Book Review; “1536: the year that changed Henry VIII” by Suzannah Lipscomb 📚

Suzannah Lipscomb is one of my favourite historians, ever. In tv programmes such as: “The last days of Anne Boleyn”, “Henry VIII & his six wives” & “The Great Fire of London” just to name a few, her historical knowledge just flaws me every time. She truly is incredibly knowledgable, in a time period I love so dearly, Medieval. In particular she specialises in Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn, which you guys will be all to aware of, are my favourite historical figures.

SO! Having said this, I had never read a book written by Suzannah, never. So I purchased one, this particular book took my attention starlight away! And here is my review of it, enjoy! ❤


Henry VIII is known stereotypically as a corpulent, covetous, and cunning king whose appetite for worldly goods met few parallels, whose wives met infamously premature ends, and whose religion was largely political in intent.

By focusing on a pivotal year in the life of Henry, this study moves beyond the caricature to reveal a fuller portrait of this complex monarch. In 1536, Henry met many failures—physical, personal, and political—and emerged from them a different man and a revolutionary new king who proceeded to transform a nation and a religion.

When reading this book it was as if I could hear Suzannah reading it, after watching so many of her programmes, and I truly loved this.

I found Suzannah to write beautifully and exactly how I thought she would right. The book over all was incredibly factual, it is filled with such vast knowledge of a year that many people may over look as a whole within Henry’s reign and, this is one thing I truly loved the most about it. Also, this whole year covers the one queen I love the most and does evolve around her a lot, Anne. 1536 was the year of her execution and to say this year wasn’t one that changed Henry would be saying someone was just incredibly blind. The year itself took a huge strain on Henry, but not all because of Anne, she just contributed to it a fair amount.

Suzannah is looking to see over all though if it was this year in particular that made Henry a “tyrant” and in all honesty I would agree with her hugely. Not just because I am biased within regards to who’s involved and who’s writing it, but because as a historian who’d love for the Tudor era is huge I myself from reading and understanding this time period would say this year changed Henry in a lot of ways and would contribute to his reputation as a “tyrant” over all.

My favourite chapters:

  1. Chapter 1 – the change
  2. Chapter 2 – young Henry
  3. Chapter 4 – 1536 and all that
  4. Chapter 6 – a kings honour
  5. Chapter 7 – the fall of Anne Boleyn
  6. Chapter 10 – the reformation in England
  7. Chapter 13 – Henry VIII’s theology
  8. Chapter 18 – did Henry become a tyrant?

These chapters in particular are what solidify for me the meaning behind whether 1536 was a changing year for Henry, so much happened in the space of a year: 3 different wives, an accident resulting in a health decline and finally a true male heir. This year messed with Henry’s head no doubt, it would anyone given how quick his wives came and went between this year and his death, but, Henry in my eyes was too trusting or maybe too blind to the people close enough to him, he didn’t always pick wisely. Suzannah makes me as a historian just understand this year as a whole so much more and makes me see it for how it truly was, The Year That Changed Henry VIII.

10/10 book, and Suzannah if by any chance you’re reading this (hey, you never know) you’re truly an idol to me. Thanks for being such an awesome historian!

With love, Charlotte x


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