Lucy Worsley untangles Louis XIV's complex world of court etiquette, fashion and feasting, while court politics expert Helen Castor delves into the archives and unpicks the Machiavellian world that Louis created.
Lucy Worsley gets into bed with our past monarchs to uncover the Tales from the Royal Bedchamber. She reveals that our obsession with royal bedrooms, births and succession is nothing new. ... See full summary »
Lucy Worsley goes where many historians have gone before -- but in a unique way, by stepping back in time to illustrate scenes from Tudor life. She spends a decent chunk of the three episodes with Katharine of Aragon, revealing her as the "warrior queen" devoted to her husband's spiritual welfare, dispelling the myth of her as an angry, bitter old woman and instead showing the fire and zeal of a true fighter, who gave Henry 'what for' over seven years.
Her Anne Boleyn is a fair portrait of an intelligent, ambitious woman in over her head, whose flirtations give rise to scandal and set her up for removal.
She defends Jane Seymour as no doormat, but instead an intelligent, clever woman intending to play one in order to survive.
Anne of Cleves is depicted as the one woman who outsmarted all the others, who held out for better things, and died better off by far than any of the others.
Katherine Howard arguably receives the greatest re-imagining, with Worsley raising questions about her affair with Culpepper being the result of blackmail over her previous sexual activities -- and she boldly attacks the presuppositions about Katherine as a "slut" by staring into the camera and asserting that nowadays, we'd call her an abused child.
Katherine Parr is portrayed as the most "intellectually curious" of Henry's wives, with much emphasis placed on her evangelism, her writing of the first book in England published by a woman, and her cleverness in managing to escape an arrest warrant.
It's arguably brief. It glosses over much in each woman's life. You'd need longer than three episodes to explore the first two queens' humanitarian work, or Katherine Howard's compassion to those in need (including poor imprisoned Margaret Pole), but for a brief introductory biography that escapes common clichés and biases, and treats each wife fairly with no hints of favoritism, it's an excellent three hours.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?