Naked to Mine Enemies Critical Context - Essay

Charles W. Ferguson

Critical Context

For most readers, Naked to Mine Enemies is a delightful book. If readers have little knowledge of the period, then they will gain much from the book because it explains the major political characters of not only Tudor England but Europe as well. Ferguson is careful to describe each person’s role and place in the scheme of events in the first decades of the sixteenth century. Yet the books’ details may make it hard to understand for the general young adult reader. The book is five hundred pages long and is, at times, somewhat difficult to comprehend. Ferguson uses many unfamiliar words but generally explains their meanings. An example would be the use of “praemunire”; he defines it as meaning treason, but a particular type of treason performed by the clergy when they favor the church in Rome over the monarch. Terms such as these are not familiar to the average reader, but they are needed in such a detailed study. Nevertheless, they tend to make the book somewhat confusing.

Ferguson succeeds, however, in capturing the essence of Wolsey. The reader will have little difficulty in seeing the proud, arrogant cardinal of the sixteenth century. On Ferguson’s pages, Wolsey’s desire for power, and his skill in using it, are quite evident. Because no major biography had appeared in some years prior to the books’ publication in 1958, Naked to Mine Enemies was a significant contribution to historical literature.