Said to be a 'pillager of the commonwealth', this most instantly recognizable of kings remains a figure of extreme contradictions: magnificent and vengeful; a devout traditionalist who oversaw a cataclysmic rupture with the church in Rome; a talented, towering figure who nevertheless could not bear to meet people's eyes when he talked to them.
In this revealing new account, John Guy looks behind the mask into Henry's mind to explore how he understood the world and his place in it - from his isolated upbringing and the blazing glory of his accession, to his desperate quest for fame and an heir and the terrifying paranoia of his last, agonising, 54-inch-waisted years.
Almost immediately, Villiers’ many enemies accused him of poisoning the king. A parliamentary investigation was launched, and scurrilous pamphlets and ballads circulated London’s streets. But the charges came to nothing, and were relegated to a historical footnote.
Now, new research suggests that a deadly combination of hubris and vulnerability did indeed drive Villiers to kill the man who made him. It may have been by accident – the application of a quack remedy while the king was weakened by a malarial attack. But there is compelling evidence that Villiers, overcome by ambition and frustrated by James’s passive approach to government, poisoned him.
In The King’s Assassin, acclaimed author Benjamin Woolley examines this remarkable, even tragic story. Combining vivid characterization and a strong narrative with historical scholarship and forensic investigation, Woolley tells the story of King James’s death, and of the captivating figure at its center.
Here is the story of divided families, of flamboyant kings and queens, cultured courts and tribal hatreds, blood feuds, rape and sexual license, of battles and violent deaths. It brings alive a neglected aspect of British history—the blood-spattered steps of two small countries on the northern fringes of Europe towards the union of their crowns. Beginning with the dramatic victories of two usurpers, Henry VII in England and James IV in Scotland, in the late fifteenth century, Linda Porter's Tudors Versus Stewarts sheds new light on Henry VIII, his daughter Elizabeth I and on his great-niece, Mary Queen of Scots, still seductive more than 400 years after her death.