Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Contains all non-fiction book posts.

Sir Francis Bryan – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleSir Francis Bryan: Henry VIII’s Most
Notorious Ambassador
AuthorSara-Beth Watkins
PublisherChronos Books (February 1, 2020)
FormatKindle, Paperback,
ISBN #1789043417 ISBN 13(978-1789043419)


Sara-Beth Watkins is a successful and popular author. She is an autodidact and grew up in Surrey, England. During her childhood she was drawn to the subjects of history and writing. Following a career as a tutor of the written word, she branched out to professional writing. Her early works were successful, and they focused on self-help. The success of her initial releases inspired here to combine her childhood interests and the result has been an avalanche of superb historic works of littérature. 


Those who enjoy historic literature in general or Tudor history, in particular, may enjoy this manuscript. Scholars or academics studying college courses in history may find Sir Francis Bryan very useful. 


Sir Francis Bryan is a comprehensive and detailed life of a Tudor aristocrat. The period referred to by the title is from 1490 when Francis Bryan was born to his death in 1550. The volume explores the life and times of Bryan; his heritage, Knighthood, and other heraldic awards acquired during King Henry’s monarchy and thereafter. 

Bryan was a loyal functionary of not just one monarch but several Royal Houses during his lifetime. He was very well rewarded for his friendship and his loyalty. However, the rewards were all too often depleted by the demands placed upon him by the very sovereign that accorded them to him. ‘The Field of the Cloth of Gold (June 1520)’ is where Bryan paid more than the King for the much-heralded celebration. A celebration that preceded The Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530’s.

Watkins has managed to take a character and present the man behind the myth. There is a genuine sense of him, his personality and his human failings. We are left in no doubt that he was a ‘man’s man’ that is to say someone who works hard, plays hard, and likes to chase the ladies. 

Bryan lived at a time in English history that saw momentous constitutional and religious changes. A period of great upheaval, wars, religious inspired pogroms and strife. It was a time that friendship nor marriage alone could guarantee your safety. It is safe to assume that Bryan was blessed with what would be labeled today as a considerable degree of social intelligence. He navigated his way successfully across several monarchs’ rule, and survived.

Whilst Watkins has provided us a comprehensive and detailed biography through extensive research, she has avoided the licentious and depraved aspects of Bryans life’s choices. There is a hint of his lascivious tastes, but an accurate account is missing. There is no doubt as to Bryan’s skills in diplomacy, aided by his knowledge of several languages, “savoir faire” in his mandated tasks. Bryan cleverly negotiates the daily dangers of court life and of managing the expectations of his close friend and King. He used his personality, confidence, intelligence and elan, to communicate truth to power and maintain his head. 

Watkins has produced a concise and broad ranging personal history in a succinct format. The book holds together well, and it is suffused with material. 


There is a significant skill in writing historic biographies and maintaining a pace that holds the reader’s attention. This skill is even more admirable when taken into consideration the vast gaps in the historic record for a person’s daily life experiences. This lack of accurate information is true even of those in close contact with the monarchs. 

Sara-Beth Watkins has managed to write yet another captivating, informative and entertaining read. 

Sir Francis Bryan includes monochrome pictures, references, a bibliography and an Appendix. 


My sincere thanks go to: Sara-Beth Watkins (Author), NetGalley, and the Publisher (Chronos Books) for affording me the opportunity to review Sir Francis Bryan: Henry VIII’s Most Notorious Ambassador.