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How to Be #2

How To Be a Tudor: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Tudor Life

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On the heels of her triumphant How to Be a Victorian, Ruth Goodman travels even further back in English history to the era closest to her heart, the dramatic period from the crowning of Henry VII to the death of Elizabeth I. Drawing on her own adventures living in re-created Tudor conditions, Goodman serves as our intrepid guide to sixteenth-century living. Proceeding from daybreak to bedtime, this charming, illustrative work celebrates the ordinary lives of those who labored through the era. From sounding the “hue and cry” to alert a village to danger to malting grain for homemade ale, from the gruesome sport of bear-baiting to cuckolding and cross-dressing—the madcap habits and revealing intimacies of life in the time of Shakespeare are vividly rendered for the insatiably curious.

368 pages, ebook

First published November 5, 2015

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Ruth Goodman

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5 stars
1,270 (32%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 555 reviews
February 8, 2017
This review is about football mostly. The book had quite an original format as the author delineated what the average Tudor citizen would be doing at that hour. There are so many books on the Tudors that I wasn't surprised I didn't learn much but what I did learn was that the most popular sport then was still the most popular sport in the UK. But although the name is the same, the game is quite different.

Back then the pitch was the common ground between two villages. The object was to capture the ball by any means necessary including extreme violence resulting in broken bones sometimes like broken necks and backs resulting in death, and bring it home to your own village. There was a referee but if he couldn't keep up with this fast-moving game, he wouldn't necessarily be where the action was.

The team was as many of the males of the village who wanted to play and there was no time limit. If it was a holiday then the match could go on all day.

Eventually the game was outlawed. Not because it was so violent but because it distracted men from the important sport of archery. Bows and arrows were the infantry's weapons of the day.

Some things change and some don't. Governments still ban things that people want to do and people still carry on doing them. But football is a mild-mannered no-contact game that's all over in less than two hours with no bones broken unless it's American Football which is possibly closer to the Tudor game than the British one.

The book was enjoyable, just not brilliant. It was well-written and being mostly about domestic life, a change from the aristocrats and politicians all of whom seemed to want more money, more power and kow-towing from the common man. That's another thing that hasn't changed.

A 4-star read, almost.
Profile Image for HBalikov.
1,737 reviews649 followers
August 11, 2022
It was easy to determine that among my GR friends there are many that enjoy historical fiction – the chance to live vicariously in a different time and place. But it’s one thing to have someone appropriate the trappings of a period and another thing to actually have the details of what life was really all about. Ruth Goodman has done a deep dive into Tudor England and that includes everything from clothing and hygiene to food and cooking to social life and culture.

When I tell you she dives deep, that includes periods of actually living the way the people did at that time. Here is an example of the beliefs and practices concerning the uses of linen cloth:
"In addition to providing clean clothes, linen could also be employed to cleanse the body actively. In Sir Thomas Elyot’s book The Castel of Helth (1534), he recommends that the morning routine should include a session whereby a man was to ‘rubbe the body with a course lynnen clothe, first softely and easilye, and after to increase more and more, to a harde and swyfte rubbynge, untyll the fleshe do swelle, and be somewhat ruddy, and that not only downe ryghte, but also overthwart and round’. This would ensure that ‘his body is clensed’. This vigorous rubbing, especially if done after exercise, was intended to help draw out the body’s toxins through the open pores, with the unwanted bodily matter then being carried away by the coarse linen cloth. ‘Rubbing cloths’ or ‘body cloths’, despite their very low financial value, occasionally turn up in inventories of people’s goods. Most people seem to have owned only two or three sets of underwear."

"Did people in the Tudor era stink to high heaven? Were they endangering their health as they tried paradoxically to preserve it from evil miasmas or foul air? I have twice followed the regime. The first time was for a period of just over three months, while living in modern society. No one noticed! It helps, of course, if you wear natural-fibre clothes over the top of your linen underwear. I used a fine linen smock, over which I could wear a modern skirt and top without looking odd, and I wore a pair of fine linen hose beneath a nice thick pair of woollen opaque tights (these, of course, did contain a little elastane). I changed the smock and hose daily and rubbed myself down with a linen cloth in the evening before bed, and I took neither shower nor bath for the entire period. I remained remarkably smell-free – even my feet. My skin also stayed in good condition – better than usual, in fact. This, then, was the level of hygiene that a wealthy person could achieve if they wished: one that could pass unnoticed in modern society."

