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The reports and despatches of Eustace Chapuys, Spanish Ambassador

to Henry VIII's court from 1529 to 1545, have been instrumental in shaping our modern interpretations of Henry VIII and his wives. As a result of his personal relationships with several of Henry's queens, and Henry himself, his writings were filled with colourful anecdotes, salacious gossip, and personal and insightful observations of the key players at court, thus offering the single most continuous portrait of the  central decades of Henry's reign. Beginning with Chapuys' arrival in England, in the middle of Henry VIII's divorce from Katherine of Aragon, this book progresses through the episodic reigns of each of  Henry's queens. Chapuys tirelessly defended Katherine and later her daughter, Mary Tudor, the future Mary I. He remained as ambassador through the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn, and reported on each and every one of Henry's subsequentwives - Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Katharine Parr - as well as that most notorious of ministers Thomas Cromwell. He retired in 1545, close to the end of Henry VIII's reign. In approaching the period through Chapuys' letters, Lauren Mackay provides a fresh perspective on Henry, his court and the Tudor period in general.

Reviews of  "Inside the Tudor Court: Henry VIII and his Six Wives through the eyes of the Spanish Ambassador"

This fascinating new history provides a fresh perspective on Henry VIII, his wives, his court, and the Tudor period in general. It is a thoroughly researched portrait of the central decades of Henry VIII's reign. One reviewer has said that ‘What emerges is a complex diplomatic picture of a lively and clever man who defies the stereotypes perpetuated in some history books, to shine as he takes centre stage. Lauren Mackay is successful in depicting the nature of the ambassadorial role in all its elements, from the need to flatter the King, balanced with Chapuys’ natural sympathies for Catherine’s plight, the practical problems of waiting for weeks for an audience, and coping when his salary wasn’t paid or his house burned down. This is the real Chapuys for once, not the vessel of myth and misinterpretation.

Lauren has expressed the hope that her biography is Chapuys for a new generation.  I would say that it is a superb, sound, engagingly written and much-needed study of a controversial player at the Tudor court, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.        

- Alison Weir

Its greatest achievement, though, is in bringing to life the passionate and acerbic man who has until now been little more than a footnote of history.    

 - Tracy Borman

An entirely fresh and fascinating study of Henry VIII's court through the eyes of one of its prominent figures. By revisiting the originals of Chapuys' despatches, Mackay has placed the Imperial Ambassador firmly at the centre of events, allowing his true voice to be heard for the first time. An important book, which is highly recommended.       

- Elizabeth Norton

Inside the Tudor Court is a valuable new addition to an old topic. Well-told, full of first-hand source material and perceptive analysis, it allows a reader to gain another foothold on the slippery sands of Henry VIII's divorce. With so many powerful figures involved, with such heartache and conflicting accounts, it is a complex and compelling episode in Tudor history and Mackay's thorough research on this pivotal figure allows us to step closer to understanding the motivation and characters of those whose lives were forever altered by it. At last, Eustace Chapuys emerges as a complex central player, rather than a stereotypical foil for the King and his wives.

- Amy Licence

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