The best books on the Tudors selected by historians. The Tudor period was a fascinating time of massive change. With a dysfunctional royal family the Tudor era had some well-documented, interesting characters who continue to inspire both serious history books and historical novels.
The Tudor dynasty, which ruled England from 1485 to 1603, has been the focus of extraordinary public attention in recent years, thanks to the success of books like Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and the lavish television drama The Tudors, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers. We asked Alison Weir, the author of many bestselling factual and novelistic books on the period, to recommend her favourite works of Tudor historical fiction.
The Mirror and the Light—the final instalment of Hilary Mantel’s epic trilogy covering the life of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s chief minister and architect of the English Reformation—was published to great acclaim this month. Here, Five Books contributing editor Benedict King chooses five of the best books to help you get to grips with the real Thomas Cromwell and the political and religious environment in which he operated. You can watch Benedict talking about his Thomas Cromwell book choices here.
Christianity In The West 1400-1700
by John Bossy
Salvation at Stake: Christian Martyrdom in Early Modern Europe
by Brad Gregory
Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet
by Lyndal Roper
The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village
by Eamon Duffy
For The Sake Of Simple Folk: Popular Propaganda for the German Reformation
by R W Scribner
On October 31st 1517, Martin Luther, an unknown friar in an obscure town in eastern Germany may or may not have posted a list of complaints to the door of his local church. His actions would lead to what was later called ‘the Reformation’ — a grisly period in European history that nonetheless paved the way for a more tolerant and pluralistic society. Peter Marshall, one of the period’s leading scholars, talks us through the best books on the Reformation.
History is not about understanding the past for the sake of it, it’s about understanding human nature, says the historian and novelist Ian Mortimer.
He was the Machiavelli of English kings – a chancer and usurper with a highly dubious claim to the throne. But Henry VII ruled for 25 years and founded a dynasty. His biographer tells us how he did it
by David Starkey and Susan Doran
The Faerie Queene
by edited by Thomas P Roche Jr and C Patrick O’Donnell Jr & Edmund Spenser
Translations by Elizabeth I, 1592-98
by Janel Mueller and Joshua Scodel
Rewriting the Renaissance
by Margaret W Ferguson, Maureen Quilligan and Nancy Vickers
Representing Elizabeth in Stuart England
by John A Watkins
University College London professor Helen Hackett selects five books on the Virgin Queen, including one by the monarch herself. “You get a sense of her independence of mind. She does her own thing”
Leading architectural historian, chooses books on art and culture in the Elizabethan era. From CS Lewis on literature, to the fantastic embroideries at Hardwick Hall, to baked rabbit and more.