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During the fifteenth century, England was split in a bloody conflict between the Houses of York and Lancaster over who should claim the crown. The civil wars consumed the whole nation in a series of battles that eventually saw the Tudor dynasty take power. The much admired historian Desmond Seward tells the story of this complex and dangerous period of history through the During the fifteenth century, England was split in a bloody conflict between the Houses of York and Lancaster over who should claim the crown. The civil wars consumed the whole nation in a series of battles that eventually saw the Tudor dynasty take power. The much admired historian Desmond Seward tells the story of this complex and dangerous period of history through the lives of five men and women who experienced the conflict first hand. In a gripping narrative the personal trials of the principal characters interweave with the major events and personalities of one of the most significant turning points in British history.


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During the fifteenth century, England was split in a bloody conflict between the Houses of York and Lancaster over who should claim the crown. The civil wars consumed the whole nation in a series of battles that eventually saw the Tudor dynasty take power. The much admired historian Desmond Seward tells the story of this complex and dangerous period of history through the During the fifteenth century, England was split in a bloody conflict between the Houses of York and Lancaster over who should claim the crown. The civil wars consumed the whole nation in a series of battles that eventually saw the Tudor dynasty take power. The much admired historian Desmond Seward tells the story of this complex and dangerous period of history through the lives of five men and women who experienced the conflict first hand. In a gripping narrative the personal trials of the principal characters interweave with the major events and personalities of one of the most significant turning points in British history.

30 review for The Wars of the Roses: Through the Lives of Five Men and Women of the Fifteenth Century

