The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers

The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers - Margaret George

After 172 pages I have decided to dump this.I do NOT enjoy reading it and I have given it a fair try. I am often hesitant toward autobiographies, particularly when they are historical fiction. An autobiography cannot, by definition, provide an impartial view on the events that occurred. Margaret George is an author known for her thorough research, but in that which is not known she has made suppositions that I cannot accept. In my mind it is very clear that Henry was motivated by power. He was a king and it definitely was his job to increase England's (and his own) glory, strength and power. Why did he split with the Pope? Divorce was not allowed. When Catherine's father, King Ferdinand of Spain, did not support Henry against the French as had been agreed, it is not so strange that he questioned his wife's allegiance. In addition she did not give him a male heir. Henry's choices were motivated by a search for power. This is a power game, nothing else. I object to George putting these words into the text:

I would take my place on the Continental stage, to pursue England's lost dream of conquering France in its entirety. Perhaps that was what God truly required of me; perhaps it was here that I had failed Him. As King, there were certain tasks that I must undertake, as surely as a knight at Arthur's Round Table was given them, and to shirk them meant shame and cowardice........

Perhaps when I conquered France, God would turn his face toward me. I became more and more convinced of it. .......

My advisors and Council, by and large, were not convinced. Of my desire to redeem myself with God they were unaware; but they were against war with France. Father had spoiled them with his lack of involvement in foreign entanglements, and like any privileged state, they had got used to it.
(page 145)

There is no proof of such a supposition. He used the church for his own purposes; I do not see him as being religiously motivated. He is motivated by a search for power.

This book is a diary written by King Henry, with added notes by his jester, Will Somers. These notes are meant to explain, round out and fill in the King's statements. But tell me why are they never funny if he is the court jester?! These "notes" add nothing, they merely disrupt the text.

In addition, it is mentioned by Somers that the song Greensleeves was sung. Although it is today discounted, it has been thought that King Henry wrote it for Anne Boleyn. King Henry hadn't even met her yet.

And Catherine of Aragon was married to Henry's older brother Arthur first...... It is stated she is a virgin!

Although I am not stating that Margaret George is fictionalizing the known facts, I question all too often her suppositions, and there is no humor!

Even if there is a family tree at the front of the book it isn't that simple to keep track of all the characters. Do you know why you have to call people Duke or Marquis or Earl of for example York or Exeter or Cambridge? That is because all the men are called Henry or Edward and the women Mary or Catherine or Anne. This is a way of keeping track of who is who.(ha ha) I would have appreciated a map of these places.

If this book is not going to get me inside the heads of the leading players in a believable manner, I might as well just read a book of non-fiction or go to Wikipedia. Once I started questioning what I was being fed, I spent more time reading Wiki than reading the book!

There was one, and only one, little sparkle in the first 172 pages of the book, and that is when Henry fell head over heels in love with his brother's wife Catherine.....but soon that disappeared and was replaced with his drive for success and power. 932 pages of this is just not my cup of tea. I warn you, you have to love the Tudors to be drawn to this book!

No, this book was not even OK! I ran to Wikipedia every time I could. I expect more than one little sparkle in 172 pages.