Saturday, March 31, 2012

Scholarly, but a Difficult Read


The 1500's were a tumultous time in Europe. The Imperial power under Charles V fought with France under Francis I for dominion. The Italian peninsula was a battleground and the Papacy was not safe from the depredations of war. All these factors impinged on Henry VIII's divorce, not the least of which was that Charlie V was the nephew of Queen Catherine, being the son of her sister Juana, the mad, and Philip of Burgundy.

Although many of the characters in Henry's drama, Cardinal Wolsey, Anne Boleyn, Queen Catherine, and others, appear in the book. The Italian story of Henry's divorce is really the story of Gregorio Casali. He served as England's ambassador to the Vatican. It was his role to convince Clement VII to grant the divorce. Set against the upheaval in Europe and particularly on the Italian Peninsula this was no easy task. However, six years later, it was concluded after Henry was already married to Anne Boleyn.

The book is packed with interesting information if you're a student of this period of European history. Ms. Fletcher's ten years of research is well represented. However, for the general reader, wanting a story, this is not the book. The text is dense and full of Italian names. This can be quite confusing to an English speaking audience, particularly since so many of the names have the same of similar components.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it for anyone interested in further information of the political situation leading to Henry's divorce and the changes in England.

I reviewed this book as part of the Amazon Vine Program.