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    ”His horse had become bogged down in some marshy ground so that he had been forced to dismount. All around him lay his dead or dying supporters, while others could be seen fleeing for their lives. In steel from head to foot, with a jewelled coronet on his helmet, he grasped a steel-handled battle-hammer. Although his sharp face was hidden by the helmet, he could nonetheless be heard shouting ‘TREASON! TREASON!’, over and over again.” The Demise of Richard III at Bosworth Field. Richard III’ ”His horse had become bogged down in some marshy ground so that he had been forced to dismount. All around him lay his dead or dying supporters, while others could be seen fleeing for their lives. In steel from head to foot, with a jewelled coronet on his helmet, he grasped a steel-handled battle-hammer. Although his sharp face was hidden by the helmet, he could nonetheless be heard shouting ‘TREASON! TREASON!’, over and over again.” The Demise of Richard III at Bosworth Field. Richard III’s remains were discovered in 2012, buried beneath a parking lot. The Plantagenets held the throne of England from 1154, with the beginning of the reign of Henry II, until 1485, with the death of Richard III. It was frankly an amazing accomplishment that one family was able to keep control of an empire like England for that long of a span of time. Desmond Seward has used Barbara Tuchman’s style from A Distant Mirror by telling this story through the eyes of five principle characters. William Hastings rose from obscurity by displaying bravery on the battlefield. He became Edward IV’s closest ally and advisor. He acquired great wealth and influence, but because he was so closely associated with Edward, when the winds of change swept across the land, he was caught on the wrong side and was swiftly beheaded. William Hastings’s Manticore Badge depicted him as quite the lady debaucher. John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, was a member of the most ancient and noble family of England and was determined to win back the throne for the Lancastrians. John Morton was a priest-lawyer who somehow was skillfully able to switch back and forth between the Lancastrian and Yorkist sides, depending upon who was in power at any given time. He had a brilliant political mind, and both sides vied for his help as they tried to wrestle for control of the kingdom. Lady Margaret Beaufort was the richest woman in England and, despite being only 5 feet tall, was also considered one of the most dangerous and powerful women in England. She had one child at the age of 13, and that child grew up to become Henry VII. The most intriguing of the five for me was Jane Shore, AKA Elizabeth Lambert, the daughter of a fairly well to do London merchant. She became the favorite mistress of Edward IV, then William Hastings, and finally, she was with the king’s stepson, the Marquess of Dorset. A woman like this is such an important observer of history; yet when the histories are written, people like her are never consulted, and their stories are lost. We know some about her, but not nearly enough. She lost her reputation, that tends to happen when you move from one man’s bed to another and another. Jane even spent two hitches in prison, but she became a very famous historical harlot when Richard III (brother of Edward IV) made her do public penance. ”On a Sunday, Jane was made to walk barefoot in her kirtle through the city streets, carrying a lighted taper. She ‘went so fair and lovely’ and looked so comely, especially when she blushed, that many men cheered, more amorous of her body than curious of her soul.’ Even those who disapproved of her way of life felt sorry for her, questioning the King’s motives.” Just another reason not to like Richard III. Really, you are worried about punishing your brother’s harlot? Wouldn’t it have been much more practical just to take her into your own bed and discover...what it is about this woman? The Lancastrians and the Yorkists were all one big, unhappy family. They were all descendents of Plantagenet kings and queens. Really, the trouble all began with the death of Henry V, the hero of Agincourt, whom Shakespeare immortalized in his brilliant play. He died too young, at the age of 36, and this left a power vacuum that would play a part in destabilizing England over the next several decades. His son Henry VI was crowned king of England at nine months old. Primogentry at its most moronic. Richard of York, a great grandson of Edward III, became regent when Henry VI suffered a mental breakdown. Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, and Richard of York hatch a plan to depose Henry VI and make Richard King of England, which frankly, probably should have happened in the first place, but in the battle to take the kingdom Richard of York is slain in battle. Warwick changes his alliance to Richard’s son, Edward. They depose Henry VI, and Edward is crowned Edward IV. When Edward married Elizabeth Woodville, Warwick and he had a falling out. Elizabeth and Edward rank highly in the canon of romantic marriages. She was beautiful and unusual looking, but also very intelligent. She was mercenary, marrying off her plethora of sisters to the most prestigious sons of the realm. Elizabeth, with her considerable influence on the king, had him enhance the dowries of her sisters with land. This really teed off the aristocrats with daughters who had thoughts of snagging some of those grand sons of the realm for their own family connections. Elizabeth Woodville, like Anne Boleyn, refused to let Edward sleep with her until he put a ring on it. I don’t know how aware Anne was six or seven decades later of the manipulations of Elizabeth, but there are certainly interesting parallels between the two women. Elizabeth Woodville Warwick married off his daughter to Edward’s brother George, Duke of Clarence, and when he decided it was time for Edward to go, his first thought was to make George king, but circumstances had him go back to the shattered Henry VI as his figurehead king. It is the President Grover Cleveland moment of English history. Warwick was known as the KINGMAKER. He was the power behind the throne. He was killed at the Battle of Barnet, and Edward and the Yorkists sweep back into power. Interestingly enough, Edward IV never lost a battle. He was 6’3” and very kingly in appearance. There was quite the juxtaposition between Henry VI and Edward IV. ”Edward IV was an inspiration to the Yorkists, a giant in gilt armour with a jewelled coronet on his helmet--in contrast to Henry VI who, according to plausible legend, spent the battle in prayer.” Battle of Barnet What is interesting about this period was Edward IV was fond of saying, ”Spare the commons and kill the gentles.” The Wars of the Roses was that kind of war, where previously the adage would have been, “Hang the commoners by their necks, but hang the aristocrats by their purse.” The Wars of the Roses was an escalation of death due to the increasing feelings of hatred that the Yorkists and Lancastrians felt for each other. There were changing alliances. There are always those people, like John Morton, who can find a way to always land on their feet, regardless of who is in power. Sometimes one side of the family or the other had to spend time residing in France while they were attainted by the winning side, only to get their properties back months later when their side prevailed. It is all about power. Both sides had too much in common with each other to spend so many decades in bloody conflict with each other. Edward IV seemed like the type of king that people could rally around, but people were still not happy with him because of the turmoil during his reign. He was never able to make peace with the Lancastrians. England, at this time, lacked an external enemy that would have possibly drawn the two sides back together to save the kingdom. His son Edward V was king for a matter of days before Richard III takes the throne for himself. Painting by Sir John Everett Millais The Princes in the Towers is probably what Richard III is best known for historically. Edward IV’s two sons were imprisoned and never seen again. There is not much to like about Richard III, but I will reserve judgement until I get a chance to read more about him. Shakespeare, of course, made him infamous in his play of the same name. I do have to give Richard credit; for a man known as a hunchback, he fought well at Bosworth Field and died well. He wanted to die a king, and he did just that. With the ascension of Henry VII in 1485, the Tudor dynasty began or, as I like to call it, the Pursued Her dynasty. I have to say I really enjoyed this book. I knew very little about this era, and Seward gave me an excellent crash course, through the eyes of his chosen few, with which I can build on with Dan Jones’s book and Alison Weir’s book and many more. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  2. 4 out of 5