"A friend and colleague has also tried it the other way around, washing his body but not the underwear. The difference between the two was stark and revealing. He continued with a full modern hygiene routine, showering at least once a day and using a range of modern products, but wore the same linen shirt (and outer clothes) for several months without washing them at all. The smell was overpowering, impossible to ignore. He looked filthy too."

I don’t even have to use the fingers of a single hand to count the times where authors have discussed what it really took to bake food in a Tudor period oven, but Goodman goes through the whole process. Here is a small sample:
"Each oven is a little different from any other, so it takes a few firings to really pin down the exact shape of the heat of each one, but experience can make one a very accurate judge of temperatures and cooking times for a range of different breads. Once the correct temperature has been reached, you must quickly rake the fire out of the oven, move the hot ashes away to one side – or into the ash hole beneath the oven – speedily flick a damp mop over the oven floor to clean the worst of the remaining ash out, then slip the bread in, put the door in place and seal around it with a small sausage of flour-and-water paste to keep the heat in. This is all a hurried, urgent business. As soon as the fire is out, the oven is losing heat, so speed is the name of the game. No time to rest, however, once the oven is sealed: you have just forty minutes to prepare the next round of baking. When the first batch of bread emerges from the oven, the temperature will have fallen, but it will by no means be cold. If your first oven-load was large loaves of basic household bread, the reduced heat will now be perfect for pies and pasties, small buns and cakes. An hour later these too will be cooked, and now your oven will have cooled to the ideal heat for setting custards and giving biscuits their second baking. Each firing of the oven can, if you have the ingredients and the organization, cook three oven-loads of food."

The book is organized by time of day: 1. At Cock’s Crow 2. To Wash or Not to Wash 3. Dressing 4. Breakfast 5. Education 6. Dinner 7. Men’s Work 8. Women’s Work 9. A Time to Play 10. Supper 11. And so to Bed"

Surprising; Delightful; Thought-provoking. I found it very helpful.
Profile Image for Kavita.
762 reviews370 followers
December 19, 2021
There are so many books on the Tudors but scant in terms of telling us how ordinary people used to live. In How To Be a Tudor, historian Ruth Goodman takes us through the life of ordinary people living in England during the period from 1485 to 1603. It is extremely engaging and informative and was an immense pleasure to read.

What I really loved the most is Goodman's own experiences doing the exact same things the Tudors did. She talks about sleeping on rushes and which ones she found the most comfortable. She, during her research, often recreated situations in order to enhance her experience and understanding of Tudor concepts of food, sleep, work, and religion. This is a far cry from dry academic historians who work through original sources. They are important, but this is a far more fun way of learning history.

Goodman gives detailed explanations and descriptions but sometimes, I am unable to visualise what she is exactly talking about. This is especially true when she describes hairstyles, how to tie knots, etc., and I sort of glazed over because of the excessive verbal detail. Some diagrams would have been very helpful. In fact, lack of good images is the only thing this book lacks. There are a few at the very end but these don't appear to be very important.

I wish there may be such interesting history books about India, but doesn't seem to be likely in the near future. However, I do still have Goodman's Victorian book left to read! Meanwhile, I highly recommend this one to everyone even mildly interested in history.
Profile Image for Susanna - Censored by GoodReads.
543 reviews591 followers
February 7, 2017
Excellent coverage of the Tudor day, from dawn to dusk. Covers everything from why inheriting the second best bed wasn't an insult (beds were very valuable items) to the Tudor belief in "female testicles." Since it covers a great range of subjects, I found some more interesting than others, but in general, a very entertaining and informative read.
Profile Image for Geevee.
344 reviews191 followers
April 23, 2018
In the same vein as her earlier book "How to be a Victorian" and Ian Mortimer's "Medieval Time-Traveller", Ruth Goodman provides an insightful, interesting and at times funny and rather unsettling view of our ancestors' lives.

From rising from bed - which could be straw on a mud floor, a paillasse or a rope strung bed to a tester with curtains and feathers - until bedtime we get a birds-eye (or rather Tudor's eye) view of the life people led in this remarkable, influential and much written about period.

Where we benefit as a reader is that Ruth Goodman knows her stuff from her own long expertise gathered and garnered from years of experimenting and living like a Tudor. She binds this with many first-person accounts or valuable sources of ordinary folk to provide a rich and interesting canvas of life either in towns & cities or more commonly in rural villages and farms.

