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REVIEW The Six Wives of Henry VIII

Ring the single most continuous portrait of the central decades of Henry's reign The book is divided into the episodic reigns of Henry's ueens beginning with Chapuys' arrival in England in the middle of Henry's divorce from Katherine of Aragon Chapuys tirelessly defended Katherine and later her daughter Mary Tudor the future Mary I He remained as ambassador through the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn whom he would only re. Few good books manage to paint a good portrayal of misunderstood historical characters just as Chapuys but Mackay has managed to do it going deep into the life and dispatches of this statesman What emerges is a complex man who is neither fanatic or malevolent but an intelligent pragmatic and skillful diplomatEustace Chapuys was a Roman Catholic but he was not a fanatic as he is often thought of some of his acuaintances had Reformist sympathies and others were well known for criticizing both faiths such as Erasmus and Cornellius Agrippa Eustace Chapuys is often hated for being one of the architects for the fall of Anne Boleyn however the truth is that he didn t engineer her fall and the names that he is often accused of calling Anne Boleyn like concubine and whore are not from his dispatches but from other Imperial ambassadors who were working at the time in Rome Chapuys was in contact with them so their letters get mixed up and all these negative connotations they had of Anne don t even come from Chapuys pen Moreso when Chapuys did call her concubine he was paranoid and distraught after Katherine s death who in his mind was the image of perfect ueenship and nobody could replace nobody but in most of his letters he just called Maruess or Lady or the King s mistress During his time in England he grew very attached to Mary Tudor and during the second time he was recalled to England and he had to leave temporarily to Calais she was his eyes and ears So that being said why should we care what makes him different from every other ambassador He was much detailed that s why we should care The other ambassadors didn t live up to his reputation and after he left Charles sent a reprieve to his replacement Francois Van Der Defelt whom Chapuys defended but later wrote to him advising him that he should be detailed and work harder on his letter Clearly Charles missed his old ambassador nobody was detailed and involved in courtly affairs than Eustace Chapuys During the time he was away 1539 1540 we have no real information about the Tudor court just rumors and some heresay but no detailed information until he comes backMost of what we know of Henry VIII and his six wives is thanks to his letters and his involvement in courtly affairs He was present in courtly events whereas other ambassadors found these events dull and tiresome Also Eustace Chapuys was not afraid to form allies and network with the merchants which helped him a lot and helped him establish a wider network of informants or spies for even when he was away he always knew what was going onMackay s assessment of him after he retired as Nestor is well put He did become a councilor Charles and Defelt still sought his advice but that is not all he did Beyond giving advice he also founded colleges for the underprivileged in his native Annency and Louvain where he retiredHis good work was not without sacrifice or without bias Eustace Chapuys would exaggerate in some of his letters especially when he was in need of money and during his second and last embassy he often was and regarding Katherine and Mary The latter are understandable given the emotional attachment he formed with themThe final note is on the rest of the wives while he had no love for Anne he was cordial with her family and first met with the Boleyn family and even dined with them on several occasions in his dispatches surrounding the Boleyns fall he makes note of how ridiculous the charges are and how he doesn t believe any of them and makes a final note on her demise where he expresses his admiration for her shattering the myth of the malignant ambassador Jane Seymour he expressed surprise but was comfortable in her presence and while he didn t consider her educated as her predecessors she had a deep understanding of the court and regarding Anne of Cleves his observations are made after her divorce what comes of Anne of Cleves during her marriage to Henry are thanks to his rival Charles de Marillac expressing that she was a sweet woman and also very humble He reports very little regarding Catherine Howard s affairs probably because the proceedings against her were secret or because he didn t believe them to be all true and last but not least he gave nothing but praises to Katherine Parr whom he considered the best match Henry could have ever made and his last words to her were of gratitude for what she had done to Mary and coming personally to bid him farewellIt s about time we had a book on Eustace Chapuys For every history buff like me you will enjoy this book a lot

