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The Tudors by G J Meyer

Posted By Claire on September 14, 2011

This review is of the UK paperback two volume series “The Tudors” by G J Meyer which is split into two books: Henry VII to Henry VIII and Lady Jane Grey to Elizabeth I.

The books are described by the publisher, Amberley, as “the complete story of England’s most notorious dynasty” and Meyer does do a wonderful job at condensing the reigns of Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Lady Jane Grey, Mary I and Elizabeth I into two paperbacks. When you think that huge books have been written on each of these monarchs then it really is a skill to condense the information down to 2 books.

Obviously, Meyer cannot go into as much detail as standard biographies but these books would be fantastic for a student embarking on a course in Tudor history or for someone who wants an overview on the period. Meyer gives the key information in a highly readable style and I thoroughly enjoyed reading these two books.

I did find the occasional error, for example he describes Richard III’s emblem being the blue boar when in fact Richard’s was the white boar and the blue boar belonged to the Earl of Oxford, but this did not detract from the overall accuracy and detail of these books. I may not agree with Meyer on some things, e.g. his view on Elizabeth I’s reign being one of survival and nothing else, but I applaud him for taking on such an immense task and coming up with an educational, and also entertaining, read.

Would I recommend this book to academics or those specialising in a particular Tudor monarch? Probably not, they’re more of an overview and I would recommend individual biographies instead, but these books are a perfect taster, the ideal back ground read on the Tudor period.

Henry VII to Henry VIII Covers…

  • Part One: An Excess of Good Fortune: 1485-1532 – This part, which consists of 9 chapters, takes the reader from the Battle of Bosworth to the marriage of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, and the birth of Elizabeth I. Yes, it really should be called “1485-1533”!
  • Part Two: Monster: 1533-1547 – This part, which consists of 7 chapters, goes from the destruction of the Nun of Kent (Elizabeth Barton) to the death of Henry VIII

The book also has a map of Europe in Tudor times, a family tree, a Tudor timeline going from 1457 to 1547, a section of Sources and Notes, and 32 pages of illustrations.

Lady Jane Grey to Elizabeth I Covers…

  • Part One: A King Too Soon and a Queen Too Late: 1547-1558 – This first part of 5 chapters takes the reader from the death of Henry VIII all the way to the death of Mary I in 1558
  • Part Two: Monster: Survivor: 1558-1603 – Made up of 8 chapters, this part covers the reign of Elizabeth I, a monarch Meyers sees as a “survivor”.

Just like Book 1, this book also has a map of Europe in Tudor times, a family tree, a Tudor timeline, this time going from 1547 to 1603, a section of Sources and Notes, and 32 pages of illustrations.

Get these books if:-

  • You want a lighter read on the period and its monarchs
  • You are a history buff who can’t cope with heavy academic texts
  • Your teenager is embarking on a course in Tudor history
  • You want a couple of books you can turn to to answer key questions

What about Edward VI?

You may be forgiven for thinking that G J Meyer has forgotten poor Edward VI with the fact that the books are titled “Henry VII to Henry VIII” and “Lady Jane Grey to Elizabeth I”, but do not fear, Edward is covered in the first two chapters of the second book.

What others are saying about “The Tudors”

  • “History buffs will savour Meyer’s cheeky, nuanced, and authorative perspective on an entire dynasty, and his study brims with enriching background.” Publishers Weekly
  • “His style is crisp and popular” David Loades


The Tudors: Henry VII to Henry VIII

UK paperback version
Publisher: Amberley Publishing (28 March 2011)
ISBN-10: 1445601435
ISBN-13: 978-1445601434
Available at Amazon UK

The Tudors: Lady Jane Grey to Elizabeth I

UK paperback version
Publisher: Amberley Publishing; 1 edition (28 March 2011)
Language English
ISBN-10: 1445601443
ISBN-13: 978-1445601441
Available at Amazon UK

Available in the USA as one book “The Tudors: The Complete Story of England’s Most Notorious Dynasty” – click here.


2 Responses to “The Tudors by G J Meyer”

  1. Lois Bateson says:

    I am in the process of reading this book right now and loving it. It ties everything together and gives information I wouldn’t have known otherwise about Thomas More, Bishop, and lots of other characters that other books tend to lose detail when writing specifically about an individual and focusing on just one person. It’s long be defintely well worth it and it’s keeping me intrigued. Great book in my opinion 🙂

  2. Keegan says:

    This sounds like a great book. It was reviewed by Elaine Charles’ on her radio show on 17 March. She reviewed a number of Shakespearean era books. It is a good show to listen to for books of that era. The archived shows are on
    I am looking forward to this overview of the Tudors. I have not ever connected the dots and viewed them a 3 generations of the same family.

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