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Summary

Why did Henry VIII marry six times? Why did Anne Boleyn have to die? Why did Elizabeth I’s courtiers hail her as a goddess come to earth?

The dramas of courtly love have captivated centuries of readers and dreamers. Yet too often they’re dismissed as something existing only in books and song - those old legends of King Arthur and chivalric fantasy.

Not so. In this groundbreaking history, Sarah Gristwood reveals the way courtly love made and marred the Tudor dynasty. From Henry VIII declaring himself as the ‘loyal and most assured servant’ of Anne Boleyn to Elizabeth I’s poems to her suitors, the Tudors re-enacted the roles of the devoted lovers and capricious mistresses first laid out in the romances of medieval literature. The Tudors in Love dissects the codes of love, desire and power, unveiling romantic obsessions that have shaped the history of this nation. In the #MeToo era, re-examining the history of the social codes behind modern romance has never been more vital.

©2019 Sarah Gristwood (P)2019 W F Howes

Critic reviews

"Riveting, pacy...the Tudors as you’ve never seen them before." (Alison Weir)

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A thorough study but nothing new about the Tudors

A scholarly book, not really what I expected from the title but a more academic and detailed look at courtly love. If you are expecting further references to Anne Boleyn after the introduction, you will be waiting for several hours - but the discussion of courtly love in the Middle Ages which precedes it it is thoroughly worthwhile. The reader has a lovely voice and for the most part gets it right, but there are many, many clangers here which the producer should have picked up. Some of these are to be expected in any long text. Others, such as the repeated pronunciation "Trolius" in Troilus and Cresyde, "Cramner" for Cranmer etc, might irritate a listener interested in this subject - and some, like 'martial' instead of 'marital' affection, are unfortunate or (frequently) a misunderstanding of the sentence. Once we get to Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, there is nothing very new here. Still, a very accomplished and expansive listen.