    Orsolya

    Lancaster versus York. York versus Lancaster. The Wars of the Roses may be long over but Anglophiles still take sides as often as children grumble over the Oreo cookie versus the crème filling. Historian Desmond Seward addresses this perilous time in English history with “The Wars of the Roses: Through the Lives of Five Men and Women of the Fifteenth Century”. “The Wars of the Roses” instantly piles on information (in a good way) with genealogical charts, time lines, and a ‘Who’s Who’ of the tim Lancaster versus York. York versus Lancaster. The Wars of the Roses may be long over but Anglophiles still take sides as often as children grumble over the Oreo cookie versus the crème filling. Historian Desmond Seward addresses this perilous time in English history with “The Wars of the Roses: Through the Lives of Five Men and Women of the Fifteenth Century”. “The Wars of the Roses” instantly piles on information (in a good way) with genealogical charts, time lines, and a ‘Who’s Who’ of the time period. Flowing into a brief overview of what actually began the York versus Lancaster wars; Seward’s work is informative, scholarly, and ideal for those new to the topic (although it can be overwhelming) or as a refresher course for those already familiar with the history. Although creative in scope following the lives of five influential figures (John de Vere, William Hastings, Margaret Beaufort, John Morton, and Jane Shore), their interactions with each other, and that of the battles; the execution is slightly flawed. The text is choppy and backtracks with each chapter (each chapter focuses on a different individual) which is distracting and slows the narrative pace. Plus, much of the text is too scholarly with a simple stating of facts void of any emotion or tonal flow. Thus, “Wars of the Roses” is a great reference piece for fact-finding but not as suited for those history readers who still prefer a narrative arc. Another issue lays in the clear “would have” assumptions and speculations. Although Seward’s research is evident (and noted); he placed a great emphasis on assumptions, especially when discussing the motives or every day lives of the figures. This also resulted in clear biases versus neutral history-telling. Although a little bias is indeed present in most historical texts (and can even be welcomed); Seward has an almost bitter streak, taking the events personally. This can sway new readers to lean in one direction before checking other sources. On the positive side, the creativity of following a few key figures is inviting, especially when one of those is Jane Shore (although her coverage is scant). Also compelling are the numerous illustrations and two sections of color plates which serve well as supplements. Whether due to Seward’s own interest or an increase in sources (most likely: both); “The Wars of the Roses” becomes more exciting and fast-paced when concerning Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth (Seward does not appear to be a Ricardian). The concluding chapters are well rounded and provide insight regarding Perkin Warbeck and the surviving figures discussed. Overall, Seward is informative and opens up the world of York versus Lancaster. However, the text can be dry and not appealing to all readers. I would better suggest it as either a reference tool or to read a specific figure’s section versus cover to cover.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Siria

    This is a concise account of the Wars of the Roses anchored around the lives of five contemporaries: William Hastings, a partisan of Edward IV; Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII; the Lancastrian earl of Oxford; Dr John Morton, later a cardinal; and the middle-class Jane Shore, a mistress of Edward IV. While parts of the book are a little dry, thanks to the complexities of names and titles and various relations with claims to different things through births and marriages, Seward overall does This is a concise account of the Wars of the Roses anchored around the lives of five contemporaries: William Hastings, a partisan of Edward IV; Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII; the Lancastrian earl of Oxford; Dr John Morton, later a cardinal; and the middle-class Jane Shore, a mistress of Edward IV. While parts of the book are a little dry, thanks to the complexities of names and titles and various relations with claims to different things through births and marriages, Seward overall does a good job at pulling things together. Given that this is a popular history book, I thought Seward did a better than average job at acknowledging the ways in which the surviving sources shape our understanding of the past and the roles played by women. This is a couple of hundred years after my normal area of interest, however, so I can't speak to its accuracy.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Terra

