A history of an important family during the Tudor period

I love reading Tudor history (that is, Tudor history and not particularly historical novels set in Tudor times although I have been known to make exceptions, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel for example). I own many histories of the main players during the period, mostly the monarchy, all of which I have read and which have added to my knowledge of the period. Remember though that I am a general reader of history and haven’t studied it for many years so the details often escape me after I have read the books.

House of Treason by Robert Hutchinson is a history of the Howard family, the Dukes of Norfolk. They are key players in Tudor politics and I had already read something about them in Henry VIII’s Last Victim by Jessie Childs which covers some of the family history. What makes House of Treason so useful is that it picks out all activities of the family during this period and shows you their motivations and how it affected the family when things went well and when they went less well.

The dukedom of Norfolk only existed for about 100 years and this book covers how the Howard family rose to the honour, how the dukedom was lost and then regained and how it was finally removed from the family. There is wealth, poverty, marriage arrangements, death and execution during these years. The family was, like many others at the time, ruthless in trying to obtain position and wealth. To do this it even effectively pimped two of its young women members to Henry VIII who married them both and then disposed of them brutally. At the same time, however, many other families and individuals were doing the same thing and sometimes they were allies of the Howards and then at others they were foes.

This is an interesting look at one dynasty and how they interacted with others during this period. I really don’t think that this would be interesting or useful for you if you didn’t already have a knowledge of and interest in Tudor history. It’s clearly written and easy to follow (always a challenge when so many people have the same name) but it’s not page turning so you need to have a genuine interest in the period. I have the knowledge and the interest and found this a useful insight and different viewpoint on the history of the time.

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