8 April 2015

Book Review: Margaret Beaufort: Mother of the Tudor Dynasty, by Elizabeth Norton

Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK

Very readable and informative, Elizabeth Norton’s book is packed with fascinating snippets of information about Margaret Beaufort and the times she lived in. I particularly liked the well-chosen excerpts from letters and writers of the time. Often portrayed as an austere, domineering figure, it was refreshing to see examples of Margaret Beaufort’s sense of humour and evidence that she did have a sensitive side.

It can’t have been easy for her to be betrothed at the age of six then married to Edmund Tudor at twelve, finding herself pregnant almost immediately afterwards. This was apparently considered a bit hasty of him, even by the very different standards of the time, so it is hard to have much sympathy when Edmund dies of the plague before he even sees his son.

It is important to remember that Margaret Beaufort could have been queen – and perhaps paved the way for Elizabeth 1st, who saw her as a role model.  It is also interesting to consider how much influence she had over her son, Henry VII – and how different Tudor history could have been if she had been around a bit longer to restrain her grandson, Henry VIII.

Inspired by Elizabeth's fascinating research I made the 'pilgrimage' to the room in Pembroke Castle where Margaret Beaufort gave birth to Henry VII and felt much closer to the real woman after reading this book. I rarely give a book five stars but in this case I enjoyed it so much I will—and I know this is a book I will return to in the future. Highly recommended!

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About the Author

Elizabeth Norton lives in Kingston upon Thames, near Hampton Court Palace, with her husband and two sons. She says, ‘I have loved history and, particularly the Tudor dynasty and the queens of England since first picking up a book about the kings and queens as a child. I got into archaeology as a teenager and studied Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, focussing particularly on the medieval period.’  

As well as her books she is carrying out academic research at King's College, London into the Blount family of Shropshire, contributing journal articles and giving papers at academic conferences and has appeared as an expert on television, including programmes for Sky Arts and the National Geographic channel.  Find out more as her website http://elizabethnorton.co.uk/ and find her on Twitter @ENortonHistory.

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