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Thursday, 28 April 2016

‘Behind the Text’ 40. ‘Tudor Turnabout’ / ‘Mutatis Mutandis’


‘Mutatis Mutandis’ was started in 1971 when I abandoned my M. Phil research into religious change in early Tudor London. It was revised, enlarged, acquired extensive end-notes and published in 2009 as a limited edition. A couple of years ago I revised the book again and converted it into an e-book, enabling easy access to the End-Notes – crucial to any reader wanting to learn as well as be entertained. It was published as ‘Tudor Turnabout’.

The book covers the last 20 years of the reign of Henry VIII (1509-47) during which great changes were made to English religion, government and social structure – hence the original Latin title which means (roughly) ‘Necessary Changes Have Been Made’. The present title hopefully is less daunting.

More than 95% of this book is fact – including actions & ambitions revealed in conversations or fictional characters giving life to the experiences of ‘Everyman’. The documents quoted are factual (sources in the End-Notes) and statistics are based on fact. Attitudes and stances of individuals stem from how I judge the factual evidence.

The dominating figure is that of the King himself – deciding what he wanted and driving with all his considerable power to get it. The public usually limit that to marriage and the need for a male heir. So the initial title was ‘The King must have a Wife’ but that was soon abandoned as too trite and too limiting. The King wanted greater power for the Crown (backed by a co-operative Parliament as representing the people’s agreement), a subservient nobility, control over the Church in England and an enormous income to lavish on war, display and sheer pleasure. I must admit my attitude toward the King changed from condemnation re’ the dissolution of his first marriage (and ALL that entailed – e.g. the treatment of Wolsey & More) and yet towards the end, with Henry terrified so much will be undone after his death, I was moved to sympathy. I find Anne Boleyn an enigma, both Wolsey & Cromwell locked into the role-set of ‘King’s Servant’, Catherine Howard and Henry’s children as both used and abused, while Riche, Wriothesley and the like appear ambitious time-servers. I have every sympathy for martyrs on BOTH sides, admiring their courage even though I may question their position. Individuals rise and fall largely due to ’EVENTS’ as Macmillan 50 years ago explained to President Kennedy: Wolsey faced a Papacy dominated by the nephew of the woman he must displace, Cromwell’s plans were spoiled by the collapse of the Protestant cause in Germany, Catherine Parr was saved by the mellowing of her husband while Anne Boleyn perished for failing to provide an heir and becoming an encumbrance to that ambition.

I hope the reader may both be entertained and develop the urge to look more closely at this period.


Bob Hyslop

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