THE MAKING OF HENRY VIII by Marie Louise Bruce


Email this review


Exploring the roots of what she dubiously considers Henry's ""transformation from angelic youth to middle-aged monster,"" Bruce sketches his life up to his 1509 accession to the throne at seventeen. She conveys a sharp sense of the ""atmosphere of fear and suspicion"" surrounding Henry's father, who had won his own crown by insurgency, of the paternal miserliness that may have accentuated Henry's love of opulence, and of England's still-insecure standing among the states of Europe. The flavor is more medieval than Renaissance, however; more is said about the quirks of Henry's first tutor, the satirical poet John Skelton, than about his ""revolutionary English-centered humanist pedagogy,"" and the group around Erasmus who took such an interest in the young prince remains even dimmer. As for Henry's emotional development, Bruce concludes that he had ""all the signs of an Oedipus complex"" (he loved his mother and she died when he was thirteen). She also attributes his stubborn insistence on marrying Catherine of Aragon to infatuation, although at book's end she comments that the marriage was part of a new diplomatic strategy. Scant scholarly interest and rather deficient in general resonance.

Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 1977
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan