Tudors: The History of England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I

Written by Peter Ackroyd
Review by Susan Higginbotham

In this, the second book in his history of England, Peter Ackroyd takes on the ever-popular Tudor family, from Henry VIII forward. (Henry VII appears in the earlier volume, Foundation). As one would expect of Ackroyd, his book is written with clarity and verve, and is even-handed and clear-eyed, even to the point of making the controversial suggestion that the charges against Anne Boleyn may have been brought in good faith. There are occasional errors – Henry VIII did not marry Jane Seymour the day after Anne’s execution, for instance, but some days later – but this is hardly avoidable in a history of this scope. As Ackroyd explains, the overarching theme of his book is the Reformation, and this book is a valuable aid to understanding this complex and cataclysmic event. Frustratingly, the book contains no citations to sources, but Ackroyd includes a useful list of further reading arranged by topic.