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The Six Wives of Henry VIII

The reports and despatches of Eustace Chapuys Spanish Ambassador to Henry VIII's court from 1529 to 1545 have been instrumental in shaping our modern interpretations of Henry VIII and his wives Through his personal relationships with several of Henry's ueens and Henry himself his writings were filled with colourful anecdotes salacious gossip and personal and insightful observations of the key players at court thus offe. It s about time someone took a long hard look at Eustace Chapuys Without us really noticing the dispatches of the Spanish Ambassador have shaped our interpretations of the court of Henry VIII especially the Catherine of Aragon Henry Anne Boleyn triangle which still attracts so much fascinated interest almost five centuries after its heart breaking events were played out Eually Chapuys has been dismissed as biased and misogynistic in his portrayals of Anne making it difficult to glimpse the real man behind the diplomatic maskNow historian Lauren Mackay has looked afresh at Chapuys letters returning to his actual words to decipher exactly what he did have to say And what he didn t What emerges in this new book about the Tudor court is a complex diplomatic picture of a lively and clever man who defies the stereotypes perpetuated in some history books to shine as he takes centre stage Mackay is successful in depicting the nature of the ambassadorial role in all its elements from the need to flatter the King balanced with Chapuys natural sympathies for Catherine s plight the practical problems of waiting for weeks for an audience and coping when his salary wasn t paid or his house burned down This is the real Chapuys for once not the vessel of myth and misinterpretationMackay presents the details of Chapuys early life in an interesting and accessible style setting him within the context of Annecy society along with well researched information about his family and the city She is also successful in conveying the touching relationship that develops between Chapuys and Catherine of Aragon through the difficult years of her divorce and the sadness of her death a few days after having been visited by her old friend Likewise it is interesting to read of his friendship with Thomas Cromwell offering a new window on the portrayal of the master statesman juggling to satisfy an increasingly despotic master Readers who enjoyed Hilary Mantel s portrayal of Cromwell will find this a satisfying readWhere Mackay really excels with Chapuys is in her process of stripping away his mask of dissumlation This deconstruction necessitated the analysis of his letters and comparisons with commentators whose words have been attributed to the ambassador and the pin pointing of the source of particular phrases and rumours Everyone used to know that Chapuys denigrated Anne Boleyn as the concubine but Mackay s careful translations have proven that he was less hostile and allows us to see the personalities involved in Henry s divorce through different eyes She wades through the ambassador s various obligations and efforts to present his art as a diplomat operating among friends enemies and unknowns responsive to his Imperial orders and the fluctuating moods of the English KingInterestingly too Mackay allows us to see Chapuys as a survivor outliving many of the big characters of his time including Henry himself She paints his developing closeness with Princess Mary as an almost paternal relationship an extension of the affection and respect he held for her mother and a champion of her cause in the wake of her turbulent youth he was one of the few people in whom she confided I was delighted to see at the end of the book that the retired Chapuys lived long enough to learn of Mary s accession to the throne although I did think Mackay may have missed a trick by not exploiting this fact as a satisfying narrative conclusionInside the Tudor Court is a valuable new addition to an old topic Well told full of first hand source material and perceptive analysis it allows a reader to gain another foothold on the slippery sands of Henry VIII s divorce With so many powerful figures involved with such heartache and conflicting accounts it is a complex and compelling episode in Tudor history and Mackay s thorough research on this pivotal figure allows us to step closer to understanding the motivation and characters of those whose lives were forever altered by it At last Eustace Chapuys emerges as a complex central player rather than a stereotypical foil for the King and his wives

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Fer to as the concubine or whore and reported on each and every one of Henry's subseuent wives Jane Seymour Anne of Cleves Katherine Howard and Katherine Parr as well as the goings on at the Tudor court He retired in 1545 close to the end of Henry VIII's reign In approaching the period through Chapuys' letters Lauren Mackay presents a fresh perspective on Henry his court and the Tudor period as a wholeShow More Show Le. I really liked this book I thought this was well written and it was easy to read I think that Mackay has done a job in debunking all the Evil Chapuys myths that have been around for ages People automatically assume that Chapuys was Hispanic because he was Spanish Ambassador not true Chapuys was born in Annecy which is in south eastern France Another myth is that Chapuys was this ardent Catholic who hated anyone who was not Catholic Again not true Chapuys had friends from both sides Catholics and Protestants Infact he had developed a close friendship with Thomas Cromwell I think that it was sad that the two men really never had a chance to say a final farewell before Cromwell was executed There was a lot then what I mentioned here but overall I would recommend this book If you haven t read I would say that it was a must buy


10 thoughts on “The Six Wives of Henry VIII

  1. says:

    It’s about time someone took a long hard look at Eustace Chapuys Without us really noticing the dispatches of the Spanish Ambassador have shaped our interpretations of the court of Henry VIII especially the Catherine of Aragon Henry Anne Boleyn triangle which still attracts so much fascinated interest almost five centuries after its heart breaking events were played out Eually Chapuys has been dismissed as biased and misogynistic in hi

  2. says:

    The reign of King Henry VIII is no mystery to us we seem to know every detail from household accounts foods that were consumed songs that were exalted clothes that were fashionable to battles treaties disloyalties and the intricate details of Henry VIII’s multiple wives We certainly aren’t complaining as we literally ‘eat this up’ like a decadent dessert However we have one man to thank for some of the inside s

  3. says:

    I had high hopes for this book Mackay's stated intention of drawing a rounded depiction of an important figure is an interesting way to understand a complex and turbulent period in British historyHowever Mackay's less than rigorous treatment of the contemporary source material leaves us with a rather bland depiction of Ch

  4. says:

    Few good books manage to paint a good portrayal of misunderstood historical characters just as Chapuys but Mackay has managed to do it going deep into the life and dispatches of this statesman What emerges is a complex man who is neither fanatic or malevolent but an intelligent pragmatic and skillful diplomatEustace Chapuys was a Ro

  5. says:

    This is a fascinating in depth look at one of the most prolific writers of the Tudor court Dr Mackay has clearly done her r

  6. says:

    This was a very interesting look at Eustace Chapuys Reading through Mackay's bibliography alone shows the effort the author went to in order to bring Chapuys for this generation to us I liked how nothing was whitewashed Chapuys comes across as so different from everything I've heard about him The depth of feeling

  7. says:

    In much the same way as Eustace Chapuys' negative appraisal of ueen Anne Boleyn helped shape her historiography for so many

  8. says:

    I really liked this book I thought this was well written and it was easy to read I think that Mackay has done a job in debunking all the Evil Chapuys myths that have been around for ages People automatically ass

  9. says:

    Like a lot of people my perception of Eustace Chapuys had been formed from his portrayal in non fiction books and the tv series The Tudors; however this book has completely knocked that on the headLauren's painstaking research shines through on each page as she strives to tell us about the man behind the often maligned name I found

  10. says:

    Excellent view based upon not a general stance but slightly sided Certainly we know a lot about Tudor court from the ambassador's correspondence; the book gives him good reverence

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