In Bed with the Tudors: From Elizabeth of York to Elizabeth I by Amy Licence

Despite the sexually provocative title, In Bed with the Tudors isn’t a luridly lascivious read about sex in Tudor England, but about the fruits thereof. This is a book of superstition and folk knowledge passed down through generations of childbearing women.  Potions made from various herbs mixed with wine or ale and the occasional healthy (or unhealthy) dollop of animal blood or urine.   Poultices were applied with cured animal skins of sheep, goats, dogs, or other creatures.  The powdered organs of certain animals were considered efficacious remedies, humans among them.

Religion played a key role in the ritual and mystery of the birthing chamber.  Crucifixes, relics, and pilgrimages were all used.  Pater Nosters and Ave Marias were said alongside spells and chants passed down from pagan times.  The taboos imposed upon pregnant women, from conception to birth, were legion.

As one reviewer on Goodreads pointed out, the book is often contradictory, sometimes in the same paragraph, but I’d like to point out that this is the nature of superstition.

Bed-Tudors_LicenceIn Bed with the Tudors demonstrates one of my all time pet peeves for historical fiction.  I can’t stand shoddy proofreading or editing.  And I’m not talking about grammar and punctuation, I’m talking about editing for content.  Stupid mistakes that any editor of the genre should be able to point out.  Just to name a few:

  • Anne Boleyn was not the Duke of Norfolk’s daughter – She was the granddaughter of one and the niece of another
  • Jane Dormer wasn’t one of Elizabeth’s ladies – She was one of Mary I’s favorites
  • Francis, Duc d’Alencon, was never King of France – Henri III was succeeded by their cousin, Henri III of Navarre, IV of France

I’m told that these mistakes have been corrected in later editions, but, in my opinion, they should never have made it to print in the first place.

Otherwise, this was an interesting read with a unique perspective of Tudor history.

Rating:  3 out of 5 stars



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