The regency period is over and William Tudor, now King Henry IX, sits alone on the throne. But England must still contend with those who doubt his legitimacy, both in faraway lands and within his own family. To diffuse tensions and appease the Catholics, William is betrothed to a young princess from France, but still he has eyes for only his childhood friend Minuette, and court tongues are wagging.
This week my friend Jamie Adair discussed How Much Violence is Too Much on Game of Thrones. I was amused to hear that Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys, was covered with so much fake gore after shooting one scene that, during a break, she got stuck to the toilet seat. But I really don’t find Game of Thrones that violent. Too much sex, yes. But the level of violence in Game of Thrones is not enough to make me cover my eyes, I might have cringed once or twice, but it’s not like watching a Tarantino film. I lost count of how many times I covered my eyes when I was watching Inglorious Basterds in the cinema. Django Unchained wasn’t actually quite as bad (although I might have covered my eyes once or twice). It was the scalping in Inglorious Basterds that got me. That is what I consider really violent. In fact, looking at the inspiration behind A Song of Ice and Fire, which is largely French and English medieval history, the show is quite tame. It could, in fact, be far more violent. And it seems fans expect violence.
Somewhere beyond the shores of England, a Pretender is mustering an army. He claims to be brother to the queen, and the true heir to the throne. But is he the lost boy sent into the unknown by his mother, the White Queen? Or a counterfeit prince – a low-born enemy to Henry Tudor and his York princess wife? When Henry Tudor picked up the crown of England from the mud of Bosworth Field he knew he would have to marry the princess of the rival house – Elizabeth of York – in an effort to unify a country divided by war for nearly two decades. But his bride was still in love with his enemy – and her mother and half of England still dreamed of a missing heir and a triumphant return for the House of York.
“I am in fact, a hobbit in all but size” J.R.R Tolkien
I have been enjoying a rather Hobbity holiday. This is usually the time of the year I start reading Lord of the Rings, and watching the movies (my new Blu Ray boxed set this year) but I don’t always read The Hobbit before I start LOTR, in fact I will usually read it later. Having read it directly before I started Fellowship of the Ring I was able to enjoy it more as a prequel, more than usual in any case. I sometimes forget the references to Dale and the Mountain during Bilbo’s birthday party, the last chapter in The Lord of the Rings in which we are still allowed to be children.
England’s Tower of London was the terrifying last stop for generations of English political prisoners. A Dangerous Inheritance weaves together the lives and fates of four of its youngest and most blameless: Lady Katherine Grey, Lady Jane’s younger sister; Kate Plantagenet, an English princess who lived nearly a century before her; and Edward and Richard, the boy princes imprisoned by their ruthless uncle, Richard III, never to be heard from again. Across the years, these four young royals shared the same small rooms in their dark prison, as all four shared the unfortunate role of being perceived as threats to the reigning monarch…
Katherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first bride, has become an icon: the betrayed wife, the revered Queen, the devoted mother, a woman callously cast aside by a selfish husband besotted by his strumpet of a mistress. Her sister, Juana of Castile, wife of Philip of Burgundy and mother of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, the most powerful man in Renaissance Europe, is still more of a legend. She is ‘Juana the Mad’, the wife so passionately in love with her husband that she could not bear to be parted from him even by death, keeping his coffin by her side for year upon year. They were Sister Queens – the accomplished daughters of Ferdinand and Isabella, the founders of a unified Spain.
Though he battled for seven years to marry her, Henry is disenchanted with Anne Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son and her sharp intelligence and audacious will alienate his old friends and the noble families of England. When the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly exposed, the focus of gossip and malice.
At the innocent age of fifteen, Lady Margaret Shelton arrives at the court of Henry VIII and quickly becomes the confidante of her cousin, Queen Anne Boleyn. But she soon finds herself drawn into the perilous web of Anne’s ambition. Desperate to hold onto the king’s waning affection, Anne schemes to have him take her guileless young cousin as mistress, ensuring her husband’s new paramour will owe her loyalty to the queen. But Margaret has fallen deeply in love with a handsome young courtier. She is faced with a terrible dilemma: give herself to the king and betray the love of her life or refuse to become his mistress and jeopardise the life of her cousin, Queen Anne.
The infamous love of King Henry VIII and the mother of Queen Elizabeth I, Anne Boleyn undertook a rocky journey from innocent courtier to powerful Queen of England. A meticulous researcher, Margaret Campbell Barnes immerses readers in this intrigue and in the lush, glittery world of the Tudor Court. The beauty and charms of Anne Boleyn bewitched the most powerful man in the world, King Henry VIII, but her resourcefulness and cleverness were not enough to stop the malice of her enemies. Her swift rise to power quickly became her own undoing.