    Surprisingly engrossing, and basically pretty great. I loved the way the history was anchored in five specific people who you got to follow around and keep track of as things progressed, and THANK YOU Mr. Author-Man for throwing two girls in the mix. William Hastings blah blah, let's talk Margaret Beaufort! Also: I had no idea Richard III was that big an asshat. For reals. Even by the extremely low standards of the time with respect to asshattery, he was pretty much the limit. Anywho, I'm adding Surprisingly engrossing, and basically pretty great. I loved the way the history was anchored in five specific people who you got to follow around and keep track of as things progressed, and THANK YOU Mr. Author-Man for throwing two girls in the mix. William Hastings blah blah, let's talk Margaret Beaufort! Also: I had no idea Richard III was that big an asshat. For reals. Even by the extremely low standards of the time with respect to asshattery, he was pretty much the limit. Anywho, I'm adding Desmond Seward to my list of People Who Write Well About Real Stuff That Is Intriguing.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    "This is the third book from the Folio Society that I have bought, and though the quality continues to amaze, I was a bit disappointed in the layout of the images and their presentation. The three sections were nice, but I felt they could have been split up more to break up the blocks of text. I enjoyed Seward’s writing as it made an interesting subject easy to digest through the well-written descriptions and its use of accounts from contemporary sources. The Wars of the Roses was a tumultuous t "This is the third book from the Folio Society that I have bought, and though the quality continues to amaze, I was a bit disappointed in the layout of the images and their presentation. The three sections were nice, but I felt they could have been split up more to break up the blocks of text. I enjoyed Seward’s writing as it made an interesting subject easy to digest through the well-written descriptions and its use of accounts from contemporary sources. The Wars of the Roses was a tumultuous time in England, especially for the gentry, and this edition is a great addition to any lay historian’s collection." - https://thepastduereview.com/2018/04/...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Sunshineflower

    The narrative and brass engravings were compelling but many disputed claims were not well substantiated or were portrayed as unquestionable fact. The rumor that Richard III sought to marry Elizabeth of York for example, has been widely discredited. It is, i would say, well known that he had long been after Anne Neville. Despite my misgivings I did like the studies of Hastings, the Kingmaker, John Morton, Margaret Beaufort and the Earl of Oxford. I didn't care for the information about Jane Shore The narrative and brass engravings were compelling but many disputed claims were not well substantiated or were portrayed as unquestionable fact. The rumor that Richard III sought to marry Elizabeth of York for example, has been widely discredited. It is, i would say, well known that he had long been after Anne Neville. Despite my misgivings I did like the studies of Hastings, the Kingmaker, John Morton, Margaret Beaufort and the Earl of Oxford. I didn't care for the information about Jane Shore's father and found it superfluous to the narrative. One last criticism I have is that Seward downplayed the significance of the widespread dislike and mistrust of the Woodvilles when Edward IV died. I think Richard III's coup had a lot more to do with his hatred of the Woodvilles and especially his struggle against Rivers than ambition or ruthlessness alone. One of them was bound to end up dead. I would not consider myself a partisan for either Richard III or the Tudors, but I am skeptical of regimes in general and I tend to believe that the truth is somewhere in the middle. I felt that Seward definitely saw the claim of the Tudors as more legitimate and rightful, and while historians have a right to educated guesses and opinions, I would take some of his claims with a grain of salt, knowing what I know about the War of the Roses and some of my own hypotheses about "what really happened." Francis Lovell was to Gloucester what William Hastings was to Edward IV and I will say that it was a shame he was little more than a footnote in this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Phil Syphe

