Book Review: House of Tudor, A Grisly History by Mickey Mayhew

Genre: History
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Pub date: 16 Feb 2022

Gruesome but not gratuitous, this decidedly darker take on the Tudors, from 1485 to 1603, covers some forty-five ‘events’ from the Tudor reign, taking in everything from the death of Richard III to the botched execution of Mary Queen of Scots, and a whole host of horrors in between. Particular attention is paid to the various gruesome ways in which the Tudors despatched their various villains and lawbreakers, from simple beheadings, to burnings and of course the dreaded hanging, drawing and quartering. Other chapters cover the various diseases prevalent during Tudor times, including the dreaded ‘Sweating Sickness’ – rather topical at the moment, unfortunately – as well as the cures for these sicknesses, some of which were considered worse than the actual disease itself. The day-to-day living conditions of the general populace are also examined, as well as various social taboos and the punishments that accompanied them, i.e. the stocks, as well as punishment by exile. Tudor England was not a nice place to live by 21st century standards, but the book will also serve to explain how it was still nevertheless a familiar home to our ancestors.

What’s not to love about this book?
It gives concise chapters on all the gory details you always wanted to know about the Tudors. What happened to the body of Richard III? How did torture work? What happened to Mary Queen of Scots husbands? How did Elizabeth I die?

This has it all and Mickey Mayhew ensures these are all told in a far from dull way. There’s humour woven in along with references to The Tudors TV show (an inaccurate but guilty pleasure) as well as other recent adaptations of Tudor themes.

It doesn’t just focus on the gruesome aspects people did to each other, it also covers things like disease including Sweating Sickness and Syphilis.

This book can be picked up and put down easily due to how concise and different the chapters are, or you can skip to those that really interest you which for me was Margaret Clitheroe but I’d recommend reading it all as its fabulous!

Many will know alot of the details but the way Mickey Mayhew writes makes reading fun, even if you do already know! I particularly like how Mayhew notes the current state of locations as to whether they’re a ruin or abandoned etc. I made a note of a couple to visit thanks to this book.

For those interested in knowing more about Dr Mickey Mayhew you can find him on Twitter or via his website

Thank you to NetGalley and Pen and Sword for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.

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