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The fifteenth century experienced the longest and bloodiest series of civil wars in British history. The crown of England changed hands violently seven times as the great families of England fought to the death for power, majesty and the right to rule. Dan Jones completes his epic history of medieval England with a new book about the the Wars of the Roses - and describes h The fifteenth century experienced the longest and bloodiest series of civil wars in British history. The crown of England changed hands violently seven times as the great families of England fought to the death for power, majesty and the right to rule. Dan Jones completes his epic history of medieval England with a new book about the the Wars of the Roses - and describes how the Plantagenets, tore themselves apart and were finally replaced by the Tudors. With vivid descriptions of the battle of Towton, where 28,000 men died in a single morning, to Bosworth, where the last Plantagenet king was hacked down, this is the real story behind Shakespeare's famous history plays.


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The fifteenth century experienced the longest and bloodiest series of civil wars in British history. The crown of England changed hands violently seven times as the great families of England fought to the death for power, majesty and the right to rule. Dan Jones completes his epic history of medieval England with a new book about the the Wars of the Roses - and describes h The fifteenth century experienced the longest and bloodiest series of civil wars in British history. The crown of England changed hands violently seven times as the great families of England fought to the death for power, majesty and the right to rule. Dan Jones completes his epic history of medieval England with a new book about the the Wars of the Roses - and describes how the Plantagenets, tore themselves apart and were finally replaced by the Tudors. With vivid descriptions of the battle of Towton, where 28,000 men died in a single morning, to Bosworth, where the last Plantagenet king was hacked down, this is the real story behind Shakespeare's famous history plays.