    I was drawn to this biography of the Wars of the Roses because of the five-person focus, though as it transpired, what I found was another general rendition of what went on during the Wars, with the usual players – Edward IV, Richard III, Henrys VI & VII, etc. – taking centre stage. Trouble is, with the likes of Jane Shore, very little info is available. As a result, the author refers to events featuring her father, John Lambert, to compensate. Even so, there’s not a great deal of info on him eit I was drawn to this biography of the Wars of the Roses because of the five-person focus, though as it transpired, what I found was another general rendition of what went on during the Wars, with the usual players – Edward IV, Richard III, Henrys VI & VII, etc. – taking centre stage. Trouble is, with the likes of Jane Shore, very little info is available. As a result, the author refers to events featuring her father, John Lambert, to compensate. Even so, there’s not a great deal of info on him either. I was particularly interested in matters concerning John de Vere, Earl of Oxford. He was a huge asset to Henry Tudor and it’s probable that the earl is the main reason why Henry became king. So the title is a bit misleading. Yes, the five are referred to, but the narrative does not revolve around them as implied. Lack of historical records make this difficult. The author’s style is engaging at times but not at others. The section when Richard becomes king is the most appealingly written.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Gupta

    I bought this because I needed to read a history of the Wars of the Roses, as my knowledge of the events was rather patchy. Since this book focusses on the lives of relatively minor characters, I am still unenlightened as to the major events of the conflict, but know more than I will ever need to know about the life of the father of the king's mistress. I bought this because I needed to read a history of the Wars of the Roses, as my knowledge of the events was rather patchy. Since this book focusses on the lives of relatively minor characters, I am still unenlightened as to the major events of the conflict, but know more than I will ever need to know about the life of the father of the king's mistress.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Webcowgirl

    A fascinating trip through a tumultuous time in history - reads so well you'll think you're watching trash TV. Doubtlessly a barrel of malmsey would be just the thing for Celebrity Big Brother. A fascinating trip through a tumultuous time in history - reads so well you'll think you're watching trash TV. Doubtlessly a barrel of malmsey would be just the thing for Celebrity Big Brother.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Firstly, there seem to be a general misconception amongst reviewers that this book is a general comprehensive account of the period of the yorkist/Lancastrian civil wars, it is not. It is a view from the perspective of 5 men and women and was never meant to stand alone. I found it a quite easy and enjoyable general view of the period - paradise to the author for handling the complex array of names and titles which is usually an plague to the lay reader. While I have other points of criticism, it Firstly, there seem to be a general misconception amongst reviewers that this book is a general comprehensive account of the period of the yorkist/Lancastrian civil wars, it is not. It is a view from the perspective of 5 men and women and was never meant to stand alone. I found it a quite easy and enjoyable general view of the period - paradise to the author for handling the complex array of names and titles which is usually an plague to the lay reader. While I have other points of criticism, it does seem a rather a mistake to dismiss this volume because it is not comprehensible enough. A few of my criticisms are as follow: While I liked Seward’s narrative and that he does deliver what he set out to do, I found him very uncritical of existing historians, Shakespearian anachronisms and also of contemporary sources and hear say alike. He makes methodological mistakes throughout. Richard was, while definitely a bad enough sort (they all were), was a victim of his own propaganda and of both later Tudor and Shakespearian vilification. This is not addressed to my satisfaction. Later historians has access to new material and address the problem of the bones found in the Tower belonging to the princes. I have never seen a compelling piece of evidence that R III sought to marry Elizabeth of York. Why did Seward choose Jane Shore as a one of his five focal point? So little is known about her and the focus becomes of what little is known if her father. Seems ill considered. But all in all a lively if a bit flawed work.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mark Seemann

