The Tudor Court by Philippa Gregory

I already wrote about the Cousins’ War series, so it’s time I share my thoughts on the sequel series, following the events in the Tudor court. The series consists of eight books and some of them were interesting, others not so much.

PS. I’m still to read the newest one The Last Tudor and I will write a post about it once I read it.

the constant princess

The first book of the series is understandably dedicated to Katherine of Aragon, as the first wife of Henry VIII. Katherine was the daughter of two of Europe’s most formidable rulers, Isabella I of Castille and Ferdinand II of Aragon. She was first betrothed to the Prince of Wales (Arthur Tudor) and she married him after arriving in England. The book describes fond childhood memories from battle and peace in Spain, her difficult journey to England, her conflicting emotions towards her new husband, their brief romance, the difficult life as a dowager princess after his death and her fight to marry Henry VIII.

The book is beautifully written, and in my opinion one of Gregory’s best books and it made me want to visit the Alhambra palace.

PS. Another book that heavily involves Katherine is The King’s Curse and I mentioned it in my other post.

Find more about the book here and here.

My rating: 2/5 stars

A quote: “Words have weight, something once said cannot be unsaid. Meaning is like a stone dropped into a pool; the ripples will spread and you cannot know what back they wash against.”

three sisters three queensThree Sisters, Three Queens is told from the points of view of Mary Tudor (sister of Henry VIII), Margaret Tudor (sister of Henry VIII) and Katherine of Aragon. It starts with the wedding of Arthur and Katherine, Margaret’s initial impressions of her new sister-in-law, her eventual departure to marry James IV of Scotland and the letters they exchanged throughout their turbulent lives. Katherine is portrayed almost like the dominant persona, her advice is to be taken without questioning as all she says is for the greater good. Margaret envies Katherine for staying in England, for being restored to the status as a princess but is happy when she learns that her rival has struggles in the marriage bed when Margaret has given Scotland two male heirs. Her little sister Mary is portrayed almost like a brainless princess, the brat of the family who can get away with anything and everything – she comes back to England as a dowager Queen of France and gets to marry whoever she wants.

Personally, my favorite part of the book was the romance between James IV and Margaret and I wish there were more stories about that. I really disliked all the petty drama between the sisters.

Find more about the book here and here.

My rating: 1/5 stars

A quote: “your sisters are the keepers of your memories and hopes for the future.”

the other boleyn girlThe Other Boleyn Girl is the beginning of the two-part story of the Boleyn era in the series. The main character is Mary Boleyn, the King’s mistress and sister to Queen Anne and the story begins even before Anne was queen and Mary was the mistress. Mary is very overlooked in history but this book sheds a lot of light on her and tells how she was pushed forward by her family to gain the king’s favor, how she bore his children and then how she helped her sister rise in favor and become queen. In the end, after her siblings are executed by Henry, she survives and lives in the countryside, forever afraid by the court and it’s power to raise and tear down royals.

Find out more about the book here and here.

My rating: 2/5 stars

A quote: “If it means something, take it to heart. If it means nothing, it’s nothing. Let it go.”

the boleyn inheritanceThe Boleyn Inheritance is the second part of the Boleyn era in the series and another book broken down through three points of views – Jane Boleyn/Lady Rochford (the wife of George Boleyn), Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard. Jane is supposedly mourning the loss of her husband and sister-in-law and that drives her to madness because of the guilt she feels for testifying against them to save her own skin. She spies for the Duke of Norfolk for two of Henry’s queens after returning to court after the death of Jane Seymour and is eventually executed for treason.

Anne of Cleves runs from an abusive home and ends up in a marriage where their is mutual distaste between her husband and herself, and she is quite clueless about court and its traditions. She is mocked for her fashion choices and she witnesses how her husband turns his back on her to court a 15-year-old girl, a cousin of the wife he beheaded. She is betrayed even by her own council and still manages to escape Henry’s wrath and get divorced without facing the axe. /I quite admire her./

Katherine Howard is described as shallow and brainless. She doesn’t care that she is betraying her mistress, she wants jewels and attention. She seemingly doesn’t mind Henry courting her or marrying her, nor does she mind much consummating the marriage with him. I believe she was a victim of her own stupidity and the treachery of those around her.

