The Other Tudors: Henry VIII’s Mistresses and Bastards by Philippa Jones
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.