Category Archives: The Tudors

January 31, 2010, 2:13 pm

Sunday Radical Roundup: The Power Of The Purses In Tudor England, More Conference News, and A Fond Farewell To Howard Zinn

Book of the Week: Those of you jonesing for Season 4 of The Tudors will be able to make do temporarily with 2009 Man Booker Prize winner Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (Henry Holt, 2009; 532 pp.) Praised by Washington Post reviewer Wendy Smith as “a brilliant and deft antidote to the otherwise trite and shopworn” retellings of Henry VIII’s six marriages, it is truly one of the best historical novels I have ever read.

Of course, as constant readers of this blog know, I find virtually no recounting of this story trite or shopworn, and one might have to ask Smith: what do you think brings readers back repeatedly to the events of 1531-1535, when a sexy little nobody succeeded in changing the history of the western world forever? There are plenty of subplots in this bloody tale that seem to recur in our political and cultural life — not to mention in countless, anonymous, personal lives….

Read More

May 1, 2007, 2:12 pm

The Past Revealed: Why Sex Matters to Political History

I am doing my best to catch up on all the television I have TIVO’d, but it won’t really be possible until I have finished grading the set of papers on my desk. And perhaps not even then, given that classes do not end until next week and I have not even begun handicapping the Kentucky Derby.

However, everyone has to eat dinner. So last night I got to the next episode of “The Tudors,” where I learned an astonishing fact: the wheels of fate began to turn for Henry the Eighth only partly because of his urgent political need for a son. Indeed, in episode two he gets a son by Lady Thingumajig, Henry Fitzroy, who could have been made legitimate down the line if necessary. This convinces the lusty monarch, as he says at the top of his lungs while galloping back to court from the lying in, that Katherine of Aragon’s difficulty conceiving “Is Not My Fault!” This is arguable, of course, since…

Read More

April 22, 2007, 10:04 pm

The Tudors and the Radical

I was ecstatic when I learned a few months back that Showtime had produced an entire series on Henry the VIII. Conceivably, if it works out (since they named it “The Tudors” and there were lots more Tudors before and after Henry VIII), there will be sequels and prequels. My guess is that it will be a great success, since the Tudors are more like “The Sopranos” (and “Entourage”) than you might think. Personally, I think Showtime would do well to go back and start with the Wars of the Roses, a ripping story if there ever was one, and a must-know for comprehending later events, such as why the Duke of Buckingham was endlessly irritable and the Norfolk bunch so insinuating.

Why am I thrilled about this well-known tale being re-packaged, you might ask? As my mother always says about a series or movie like this one, “Why watch? I know how it will turn out.” Not. You might just a…

Read More