The Tudors: A Very Short Introduction is part of a series of books which offer, as the title suggests, a very short introduction to a wide variety of different topics. Looking at the list of other titles available (and there are hundreds of them) you can choose from subjects as diverse as Folk Music, Feminism or Contemporary Art; Chinese Literature, Biblical Archaeology or American Politics. This one is devoted to the Tudors although, admittedly, I probably didn’t really need a short introduction to them, having recently read Peter Ackroyd’s much longer book on the same subject! I had the opportunity to receive a review copy, though, and was curious to see what the series was like.
In this book, historian John Guy takes us through the reigns of each Tudor monarch – Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Lady Jane Grey, Mary I and Elizabeth I. All of the basic facts are here, presented in a format that is easy to follow and understand. There are also some illustrations, genealogical tables, a chronology and a list of suggested further reading. As I already have quite a good knowledge of the Tudor period, very little of the information in this book was new to me, but for those readers who don’t know much about the Tudors this will be an excellent starting point.
While this was not as interesting or compelling as Ackroyd’s book (and I know it’s not fair to compare the two as they are clearly aimed at different readers and have different purposes) I did enjoy reading this Very Short Introduction and would consider trying another one. As well as being short (just over 100 pages), these books are also very small and would be the perfect size to take with you on a train or bus journey or to fit into a bag or pocket so that you could dip into it when you have a few spare moments to read. And if you don’t feel like actually reading it from cover to cover, it would be a good reference book to keep on your shelf for times when you might want to quickly look up some dates or facts.
You can find a full list of all the Very Short Introductions on the Oxford University Press website.