Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Strange twists in reading fate

Can it be simple coincidence, or are higher forces at work? Did I start reading David Starkey's 'Henry' today simply because I wanted something vastly different from 'A Thousand Splendid Suns', or did I inherently know that on this day in 1509, Henry VII died, therefore handing the crown to his younger son who went on to shape history like no other king before him?

I heard David Starkey speak on his new book just before Easter at the Oxford Literary festival, and it's safe to say he's a captivating speaker; quite different from his television persona, in that he goes off at a tangent all the time, but the story he's telling is still there. In this case, it's the story of that first part of Henry's life, when he was simply the 'spare' and therefore brought up accordingly. How much, Starkey asks, did this upbringing contribute to the way he acted later in life?

It's truly Henry VIII season at the moment - Hampton Court, The British Library and many others are having exhibitions to coincide with the 500th anniversary of his accession to the throne, and it's so interesting to read a biography of Henry that (in this part at any rate) doesn't focus on the thing that makes him so famous in this century - his marriages. I'm looking forward to seeing how Henry grew up, in the shadow of his brother and surrounded by the women of the court .... what made Henry was his first fifteen years, and I don't know about the rest of you, but my first fifteen years were pretty mediocre, and if I'd been forced to rule from that age, I doubt I'd have made a good job of it!

I shall report back in later to tell you how he's doing - Henry's report card if you will!

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