Henry VIII and the Court: Art, Politics and Performance

Henry VIII and the Court: Art, Politics and Performance


Henry VIII and the Court: Art, Politics and Performance

Co-edited with Prof. Thomas Betteridge

Published by Ashgate, 2013.

In 2009, Suzannah Lipscomb and Thomas Betteridge organized a major three-day international academic conference at Hampton Court Palace to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII’s accession. It attracted some excellent contributions from scholars, and the best of them – fully revised, edited, extended and updated – are included in this volume.

The book focuses on the cutting-edge areas of historical focus and debate, and is genuinely interdisciplinary, featuring art, architecture, material culture, drama, medicine, poetry, gender, and politics.

It includes essays by: Ruth Ahnert, GW Bernard, Susan Brigden, Brett Dolman, Eamon Duffy, Catherine Fletcher, Thomas S. Freeman, Steven Gunn, Peter Happé, Maria Hayward, Elizabeth Hurren, Suzannah Lipscomb, Kent Rawlinson, Glenn Richardson, Eleanor Rycroft, Tatiana C. String and Susan Wabuda.

Suzannah’s chapter is: ‘The fall of Anne Boleyn: a crisis of gender relations?’ It suggests that the events of Anne Boleyn’s fall can be better elucidated through an understanding of the gender and honour culture of the period, and specifically that it was a clash of gender expectations at the Tudor Court that resulted in the accusation and execution of the queen of England in 1536.


‘My book of the year was Henry VIII and the Court (Ashgate), an essay collection edited by Tom Betteridge and Suzannah Lipscomb. The 17 historians involved in the project are all working at the coalface of history, collaboratively changing our perception of the king and his world. This will be the stuff of popular history in the future: read it here first.’
Lucy Worsley, The Daily Telegraph: Best Books of 2013

‘Among the most substantial and significant commemorations of the quincentenary of Henry VIII’s accession to the throne was the 2009 conference ‘Henry VIII and the Tudor Court: 1509-2009’ at Hampton Court Palace… This volume collects the proceedings of the conference and provides a road map, as it were, for much of the exciting work now being conducted on the king, his court, and his reign. Anyone interested in this subject will need to have this book on the shelf…. ‘Scholars will find much here that delights… not a single essay falls flat. All contain fresh, compelling research and challenge readers to think again about elements of this subject that we thought we understood.

‘These essays shape directions for the study of this subject that will be viable for many years to come.’

Mark Rankin, James Madison University, Renaissance Quarterly (Summer 2014)

‘…the intellectual scope and vision of the collection are as refreshing as they are, at times, surprising… the essays themselves have a strong focus on new areas of research, making it an engaging read for the seasoned academic, as well as the casual reader… The book really distinguishes itself, however, in its willingness to engage with the interdisciplinary…

‘Suzannah Lipscomb [‘s]… essay is compelling, well-researched and intriguing. Its discussion of sixteenth-century ideas of manhood and impotence provide cause for amusement and enlightenment. The concept of sexual honour introduces an interesting and oft-forgotten angle to the debate… An effective and engaging study of gender relations and underlying social currents that furthers our understanding of why, if not how, Anne was condemned, this is a must-read for anyone interested in Boleyn scholarship.

‘The collection as a whole gives an extremely entertaining, interdisciplinary overview of the wide-ranging debates and issues surrounding the arts, politics and performances of the Henrician Court. It does more than just that though… the volume extends the range of sources and paradigms through which the King and his Court should be considered. No less significant, it also appears to have fully mastered the all-important and oft-forgotten notion, to delight and instruct’

Tessa Marlou van Gendt, University of Edinburgh, Journal of Northern Renaissance (July 2013); full review HERE

‘The volume is genuinely interdisciplinary, drawing on literature, art history, architecture and drama to illuminate various aspects of the court… This is… a rich collection and one which adds depth and context to our otherwise somewhat over-politicised vision of Henry VIII’s court…. The presentation generally is excellent and the publishers, no less than the editors, are to be congratulated upon this admirable collection.’

David Loades, Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte, 41 (2013)

‘a wonderfully eclectic group of essays by experts in Tudor court culture… ‘By challenging canonical views of Henry, tapping new sources, and approaching familiar texts from new perspectives, these insightful and readable essays ask us to reevaluate a king we thought we already knew.’

Christopher Highley, The Ohio State University, Recusant History, 32-2 (Oct, 2014)

It was also favourably reviewed by Dakota L. Hamilton in the Sixteenth Century Journal (45.1, 2014)Peter Marshall in Church History (83.4, Dec 2014), and John Guy in Journal of Ecclesiastical History (65.2, April 2014).