Less than forty years after the golden age of Elizabeth I, England was at war with itself. The bloody, devastating civil wars set family against family, friend against friend. At the head of this disintegrating kingdom was Charles I. His rule would change the face of the monarchy for ever.
Charles I’s reign is one of the most dramatic in history, yet Charles the man remains elusive. Too often he is recalled as weak and stupid, his wife, Henrietta Maria, as spoilt and silly: the cause of his ruin. In this portrait -- informed by newly disclosed manuscripts, including letters between the king and his queen -- Leanda de Lisle uncovers a Charles I who was principled and brave, but also fatally blinkered. He is revealed as a complex man who pays the price for bringing radical change; Henrietta Maria as a warrior queen and political player as impressive as any Tudor. Here too are the cousins who befriended and betrayed them: the peacocking Henry Holland, whose brother engineered the king’s fall; and the magnetic ‘last Boleyn girl’, Lucy Carlisle.
This is a tragic story for our times, of populist politicians and religious war, of a new media and the reshaping of nations, in which women vied with men for power. For Charles it ended on the scaffold. Condemned as a traitor and murderer, he was also heralded as a martyr: his reign destined to sow the seeds of democracy across Britain and the New World.
Sunday Times bestseller
A Telegraph Book of the Year
A History Today Book of the Year
A BBC History Magazine Book of the Year
The Tudors are a national obsession; they are our most notorious family in history. But beyond the well-worn headlines is a family still more extraordinary than the one we thought we knew.
The Tudor canon typically starts with the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, before speeding on to Henry VIII and the Reformation. But this leaves out the family’s obscure Welsh origins; it passes by the courage of the pregnant thirteen-year-old girl who would help found the Tudor dynasty; and the childhood and painful exile of her son, the future Henry VII. It ignores the fact that the Tudors were shaped by their past – those parts they wished to remember and those they wished to forget.
With this background, Leanda de Lisle enables us to see the Tudors in their own terms and presents new perspectives and revelations on key figures and events, from the princes in the Tower to the Tudor Queens.
Tudor tells a family story like no other.
Leanda de Lisle is the highly acclaimed author of three books on the Tudors and Stuarts, including the bestselling The Sisters Who Would Be Queen and Tudor: The Family Story. A former weekly columnist on the Spectator, Guardian and Daily Express, she contributes to numerous national publications. She lives in Leicestershire.