Elizabethan London

Elizabethan London
Tyburn was an infamous execution spot west of London, used since medieval times. The Tyburn "tree" - a unique, multi-person gallows - erected in 1571 became a popular public spectacle, drawing crowds of thousands.Tyburn Tree blog is less blood-thirsty but hopefully topical, interesting and informative, if slightly bent to my personal topics of interest - books, writing, history, technology, with a smattering of politics and dash of pop culture, science and the downright strange. So "take a ride to Tyburn" and see what happens...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Tudors by Peter Ackroyd

The Tudors by acclaimed British author Peter Ackroyd is the second volume in his new History of England series, although reading the first book (Foundation) is by no means necessary  Ackroyd's highly readable, engaging review of the reigns of the corpulent and much-wedded Henry VIII, Bloody Mary and Elizabeth I (interrupted albeit briefly by Henry VII's son Edward VI's six year reign).

Ackroyd brings the same sharp acumen and evocative social insight evident in his previous works Foundation and in London: A Biography.  Ackroyd hangs the overarching story-line on the key events and players but lavishes particular attention on the belief systems and intricacies of the burgeoning English Reformation which drove Tudor rule.  He has a particular talent for interweaving the tiniest of details and tying them back to the epic sweep of history.

Dry it is not, however it is by necessity somewhat cursory on some of the more infamous events of the period.  Ackroyd is a brilliant writer and, given his background and focus on cultural roots and sociology, he brings a different and often highly discerning eye to the historical events of the period.  He keeps a fairly razor eye on the roots of the English Reformation and the events therein, rather than, as many histories of the period do, highlighting the soap opera of Henry VIII's long procession of wives.  He provides a strong thematic thread for the ebb and flow of England's slide away from Catholicism, tying the many elements traditionally linked back to Tudor power, into a broader context.

Ackroyd provides a solid, eminently readable book that any student of the era would be wise to crack open.

The Armory gallery at the Met, in all it's splendor, with Henry VIII's armor on display.

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