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by Bridget Boland,Muriel St. Clare Byrne,Hugh Trevor-Roper

In a one-volume abridgement, these sixteenth-century letters paint a magnificent portrait of family life amidst the intrigue, terror, and politics of the court of Henry VIII. The culmination of Lord Lisle's imprisonment in the Tower of London.
Download The Lisle Letters: An Abridgement epub
ISBN: 0226088006
ISBN13: 978-0226088006
Category: History
Subcategory: Europe
Author: Bridget Boland,Muriel St. Clare Byrne,Hugh Trevor-Roper
Language: English
Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1st edition (June 1, 1983)
Pages: 436 pages
ePUB size: 1730 kb
FB2 size: 1228 kb
Rating: 4.6
Votes: 845
Other Formats: lrf docx doc azw

Two big collections of private letters were saved from England's past. The Paston letters, although interesting, are thoroughly medieval and seem strange and remote. The later Lisle letters (1533-40) come from the beginning of the English Renaissance and are recognizably modern in some respects.

For example, the anxiety of rich Manhattanites to bribe their children into top preschools is not much different from the anxiety of the Lisles to get their son into the best school (in Paris) or their daughters into the best lady's (preferably the queen's) household.

In other respects, the Lisles were still medieval, such as their habit (shared with Australian aborigines) of regarding everything as food. My favorite episode concerns the seal.

It was a time when if you happened to acquire a live seal, you could give it to a friend who you could expect would take it in good part. And, since society was bound together by elaborate skeins of exchanges of goodies, you could pass the seal on to someone else whom you wished to curry favor with.

So with Lord Lisle, although care of the seal was left with his long-suffering agent in Westminster, John Husee, who was to give it to a lord that Lisle wished to ingratiate himself with. Regrettably, the lord had removed to the country, and the seal ate six penny’orth of fish a day, while Husee’s pay was only eight pence.

Husee stood it as long as he could but eventually had the seal baked and shipped into the country. A dead seal was nearly as gracious a gift as a live one in those days.

It is surprising how much cooked food, even such things as fish pies, was shipped from town to town as gifts. The Lisles were in Calais, where Lord Lisle was deputy governor, and in good weather a pie could be delivered overnight from London, and the weather was cool (it was the start of the Little Ice Age), but still, people must have had strong stomachs back then.

However, the big traffic was dogs. Nobody could have enough dogs, and Lisle was mostly an emitter. As governor of England’s last continental town, he had access to scarce breeds and he was constantly asked to find someone a dog or better yet a couple (also falcons).

One went to Queen Anne Boleyn and was a comfort to the isolated, lonely, frightened teenager until it died in a fall. This volume is well-annotated by Muriel St. Clare Byrne, who edited the 12-volume complete edition, but we do not learn whether the pooch was a victim of politics or misadventure.

The reason we have these letters is that Lisle’s papers were seized in furtherance of a religious and political persecution. Lisle ended in the Tower of London. He was released when his tormenter, King Henry’s chief minister Thomas Cromwell, fell but died the next day.

And so ended the male line of the Plantagenets, because (unlike the small fry Pastons) Arthur Plantagenet, Lord Lisle, was the son of a king. Henry would have murdered him, as he did his aunt and cousins, except that Arthur, as a bastard, was no threat to the Tudors.

It seems remarkable how loyally and calmly Lisle served his king, but evidently Lisle was a forgiving and tolerant man in an age where tolerance was a crime and forgiveness rare.

His wife, Honor, also comes across as an attractive personality, desperately trying to give her elderly second husband a male heir.

But the hero, to Boland, is Husee, patient, forebearing, wiser than his master, astute in maneuvering in a totalitarian state. The letters, and the book, end on a sad note for Husee.
This isn't for everyone. Arthur Plantagenet, Baron Lisle, Henry VIII's maternal uncle and the illegitimate son of Edward IV, became governor of Calais, the hotly contested final British stronghold on French soil, in his old age. It was a time of social unrest and the perilous birth of Protestantism. He was accused of treason, and his letters were subpoenaed. Thus, they survive to this day. Muriel St. Clare Byrne edited them into six volumes that tell a narrative tale and paint a genuine portrait of a highly placed Tudor family stuck in turbulent times. Fortunately, there is this one-book abridgement for those of us who don't quite have the stamina to read the whole six volumes.
This can be a difficult read, as you would expect. Some of the legal and real estate squabbles are obscure. On the other hand they involve people like John Dudley, father of Robin, who also turns out to be Plantagenet-Lisle's stepson, and Edward Seymour, brother of Queen Jane. (Both these men, incidentally, become Lord Protector during Edward VI's reign.) And it's fascinating to read genuine letters written by the administrative power, Thomas Cromwell, who is probably the best writer of the lot, though clearly very calculating and political. We also watch as two of Arthur's stepdaughters, through his second marriage to Honor Basset, are forced to vie for positions as ladies-in-waiting to Queen Anne Boleyn, his stepson James Bassett vies to get into the college of Navarre so that he'll be hobnobbing with Princes, future Kings and Cardinals, and a perfectly ordinary courtship between his sister Mary and the son of a French business partner goes sour because of the Reformation. Meanwhile the daily routine of ordinary life shows through with everyone throwing gloves and lace and coats and animals, some as pets, some to eat, at each other, and describing the various states of lands--that they're fighting over, live on, or are absent from. Different readers will get different things out of the wealth of material here. Though everyone will learn a little bit more about why Cardinal Reginald Pole was so important to the machinations of Tudor times. There's even a nice picture of him.
story of Tudor England as told by people who lived it, through-correspondence – personal notes records-the religious controversies & marriage problems-Six wives-four mistresses of Henry VIII-like 21st century soap operas- fear, terror and distrust that arose among the population -in the tyrannical rule of Henry VIII -off with their heads. History / Europe / Great Britain/British & Irish history
History / General/Lord Lisle/Lord Lisle/ Sir John Bonde/John Basset/ John Wallop/George Basset/Cromwell/Anne Boleyn
As a direct descendant of Arthur Plantagenet, via his daughter Frances, I look forward to reading the intimate thoughts of my 12X Great-grandfather, Grand-mother and my other kin and their associates.