THE UNCROWNED KINGS OF ENGLAND: The Black History of the Dudleys and the Tudor Throne

Derek Wilson, Author . Carroll & Graf $25 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7867-1469-8

Wilson's campaign against the "black history" of the subtitle focuses on three generations of Dudleys, who had the misfortune to have much of their history written by their political opponents. Edmund Dudley pledged his loyalty to the first Tudor, Henry VII (1456–1509), and after the king's death was himself executed for his zealous prosecution of the king's unpopular policies. His son, John, regained royal favor under Henry VIII and practically ruled the country for the boy king Edward VI, who ascended the throne in 1547. John's Protestantism encouraged his support of Jane Grey as Edward's successor, leading to his execution when Mary Tudor gained the throne. John's son Robert was able to gain even more spectacular favor as Elizabeth I's great love, but he left no legitimate heirs. All three were well rewarded for their service, yet their experience proved the fragility of fortune. Wilson makes a convincing case that the Dudleys were less ruthless than reputed; they strengthened the Tudor monarchs and helped to build their financial base, as well as the Royal Navy, Protestantism and art patronage. Readers new to Tudor history will feel themselves well grounded in the era, if perhaps occasionally bewildered by the author's switching between first and last names and various titles, while readers steeped in the subject will find fresh new perspectives on familiar characters and situations. Agent, Peters, Fraser and Dunlop. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/04/2004
Release date: 02/01/2005
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