Book Review: The Rise of the Tudors – Chris Skidmore

Rise of the Tudors cover

Title: The Rise of the Tudors: The Family that Changed English History
Author: Peter Swanson
ISBN: 9780312541392
Pages: 464
Release Date: January 14, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Nonfiction, History
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5


In this comprehensive history, Chris Skidmore chronicles the rise of the Tudors, beginning with the birth of the future Henry VII and following his life through the tumultuous Wars of the Roses, which ended with Henry’s coronation.

Snapshot Review:

If you think you’ve read everything about the Tudor dynasty, think again. Skidmore studies Henry VII’s early life and formative years, discussing exactly what circumstances led this young man with no pedigree to speak of to become the king of England and progenitor of one of its most famous dynasties.

Full Review:

There’s so much that’s been written about the Tudors, both in fiction and nonfiction, that sometimes it seems like there are absolutely no stories left to tell. But Skidmore proves that feeling wrong with his history ThreRise of the Tudors: The Family that Changed English History. Most of what’s been written about Henry VII focuses on his years as king, married to Elizabeth of York. But this book takes it all the way back to the beginning. Where did Henry come from? And how did he manage the unthinkable—wresting the crown away from the House of York and becoming king, once and for all?

The book is framed through the life of Henry VII, but there’s much more information on the ruling family of York, most notably Richard III. Not a lot is known about Henry’s formative years; Skidmore uses that as an opportunity to set the stage, discussing exactly how this unlikely story came to be. It was much more than luck on Henry’s part; years of political decisions and blunders are what opened the gates for Henry, and Skidmore makes sure the reader knows what each and every one of them are.

The level of detail in Rise of the Tudors is really breathtaking. Skidmore proves that he spent countless hours researching primary and secondary sources, trying to find any and every piece of information relevant to Henry. At times, this detail can be overwhelming; this isn’t a book that someone new to British history should pick up. You’d probably end up lost in the sheer amount of information in the book. But if you revel in those details, and you are familiar with this period in history, Skidmore provides a fresh look and a new approach to the end of the Wars of the Roses and rise of the Tudor dynasty. History buffs should absolutely pick this book up; it can be slow at times (the Battle of Bosworth alone, and events leading up to it, take up hundreds of pages), but it’s worth the time you’ll spend with it.

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  1. I don’t really feel that I have read everything about the Tudors… It’s more I got kind of overwhelmed about them. There were so many books being released I sort of stopped for a while there… And now I think I should read this book…. Maybe it is time to branch back out to this time in history.

  2. I like this era so much and despite the countless books on the Tudors, I will always welcome another one! this one sounds good especially since you mention the level of detail in the book.

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