I didn’t like this book so much but I would recommend it if you are interested to find out more about Jane Boleyn, Katherine Howard or Anne of Cleves.

Find more about the book here and here.

My rating: 1/5 stars

A quote: “I have learned the power of surviving.”

The taming of the queenThe Taming of The Queen is all about the last wife of Henry VIII – Katherine Parr and how she became queen. She is courted by Henry even though she is a widow, and in his old age Henry still believes that he can get her pregnant. I believe that their marriage was more of a companionship rather than love because Henry was quite old (and mad) and she was quite disinterested (she was in love with Thomas Seymour). Henry surprisingly allowed her to get an education and often sought her advice. My favorite moments are when Katherine convinces Henry to treat his children better and to invite them all for celebrations, and when the big portrait is revealed and she realizes it’s her body but Jane Seymour’s face. /the poor woman/

Find out more about the book here and here.

My rating: 3/5 stars

A quote: “If you are a reader, you are already halfway to being a writer,” she says. “For you have a love of words and pleasure from seeing them on a page. And if you are a writer, then you will find that you are driven to write. It is a gift that demands to be shared. You cannot be a silent singer.”

the queen's foolThe main character of The Queen’s Fool, Hannah Green is completely fictionalized but she is a girl who was persecuted by the Inquisition in Spain and sought refuge in England while it was still Edward VII on the throne. Hannah has visions and is discovered by Robert Dudley and is given to be the King’s fool. She foresees the King’s death and alarms Dudley of it, and then she is appointed as a spy in Mary I’s court to spy on her for the Dudleys and Elizabeth. Hannah grows quite close to Mary and Mary sends her in turn to spy on Elizabeth with whom she also gets close to. Meanwhile, her personal life is also quite turbulent and she escapes from court to seek refuge in Calais as the Inquisition is expected to arrive with Mary’s husband Philip. When the French take over Calais, Dudley secures safe passage for Hannah’s family but she ends up with her adopted son alone in England. Hannah understands the power of the court and the benefits of having influence in it.

Her story is quite touching and interesting and I definitely recommend you check this book out.

Find more about it here and here.

My rating: 3/5 stars

A quote: “Because all books are forbidden when a country turns to terror. The scaffolds on the corners, the list of things you may not read. These things always go together.”

the virgin's loverThe Virgin’s Lover is all about the romance between Robert Dudley and Elizabeth I. I really disliked the book because Elizabeth is described as weak and completely reliant on Robert’s judgments. Of course, Elizabeth was uneasy because of the rumors that she was a bastard and the Catholic propaganda against her. The Pope excommunicated her, her cousin Mary Queen of Scots plotted to take her throne, the Catholics in England wanted Mary on the throne and they wanted their faith restored and Elizabeth had to be very careful whom to trust but she was in no way weak and completely reliant on others’ judgment.

The book is a blend of historical facts and contemporary rumours which is why I think it’s not that good. Elizabeth’s story could have been told in a much better way.

Find more about it here and here.

My rating: 1/5 stars

A quote: “The truth is the last thing that matters,’ she said. ‘And you can believe one thing of the truth and me: I keep it well hidden, inside my heart.”

the other queenThe Other Queen tells the story of Mary Queen of Scots’ exile in England as “a guest of her cousin” and her endless plots and schemes to free her husband, Bothwell, to get back to Scotland, to take the English throne.

Yes, Mary often made decisions without thinking about the consequences but I still believe with all the plotting and scheming her story could have been told better.

Her description as a seductress and a schemer (she did make plots to take the English throne) did not sit quite well with me, and I believe her story could have been told better.

Find more about the book here and here.

My rating: 1/5 stars

A quote: “For most of my life i have been adored by fools and hated by people of good sense, and they all make up stories about me in which I am either a saint or a whore. But I am above these judgments, I am a Queen.”

Have you read any of these novels? Which one was your favorite?

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Credit for all the images goes to Simon & Schuester publishing/ Touchstone

Read also: 

The Cousins War by Philippa Gregory 

Inspiring Ladies and Where to Find Them | Period Drama Edition

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