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A Brief History of Henry VIII: King, Reformer and Tyrant

Derek Wilson

3 Reviews

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Brief Histories, Prose: non-fiction, British & Irish history, Early modern history: c 1450/1500 to c 1700

A brilliant new history of the life of Henry VIII to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of his accession, by a master of narrative history.

Henry VIII changed the course of English life more completely than any monarch since the Conquest. In the portraits of Holbein, Henry Tudor stands proud as one of the most powerful figures in renaissance Europe. But is the portrait just a bluff?

In his brilliant new history of the life of Henry VIII, Derek Wilson explores the myths behind the image of the Tudor Lion. He was the monarch that delivered the Reformation to England yet Luther called him 'A fool, a liar and a damnable rotten worm'. As a young man he gained a reputation as an intellectual and fair prince yet he ruled the nation like a tyrant. He treated his subjects as cruelly as he treated his wives.

Based on a wealth of new material and a lifetime's knowledge of the subject Derek Wilson exposes a new portrait of a much misunderstood King.


The Uncrowned Kings of England:

'Stimulating and authorative' - John Guy

'Masterly. [Wilson] has a deep understanding of . . . characters, reaching out accross the centuries' - Sunday Times

Hans Holbein: Portrait of an Unknown Man:

'Fascinating' Sarah Bradford, Daily Telegraph

'Highly readable . . . The most accurate and vivid portrayal to date' Alison Weir

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Praise for A Brief History of Henry VIII: King, Reformer and Tyrant

  • Perfect for anyone wanting a readable account that gets behind the myth to the man. - The Good Book Guide

  • This masterful biography breaks new ground in its portrayal of a monarch who, perhaps more than any other, changed the course of our history ... Wilson does an excellent job of separating myth from fact. - Choice Magazine

  • Derek Wilson, author of two well-received Tudor history books, has written an enjoyable and readable account of the man. In a year when we are going to be inundated with Prince Hal, this is a worthy addition. - Catholic Herald

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Derek Wilson

DEREK WILSON is a renowned Tudor historian. A graduate of Peterhouse, Cambridge, he has written over 50 critically acclaimed books including A Brief History of the Circumnavigators, and The Uncrowned Kings of England, as well as recent biographies of Charlemagne and Holbein.

He is a writer and presenter for radio and television and is also the founder of the Cambridge History festival. He lives in North Devon. Visit his website:

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