Book Review: Four Princes: Henry VIII, Francis I, Charles V, Suleiman the Magnificent and the Obsessions that Forged Modern Europe by John Julius Norwich

Four Princes: Henry VIII, Francis I, Charles V, Suleiman the Magnificent and the Obsessions that Forged Modern EuropeFour Princes: Henry VIII, Francis I, Charles V, Suleiman the Magnificent and the Obsessions that Forged Modern Europe by John Julius Norwich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Delicious. When you read non-fiction history, you often go in knowing that you're going to have to slog through the slow bits, and you accept this, because that's just the way it is. Well. Not with THIS book. Four Princes has been written by the incomparable John Julius Norwich, himself a man about whom a book should be written! He's not concerned with political correctness. He's not trying to throw your 21st century morals onto 16th century people. He understands how important religion could be to a man, or a woman, that it would profoundly affect why they did things, and he doesn't apologize for it. He doesn't blink at the horrid-ness of life during the Reformation. He tells wonderful anecdotes about the various persons involved in the lives of the Four Princes, and brings in that human factor that makes historical figures so appealing. One thing that he does not do, is imagine motives, or put his own spin on the machinations of the rulers and their supporters. He just tells the stories, which is so very refreshing in this age of opinionism. It's humorous, packed with facts, and reads quickly. I learned some new things, especially about Suleiman, which led me into a bit more study, which is always fun. I heard about this book from the BBC History magazine, and am so glad I decided to read it.



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