In 1485, Henry VII became the first Tudor king of England. His victory owed much to his mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort. Over decades and across countries, Margaret had schemed to install her son on the throne and end the War of the Roses. Margaret’s extraordinarily close relationship with Henry, coupled with her role in political and ceremonial affairs, ensured that she was treated — and behaved — as a queen in all but name. Against a lavish backdrop of pageantry and ambition, court intrigue and war, historian Nicola Tallis illuminates how a dynamic, brilliant woman orchestrated the rise of the Tudors.
My thoughts on Uncrowned Queen…
I’ve read a lot of books about the Tudors. I’ve never read one about Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII and grandmother of Henry VIII. As a result, I knew very little about her before picking up Uncrowned Queen. What do I now know? That she was a pretty incredible woman.
Married and a mother at the age of 13, her husband – and the father of Henry VII – died before she gave birth. Alone, and with a baby to take care of, she quickly found a new husband, choosing one who could protect her and her small family. Her choice was a smart one, a reflection of most of the decisions she made in her long life.
In many ways, Margaret was bound by the social rules of the time. What I found fascinating is how she worked within those rules to protect her only son and her own fortune at a time of huge political unrest (a large part of her story takes place during the War of the Roses). She walked a fine line that many other women of her era weren’t able to.
It’s obvious reading Uncrowned Queen that Nicola Tallis loves her subject. There is a warmth to her writing and the way she describes Margaret that makes me want to love her too. For the most part, I did. For me, a little more of Margaret’s own voice would have helped turn this from a really good book into a great one.
Saying that, I recognise that given how long ago this was, and the fact Margaret was a woman means there isn’t necessarily much of her own voice left; much of what we are told is through the eyes of others. I am forgiving of this personal ‘niggle’ then. It probably won’t bother other people, who I hope really enjoy this journey into the life of a fascinating and strong woman.