Book Review: The Private Lives of the Tudors: Uncovering the Secrets of Britain’s Greatest Dynasty by Tracy Borman

Genre: History, nonfiction
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
Pub date: 9 March 2017
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Tudor monarchs were constantly surrounded by an army of attendants, courtiers and ministers. Even in their most private moments, they were accompanied by a servant specifically appointed for the task. A groom of the stool would stand patiently by as Henry VIII performed his daily purges, and when Elizabeth I retired for the evening, one of her female servants would sleep at the end of her bed.

These attendants knew the truth behind the glamorous exterior. They saw the tears shed by Henry VII upon the death of his son Arthur. They knew the tragic secret behind ‘Bloody’ Mary’s phantom pregnancies. And they saw the ‘crooked carcass’ beneath Elizabeth I’s carefully applied makeup, gowns and accessories.

It is the accounts of these eyewitnesses, as well as a rich array of other contemporary sources that historian Tracy Borman has examined more closely than ever before. With new insights and discoveries, and in the same way that she brilliantly illuminated the real Thomas Cromwell – The Private Life of the Tudors will reveal previously unexamined details about the characters we think we know so well.

This is a book for all Tudor fans! Borman has managed to shed a light on all those questions we ask ourselves (or maybe it’s just me) like what did they use for cosmetics and perfume? What did they read? What clothing would I be allowed to wear if I lived in the Tudor era? Everything I wanted to know about the everyday lives was covered in this book.

Personally I wanted to know more about the different chambers within the palaces, who had permission to enter each one and what were their roles? I found all I wanted to know within these pages. I always find in interesting that the Groom of the Stool was a highly sought after role but it was basically the best access to the king when he’s at his most vulnerable.

I adore Elizabeth and can never read enough about her so was pleased to read about Elizabeth’s daily habits, staying up late, her dressing each day and her interests.

The beauty of this book is the amount of information it provides whilst remaining enthralling and easy to read.

I learnt a lot about the private lives of the Tudors through reading this book. Whilst I have read a lot of books about the Tudors I still found so much in this book that I wasn’t aware of. I will certainly be reading this again and referring back to it whenever I wonder about an aspect of the Tudors private lives.

So much of our history has been lost but thankfully Borman has been able to use available sources and her meticulous research to bring us a book that I would highly recommend to all Tudor fans.

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