    While my main problem with this book isn't the author's fault, I found it difficult to follow the narrative, such as it is. Everyone in this book is called either Edward, Henry, or John, it seems. Sometimes there's a Henry belonging to one faction, and an Edward in the other; twenty years later, it may be the other way around. I may have gotten the details wrong, but that's how reading this book felt. Not only is everyone similarly named, but they're often referred to as their title. Everyone's e While my main problem with this book isn't the author's fault, I found it difficult to follow the narrative, such as it is. Everyone in this book is called either Edward, Henry, or John, it seems. Sometimes there's a Henry belonging to one faction, and an Edward in the other; twenty years later, it may be the other way around. I may have gotten the details wrong, but that's how reading this book felt. Not only is everyone similarly named, but they're often referred to as their title. Everyone's either a duke or an earl, so again, it's bewildering. Who was the duke of Buckingham, again? Ah, Henry Stafford! ...but, wait, isn't that the third husband of Margaret Beaufort? No, that's the son of the 1st duke of Buckingham, Humphrey Stafford. There's a Who's Who in the back of the book, but the story's still difficult to follow. While the author can't help the bewildering array of protagonists during that period of history, any fault in the writing seems a fair target of criticism. I found the language needlessly graceless and difficult to parse. Shorter sentences would have made it easier to understand. When longer sentences are unavoidable, commas or other punctuation would have helped.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Soukyan Blackwood

    all reviews in one place: night mode reading ; skaitom nakties rezimu Not gonna lie, sometimes, when reading history books on better known, closer countries, if I know little to nothing of what’s going on, other than the few most famous or infamous names: I feel like an utter idiot. Back in the day I really loved history. I even wanted to study it. But the want melted away, and never returned. This is a very well written, not at all dry history book of fifteen century England. It reads like all reviews in one place: night mode reading ; skaitom nakties rezimu Not gonna lie, sometimes, when reading history books on better known, closer countries, if I know little to nothing of what’s going on, other than the few most famous or infamous names: I feel like an utter idiot. Back in the day I really loved history. I even wanted to study it. But the want melted away, and never returned. This is a very well written, not at all dry history book of fifteen century England. It reads like a book with a little extra facts, all the people feeling very realistic in a sense that they could be characters. During this period of time Yorks and Lancasters tore at each other for the crown, and this particular war was called War of Two Roses. Here author steps in again, and lets you know why’s that, and how it wasn’t very accurate, really. It’s really entertaining, and easy to follow. An interesting book, as, I feel, history books should be. I’ve no clue of how accurate it is factually, but if you’re curious on the topic, I can recommend this book. In fact, I’ll give it a 5 out of 5, and will keep the author in mind, in case there’s more interesting history books he wrote.

  13. 5 out of 5

    J. Bryce

    My cat has an entire chapter named after him! Amazing! This was an interesting take on a by-now familiar series of events. If you're a fan of the Tudor period, this is recommended. My cat has an entire chapter named after him! Amazing! This was an interesting take on a by-now familiar series of events. If you're a fan of the Tudor period, this is recommended.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jesten

    Interesting and informative. I felt like I gained a great deal of knowledge from this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Emma Harris

    Really enjoyed this and if you like history, specifically the wars of the roses then this is def a good read. The different marriages between the many different lords, dukes can become confusing

  16. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    Great info. A little tedious. My second time reading this.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Pam Shelton-Anderson

    My original review has been lost, but I had given it 3 stars.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Hans

    In his typicallz brilliant manner, Desmond Seward continues his journey through the barbarous and strange world of medieval England, giving us a glimpse into the day-to-day lives of the protagonists and bit players of the English Civil War that hides behind the poetic name "The Wars of the Roses". In his typicallz brilliant manner, Desmond Seward continues his journey through the barbarous and strange world of medieval England, giving us a glimpse into the day-to-day lives of the protagonists and bit players of the English Civil War that hides behind the poetic name "The Wars of the Roses".

