9 June 2017

Review: The French Queen’s Letters: Mary Tudor Brandon and the Politics of Marriage in Sixteenth-Century Europe, by Erin Sadlack


Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

This fascinating book offers new insights into the world of Mary Tudor (daughter of King Henry VII and sister of Henry VIII.)  As far as I know she was never referred to as Mary Tudor Brandon - or Mary Brandon, although she is often confused with Henry VIII's daughter, also named Mary Tudor.

Part of the 'Queenship and Power' series, what sets this book apart from others is the intriguing analysis of Mary Tudor's letters to her brother and advisors such as Thomas Wolsey. Erin Sadlack directly addresses a point which has often troubled me in the past, which is the way many researchers interpret such letters too literally.

As Professor Sadlack points out, Mary's letters are rhetorically 'crafted' to present herself and her ideas in the best possible light. There are also touching examples of where Mary reveals self awareness and an ability to use her power to preserve the peace between England and France.

She also shows understanding of her husband Charles Brandon's lack of literary skill: "I thynke my lord of sowffolke wole write more playndler" and there is evidence of how they conspired to support each other through their letters. 

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a deeper understanding of Mary Tudor and an appreciation of the life of a Tudor princess, who became briefly Queen of France before risking everything to marry the man she loved.

Tony Riches

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About the Author

Erin Sadlack teaches courses in medieval and early modern British literature at Marywood University.Before coming to Marywood, she taught for five years at the University of Maryland, College Park, where her dissertation, “‘In Writing It May Be Spoke’: The Politics of Women’s Letter-Writing, 1377-1603,” won the Alice L. Geyer Dissertation Prize. Her work on letter-writing won her grants to do archival research at the British Library and the Public Records Office in London and at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. Dr. Sadlack has published articles on women’s letter writing in the Sixteenth Century Journal and in the Renaissance English Text Society’s New Ways of Looking at Old Texts, Volume IV. Dr. Sadlack is currently editing Romeo and Juliet for the Internet Shakespeare Editions website and continuing her research on early modern petitions from the Elizabethan era.

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