This work offers a fresh look at the character and political cunning of his much-discussed, notorious, and fascinating subject. Henry, a man of fundamentally conservative views and narrowly selfish aims, was led, almost against his will and mainly by events, to introduce the Reformation in England and revolutionize the structure of English government and society. Henry's ministers and underlings, while aiding and abetting his establishment of an absolute dictatorship, found themselves again and again the instruments - and frequently the victims - of his iron will. Henry deliberately and cleverly fostered divisions between protestant and catholic factions in his government in order to keep them all in a state of confusion, eager to win his favour. His shrewdly unilateral and seemingly inconsistent responses to changing events led him to change violently the religion, politics and diplomacy of England in ways that were to his advantage, but not always to his liking. The author shows that Henry, far from being the gluttonous libertine of popular reputation, was rather an extremely perceptive, aggressive, and merciless monarch.
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Jasper Ridley FRSL is a distinguished historical author whose Henry VIII and Elizabeth I are published in the US by PPI. They now join the Penguin Classic Biography list. Other books by the author include Thomas Cranmer, Lord Palmerston, Garibaldi and Napoleon III and Eugenie.
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