  19. 5 out of 5

    Katriona

    This was one thrilling, confusing, treacherous and fascinating trip to 15th century England. I knew an even briefer version of the War of the Roses, mostly supplied by a book I read about the She Wolves of England & the chapter on Margaret of Anjou. So many twists & turns and treachery, it is easy to see why this period of history remains a mystery to most people but a fascinating & rich time for others. How it has been changed into a very popular and hugely imaginative story starring dragons an This was one thrilling, confusing, treacherous and fascinating trip to 15th century England. I knew an even briefer version of the War of the Roses, mostly supplied by a book I read about the She Wolves of England & the chapter on Margaret of Anjou. So many twists & turns and treachery, it is easy to see why this period of history remains a mystery to most people but a fascinating & rich time for others. How it has been changed into a very popular and hugely imaginative story starring dragons and twists almost as convoluted as that occured in the period it is based is easy to see. Game of Thrones in reality? So much more bloody and treacherous, the killing of kings, princes, queens, good people and bad and a huge amount of treason and it's punishment. However, the focus on 5 of the men & women of this time felt a little shaky. I didn't feel like there was a huge amount of resources for some of them and the author uses a lot of conjecture and the writing of More, so much so that it's clear the author holds his writing in such high esteem as to deem it truth without questioning motives & bias. What was the point of Jane Shore being included if we got such a paltry look at her life? There was little to draw from her story except that she bedded some of the powerful men of the time and then vanished out of recorded history. If this was to illustrate how little women 'mattered' or were written about in this time, then he achieved his purpose, but I felt like it was a shaky link to the 'common' people of the time. I was also concerned about the lack of referencing. Whether it was laziness or just plagerism, the author would frequently quote a source but leave no reference. There were a few issues of bad editing that I picked up on, like the mention of Tower Bridge as a place where heads were displayed, which would have been wonderous, as Tower Bridge wasn't started until the 1800's! However, it does a lot to open the doors to this time in history and has done a lot to straighten out the timeline for me. There are several books that the author sources that could be used as further reading if wanting to go more in-depth.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Relstuart

    Another solid effort by Desmond Seward. This is a history of the original game of thrones centered on who would rule England. The House of York, or the House of Lancaster. The author focuses on 5 characters but most of the time it reads more like a history book following the conflict. The characters add some personal story into the mix and help you understand the history of the time better. I wasn't sure I would like the format but it ended working pretty well. Of interest, Richard the III took Another solid effort by Desmond Seward. This is a history of the original game of thrones centered on who would rule England. The House of York, or the House of Lancaster. The author focuses on 5 characters but most of the time it reads more like a history book following the conflict. The characters add some personal story into the mix and help you understand the history of the time better. I wasn't sure I would like the format but it ended working pretty well. Of interest, Richard the III took control and proclaimed himself king after the death of Edward IV who had resolved the Wars for some time. His two sons were placed in the tower of London by Richard and then vanished. It was widely held that they were suffocated to death so they could never challenge Richard the III for the throne. Apparently Richard helped spread this story thinking it would make him safer. This proved to one of the more colossal blunders in PR history as even in this more violent age the average person was horrified that Richard III had murdered two boys held in custody. Richard III though mean of stature, physique, and spirit died a warrior's death when at the Battle of Bosworth his men were defeated by the forces of Henry Tudor. He probably could have fled and fought another day but was disliked enough that he suspected this battle was his only chance. So he fought on until he was alone among his enemies and finally cut down on the battle field. The battle was decided by Lord Stanley, who held a third army waiting on the sidelines to see who would have the advantage so he could pick the winning side. Lord Stanley was in an awkward position where choosing the wrong side would mean death for himself and at a minimum leaving his surviving family penniless. Doing nothing was also not an option as both sides sent to ask his aid. After Henry Tudor's forces begin to take the upper hand Lord Stanley attacked Richard's forces and provided the forces necessary for a decisive victory.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Karen Floyd

    I am finding this author annoying. Too many quotations uncited, too much reliance on non-contemporary sources and hearsay, not enough skepticism about biased sources. Only a couple of footnotes per chapter. After finishing this book I am still dissatisfied with it for the above reasons. He seems completely uncritical of the Tudor sources and makes sweeping pronouncements based on them. The History of the Wars of the Roses is a bit of a misnomer as the book focuses on only five people. This someti I am finding this author annoying. Too many quotations uncited, too much reliance on non-contemporary sources and hearsay, not enough skepticism about biased sources. Only a couple of footnotes per chapter. After finishing this book I am still dissatisfied with it for the above reasons. He seems completely uncritical of the Tudor sources and makes sweeping pronouncements based on them. The History of the Wars of the Roses is a bit of a misnomer as the book focuses on only five people. This sometimes seems choppy, and also makes me wonder what I am missing in that complicated time. He accuses Richard III of using propaganda, but doesn't see the things the Tudors said about Richard to be anything but gospel truth.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    This was really enjoyable to read, clearly, this was a subject of great passion for the author, which was why it was so engaging. What I didn't like about the book, is that it too easily made "bad guys" of the usual suspects in the time of the War of the Roses. I understand it is a "brief history of..." so going with the straight up agreed upon facts is the obvious way to do it, but it would have been interesting for an alternative analysis to have happened (ie immediately damning Richard III or This was really enjoyable to read, clearly, this was a subject of great passion for the author, which was why it was so engaging. What I didn't like about the book, is that it too easily made "bad guys" of the usual suspects in the time of the War of the Roses. I understand it is a "brief history of..." so going with the straight up agreed upon facts is the obvious way to do it, but it would have been interesting for an alternative analysis to have happened (ie immediately damning Richard III or the Woodvilles) But, all in all, I like how he explained the history not necessarily from the POV of the kings and queens, but rather from the people they affected - which was very interesting.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lara Eakins

