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The Tudors: A Very Short Introduction by John Guy

Posted By Claire on October 17, 2013

The Tudors John GuyThe Tudors: A Very Short Introduction is a pocket sized guide to the Tudor monarchs and their reign and is just over 130 pages. Oxford University Press describes the Very Short Introduction series, which seems to cover every topic you can think of, as “pocket-sized books” which “are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly”. These guides are written by experts in their field and who better to write one on the Tudors than historian John Guy, a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, and a renowned Tudor expert? Not only does he bring a vast amount of knowledge to the book, his writing style is also engaging, succinct and easy to read and understand.

If you want to know everything there is to know on these monarchs then go and buy Leanda de Lisle’s “Tudor”, but if you’re just starting out and you want an accurate overview or you want to indoctrinate a friend or family member, and pique their interest in the Tudors, this is the perfect book, gift or stocking filler. It would also be ideal for a student embarking on a school topic or college course on the Tudors.

The Tudors has eight chapters:

  1. Henry VII: Founding a new dynasty
  2. Henry VIII: The personification of power
  3. The Reformation and British ‘imperial’ kingship
  4. Mid-Tudor crisis and the succession
  5. Philip and Mary: An experiment in dual monarchy
  6. The early Elizabethan polity
  7. Material culture and the arts
  8. After the Armada

The book also has useful extras: a genealogical table, notes on units of currency, a chronology of events running from 1457 to 1603, and a list of further reading, split into primary sources, general works and studies of special topics.

This book is not a dry text book, Guy really brings these monarchs to life and shares his views on topics like the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots. I don’t know quite how he manages to give so much information in such a short book – magic!

A quick and interesting read which I highly recommend.

This review is of the fully updated new edition (August 2013).

Amazon Blurb

The monarchs of the Tudor period are among some of the most well-known figures in British history. John Guy presents a compelling and fascinating exploration of the Tudors in the new edition of this Very Short Introduction. Looking at all aspects of the period, from beginning to end, he considers Tudor politics, religion, and economics, as well as issues relating to gender and minority rule, and the art, architecture, and social and material culture of the time. Introducing all of the key Tudor monarchs, Guy considers the impact the Tudor period had not only at the time, but also the historical legacy it left behind.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Book Details

Paperback: 168 pages
Publisher: OUP Oxford; 2 edition (29 Aug 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0199674728
ISBN-13: 978-0199674725
Available from, Amazon UK and your usual bookstore.


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