‘Sarah Gristwood’s book is a masterclass in marshalling a vast canon of research into a riveting, pacy page-turner… Here are the Tudors – and a good few others – as you have never seen them before.’
The Tudors in Love
The Courtly Code Behind the Last Medieval DynastySarah Gristwood
A BBC History Magazine Book of the Year 2021
‘One of the most important books to be written about the Tudors in a generation.’ Tracy Borman
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 ground-breaking 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 the poems lavished on Elizabeth I by 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.
‘A riveting, pacy page-turner… the Tudors as you’ve never seen them before.’ Alison Weir
‘One of the most important books to be written about the Tudors in a generation.’
‘This book stands out on the crowded bookshelves… [Gristwood] does a superb job in distilling the vast amount of modern scholarship on this topic… The Tudors in Love also expertly tells the story of a two-way love affair — that of the Tudors with their imagined past and ours with the Tudors.’
‘Just when we think we know everything about the Tudors, along comes a book that turns that all on its head… The prose is as seductive as the subject matter. Be prepared to fall in love.’
‘With verve and erudition Gristwood takes us to the dark heart of courtly love and exposes the deadly Tudor dance of sex and power.’
‘Meticulously researched and beautifully crafted into a narrative that reads like a romance, prepare to see the Tudors as you’ve never seen them before. The Tudors in Love is a magnificent work of art painted by one of our most exceptional historians. Nobody writes like Sarah Gristwood, truly stunning.’
‘Captivating and entrancing, the exquisitely detailed The Tudors in Love explores the entanglements of love, sex, marriage and politics in the Tudor dynasty, revealing how the famously spectacular love affairs intersected with political propaganda and the business of governing, and how the medieval game of courtly love became pressed into the business of shoring up a brand-new monarchy. Full of insight and fascinating.’
‘One of the most important books to be written about the Tudors in a generation. The seductively rich prose and endlessly engaging narrative bring an entirely fresh perspective to this celebrated dynasty. By placing courtly love on an equal footing with war, politics and religion, Sarah Gristwood unlocks the Tudor mindset – with fascinating and often surprising results. Never mind the Tudors, I’m in love…with this book.’
‘A highbrow chronicle.’
‘The ideas and analysis are fascinating.’
‘Reading The Tudors in Love feels like having a cipher to decode the letters that passed between Mary, Queen of Scots, and her Catholic conspirators. For the first time there are satisfying answers to such conundrums as why Henry VIII took six wives (and executed two of them) and why the male favorites of his daughter Elizabeth I worshipped her as a goddess, even in old age.’
‘It is rare that a book doesn’t just offer new knowledge (previously ignored facts or under-reported quirky episodes) but new ways of thinking. This is what The Tudors in Love does: it invites and encourages an entirely new way of considering how these well-known figures interacted with one another… there is much here that will be new. This marvellously readable book is like discovering a Rosetta Stone, whereby we don’t just discover what people did and how they did it but come to understand the language of courtship and love as something quite alien to modern conceptions and expectations.’