Cover image for The children of Henry VIII
The children of Henry VIII
Weir, Alison.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Ballantine Books, 1996.
Physical Description:
xiv, 385 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
"Formerly entitled Children of England."

Simultaneously published in Great Britain by J. Cape.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DA317.1 .W45 1996 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order


Author Notes

Alison Weir was born in London, England on July 8, 1951. She received training to be a teacher with a concentration in history from the North Western Polytechnic. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked as a civil servant and ran her own school for children with learning difficulties from 1991 to 1997. Her first book, Britain's Royal Families, was published in 1989. Her other books include The Six Wives of Henry VIII; Children of England; Eleanor of Aquitaine; Henry VIII: King and Court; Mary, Queen of Scots; and Isabella.

Her first novel, Innocent Traitor, was published in 2006. Her other novels include The Lady Elizabeth, The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn, The Captive Queen, A Dangerous Inheritance, and Katherine of Aragon, the True Queen.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

England's royal house of Tudor was not known for producing shrinking violets. And one of its least shrinking blossoms was Henry VIII. But even Great Harry was not immortal, and upon his death in 1547 he left as his immediate heirs his three children and a great-niece, all of whom in turn would wear the crown--with varying degrees of success, certainly, but all four showing the intense color of personality one would expect from a Tudor. In her collective biography of these four cubs to Henry's lion king, popular historian Weir emphasizes personal over political history, tracking the three siblings' and their cousin's relations with each other with lush detail and fresh analysis. The very Protestant boy-king Edward VI, the very manipulated Lady Jane Grey, the very Catholic Mary I, and the very crafty Elizabeth I are presented as people more than as sovereigns: their individual traits as well as those held in common with one another. Weir can always be counted on to tell a superb story as she relates particularly dramatic episodes in English royal history. --Brad Hooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

The tragedy of four accidental rivals to a throne, three of them children‘by different mothers‘of a much-married despot, seems to lose none of its drama by frequent retelling. Along with the royal siblings, Weir (The Six Wives of Henry VIII) includes their cousin, the doomed Lady Jane Grey. Guiltless of the intrigues committed in the name of religion, power and property, Queen Jane was forced at 15 to reign for nine days in a futile attempt to block the accession of the fanatically Catholic Princess Mary. The 300 burnings for heresy during the five years Mary ruled were eclipsed statistically by the hangings and beheadings for conspiracy and treachery. In the 11 years between the death of Henry VIII and the survival of his adroit daughter Elizabeth into the succession in 1558, rapacity had at least as much to do with the turbulence and the terror as religion. So many ennobled miscreants grasped for land, loot and legitimacy that readers will need a scorecard to match their names with their new titles. Weir adds nothing fresh to the story, but her sweeping narrative, based on contemporary chronicles, plays out vividly against the colorful backdrop of Tudor England. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Weir's latest biographical history begins where her Six Wives of Henry VIII (Grove Atlantic, 1992) ends, with Henry's death. Weir's new book covers the lives of Henry's children Mary Tudor and Edward VI, but it only takes Elizabeth up to her accession, and it also includes the entire short life of Jane Grey, the granddaughter of Henry's sister Mary. When Henry died in 1547, he left a country embroiled in several social problems brought about the enclosure of common lands, the high cost of his European wars, and the closure of monasteries. How his heirs dealt with these problems, along with their relationships, makes interesting reading, even though there's not a lot of new information here. What Weir provides is more detail, especially regarding Elizabeth's and Mary's interactions. We meet neither "good Queen Bess" nor "Bloody Mary" but rulers with strengths and weaknesses. Good reading for history fans.‘Katharine Galloway Garstka, Intergraph Corp., Huntsville, Ala. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



This book is not a history of England during the troubled reigns of Edward VI, Jane Grey, Mary I and Elizabeth I, but a chronicle of the personal lives of four English sovereigns, and the relationships between them, during the period 1547 to 1558. When Henry VIII died in 1547, he left three highly intelligent children to succeed him in turn--Edward, Mary and Elizabeth, to be followed, if their lines failed, by the descendants of his sister Mary Tudor, one of whom was the ill-fated nine-days queen, Lady Jane Grey. The relationships between the royal siblings were never easy ones for several reasons: all had very dissimilar characters, and while they took after their father in many ways, they had each inherited diverse characteristics from their mothers, who had been the first three of Henry VIII's six wives. Each child had spent its formative years in vastly different circumstances, and had enjoyed--or suffered--varying relations with its formidable father. Mary's mother had been supplanted in King Henry's affections by Elizabeth's mother, who had, in her turn, been supplanted by Edward's mother. And while the King's daughters suffered several vicissitudes of fortune in Henry's lifetime, his son grew up secure in his august father's love and protection. In the pages of this book, which begins at the point where my earlier book The Six Wives of Henry VIII came to an end, I have tried to portray the characters of these royal siblings and their cousin Jane Grey as realistically as possible, and to describe how their personal relationships with each other were affected by political and religious considerations. In order to achieve this, I have consulted a wealth of documentary evidence contemporary to the period, including numerous private and official letters, the great calendars of state and the masses of diplomatic papers, as well as memorials and chronicles by contemporary writers, including Edward VI's own journal, and more mundane records, such as lists of privy purse expenses, which can in fact yield fascinating information. There have been many biographies of the later Tudor monarchs, but never a book in which their personal lives and relations with each other, and the effect of these factors upon the history of England, have been the central theme. One cannot of course write about kings and queens without touching on the political and social issues of their times, but what I have tried to bring into focus here is personal information that has until now been treated as generally subsidiary to the political ethos of other works. This book is not intended to replace such works, but to complement them. In these pages, we go back in time to an age in which the personalities of monarchs and their familial connections had the power to influence governments, and it is vital to our knowledge of the period to understand what shaped the characters of these four monarchs, who were among the most charismatic and vivid personalities ever to have graced the throne of England. Naturally, our human condition makes us eager to learn about the private things, the everyday trivia, the scandals, and the sheer "feel" of ages long gone. We want to bridge the gap, to discover that even these long-dead kings and queens felt as we do, and come to know them through the writings and mementos they have left behind. We are fortunate, therefore, that the Tudor period is one rich in source material, in which fascinating--and sometimes astonishing--discoveries may be made. These, and one or two tantalizing mysteries, are the things I have included in this book, the things that bring us closer to the past. Set against a background of turbulent change and intrigue, the story that unfolds will, I hope, bring to life four Tudor sovereigns and those whose lives they touched, and will portray them not only as Renaissance princes, but as individuals, who, in the final analysis, were people not so very unlike ourselves. Excerpted from The Children of Henry VIII by Alison Weir All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.