It would take six women to overshadow the enormous Henry. Historian David Starkey recently commented that female historians writing for female audiences have "feminised" history by focusing too much on the wives of Henry VIII, reports Telegraph. Starkey is a popular Tudor expert in England who has such a reputation for being rude that Will Kinmount has called him a "highbrow Simon Cowell." As an American Idol fan, I can clearly hear Simon's voice as I read Starkey ripping apart the BBC's popular "Tudors" series. When he isn't ridiculing other shows, however, Starkey is busy promoting his own -- "Henry VIII: The Mind of a Tyrant," which premieres next week.
As part of the promotion of the new show, Starkey complains that historians are often "subjugating the history of Henry... to that of his wives." As an author of the book "Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII," Starkey isn't really one to talk -- and he knows it. He says that he has even felt himself falling into the "trap."
Although Starkey says we need to focus more on Henry's political significance regarding the Reformation and forming the Church of England, keeping this separate from the "soap opera" can be sticky. After all, Starkey himself admits in another interview that Anne Boleyn was the instigator that caused the devoutly Catholic Henry to separate from the church. Starkey also made headlines earlier this month when he argued that Henry's handwriting reveals that the king was "emotionally dependent on women."
Nevertheless, Starkey argues that modern historians tend to overcompensate with revisionist history and make women "power players" when they weren't. He warns against this tendency to "impose our values on the past." Though you may not agree with Starkey, you've got to admit it's refreshing to hear a historian point out when he's guilty of what he's complaining about.