistresses or bastards.

Next on my reading list? I just picked up The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes. I haven’t read anything by her before so this should be (hopefully) a new perspective for me. I was trying to get it read in time for The Tudor Mania Challenge, but I just didn’t make it. I think this next one might be the last Tudor related read for me for a while…I need a break. I am switching gears after this and returning to another place and time to read about the Holocaust. I picked up Day and Dawn by Elie Wiesel.

Day: A NovelDawnThe Tudor Rose: The Story of the Queen Who United a Kingdom and Birthed a Dynasty

Thank you again for stopping by and reading my blog. Please check out my give-a-way for a Swarovski Crystal Necklace and Earring set at


  1. thanks for the review. I've been wondering about this one - sounds like maybe I'll give it a try at some point.

  2. i like your blogging it is very good

  3. I made the mistake of going to the bookstore while in Daytona and grabbed about six more Right now I'm reading the book Amy recommended last month, "To Dancw with Kings" and haven't been able to put it over 200 pages and this book has 613 pgs. It's about the French court and is totally fictional with a great love story. I'll post my finds later this week as I get caught up ;)

  4. Sounds like an interesting book. Good review. I have heard a few criticisms of the accuracy of some of the statements made in the book. Some may be nit-picky but some are quite justified.
    Am enjoying exploring your blog.

  5. Definitely another one for my reading list. I actually picked up The Tudor Rose just the other day. But I want to finish Figures in Silk by Vanora Bennett first, since it gives more of a backstory to Edward IV and Richard III, from the PoV of the sister of one of Edward's mistresses and someone who was supposedly close to both Elizabeth and Richard III. It makes for a better progression, I think.


I love hearing from you, please leave a comment.