History has been 'feminised' says David Starkey as he launches Henry VIII series

Historians in the News

British history has become "feminised" by female authors who concentrate on subjects like the six wives of Henry VIII rather than the king himself, Dr David Starkey has said.

Speaking shortly before the launch of a new Channel 4 series to mark the 500th anniversary of the Tudor monarch's accession to the throne, Dr Starkey said he found it "bizarre" that so much historical effort was now focused on the monarch's wives.

But he warned that the "soap opera" of Henry's personal life should come second to the political consequences of his rule, such as the Reformation and the break with Rome.

Dr Starkey went further, by saying that modern attempts to paint many women in history as "power players" was to falsify the facts.

Earlier this month Dr Starkey said he believed Henry VIII's handwriting showed he had an "emotionally incontinent" personality because he was brought up in a female-dominated household.

Read entire article at Telegraph (UK)

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Nhi Le - 4/11/2009

I find it interesting that women are still being portrayed as "overemotional" in all aspects. Yes, it may be true that females tend to show much more emotion than men, but men are, I believe, the same way, even if their macho attitude does not allow them to show it. I have read parts of Dr. Starkey's book on the six wives and his views on them were much more scathing than necessary. Furthermore, the wives were in some way, "power players" in Henry's life. They were his only way to ensure that his legacy survived, and had some influence over his politics. The ramifications of his rule are of much more importance to the world, female historians understand that. But they do not over romanticize Henry's personal life in such a way that it gets in the way of his other contributions to society.

Randll Reese Besch - 4/1/2009

Dr. Starkley sounded as if he was clutching his testicles as he wrote in a fever over the ascent of the dreaded female over male. Even if it is just giving a more rounded view of history. Is he saying that the reporting and reconstruction of history is now dominated by the 'feminist' or 'feminine' over the 'masculine?' I have no problem navigating every version of history as seen through different peoples own perceptions there of. Dr. Starkley can do that too without losing what ever it is he thinks is being lost in his fear of the macho male historical perspective being emasculated. He doesn't like competition it seems.

The more different ways of interpreting history are available the better we can have a way of seeing it in closer context to its actuality. [The Roshomo effect]

John D. Beatty - 4/1/2009

It seems that some historians cannot separate the two, just as some consumers can't either. We know Henry was a historical personage, that he had several wives that he seems to have disposed of for one reason alone. But that the only topic that non-historians are interested in, and what the network can sell.

It would be well if they could be one in the same, but they are not. History, for most consumers, is dull as dust in part because its often poorly presented. Television can make it pay only if they just to the salacious.

Lisa Kazmier - 4/1/2009

How old is this Dr. Starkey? He sounds like HE is the one projecting a discomfort with women. And who is he to decide what historians should or should not research? Historians research what interests them; he clearly has made his choice. Well, other people have thought differently, in terms of period, region or country, theme... Didn't historians decide more than 30 yrs ago to welcome all sorts of topics after social and then cultural history became significant. This man sounds like an advisor I had who I believe could not conceal his hostillity toward women.