The use of religious tracts, diaries, court records, wills & testaments and indeed paintings and books really does offer information on washing and hygiene, food (growth, recipes, preparation, cooking, serving and costs) to dressing and fashion; education, work, leisure, prayer and sex before blowing out the candle to sleep.

There is much here to learn, savour, enjoy and also to thank one's lucky stars that it is history and not personal experience one is experiencing.

How to be a Tudor...yes but from a distance please.
Profile Image for Susan.
2,643 reviews598 followers
August 3, 2016
With so many books about the Tudor period available, there are surprisingly few which actually deal with the normal population. In fact, fiction is sometimes better than non-fiction in giving you an idea about how people lived – with authors such as C.J. Sansom and his Shardlake novels painting an evocative picture of the period. However, most of the history books I have read concentrate on the, admittedly, larger than life characters that were in power during those time. Ruth Goodman admits that she is also fascinated with this period, but she has not written a book about the great, or the powerful, but has, instead, painted a portrait of ordinary life from dawn to dusk.

We begin at cock’s crow, when people were ready to start another day; usually with a prayer. Religion was undoubtedly central to this period and, indeed, it was a tumultuous period. Still, Goodman concentrates wisely on the home in this book. So we are told about what the Tudor’s valued, how they washed, work, ate and dressed.

There are lots of fascinating snippets in this book. For example, the expression ‘sleep tight’ comes from Tudor beds, which had straps at the bottom which could sag if not tightened. Who knew that, even so long ago, back and eggs were already viewed as an unhealthy breakfast and associated with those who did manual work? These are just two examples of endless interesting facts within this book. Despite us imagining the past as a more simple time, it is obvious that the average Tudor had their own rules and etiquette to be followed – from what they were allowed to wear, to how they greeted each other and when they ate. This really does give a good insight into a period when people were all too recognisable, and understandable, despite the amount of time that has passed.
Profile Image for Samantha.
Author 16 books346 followers
March 15, 2016
This was an amazingly different book that was quite a fun read for nonfiction. Goodman takes research a step deeper than most, truly immersing herself in the Tudor lifestyle.

As the name of the book indicates, the book is set up like an outline of a typical day in the life of average Tudor era people. Beginning with waking up with the sun, Goodman discusses what people wore, what their beds were made out of, how they kept clean, and every other aspect of life. Well, maybe not every other aspect. If I have any complaint, it is that I wish she had included a few more topics, such as courting, worship, and other not necessarily daily parts of life.

Those habits and struggles that are explained are thoroughly delved into. Goodman does not simply describe what historians believe these people did, she went out and did it herself. When she talks about Tudor era people using linen clothes to clean their bodies rather than daily showers, she goes on to add that she tried this method for THREE MONTHS and nobody noticed! She has cooked food in Tudor era ovens, raised grain for authentic bread, brewed Tudor ale, and woven rush mats. Her experience and dedication are extraordinary and her insight is priceless.

This is a great resource for anybody writing about the Tudor era or who simply wishes to have a greater understanding of history.
Profile Image for Mila.
770 reviews65 followers
September 23, 2020
Once again, Ruth Goodman didn't disappoint: her attention to detail reflects in both her writing style and structure of the novel. If you want to know more about life in Tudor era, this book will definitely tell more than you could even ask for. Plus Ruth Goodman participated in a very cool tv series called Tudor Monastery Farm which you can check out for more visuals of that period.
Profile Image for Orsolya.
609 reviews287 followers
March 22, 2016
There are hundreds (probably more like thousands) of books/texts/writings available focusing on the lives of major Tudor-era figures. However, these ‘celebrities’ were a minority in the population so what about the common, everyday folk? What were their lives like? Ruth Goodman visits (and lives!) the lives of people just like you and me during the Tudor period in, “How to Be a Tudor: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Tudor Life”.

Ruth Goodman is n expert when it comes to historical accuracy and reenactment and has a personal interest in the Tudor period. Goodman thereby crafts “How to Be a Tudor” into a unique piece combining elements of an academic text, memoir, how-to guide, and a “day in the life of...” personalization literally focusing on the full day of civilian life in Tudor England (although royalty and peerage is still occasionally addressed). Initially, all of this meshing of styles feels clunky and ill-conceived and therefore isn’t smooth. “How to Be a Tudor” can be somewhat difficult to follow at this stage as Goodman doesn’t seem to know the best ways to transition her writing.

