The Six Wives and Many Mistresses of Henry VIII: The Women's Stories.

£8.50

The Six Wives and Many Mistresses of Henry VIII: The Women's Stories.

£8.50

Paperback retails at £9.99. Buy the paperback new, with your message and giftwrapped for £8.50

For a King renowned for his love life, Henry VIII has traditionally been depicted as something of a prude, but the story may have been different for the women who shared his bed. How did they take the leap from courtier to lover, to wife? What was Henry really like as a lover? Henry's women were uniquely placed to experience the tension between his chivalric ideals and the lusts of the handsome, tall, athletic king; his first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, was on one level a fairy-tale romance, but his affairs with Anne Stafford, Elizabeth Carew and Jane Popincourt undermined it early on. Later, his more established mistresses, Bessie Blount and Mary Boleyn, risked their good names by bearing him illegitimate children. Typical of his time, Henry did not see that casual liaisons might threaten his marriage, until he met the one woman who held him at arm's length. The arrival of Anne Boleyn changed everything. Her seductive eyes helped rewrite history. After their passionate marriage turned sour, the king rapidly remarried to Jane Seymour. Henry was a man of great appetites, ready to move heaven and earth for a woman he desired; Licence readdresses the experiences of his wives and mistresses in this frank, modern take on the affairs of his heart. What was it really like to be Mrs Henry VIII?

Some may argue that the topic of Henry VIII and his six wives is a subject that has suffered oversaturation in recent decades, with innumerable works produced analysing every possible aspect of the Tudor king’s relationship with the women in his life. The Six Wives and Many Mistresses of Henry VIII by Amy Licence, however, proves to be another worthy addition to the genre, taking a fresh look at an old subject as has become the author’s trademark in recent years.

Subtitled ‘The Women’s Stories’, this gives you an indication of what to expect from an author well-known for her work on the female gender of 15th and 16th century England, and this isn’t a negative thing. As with her previous, and probably future, books, this isn’t a work written by woman that is only intended to be read by women. Licence’s goal is to discuss the subject of Henry VIII and his tumultuous love life from the perspectives of his female companions, a varied and intriguing array of women whose voices have sometimes become obscured by the drama that surrounded this larger-than-life monarch. Even the most casual of observers is generally aware of Henry’s wants, needs and desires, noting how he infamously ploughed through several wives to satisfy his thirst; indeed, it has been documented time and time again.

In this particular work, however, Licence sets out, and succeeds, in her objective to bring sometime-queens such as Katherine of Aragon and Catherine Howard back to life, using contemporary sources to support her conclusions, some of which are mainstream and others which are innovative in their deduction. Where Licence’s book has worth, however, is in her thorough accounts of the lives of Henry’s lesser-known lovers, from Bessie Blount to Mary Boleyn, and from Elizabeth Carew to Jane Popincourt, women often reduced to a mere sentence or two in other works.


Amy Licence is unquestionably one of the most popular Tudor authors of her generation, a reputation created from her clear style of writing, attention to detail and refreshing takes on a well-worn subject. The blurb for The Six Wives and Many Mistresses of Henry VIII pointedly asks “What was it like to be Mrs Henry VIII?”. After finishing this book, you will have a much better idea. A valuable addition to the study of both Tudor and female history.
Author Nathen Amin.

'Most historians would have you believe that Henry VIII lived a chaste life, punctuated only by the rarest of liaisons; liaisons that inevitably ended in long-term relationships, or even marriage. The truth of the matter is a bit more complex and author, Amy Licence leaves no stone unturned in her quest to get to the heart of...well...the king. Licence delves deep into every whispered rumor and innuendo, using solid research to confirm or dismiss each reported fling. Her account is engaging and readable; treading the fine line between popular and academic history with expert precision. Even if you are well-read on the king's many relationships, there are plenty of gems in here that I haven't seen anywhere else! I thoroughly enjoyed this romp through Great Harry's bedchamber and I look forward to devouring many more books by this prolific historian. Brava Ms. Licence!' Amazon review.

'Frank and riveting accounting of the many woman who passed though Henry VIII's orbit. Using primary sources, Amy Licence writes a captivating history of Henry's relationships, giving depth to shadowy figures who dabbled with Henry peripherally. With descriptive and colorful prose, Licence paints a rich picture of Henry's glittering court, showing its evolution as the King ages and changes. Licence's insightful observations leave preconceived caricatures in the dust, giving Henry and his ladies three dimensional complexity. Licence addresses each woman, enough so, that the reader gets to know her. They are not shrews, seductresses, or martyrs, just women striving to cope with a lover distracted by his own mindset. They are insecure, pressured, confused. Amy Licence gives a contemporary, realistic slant to a subject that's been clobbered with redundancy of soap opera drama.' Author Carole. P. Roman.