The kingdom Henry inherits is not the familiar Tudor England of Protestantism and playwrights. It is still more than two decades away from the English Reformation, and ancient traditions persist: boy bishops, pilgrimages, Corpus Christi pageants, the jewel-decked shrine at Canterbury. So Great a Prince offers a fascinating portrait of a country at a crossroads between two powerful monarchs and between the worlds of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Historian Lauren Johnson tells the story of 1509 not just from the perspective of the young king and his court, but from the point of view of merchants, ploughmen, apprentices, laundresses, and foreign workers. She looks at these early Tudor lives through the rhythms of annual rituals, juxtaposing political events in Westminster and the palaces of southeast England with the religious, agrarian, and social events that punctuated the lives of the people of young Henry VIII's England.