The Tudors are England’s most notorious royal family. But, as Leanda de Lisle’s gripping new history reveals, they are 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, the ordinary man known as Owen Tudor who would fall (literally) into a Queen’s lap—and later her bed. It passes by the courage of Margaret Beaufort, 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.