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False Brought up of Nought

Thomas Penn: Henry VII’s Men on the Make

26 July 2017
Henry VII’s New Men and the Making of Tudor England 
by Steven Gunn.
Oxford, 393 pp., £60, August 2016, 978 0 19 965983 8
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... to be in his favour.’ This will all seem familiar to aficionados of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall: in the following reign, Thomas Cromwell was the apotheosis (or nadir) of these ‘new men’. As StevenGunn argues in his new book, a work of characteristic meticulousness, not only did these men encapsulate the mood, workings and functioning of Henry VII’s disorientating regime, they ‘were ...

Under the Soles of His Feet

Stephen Alford: Henry’s Wars

4 April 2019
The English People at War in the Age of Henry VIII 
by Steven Gunn.
Oxford, 297 pp., £35, January 2018, 978 0 19 880286 0
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... freeing his kingdom and subjects from the popish yoke. Or so Henry believed, always the superlative consumer of his own propaganda. Whether Henry’s subjects shared his affection for war is, as StevenGunn’s book shows, less certain. War was, however, central to the English experience, both in the practical sense that armies were sent frequently into battle, but also in the more amorphous sense ...

One Cygnet Too Many

John Watts: Henry VII

26 April 2012
Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England 
by Thomas Penn.
Penguin, 448 pp., £8.99, March 2012, 978 0 14 104053 0
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... the means through which control was maintained (or not) in the localities, the splendours of the court and the implications of its culture, the complexities of the international situation. Thanks to StevenGunn, Sean Cunningham, Paul Cavill and one or two others, we are beginning to develop a convincing political narrative that joins the story of the pretenders with the innovations in government, their ...

How to Be Tudor

Hilary Mantel: Can a King Have Friends?

17 March 2016
Charles Brandon: Henry VIII’s Closest Friend 
by Steven Gunn.
Amberley, 304 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 4456 4184 3
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... If Tudor is measured on a scale, and scored by size of beard, love of jousting and trouble with wives, Charles Brandon would come near the top, second only to the king he served. The subtitle of StevenGunn’s scholarly biography describes its subject as ‘Henry VIII’s Closest Friend’. What a prospect of damp-palmed horror that phrase evokes! The knocking of Tudor knees echoes down the years ...

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