As “How to Be a Tudor” progresses, either the reader gets used to Goodman’s style or she becomes more confident (probably a mixture of both); resulting in a stronger and more compelling read. Although “How to Be a Tudor” is still ‘different’, it becomes so in a good way and the reader is intrigued to continue on. Goodman clearly encompasses a wealth of information which also includes first-hand experience of her having tried Tudor ways of life which debunks myths, clarifies facts, and teaches the reader; therefore bringing many new lights to the topic.

Goodman infuses the text with light humor here and there which keeps the pace moving and fresh while also highlighting examples and case studies of the lives of “nobodies” (wonder what these individuals were to think if they knew that they just received their 15 minutes of fame?). However, there is an issue with some light repetition with Goodman revisiting some facts from one section to another.

Even though Goodman makes “How to Be a Tudor” accessible and easy-to-understand; there is a lot of material and details which can become overwhelming. It is suggested to take some reader “breather” breaks in order to retain and grasp all of the information. Goodman’s success lies in not running off on tangents with all of the material and keeping on path with her thesis.

Although informative, the conclusion of “How to Be a Tudor” feels open-ended and somewhat anti-climatic. A summary would have done well to make the book more memorable and rounded.

Sadly, Goodman doesn’t include notes or citations which can question credibility but several pages of sources are available. “How to Be a Tudor” also includes three sections of photo plates.

“How to Be a Tudor” has a rocky start but this smoothes out into an informative and unique book which definitely opens up the Tudor times in a way which isn’t always evident in historical texts, teaching the reader a bountiful of information. Although not necessarily the best “flowing” text; “How to Be a Tudor” is an excellent reference piece and engages the reader in its own way. “How to Be a Tudor” is recommended for all readers interested in the Tudor period.
Profile Image for CatBookMom.
997 reviews
March 4, 2018
This was fascinating. As with her book on the Victorian Age (How to Be a Victorian), this is well-organized, well-written, and well-edited. I liked it so much I bought it.

As a contrast to the Victorian book, which I was reading in parallel, life was slower to change in Tudor times. There were laws about things you wouldn't expect, such as the sumptuary laws, which (among other things) decreed how much yardage, of which fabric, and at what price could be bought by people at different levels of society.

And, near the end of the book, which is about 85%, allowing for index, illustrations and pictures, there's a fairly detailed explanation of how to brew your own ale, something that many lower-class wives found to be part of their job. As experienced by the author, it seems to have turned out drinkable, at least. I'm sure there are more-detailed "menus" online.
Profile Image for Alex Bright.
Author 2 books40 followers
January 7, 2023
Ends a bit abruptly, but otherwise this was a virtual fountain of interesting (and sometimes useful!) knowledge! Goodman’s histories, grounded in the everyday lives of people, are always a treat to read.
Profile Image for Wendy Waters.
Author 3 books85 followers
January 10, 2023
Hats off to Ruth Goodman for taking me back to the 1500s and guiding me through every aspect of daily life from dawn to dusk on every social rung of the ladder. How to be a Tudor has been an invaluable tool for researching the period for my own WIP which is set partially in 1588. I hadn't realised when I chose that date for how gorgeous it looks on the page just what a year it was for England! Drake defeated the Spanish Armada, the first theatres were built on the Southbank and the Queen's favourite, Robert Dudley died.

Crammed full of delicious and quirky detail I now know how to set a fire for baking planchets, pies and tarts, I know how to rub my hair with a linen cloth to keep it and incidentally, myself, clean. I understand the treachery of pimps and prancers and the irritation of lice and fleas. I know to be a bit careful before I call someone a knave or a quean or I could find myself in court and I know never to curse someone's crop or child, or I might be facing the gallows accused of witchcraft should the crop fail or the child die. I know to keep my opinions to myself, or I could be called a scold and treated with derision.

I know for a fact that I wouldn't last a week in Elizabethan England as a woman with very strong and oft-voiced opinions!

A triumph of a book and now I'm reading her How to be a Rogue in Tudor England.
Profile Image for Nicola Michelle.
1,085 reviews5 followers
April 13, 2020
I read this after how much I loved How to be a Victorian and found it just as good! Ruth truly knows her stuff and I love how she’s tried a lot of Tudor styles, recipes and Tudor type things herself! It’s not only great to read about Tudor time’s in the personable way she does but also the experiences in modern times of trying Tudor techniques.

