The Tudor Brandons
Mary and Charles – Henry VIII's Nearest &Dearest
The Tudor Brandons is a fascinating look into the life and times of Mary Tudor, the sister of Henry VIII and Charles Brandon his life long friend and companion, who married Mary Tudor in 1515. Mary had agreed to marry Louis, King France in 1514 on the condition that her brother Henry would allow her to marry according to her own choice if the older King died. Her marriage to the king lasted 82 days. After his death, perhaps in an attempt to ensure her safety and return to England, before becoming a pawn of the new French King, Mary persuaded Charles Brandon to marry her, even though Henry had not given them consent to marry. Although, many were not pleased with this decision, the marriage doesn't seem to have damaged the couple, politically, or socially in the long term.
The book charts both the rise of Charles and the complex life of Mary as both a political pawn, and as a woman who tried to do her duty by her brother the king. She was also a woman who tried hard to have some control over her circumstances and build a life of her own choosing. I particularly like that this book paints a well balanced picture of both figures. It examines their ups and downs, financial struggles, family hardships and the role they played within Henry's court, as well as their actions and interactions with leading figures of the time. It was also interesting to read about their descendants and the roles they played after the death of Mary and Charles.
This work seems to show that Charles, while not always fair to the women in his life, was a man who managed to climb the social ladder,acquiring the title of Duke of Suffolk, along the way. Throughout his life he remained favored by the King, which surely was no small feat. It also shows just how precarious the situation of women could be. Having a fortune or a title didn't necessarily mean they would escape a bad marriage or other issues of the time such as illness, death of children or debt. Even Mary and Charles, with their elevated positions seemed to be plagued by financial troubles during their lifetimes.
Overall the book provides an intriguing glimpse into a part of history that so many find remarkable. Anyone interested in the Tudors and Henry VIII's court will no doubt find this a terrific book.
Thanks to Chronos Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.