Tired of The Tudors

Picture by me

The Tudors have been a huge interest of mine since I was at least 8 years old, when we did a big project at primary school about Henry VIII’s six wives. We had to paint a particular wife, and I chose to do Anne Boleyn. My picture ended up looking like a big mess, but I ended up falling head over heels in love with them. I thought Henry VIII was proper cool, and two of his wives ended up being my utter favourites: Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard. And that love stuck with me for many years. But when I was at University I discovered the joys of the Stuart Dynasty, Charles I and the English Civil War and of course Charles II and the Restoration. From there I was hooked, more so than I ever had been with the Tudor dynasty. It was kind of like the Stuart’s spoke to me in some kind of odd way. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved the Tudors, I still read about them, still devoured everything I could get my hands on about them.

But then I discovered the online world of history blogging, and the Showtime show The Tudors.
I’m sure you’re all aware that I have posted on The Tudors on this here blog, that I still have a huge fascination with Katherine Howard and get rubbed up the wrong way when someone turns around and says that Anne Boleyn was a witch who had six fingers. But saying that, the Tudors are just everywhere. I can’t even turn a corner without hearing something about Henry VIII, there are so many books coming out about Henry and his wives, and there is nothing NEW. A few months back I ventured into reading about Mary Boleyn and was shocked at how bad the book was, so full of maybes and “Mary Boleyn was thinking this at this exact moment”. It’s great that authors are trying something new, writing about individuals within Tudor history who little is known about but when the history books start speculating, it makes me want to tear my hair out. 
In a way I blame Showtime’s “The Tudors” for making so many people start loving the dynasty and it is great that people are now getting an interest. But when people start believing that everything in the show is fact? Cue more hair tearing out. The show was a great bit of entertainment don’t get me wrong, but it was so full of inaccuracies it was unreal. The horse and carts? They didn’t come into play until much later. Anne Stanhope and her affairs with Thomas Seymour and Francis Bryan? NO. Edward Seymour’s first wife Catherine Filliol was the unfaithful one. And don’t even get me started on the fact that the show had Henry VIII having just the one sister…I love the show, I honestly do. As I said it was a great bit of entertainment but since seeing it, I have seen so many people believing everything that happened in it as fact. 
I have so many Tudor-esque books on my shelf to read and right now I am loathe to even pick them up. So much so I’ve resorted to the world of historical fiction for a bit (1066 and the Bayeaux tapestry anyone?), and part of me doesn’t want to pick a Tudor book up for a very long time. But me being me, I will because I like to learn. A lot of it will be stuff I already know but there are two books which I am intrigued about – one on Henry Fitzroy, the other on Thomas More. These should be interesting, and part of me hopes the authors don’t resort to speculation but if I’m honest I’m not holding out much hope. 
Not only that but there are so many out there who think they are the reincarnation of various Tudor people. I’ve come across at least 20 people claiming they are a reincarnation of Anne Boleyn, all of which claim to have “memories” of her. But do you want to know what the funny thing is? All of these memories either come directly from “The Tudors” or Phillipa Gregory’s “The Other Boleyn Girl”. And when I see stuff like this I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
I apologise to any Tudor fans who aren’t the type to base their stuff on TV shows and rubbish historical fiction, I have seen some amazing Tudor blogs who base their stuff on solid research and sources but I still can’t help but think that the Tudors are everywhere right now and there’s nothing new coming to light. I will certainly slog through the rest of the Tudor books I have to read but I can’t promise I’ll enjoy them as much as I once did. For now I think it’s time for me to start reading around other areas of history that interest me – the English Civil War, Charles I, the Restoration, Renaissance Italy, The Crusades. Anything but the Tudors right now thank you very much.

14 thoughts on “Tired of The Tudors

  1. Huzzah and thrice huzzah!

    I cannot stick the Tudors–haven't been able to since University…which was a LONG time ago.

    But recently, riding the crest of the Tudors on telly, has come, just as you say, all of this mock-Tudor tosh, fiction (stress on the word) which turns them all into caring-sharing metrosexual men who took lots of baths, until the Vomitometer goes into overdrive.

    So many thanks for encapsulating my sentiments.

  2. It's unfair to assume that, because so many people are foolish and lazy enough to base their work around a TV show or believe themselves to be reincarnations of Tudor figures, all Tudor fiction must be rubbish. You could say the same about any popular genre or field of research, but in fact it's merely that some apples are bad and some are not. To eschew all apples on the grounds that they *might* be bad is to be as lazy in your assumptions as those who trust the TV shows to be faithful to history.

  3. But Vitoria, I did not say that that all Tudor history is “rubbish” – Wolf Hall for example os excllent. I also did not assume that all those who write tudor ficton are rubbish. I specifaclly mentioned certain authors who have no idea about tudor history and make stuff up, and I also mentioed history books who speculate. I certainly did not say that ALL authors who write tudor fiction get stuff wrong, and nor would I, for I have read some awesome Tudor fiction in my time

  4. Nice post, Samantha! Some of that is starting to drift backwards in time into the Wars of the Roses, where there is also some exceptional fiction alongside the putrid. I'm avoiding the horrors if I can, but I do hope it doesn't ever make me tired of my preferred time.

  5. To be bored with the Tudors is to be bored with sex, love, betrayal and death. No other era has it in buckets like that lot. The English novel started here and history moved from being propaganda to being fun (Edmund Tilney permitting).

  6. Will, I disagree – there was as much love, sex, betrayal and death in earlier years and later also. IMGO the Tudors are being done to death, it's about time as much time and energy were being given to others

  7. “Sex, love, betrayal and death”? That's the human condition, it doesn't belong specifically to the Tudors. Have a read of Germinal, it's all in there–France in the latter 19th century. Look at 18th century France–Les Liaisons Dangereuses. The condottieri of the Quattrocento. They've got it all too. Check out the lives of the Byzantines (Judith Herrin's Byzantium is fascinating!)

    But yes, I too have Tudor MEGO (my eyes glaze over). So again, thank you for posting this.

  8. Thanks M.M – Also, The Borgia family has way more Sex, Love, Betrayal and Death. In fact, Ren Italy puts the whole Tudor Dynasty to shame


  9. Yes, the Borgias!!!!

    I cannot have an opinion about the Tudors because I have not seen the shows or read much fiction about them.

    You probably just need a break until all the hype passes to the next 'cool' historicals.

  10. “To be bored with the Tudors is to be bored with sex, love, betrayal and death. No other era has it in buckets like that lot.”

    I can only assume you've never heard of Charles II and his restoration court, Edward II and his overthrow, Richard II's overthrow, The Wars of the Roses, Queen Victoria's eldest son, the Peasant's Revolt…… English history did not begin and end with the flippin' Tudors!

  11. I so feel your pain! I get so frustrated with these people. The show was nothing but soft porn! I too have other areas of interest, including The Regency and Civil War in British history. My interests also spread wide and far to the Mayas, Mughals, Genghis Khan, Shogun, all of Chinese history, and so on. But Henry VIII will remain my first ever love 🙂

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