Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Read of the Week

I'll confess, I did not read this book this week. Nor even this month...I have whittling away at the mass amount of content in GW Bernard's The King's Reformation: Henry VIII and the Remaking of the English Church for a few months. The book is monumental; it is over 800 pages and has hundreds of footnotes. Unfortunately, besides it's stature its not an impressive book. The author charges straight into Henry VIII's divorce assuming that the reader knows all of the major players and background information leading up to the break from Papal authority. Bernard tears apart other historians and their theories in a way that reeks of historical unprofessionalism. His writing is pretentious and wordy; Bernard assumes that he is the most knowledgeable person on the subject of Henry's reforms. He attempts to dispel the widely accepted historical ideals that Anglican reforms were a product of Henry and his advisors' belief systems, that there were court factions attempting to control religious policy and that Anne Boleyn influenced Henry's ideas about religion. Bernard attempts to do this by exploring primary source documents and reading 'what they actually say' His mistake with this methodology is that he fails to take into account sarcasm, duress, self preservation or any other normal human emotion/reaction. He interprets primary sources at face value without considering contextual evidence such as location, place in the power structure and most importantly the position of Henry's opinion at that particular moment. The King's Reformation is a tough read, but it is admirable that the author attempted such a huge undertaking. I would not recommend this book for anyone who is not deeply familiar with Tudor history and has formulated their own opinions regarding the events of Henry's reformation as the author scarcely tries to hide his objective view points and biases, allowing them to color every page.

2 comments:

  1. So...in a phrase...you hated it?

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    1. Hate is a strong word...haha I would say though that his writing is not my style. :)

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