    I had previously read sections of this book looking for information on Magaret Beaufort, but then I read the whole thing for an English history class I took at my university on a staff benefit. One thing that I particularly liked about the book was when he mentioned a place (building usually) he would mention what part of the place (if anything) still remained and could be seen today. I should have been taking notes on that!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kay Robart

    Desmond Seward presents the clearest and most interesting explication I have read. He organizes the material and infuses interest by following the effects of the wars on five people. History can be written with too much detail or in a too academic and dry style, or it can be so lightly researched as to seem like fluff. Seward hits the perfect balance with a terrifically interesting book that is wonderfully well written. http://whatmeread.wordpress.com/tag/t... Desmond Seward presents the clearest and most interesting explication I have read. He organizes the material and infuses interest by following the effects of the wars on five people. History can be written with too much detail or in a too academic and dry style, or it can be so lightly researched as to seem like fluff. Seward hits the perfect balance with a terrifically interesting book that is wonderfully well written. http://whatmeread.wordpress.com/tag/t...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nelina Kapetsoni

    Readable, vivid and informative. There are details about life during the Wars of the Roses for almost every aspect of society, while the five individuals whose personal journeys are narrated are interesting personalities with fascinating stories of their own. The author tries to be as unbiased as possible and to a great extent he presents an objective narrative, although he certainly felt close to the protagonists. Popular history as it should be written.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    I am doing a course with future Learn on Richard the III. This book has been extremely useful. The author describes the Wars of the Roses, which are very complicated in terms of personalities, by writing about five people from varying levels of society who lived through the period and how they were affected by , and contributed to, the conflict.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Wright

    I'd always assumed that Richard III wasn't as horrible as he was cracked up to be, but that he was just a scapegoat for Tudor propaganda. It turns out that while this is still true, he is nevertheless as horrible as he is usually made out, it's just that so was everyone else. (No, this is not an actual review. Apologies.) I'd always assumed that Richard III wasn't as horrible as he was cracked up to be, but that he was just a scapegoat for Tudor propaganda. It turns out that while this is still true, he is nevertheless as horrible as he is usually made out, it's just that so was everyone else. (No, this is not an actual review. Apologies.)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    A non-fiction history book on my shelf?!? I'm just as surprised as you. But I enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to those who have an interest in learning about the Wars but don't want to be bored to tears with a textbook. A non-fiction history book on my shelf?!? I'm just as surprised as you. But I enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to those who have an interest in learning about the Wars but don't want to be bored to tears with a textbook.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    A solid introduction to the War of the Roses. It was an enjoyable read, though the author did tend to ramble on a bit. This led to confusing bits of narrative between his five chosen characters. But on the whole I liked the grizzled account.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Trey Kiernan

    I really liked this book a lot, although it took a while to read. It was tough keeping up with all the players involved. I kept another book handy just to keep all the people straight. The book I used was a fervency book called "The Kings and Queens of England and Scotland". Very enjoyable read. I really liked this book a lot, although it took a while to read. It was tough keeping up with all the players involved. I kept another book handy just to keep all the people straight. The book I used was a fervency book called "The Kings and Queens of England and Scotland". Very enjoyable read.

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