I love these books because they’re written in a way where you can truly put yourself into the Tudor life, learning how to dress, what they’d eat, what you’d expect from education etc... It isn’t a coldly written reeling of facts and information but accounts of peoples lives and more intimate look into the era than you normally get in books based on history.

She is a really amazing historian to bring that level of intrigue and mystery, intimacy and personality into the lives of what is historic and is filled with great detail and information on the Tudor lifestyle. Great walk through history!
Profile Image for Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum.
978 reviews105 followers
January 21, 2018
Ruth Goodman is one of my favourite historians, and I've enjoyed watching her in the following documentary series: Tudor Monastery Farm, Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm, Wartime Farm and Full Steam Ahead.

In How To Be a Tudor: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Everyday Life, Ruth covers every stage of the day: sleeping, when to rise, washing, dressing, breakfast, education, dinner, men and women's work, leisure time and activities, supper and bedtime.

Goodman packs a punch into these 300 pages and her experience as a living historian is impressive. I especially enjoyed the social etiquette section, and in particular the section about walking and posture. Goodman says that today we can guess someone's nationality from their gait, and in the Tudor period you could guess someone's occupation from the way they walked.

"Ploughmen were described as having a 'plodding' gait, slow and deliberate, while shepherds were renowned for their light and springy step, striding out across the hills." Page 91

Ruth goes on to outline the preferred posture of the era and even touches on the differences wearing ruffs and lace cuffs made to posture and bearing. I'd never considered ruffs other than presuming they'd be uncomfortable to wear, and discovered that they significantly effected the way the wearers stood, ate and held themselves.

I also learned that starching a ruff can take an entire day and a white ruff was a versatile item of clothing thanks to the use coloured starches. Yellow ruffs were worn, pale pink ruffs were worn by young boys, and blue starched ruffs were popular until they became associated with prostitutes and Elizabeth I declared that "no blue starch shall be used or worn by any of her Majesty's subjects." Page 78.

In How To Be a Tudor is full of interesting tidbits like this and I enjoyed them all. Did you know that a middle class woman could be wearing 1000 pins at any one time? And these pins are still being found in the Thames? Wow!

I thoroughly recommend In How To Be a Tudor: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Everyday Life by Ruth Goodman to readers with an interest in history, fashion, England and the Tudor period.
Profile Image for Victoria.
267 reviews
January 10, 2018
Packed with detail, but rarely bogged down in it. This book did an excellent job of making Tudor-era lifestyle real and, to some extent logical. Did they take baths? No. But did they have other ways to stay clean? Apparently yes and the author used them for months with good results. Meals, clothing, chores, careers, church, and pasttimes -- she covers them all and often mixes in her own experiences. She knows first-hand how well using rushes to cover the floor works. I have never heard of the author before, but now I want to track down her TV specials.

"A book about history" for the VT reading challenge.
Profile Image for Stefanie.
633 reviews15 followers
December 18, 2022
This book offers delightful tidbits on the daily life of folks in the Tudor period in the UK (1485-1603), but on the whole, I preferred her first, How to Be a Victorian. Maybe it's just because the format is a bit repetitive at this point, maybe it's because there's so much more supporting documentation to draw from for the Victorian period. Reading this book is a great way to get a window into life in this particular time and place, but on the whole, it mostly affirmed my sense that movies set in the period have got the broad strokes pretty accurate.

For those unfamiliar with the format, Goodman takes each time period of the day and breaks them into chapters, e.g.: "At Cock's Crow," "Breakfast," "Education," "Men's Work," "Women's Work," "A Time to Play," "And So to Bed" etc. Describing the minutia of life is where this book really shines: detailing different types of pottage eaten regionally, for example, and opinions about what was or wasn't healthy (actually, there were lots of opinions about what types of food to eat and when that were fascinating).

Some other highlights for me included a deep dive into how people slept (gradually moving from the floor onto beds with mattresses), the very lengthy chapter on "A Time to Play" (archery, football, golf, gambling, dancing, singing and bear baiting [!] were covered), and the description of ale-making and how it was mostly considered women's work.

The chapters have breaks in between topics, which made it easy to pick this book up, read small chunks and put it down again, but the lack of a central thesis did bug me a bit more this time around...and made it a touch more difficult to keep going. You really have to be in the mood for random, topical facts to get through this book.

