Kirkus Reviews QR Code
YOUNG HENRY by Robert Hutchinson


The Rise of Henry VIII

by Robert Hutchinson

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-250-01261-6
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Biography of the younger life of the infamous Tudor king.

As the second son, Henry did not have a grand household like his brother, but his father, Henry VII, showered honors on him at an early age. Hutchinson (House of Treason: The Rise & Fall of a Tudor Dynasty, 2010, etc.) mentions little about either Henry’s relationship to his older brother or his brother’s death, which led to Henry becoming heir to the throne. Most of the author’s information comes from household accounts, which expose the vast amounts spent by both Henry and his father on pomp, play and show. The Tudors spent lavishly on themselves with money taken from their subjects by state blackmail. Henry’s taxes and penalties squeezed his nobles “until their very pips squeaked.” The king did not bother much with statehood, save the occasional beheading of an errant Yorkist or landowner whose estate he coveted. He was known to have state papers read to him at Mass, letting secretaries handle matters, and he was perfectly happy to leave everything to his Lord Chancellor, Wolsey, who took charge as Henry spent his time hunting, jousting and gambling. This is primarily the story of Henry VIII and his remarkable spending habits. His attempt at military genius was a complete failure, the only success being his ostentation at the peace treaty signing on the Field of the Cloth of Gold. Truly, Henry just didn’t seem to care about anything except hawking, jousting, dancing and gaming, although other sources indicate broader interests and vast intelligence.

Hutchinson provides insight into Henry’s spoiled life and his self-orbiting attitude, but surely there was more to the young man than this.