Published1982 by Boydell and Brewer
“Here is real treasure: a new and infinitely more comprehensive Dictionary of National Biography … not only comprehensive, it is splendidly detailed as well. All (upper class) Tudor life is here: the criss-cross channels of descent that operated like a complex lottery suddenly to shower wealth on obscure third cousins: the tendency of bright young men to marry rich old widows and so have no children (at least not born in wedlock); the ruthless pursuit of advancing in local politics that often made the early Tudor courtier JP the too-obvious heir of the fifteenth century bastard feudal retainer - only more dangerous because his lord was the King; and (refreshingly) the fondness of building and literature that we see as relaxations from politics but they understood as their continuation.”
Dr David Starkey, in History Today
“The achievement is notable indeed”
Sir Geoffrey Elton, in The Spectator
These volumes cover the reigns of three Tudor monarchs: Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary I. They cover the period of Henry VIII’s break with Rome and the establishment of the Church of England – achieved through statutes passed by Parliament – as well as Queen Mary’s attempts to reverse these changes and return England and Wales to Roman Catholic obedience.
The period is a challenging one on which to work because of the difficulty of obtaining information about the Parliaments of the early fifteenth century. The official returns for many of the early parliaments of Henry VIII are lost and therefore the identity of many members is unknown. It has been possible, though, to discover many previously unknown members from civil, municipal and parish records.
Among the 2,263 biographies are those of a saint (Sir Thomas More) and Henry VIII’s principal minister, the architect of the break with Rome, Thomas Cromwell; intellectuals such as Sir Thomas Smith, sir Thomas Elyot and John Cheke; and a fair collection of members who espoused the Protestant cause, such as Sir George Throckmorton and George Blagge (who narrowly avoided being burnt in 1546), and of those more conservative in religion.
There are also 218 survey articles covering each of the constituencies which returned members to Parliament during the period. The period saw growing numbers of constituencies given the privilege of returning members, including those in Wales, which began to return members to Parliament in 1542 following the Act of Union of 1536; and also Calais, which sent members from 1536 until it fell to the French in 1557, and Tournai, which may have sent members in 1512.
The volumes were published without the normal introductory survey following the death of the editor of the volumes, S. T. Bindoff.