In this, the first of an anticipated series of six books chronicling the rise and fall of one of England’s most powerful royal families, Field focuses on the young future Henry VII. Held in exile as a virtual prisoner when we first meet him, he’s a young, frightened, weak, and unhealthy boy whose Welsh uncle, Jasper Tudor, takes him under his wing. Recognizing that young Henry is the most dangerous threat to the throne still retained by the Plantagenets, Jasper, and Henry’s power-hungry mother Margaret Beaufort, plan Henry’s future as the “rightful” king of England. Jasper and Henry escape together to France, where battle-scarred Jasper trains Henry to be strong and decisive.
We all know what happens next – the death of Richard III at Bosworth Field in 1485, which resulted in Henry’s crowning as Henry VII of England. It is the road to that climactic event that Field focuses on for much of the first part of the book. The second part demonstrates how good a job Jasper did in training Henry to be a savvy politician, jockeying between powerful forces in England.
What I actually found most interesting is the portrayal of the young Prince Henry – certainly not the Henry VIII we have come to know through various other Tudor sagas. Instead, the young prince is vain, disinterested in what enormous demands will be made on him as king – not exactly a leader. The book concludes at Henry VII’s death, so I am anticipating the second installment will focus on Henry VIII’s young kingship.
A very personal look at the personalities who created the Tudor dynasty.