Sunday, October 2, 2016

REVIEW: The Private Lives of the Tudors

The Private Lives of the Tudors
Uncovering the Secrets of Britain's Greatest Dynasty
Author: Tracy Borman

**I received a copy of this upcoming book from Grove Atlantic via NetGalley in exchange for a fair, honest review.**

This book is not about the drama and intrigue of the Tudor Dynasty that has been the subject of countless books and television shows. Instead, Tracy Borman describes the daily life of a Tudor, both pomp-free facets of a normal day and all-out royal special events.

The Private Life of the Tudors delves into daily life for all of the Tudor monarchs from its beginnings with Henry VII to its close, Elizabeth I. Borman includes tidbits about all sorts of subjects, ranging from care of the royal wardrobe, hygiene, hobbies, personal interests, rules for dress and behavior at court, and which servants and courtiers were allowed to actually touch the royal person.

I especially enjoyed the information about royal dinners. The amount of food and kitchen staff needed to prepare for a special event was astounding. The list of meats prepared for just one royal dinner event was unbelievable! A royal state dinner would have been a wondrous event, with formal place settings, up to 35 courses laid out and lasting for hours. Some dishes were shaped into the form of animals or other decorations and paraded about the room before being set out for guests. Guests at formal events were seated by importance with the number of special courses they were allowed to eat also limited by station. A cardinal at table could sample up to 7 courses, while a lower person might only be offered 3. So much food was provided that some dishes would go untouched. Uneaten foods were not wasted but passed down the line to servants in the household and the poor following the dinner. A 200+ person kitchen staff was needed to keep the royal court fed. A royal privy kitchen was located below the privy chambers for times when the king or queen wanted a small meal in quarters, special favorite foods, or a meal/snack delivered just to them. Not all meals were extravagant feasts. And, kitchen staff that pleased the king or queen would often be rewarded. For example, King Henry VIII liked one of his pastry cooks so much that he gave her a house in reward for her quality work.

How each monarch differed in the running of their household is so interesting! I enjoyed reading about the differences in wardrobe requirements, servants, advisors, religion and other day-to-day needs.

I very much enjoyed this book because it was more about the actual daily lives of these most famous rulers, instead of just another tiptoe through their bedroom antics and exploits. Watch episodes of The Tudors online to get the tabloid version of the era. Come to Historian Tracy Borman for what real day-to-day life at court was like -- who washed the king's underclothes, what sports Henry VIII liked to play, where did Elizabeth I get her facial makeup, who raised the royal children, and daily life at court.

Anyone interested in the behind-the-scenes daily life for the Tudor Dynasty should read this book! There are facts of interest for those new to the era and those already knowledgeable. The Private Lives of the Tudors releases December 13th from Grove Atlantic!

Tracy Borman is a well-known historian and has written several other books on this era including Elizabeth's Women and The Story of the Tower of London. Find out more about the author and her books at her website: 

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