On the whole, I felt like reading this book gave me just a bit more detail/background about the period than I had already gained by watching lots of movies set in the Tudor period. Totally worth it for alltagsgeschichte fans, or the history of everyday life (and yes, I looked that word up), writers, and those who want to get into reenactment, like the author, lol.

One final note: if you read in ebook format, know that all the pictures are at the end, so don't forget to check out that part!
Profile Image for Mary Catelli.
Author 52 books171 followers
June 4, 2021
Details of life in Tudor England. The "progress of the day" has some things shoehorned in in loosely suitable times because they were not a daily sort of thing.

Covering such things as cloths and sumptuary laws. Dyes and imported fabric. How small children had to doff their hats or curtsey to their superiors, which, because of their youth, meant many people who were their parents' inferiors. The sorts of grain that made bread -- manchet, the finest, was for special days even among the rich, and we find it rather more chewy and tough than normal, and others, such as growing rye and wheat together and just making the bread from the grain. The vast importance and frequency of plowing. The dairy work. Making ale, and alewives selling it. Ready-made foods -- there were shops open twenty-four hours in London for food. And more details.

Obviously a high-level overview
Profile Image for G. Lawrence.
Author 27 books216 followers
December 11, 2020
Brilliant. An in-depth, incredibly well researched and often humorous guide to everyday Tudor life from dawn to dusk. Really recommend this to any fan of history and the Tudor period in particular. Very much centered on the life of the working people, with a dash of life at court thrown in. In particular, if you've ever wanted to know how to starch a ruff, make pottage, or construct Tudor underwear, you'll adore it.
I often think that it is the details of everyday life which bring history to life, and this book is chock-full of fascinating facts. Really most enjoyable.
Profile Image for Peter Damien.
56 reviews16 followers
January 26, 2016
As completely meticulous and as organized as her last book, "How to Be a Victorian," this book was one that I read practically out loud, sharing so many interesting facts from it. It's a DENSE book, but Ruth Goodman is such a passionate, clear, talented writer that she never ever loses you in the density.

I read it in conjunction with watching "Tudor Monastary farm," which is the perfect combo. Not only of brilliant history and life, but then you get Ruth's bursting enthusiasm and geekiness about history, to boot.

I recommend the hell out of this one.
Profile Image for Helene Harrison.
Author 1 book43 followers
July 3, 2017
Review - I found this book to be a little gem of interesting facts about normal life under the Tudors. Most books on the Tudors look at the monarchs and the court, but this one looks at a rather different angle with sections on clothes, living conditions, towns, occupations, education and more. It's a great addition to any Tudor library to give you some extra background information on conditions in the 16th century. However, it could do with some background on some of the noble houses like Hever and Sudeley.

General Subject/s? - History / Tudors

Recommend? – Yes

Rating - 18/20
Profile Image for Kathy.
Author 73 books141 followers
March 13, 2016
Is there a way to give this book more than a 5? Far and away the most useful book on everyday life in 16th century England I have ever read, and in over 40+ years, as a writer of novels set in that period and my own everyday life book, I have read hundreds of books on all aspects of Tudor life. It is also a wonderfully entertaining read. Ruth Goodman doesn't just give facts, she explains the logical reasons behind them.
Profile Image for Carly.
696 reviews13 followers
August 22, 2016
I like this series quite a bit! Sometimes, Goodman can go on tangents about subjects she finds particularly interesting (the minute details of Tudor dress, namely) that....are not very interesting. Overall, though, I love the format of this series, the level of historical detail, and the hands-on research behind it (curious about bathing with a dry, rough linen ONLY for 3 months? Goodman tried it!).
Profile Image for Lori.
1,164 reviews34 followers
November 15, 2021
Author Ruth Goodman perused court records, wills, estate inventories, diaries, and other resources to examine life for common people in Tudor England. Her readable guide explores facets of daily life--household furnishings, cleanliness and hygiene, clothing, food, education, work, recreation, and sex. She treats subjects such as religion as part of the discussion for other topics. The resulting book contains social history that genealogists can utilize in constructing fuller narratives of ancestors and relatives living during this period. While several of Shakespeare's plays are mentioned throughout the book and theatre is treated in the section on recreation, the lack of mentioning Shakespeare and the Globe in that section seems a serious omission since his influence began in Elizabeth I's days and extended into the Stuart reign of James I. I found it interesting the author tried many Tudor ways of doing things prior to writing about them.
Profile Image for Stephanie Kline.
Author 3 books33 followers
June 5, 2018
This was an incredibly well-researched book about my favorite time period. Following the average Tudor man and woman through a “day in the life” in the 16th century was fascinating, to say the least.

