Reviews for The house of Dudley : a new history of Tudor England

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

A middling gentry family from the West Midlands, the Dudleys served all five Tudors, and several lived to regret it. Paul (Univ. of Sussex, UK) tells how the leading members of the family—Edmund, John, and Robert—ingratiated themselves respectively with Henry VII, Henry VIII, and Elizabeth. Edmund was the legal enforcer for the first of the Tudors but lost his head as the scapegoat for the spidery king’s extortion of his nobles. John’s skill as a soldier helped recover the family fortunes under Henry VIII and Edward VI; in 1549 he became the effective regent of England for the boy king. He too perished for his scheme to place his daughter-in-law on the throne. The last, the much-loved “Robin,” earned the undying affection of Elizabeth. The most arresting passages illuminate events not directly related to the family story, such as the account of the arrest and detention of Catherine Howard. The Dudley women receive scant attention. Despite the subtitle, specialists will find little here that will change their understanding of the main currents of Tudor history. Extensive notes and genealogies enhance the text. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers. --Douglas R. Bisson, Belmont University

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From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

The Tudor family ruled England throughout one of its most consequential eras. Many historians have grappled with those larger-than-life Tudor kings and queens, who figure prominently in fictional narratives as well. Joanne Paul looks at the Tudors through the lens of the Dudley family. The Dudleys supported the Tudors while constantly conniving for their own ends, amassing fortunes at others’ expense. After Edward VI’s brief reign and demise, the Dudleys promoted the candidacy of Lady Jane Grey as queen in lieu of either of Henry’s daughters. Instead, Mary took the throne and had Jane and her husband executed. That might have seemed the Dudley family’s end, but others came back into favor during Elizabeth I’s reign, notably Robert Dudley, who became suitor to the Virgin Queen. Paul clearly relishes this tale of intrigue and ably handles the mass of people who bore the Dudley name, keeping them as distinctive as possible despite the repetition of the similar names. Her scene-setting descriptions rival those of Hilary Mantel. An appendix and glossary offer real aid to the perplexed. Readers who relish the vast scope of Game of Thrones will revel in this decidedly nonfictional epic.