Hay Player

Thomas Penn

Winter King

Hay Festival 2012, 
It was 1501. England had been ravaged for decades by conspiracy, violence, murders, coups and counter-coups. Henry VII had clambered to the top of the heap - a fugitive with a flimsy claim to England's crown who through luck, guile and ruthlessness had managed to win the throne and stay on it for sixteen years. Although he built palaces, hosted jousts, gave out lavish presents and sent ambassadors across Europe, for many he remained a usurper, a false king.
 
But Henry had a crucial asset: his queen and their children, the living embodiment of his hoped-for dynasty. Now, in what would be the crowning glory of his reign, his elder son would marry a great Spanish princess. On a cold November day this girl, the sixteen-year-old Catherine of Aragon, arrived in London for a wedding upon which the fate of England would hinge...
 
In his remarkable debut, historian Thomas Penn recreates an England which is both familiar and very strange - a country that seems medieval yet modern, in which honour and chivalry mingle with espionage, realpolitik, high finance and corruption. It is the story of the transformation of a young, vulnerable boy, Prince Henry, into the aggressive teenager who would become Henry VIII, and of Catherine of Aragon, his future queen. And at its heart is the tragic, magnetic figure of Henry VII - controlling, paranoid, avaricious, with a Machiavellian charm and will to power.