The number one thing I learned from How To Be A Tudor, by charming and intelligent historian Ruth Goodman, is that I’m glad I’m not a Tudor.
Okay, maybe that’s not number one, but Goodman does such an amazing job of detailing the realities of life in Britain in the Tudor period that it’s all-too-easy to imagine the privations, hardships, and difficult differences of life in that time period. Goodman also provides information on all walks of life, from royalty to the labouring classes, painting vivid pictures of everything from diet (if you were a labourer, mostly bread), to sleeping arrangements (did everyone have a four-poster bed with testers?), to clothing and its related sumptuary laws (you better not have too big a pair of hose).
In the course of her work, Goodman has actually tried out living as a Tudor (maybe you’ve seen her in Tudor Monastery Farm?) and so peppers her well-written, interesting history lessons with her personal opinions on everything from brushing teeth with soot to how to best polish a ruff. (Why would you need to polish your ruff? Well, that’s covered, of course!)
How To Be A Tudor is fun. It’s engrossing, informative and quickly paced, giving you the sense of learning a whole bunch of information without really trying. Goodman is clearly a master of the subject, but manages to convey a huge amount of information without ever condescending to or boring the reader. This book is for anyone who’s ever loved a Henry VIII novel and wanted to know more! It dispels myths and teaches truths.