g.j. meyer

However colorless he may seem to us, however much the contemporary chronicles fail to make him a fully three-dimensional figure, the one thing always comes through is his unfailing competence. In temperament he appears to have been more like a modern coporate executive of remarkably high caliber–coolly savvy, demanding but amiable enough, a good judge of risk and reward– than some swashbuckling medieval warrior-king. He always had himself fully under control, and he seems always to have been somewhat inscrutable.

He took the one great chance that fate offered him, pulled it off, and devoted the rest of his life to the careful consolidation of his winnings. He was disdainful of military glory, and though he sought and won the respect of the continent’s ruling families, he displayed no wish to cut a particularly great figure among them.

Book cover for Bantam  |  Art Director: Marietta Anastassatos  |  Designer: Susan Zucker  |  Photographer: Margie Hurwich  |  Published 2014

However colorless [Henry VII] may seem to us, however much the contemporary chronicles fail to make him a fully three-dimensional figure, the one thing that always comes through is his unfailing competence. In temperament he appears to have been more like a modern corporate executive of remarkably high caliber—coolly savvy, demanding but amiable enough, a good judge of risk and reward—than some swashbuckling medieval warrior-king. He always had himself firmly under control, and he seems always to have been somewhat inscrutable.
He took the one great chance that fate offered him, pulled it off, and devoted the rest of his life to the careful consolidation of his winnings. He was disdainful of military glory, and though he sought and won the respect of the continent’s ruling families, he displayed no wish to cut a particularly great figure among them. If he left almost no mark on the world’s imagination (biographers have taken little interest in him, perhaps in part because they could never be confident of understanding him), his reign is important all the same. It built the stage upon which his son and then his granddaughter would be able to show themselves off for almost the whole of the century that followed his death.
—  The Tudors: The Complete Story of England’s Most Notorious Dynasty (G.J. Meyer)

Much of [Henry VIII’s] good fortune he owed to his father. In the quarter-century between his victory at Bosworth and his death in 1509, Henry VII had made the English Crown more secure and powerful than it had been in generations. He had filled the royal treasury with gold and accustomed his subjects to the benefits of peace. He is today a remote and elusive figure, a king about whom most people know almost nothing, and he appears to have been much the same in his own time. Though his life before Bosworth had been studded with moments of high drama and hairsbreadth escapes, little of the excitement had been of his choosing. Mainly his early years had been spent waiting. Even what we know of his part in the fight that won him the crown suggests that it could have been played by a deaf mute, a mannequin. Henry was attacked, Henry was defended, Henry was crowned—every episode finds him in a passive role. 


And yet something tremendous was achieved, and the achievement was Henry’s. None of it would have been possible if, even in his youth, there had not been something about him—something not quite explainable at a distance of five centuries—that won the support and even the affection of the Duke of Brittany, the ruling family of France, and one after another of the older, more experienced men who had fled England after Richard III became king. Nor could he have succeeded if, whenever enemies appeared to be closing in on him, he had not had the courage and resourcefulness to outwit them. However colorless he may seem to us, however much the contemporary chronicles fail to make him a fully three-dimensional figure, the one thing that always comes through is his unfailing competence. In temperament he appears to have been more like a modern corporate executive of remarkably high caliber—coolly savvy, demanding but amiable enough, a good judge of risk and reward—than some swashbuckling medieval warrior-king. He always had himself firmly under control, and he seems always to have been somewhat inscrutable.

—  The Tudors: The Complete Story of England’s Most Notorious Dynasty (G.J. Meyer)

anonymous asked:

Can you explain to me why the Borgia family is perceived as bad?

I’m going to give you the very short answer which is that they were Spaniards and the very very powerful families of Italy, especially the Roman families were all competing for the throne of Saint Peter as well, so they pretty much all banded together against the Borgia’s because they didn’t want foreigners on the throne. SO they all started rumors about incest and about Rodrigo Borgia (Pope Alexander VI) buying his way in (everyone did this but this is not likely considering that Rodrigo had much less money than the other Cardinals), not to mention they called all of his nieces and nephews his children when there really was no sufficient evidence that they were his kids (this would be bad because Pope’s and Cardinal’s were supposed to be celibate but hardly any actually were). Now there is a possibility that all of these things are true but if actually researched there is no evidence of these rumors being true. Apparently however, there is a diary of the Vatican’s bookkeeper where he writes about the iniquities that occurred during the Borgia pope’s reign. This was told to me by a tour guide of the Vatican who claims to have read it himself. I don’t know if I believe this. Overall however Alexander was not a bad pope in comparison and he didn’t fuck up all of Italy like so many others. His assumed to be son, Cesare Borgia was the first person to ever renounce being cardinal, was rumored to have (for no good reason other than to become Gonfalonier of the papal armies which is actually a pretty good reason) murdered his asshole of a brother, he was known as a ruthless killer and war tactician but in fact he freed many Italian principalities from tyrannical rule, many places welcomed Cesare. He inspired much of the book the Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli which a brilliant read. Cesare and Rodrigo were both rumored to have had sexual relations with Cesare’s sister and Rodrigo’s “daughter” Lucrezia Borgia who was herself rumored to have poisoned many, including a husband, of which she had three. The second was murdered by Cesare’s manservant Micheletto (Valentino’s Executioner they called him) on his master’s orders. But hey we all have our faults.  Overall the family was discriminated against by the not so noble powerful families of a very divided Italy. SO there you go that’s the very short answer.

