Last month, I did the Medieval Queens Book Tag created by Jess at Jessticulates and had so much fun! Of course I knew I had to do her other tag, this one about Tudor Queens (obviously). I thought it would be especially fun to do this tag in honor of the final book in Alison Weir’s Six Tudor Queens series, Katharine Parr: The Sixth Queen, which will be out tomorrow!
I really loved this entire series, and had so much fun reading it. I can’t say Katharine’s story was my favorite – mostly because Thomas Seymour is THE WORST – but I still really enjoyed it. Definitely one to check out if you enjoy Tudor history. Now, because I am very excited about this tag (and it’s kind of a long one), let’s jump right in!
Elizabeth of York
Elizabeth of York became the first Tudor queen when she married Henry VII in 1486, a marriage which brought an end to the Wars of the Roses. Even though their match grew into a genuine love match, Henry had to kill Elizabeth’s own uncle, Richard III, at the Battle of Bosworth to become king, so choose a book with a complicated family
Books that center around families are not really something I read a lot of (they can be triggering for me), so this took me a while to think of an answer for. But I decided to go with Educated by Tara Westover. It is about a girl whose family is very against formal schooling, but she rebels and ends up attending Oxford and Cambridge. It also delves into the complexity of feeling family loyalty for a family that doesn’t support you. I think it’s a great example of complicated family dynamics that are toxic in a more subtle way.
Katherine of Aragon
Katherine was the first of Henry VIII’s six wives, and when Henry sought to divorce her she fought until the bitter end to remain his queen. It was a battle she ultimately lost. Choose a book you forced yourself to finish even though you weren’t enjoying it
This might be a slightly controversial pick, but I did not enjoy Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam. I was excited to read it, because when I picked it up it had pretty great reviews and everyone was talking about how it was a great commentary on race. And I just didn’t get any of that. But I kept reading because I was sure it had to get better. And there were so many times where it almost did something for me, but just fell short. I wanted a commentary on race in a cool thriller, and what I got was a bunch of really weird shit that never crossed the line into thrilling and some kind of cringey innuendos. I didn’t like this one at all. #sorrynotsorry
Henry was so enamoured by his second queen that he broke away from Rome and founded his own church just so he could marry her, but when she didn’t give him the son she promised he sent poor Anne to her death. Choose a book you used to love but wouldn’t love as much if you read it again now
I have the perfect answer for this one, because I actually tried this. When I was a kid, I loved the Eragon series. I thought it was so cool that the author was so young and it was just a fun fantasy series. But for some reason I never got to the fourth and final book in the series. So a few years ago, I decided I would reread the series so I could actually finish it. And I couldn’t even get through the first book. I’m glad I loved them as a kid, but they’re not very good and I didn’t want to ruin my memories of them. To be fair, I think I’d like them a little more now if I hadn’t read The Lord of the Rings. Because they’re kind of a LOTR knockoff. Impressive for a kid writing books, but not really as an adult reading them.
Queen number three was only queen for a year and a half. She gave Henry the son he longed for, but died days later. Choose a book that was short and sweet
I have to go with Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid. This is an epistolary novella about two people who discover their spouses are having an affair. It’s definitely more bittersweet than just sweet, but still a really lovely read under a hundred pages. I’m pretty sure I teared up a bit reading this, but if you have read any TJR book, you know that’s kind of inevitable. I think it’s kind of perfect for Jane, whose life was definitely short and bittersweet.
Anne of Cleves
Henry chose to marry his fourth queen after only seeing a portrait of her. Choose a book you bought/read because of the cover
Because I can’t stop glancing over at it on my shelves, this one has to go with The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. I picked this one because of the cover and really, really wanted to enjoy it. And then I didn’t. I think I might have just not been in the right headspace at the time for this particular story. But because the cover is gorgeous, I can’t bring myself to get rid of it. I didn’t dislike it, so I want to eventually give it another chance. If only so I can justify keeping it.
Henry’s fifth queen was the youngest of his wives and the least experienced for life at court. When she was accused of adultery, Henry sent her to the block. Choose a book with a forbidden romance
So we all know I hate Romeo & Juliet and so many forbidden romance books are some variation of that. But I finally figured out a good one for this: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. I’m sure you’ve heard of this one because it was really big when it came out, but just in case, it is about the son of the US President and the British crown prince. They are forced to hang out to prevent a PR disaster and end up becoming more than friends. This was so cute and fun, and I really loved the message behind it.
Katherine has long been remembered as Henry’s sixth wife, but what she should be remembered for is being the first woman to publish an English book in England under her own name. Choose a book about books
This took me so long to come up with an answer for, because I immediately got this vague impression of what I was going for in my head, and none of the books I was thinking of were quite right. Turns out, the book I was thinking of is The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. There is a mysterious book and an ancient magical library and it is so good! I can totally understand why this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I absolutely loved it. And now that I can finally put a title to the feeling that has been floating around in my head for like a week, I just want to read it again.
Lady Jane Grey
Poor Jane was forced onto the throne to prevent her Catholic cousin, Mary, from taking charge in what had become a Protestant country. Mary brought an end to her reign after only nine days, and poor Jane paid the ultimate price for the position she’d been put in by the men around her when Mary sent her to the block. Choose a book that ended too soon
This is kind of a hard one for me, because I’m one of those people who actually enjoys open-ended stories (when done right). But one book I just wanted more of is A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum. I loved the story so much, and just wanted it to keep going. I think it ended in a good spot, and the ending was fine, I just didn’t want it to end at all.
Commonly know as Bloody Mary, Mary restored England to Catholicism and, during her four year reign, burned over 300 Protestants at the stake. Choose a book you would burn every copy of
I don’t hate many books and I don’t support burning books. But the one book I wouldn’t be sad to ban from existence is Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler. This is a retelling of one of my favorite of Shakespeare’s plays, The Taming of the Shrew. I was really excited to read this modern retelling, because one thing I love most about the original play is the feminist themes. But this modern version managed to make it less feminist and I really hated it. Hard nope on this one.
Though Anne Boleyn failed to give Henry a son, the daughter she gave him would rule England for 44 years and bring about what was known as The Golden Age. Choose a book with a royal main character
I mean, any book from the Six Tudor Queens series would fit. But I’m going to go with something a little different and say Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie. It is a fantastic biography (definitely in my top two) of a seriously badass empress. She literally ousted her husband from the throne after realizing that he was an absolute moron and took over all of Russia. Her life was absolutely crazy, and it was so fun to read about!
Alright, that’s it for this tag! (I’m honestly so glad to be done – I had to write this twice because apparently clicking “save” on WordPress doesn’t always work apparently). Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it, and that maybe I inspired you to check out Alison Weir’s Six Tudor Queens series. I really loved it as a whole, and it was such a fun way to learn more about Tudor history (Weir happens to be a historian who also writes nonfiction history books, too).
Who is your favorite Tudor queen?