A few months back I was wandering around the bookshop in town and saw a little sign. It read “Margaret Scard Book Signing – This Saturday” and had a picture of the front cover of her book on it. The title interested me greatly, “Tudor Survivor: The Life & Times of William Paulet” – I had heard of this man and had an inkling that he had been pretty important; so off I toddled downstairs and picked myself up a copy. The sales assistant reminded me that the author was doing the signing on Saturday and I told myself I would pop in on the way home from work. And pop in I did.
Margaret Scard was an absolutely lovely lady and we had a really nice conversation about Edward Seymour and Edward VI and she told me that Paulet had been around during that time period. She then signed my book and said she hoped I enjoyed it. I can’t remember how long I was in the shop talking to her, but it must have been a while because I was much later home from work than I intended to be!
Now then, it has taken me a while but I have finally gotten around to reading this little gem. And from the moment I picked it up I was blown away. This is the story of William Paulet, Marquis of Winchester and a man who lived until at least his 80’s (if not longer, which was super, super old for those days!) – he served five monarchs and I include Lady Jane Grey in this because he did serve her, and he survived in a world where many of his colleagues fell victim to the axe. And when he was asked how he had survived it, he answered “by being a willow, not an oak” – I guess in a way this was true because he did bend and sway with the different monarchs, changing as they changed. But at the same time he really could have been like the Oak, standing steadfast through the changes, and sticking to his guns. As I read about his life, I was just blown away by everything he saw, everything he took part in. The man rose through court mostly on his own merits and he survived into old age; Elizabeth I even said if he were younger she would marry him!
I honestly don’t want to go into too much detail because I’m afraid I won’t do this wonderful book justice. But if I’m honest I would recommend this to anyone interested in the Tudor reign, as it is full of interesting information on the different reigns, how royal visits were arranged and even got right down to the nitty gritty of how Paulet ran the King’s household. It is honestly astounding, and you can tell that a heck of a lot of research went into this book.
This book will certainly be one of the ones that I will come back to again and again. Plus, it really didn’t read like a history text at all, particularly with how Scard mixed it up with passages that were written as if they were fiction, but well written fiction. You could tell these bits as they were separated from the rest and written in Italic, but honestly it was just so well done. A highly enjoyable and well researched book which I shall certainly be going back to!