For more information I recommend the book The Borgias by G.J. Meyer and really nothing else because it’s all trying to paint a certain shiny exciting picture of a villainous Borgia family without focusing on fact.s 

Much of [Henry VIII] good fortune he owed to his father. In the quarter-century between his victory at Bosworth and his death in 1509, Henry VII had made the English Crown more secure and powerful than it had been in generations. He had filled the royal treasury with gold and accustomed his subjects to the benefits of peace. He is today a remote and elusive figure, a king about whom most people know almost nothing, and he appears to have been much the same in his own time. Though his life before Bosworth had been studded with moments of high drama and hairsbreadth escapes, little of the excitement had been of his choosing. Mainly his early years had been spent waiting.

The most impressive thing Henry did after reaching the throne was to establish himself securely on it. This was no small achievement: to grasp its magnitude it is necessary to remember the hundred years before Bosworth, with their tragic succession of Plantagenet kings and claimants clashing and killing and being killed. Henry, his dollop of royal blood inherited from a bastard line that even when legitimized had been excluded by law from succession to the crown, could not have been given good chances of lasting long when he became king. But step by slow step, in his methodical and undramatic way, he made it clear to England and the world that he was a real king and a strong one and not to be taken lightly. He did so carefully, confiding in only his oldest friends, never moving so fast as to provoke reaction, watching for opportunities to eliminate rivals and seizing those opportunities as they arose.
—  G.J. Meyer , The Tudors: The Complete Story of England’s Most Notorious Dynasty
By the time the [British] troops went over the top on July 1, more than 1.5 million shells had descended upon the German lines—a quarter of a million on the morning of the attack alone. A ton of munitions had been dropped on every square yard of German front line with the same spirit-crushing results that both sides had been experiencing at Verdun for more than four months. ‘Shall I live till morning?’ one of [General von] Below’s soldiers wrote in his diary. ‘Haven’t we had enough of this frightful horror? Five days and five nights now this hell concert has lasted. One’s head is like a madman’s; the tongue sticks to the roof of the mouth. Almost nothing to eat and nothing to drink. No sleep. All contact with the outer world cut off. No sign of life from home nor can we send any news to our loved ones. What anxiety they must feel about us. How long is this going to last?’
—  G.J. Meyer, from A World Undone

[British WWI General Douglas] Haig had eighteen divisions on the Somme by early summer, and two-thirds of them were used to form a new Fourth Army under General Sir Henry Rawlinson, who had been with the BEF from the start of the war. Rawlinson was a career infantryman— the only British army commander on the Somme not, like Haig, from the cavalry— and his ideas about how to conduct the coming offensive differed sharply from those of his chief.

Haig wanted a breakthrough. He was confident that his artillery could not merely weaken but annihilate the German front line, that the infantry would be able to push through almost unopposed, and that this would clear the way for tens of thousands of cavalry to reach open country, turn northward, and throw the whole German defensive system into terminal disorder.

Rawlinson, by contrast, had drawn the same lessons as [German General Erich von] Falkenhayn from a year and a half of stalemate. He thought breakthrough impossible, and that trying to achieve it could only result in painful and unnecessary losses. He opted for a battle of attrition, one intended less to conquer territory (there being no important strategic targets anywhere near the Somme front, actually) than to kill as many Germans as possible.

To this end he favored ‘bite and hold’ tactics similar to those with which Falkenhayn had begun at Verdun. Such tactics involved settling for a limited objective with each attack, capturing just enough ground to spark a counterattack, and then using artillery to obliterate the enemy’s troops as they advanced. Rawlinson and Haig never resolved their differences; rather, they opened the battle without coming to an understanding on what they were trying to do or how it should be done.

—  G.J. Meyer, from A World Undone