These chapters start with waking, move through bathing, dressing, breakfast, chores, education, work, dinner, playing, supper, and bedtime. The author goes into impressive detail about everything from how a woman sewed shirts, to how bread was baked, to the medically “correct” sexual positions to use in order to conceive a boy. While I found these details to be a bit dry and long-winded at times, I genuinely enjoyed reading about each of these topics, and I’m impressed with the amount of research done.

This is absolutely a book for a history lover. If you’re already a fan and well-read lover of Tudor England, read this book - you haven’t read anything quite like it, I promise! Likewise, if you like history in general and are interested in a bit of practical day-to-day social and cultural history, this will totally satisfy that craving.

Again, a little drawn out and too heavily detailed for me to LOVE it (I did quite a bit of skimming through those parts after about halfway through). But in general I definitely liked it. I learned many new things about a time period I would have already considered myself a relative expert on!
Profile Image for John.
2,017 reviews197 followers
May 24, 2020
Far from superficial it's a great overview of many aspects of Tudor-era daily life; some areas will likely appeal to a reader more than others. Audio narration matched text well.

Profile Image for Margaret.
Author 14 books84 followers
February 11, 2019
Interesting little look at daily life in Tudor England.

If that period interests you, then you should definitely give it a go.
Profile Image for Suzannah.
Author 27 books474 followers
December 4, 2022
Fantastic introduction to everyday life in Tudor England. Just as great as the same author's HOW TO BE A VICTORIAN.
Profile Image for Rob Thompson.
491 reviews44 followers
October 29, 2020
How to Be a Tudor is billed as "a dawn-to-dusk guide to Tudor life." The author, Ruth Goodman, commits herself to her research. She shares her experiences of lower- and middle-class daily habits. The text covers the late fifteenth, sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. She carefully explains people’s views on sex, organized religion, and childbirth. Then goes into detail about education work, immigration, cleanliness, food and clothing. As she experienced many of these practical aspects of Tudor life makes the book full of day to day details.

This isn't the first time Goodman has immersed herself in a bygone era. She previously tackled the 19th century in How to Be a Victorian. For those fervently hoping for an identical experience will find How to Be a Tudor doesn't quite reach the same breadth of detail. But that's no surprise, given that the literacy rates of Tudor England were comparatively low. Naturally therefor documentation is trickier to come by.

Ruth has done a great job of accurately describing a fascinating era of British history. It prompts us that we're never as far from the past as we like to think. This is a must have for every history enthusiast and aspiring historian.
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1,309 reviews118 followers
July 20, 2021
I had a lot of fun reading and listening to this book over the past couple of weeks! Fascinating and well-researched but at times, super detailed. In truth, it read a little dry during the chapters that were less-interesting to me. But I was riveted by some of the others: the parts on hygiene, the parts on bedding, the parts about the Tudor beliefs about sex and how they differ from our present-day customs and ideas. The most fun part, I think, is that the author actually immersed herself in some of these Tudor things to see what it felt like and if these customs were actually fruitful. (For example, she didn't bathe for three months, wearing a very specific type of material, just like the Tudor-era commonfolk did, to see if her hygiene was gross or fairly normal. Her findings were fascinating.)

Sidenote: This is a book about the regular citizens, in regular communities, during the Tudor days. This book doesn't really present research or customs of the high born or those at court, and it is not about the Tudor monarchs and their ways of life.

I recommend it to people that are genuinely interested in this period of history. If you don't have a real interest in this sort of thing, it may read a bit dry. But if you're like me, you may be fascinated by everything you learn.

Audiobook Notes: This book is very dense, so it was taking a while to read. I added the audiobook as a library loan, and I'm glad that I did. Honestly, I think I enjoyed the parts that I read with my eyes the most, but Heather Wilds has a nice accent and narrates well. I think that if the author had read it herself, perhaps, it may have had more interesting inflection and emphasis because the author is clearly very excited about the topic presented here. While the narrator did a great job with this book, it was clear that she wasn't really excited about it.

Title: How To Be A Tudor: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Tudor Life by Ruth Goodman
Narrator: Heather Wilds
Length: 10 hours, 22 minutes, Unabridged
Publisher: Highbridge
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