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Last update: 30 December 2010

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 STUDENT GUIDE TO TUDOR HISTORY


Over the years that I've had this site (in one form or another) I've received lots of questions from students needing help on a paper or report. Some questions come in the form of "Send me everything you've got on Henry VIII." My response usually is, "If I have it in electronic form, it's on this website" and then I point the student in the direction of some of resources that they might be able to find in their library or bookstore.

The point is, while there is a lot of information on the web your best resource is still going to be books. Although there is a lot of good information about 16th century England on the web, and many websites can be found in the links section of this site, ultimately the web is not a substitute for your library.

If you are still having trouble after you've read through these pointers, you can submit a question to the Question and Answer Blog.

** Students, if you want to use images from this site for your projects, please feel free to. You *do not* need to write and ask my permission. If you use images, please cite the source of the portrait (Royal Collection, etc.) as well as acknowledging this website. Thanks! **

Here are some pointers to get you started:

A good book for an introduction to the personalities of the period is Alison Plowden's The House of Tudor. For information about the politics of the period, John Guy's Tudor England is a good resource for more advanced students. Also, S.T. Bindoff's Tudor England is an excellent resource for the entire period. Elton's England Under the Tudors is another whole-period resource.

Not nearly as much has been written about Henry VII as has about his children and grandchildren, so finding information about him may be a bit more difficult. Consulting the general resources may be your best bet. Here are some titles specifically about Henry VII: The Yale English Monarchs series has recently been republished, and Henry VII by S. B. Chrimes is in the series. This is still considered one of the best biographies of the first Tudor king. The Life and Times of Henry VII by Neville Williams is another good resource. It's not as in-depth as the Chrimes book, but is at a good level for someone doing a school project.

There is a lot of information available on Henry VIII, so you shouldn't have much trouble finding a book about him.

The most often recommended books about the Six Wives of Henry VIII are Antonia Fraser's The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Alison Weir's book by the same title. Another book about the wives which I found interesting is Karen Lindsey's Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII.

For a good book about the period between the death of Henry VIII and the beginning of Elizabeth I's reign, I recommend Alison Weir's The Children of England (published as Children of Henry VIII in the US). Unfortunately, I've never read any books solely about Edward VI, so I can't make any personal recommendations about him, other than general resources of the period. One reader suggests The Last of the Tudor Kings by Hester Chapman. Jennifer Loach's biography (published posthumously) of Edward VI is part of the Yale English Monarchs Series and is one of the most recent works on Edward I've seen published (~1999). Hester Chapman's biography of Lady Jane Grey is a good read and David Loades' Mary Tudor: A Life is a great resource for the life of Mary I. Rosalind Mashall's Mary I was interesting, but suffers as a resource since the edition I have doesn't have an index!

There are many books about Elizabeth I on the market and some older works have been republished in recent years. Elizabeth is another person you shouldn't have any trouble finding information about! One of the most highly recommended biographies on the Queen is Elizabeth I by Anne Somerset.

Of course, there is more to the period than just the monarchs. If you're looking for information about someone else, there may actually be books devoted to them. For instance, there are a couple of books about Henry VIII's sisters, Margaret and Mary, including the relatively new one Sisters to the King by Maria Perry. If you can't find a book devoted soley to the person you're trying to find out about, try a general resource or maybe a book about the monarch(s) that ruled during the life of your person of interest.

Some biographies and general books will cover aspects of daily life in the period. Two great resources, if you can find them, are Penry Williams' Life in Tudor England and A.H. Dodd's Life in Elizabethan England. And, although they seem geared for young children, the Horrible Histories series is packed full of good information presented in an entertaining manner.

If you can't find the books you are looking for at your school library, try a city library or even a local university (most likely you'll have to read the books there, but you may be able to arrange to get someone to check the books out for you). If none of these sources work out, try an Interlibrary Loan Service. Ask your librarian for more information.

And finally, here is some great advice from the Richard III Society website:

Don't put off your research until the last possible minute! If you do, you'll have real trouble getting the sources you need, and this web site will not be able to do the whole job for you. Start your library search as early as possible, and you'll be surprised how much material you can get!

Good luck with your research, and I hope that you are inspired to learn more about Tudor History even past when your assignment is due!