The Tudors in Love by Sarah Gristwood

Published: December 13, 2022

St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 571

Genre: Biographies of Royalty

KKECReads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I received a copy of this book for free, and I leave my review voluntarily.

Sarah Gristwood is the author of several bestselling Tudor histories. Sarah regularly appears on television and radio talking about royal and historical affairs in series such as Secrets of the National Trust and The Royal House of Windsor. One of the team providing Radio 4’s live coverage of the 2011 royal wedding, she has in 2020 alone featured in some dozen documentaries on ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5 on subjects from the Royal Collection to Grace Kelly, Winston Churchill to Admiral Nelson.

Sarah Gristwood’s The Tudors in Love offers a brilliant history of the Tudor dynasty, showing how the rules of romantic courtly love irrevocably shaped the politics and international diplomacy of the period.

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 the world.

“…there is nothing more powerful than a good story.”

Taking what we understand as courtly love and applying it to the Tudors is a vast and profound topic to tackle. Sarah Gristwood eloquently and thoroughly walks us through the Tudor dynasty, explaining the application of courtly love.

The research alone in this novel is brilliant. In the sources analyzed, the excepts included, Gristwood even discusses the exaggerated things we have heard over the years.

This is a dense novel but filled with such beautiful history. I’ve always been fascinated by the Tudors, especially Henry VIII and his wives, so this was brilliant.

The depth and detail are beautifully presented. It was interesting getting possible insights into what these royals were thinking when they behaved the way they did and seeing the way love was often used as a pawn.

I would love to see Gristwood take on courtly love with Shakespeare as her focus.

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