30 review for The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors

  1. 4 out of 5

    Leanda Lisle

    This is a story that ends badly, with ‘A wretched and blundering youth’ hacking at the head and shoulders of an old lady dressed in new shoes. She is the last Plantagenet, executed on the orders of the Henry VIII. Yet Dan Jones’s thrilling account ‘of the Wars and the Roses & the rise of the Tudors’ begins so very differently. Children dressed as angels, with gold painted faces, sang ‘Hail flower of England, knight of Christendom’, as they greeted Henry V on his return to London following the gr This is a story that ends badly, with ‘A wretched and blundering youth’ hacking at the head and shoulders of an old lady dressed in new shoes. She is the last Plantagenet, executed on the orders of the Henry VIII. Yet Dan Jones’s thrilling account ‘of the Wars and the Roses & the rise of the Tudors’ begins so very differently. Children dressed as angels, with gold painted faces, sang ‘Hail flower of England, knight of Christendom’, as they greeted Henry V on his return to London following the great victory at Agincourt. Five years later, in 1420, the king was regent of France, heir to the French throne, and married to their princess, Catherine of Valois. ‘It is not recorded’ wrote one admiring chronicler, ‘that any king of England ever accomplished so much in so short a time’. Unfortunately, Henry V’s glorious reign ended with his early death in 1422. He left his infant son as king Henry VI, and his wife a lonely young widow. The revenge of the French for their humiliation at Agincourt would prove to lie in her blood, for it passed to their son a strain of madness inherited from her father, who had suffered bouts of insanity in which he used to run through his palaces naked and screaming, covered in his own excrement. At first Henry VI, seemed merely gentle and weak. As a young man he was a loving – if not very potent - husband to his loyal wife, Margaret of Anjou, and a kindly half-brother to the recent, and very embarrassing, Tudor additions to the royal family. His widowed mother had married a Welshman ‘of no birth neither of livelihood’, one Owen Tudor, with whom she had fallen in love after he had fallen drunk into her lap at a party (or so legend had it). The Queen and the commoner had had four children and Henry VI arranged the marriage of the eldest to a royal cousin: Margaret Beaufort. Her descent from an illegitimate line of the House of Lancaster, would give her son, Henry Tudor, his only – and corrupted - claim to English royal blood. But the disasters that were to befall the English crown would carve out a path to the throne. By the time Henry Tudor was born in 1457, Henry VI had lost his French kingdom, and gone quietly loopy, raising the ambitions of the Plantagenet Richard, Duke of York. The consequence was the period we remember as the Wars of the Roses – a term Jones defends against those historians and novelists who have been claiming, entirely spuriously, that contemporaries called it the ‘Cousin’s War’, and that we should too. Jones navigates the violence and treacheries that follow in such vivid prose that even a non-battle seem incredibly dramatic and exciting. When the Duke of York runs away to avoid a fight at Ludlow we find his wife abandoned at the castle with her two youngest sons, aged nine, and seven. Henry VI’s vengeful Queen, Margaret of Anjou, is standing behind the royal lines and ‘she was in terrible danger’, but ‘the grand wife of the vanquished duke walked through the streets of the ransacked town, her sons by her side. They walked as far as the overturned market place, in the shadow of the castle walls, and then came to a halt: the remnants of a great family throwing themselves on the mercy of the crown.’ Cecily survives Margaret of Anjou’s wrath, only to see her husband killed after a later battle, and his head stuck on the gates of York, a paper crown fluttering on his bloodied hair in mockery of his former ambitions. But her eighteen-year old son revenges his father, overthrowing Henry VI to become in 1461 the Yorkist king Edward IV. The Lancastrian cause seems hopeless, until in 1470 Edward’s cousin and closest ally, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, ‘the Kingmaker’ makes an alliance with Margaret of Anjou that sees Henry VI re-adapted as King – briefly. Edward defeats Warwick at the battle of Barnet and then Margaret of Anjou at the battle of Tewkesbury, where her son is killed, before Henry VI is murdered in the Tower. With the House of Lancaster wiped out in the legitimate male line, only the fourteen-year old Henry Tudor is left to represent the Lancastrian cause, and he is driven into exile in Brittany. ‘ There had not been so successful no so fortunate an English general since the days of Henry V’ Jones observes of Edward IV. But like Henry V, Edward dies young, leaving a child – his twelve-year old son Edward V – as his heir. England was dependent on the good will of the adults around a king who was too young to rule, and that good will proved in short supply. The rivalry between the young king’s close relatives – his mother’s family, the Woodvilles, and Edward IV’s only surviving brother, Richard - was to be the final undoing of the House of York. When Richard III overthrew Edward V, and the boy king and his young brother disappeared from the Tower in the summer of 1483, he was following the example set in the overthrow and death of Henry VI. But Henry VI had been a failing king, and Richard III had fatally underestimated the loyalty Edward IV’s memory inspired. So angry were the Edwardian Yorkists at Richard III’s usurpation that they turned to Henry Tudor to overthrow him. The deal Henry Tudor made with the Edwardian loyalists was that in the event of victory, they would back him as king, and he would marry Edward IV’s daughter, Elizabeth of York. After Richard’s death at Bosworth this is exactly what Tudor did, and in an inspired move he chose as his badge the red rose, which had vague Lancastrian connections, uniting it with the famous white rose of York, to create a symbol of national reconciliation. Tudor’s son, Henry VIII, became the living embodiment of the union rose and its hopes. But with Henry VIII’s Reformation the dynastic rivalries of the Wars of the Roses came to be replaced with religious divisions. In Margaret Plantagenet, niece of Edward IV and granddaughter of Warwick the Kingmaker, these issues came together, and cost the old lady her life. In the Hollow Crown the portraits of the leading women are as richly painted as those of the men, and even those who appear only briefly are memorable. The pathetic detail of Margaret Plantagenet dying at the hands of the blundering axeman, while wearing new shoes, is typical of Jones’s ability to get under the skin of the reader to bring people and events alive. Fast moving, witty and humane, the Hollow Crown is narrative history at its best. A version of this review appears in the September 2014 edition of the Literary Review

  2. 4 out of 5

    happy

    In this follow up to his book,The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England, I felt the author, Dan Jones, has done an admirable job of explaining the whys and wherefores of the struggle that became known as the Wars of the Roses. Starting with the death of Henry V, Mr. Jones looks at how the English experience in France, the end of the 100 Years War, and the inability of Henry’s son, Henry VI, to be an effective ruler led to the conditions that gave rise to the civil war. I fel In this follow up to his book,The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England, I felt the author, Dan Jones, has done an admirable job of explaining the whys and wherefores of the struggle that became known as the Wars of the Roses. Starting with the death of Henry V, Mr. Jones looks at how the English experience in France, the end of the 100 Years War, and the inability of Henry’s son, Henry VI, to be an effective ruler led to the conditions that gave rise to the civil war. I felt Mr. Jones did an excellent job of explaining just how Henry VI’s mental instability led to the generation long civil war. Even when he was all there, Henry’s inability to be a medieval monarch led to many in the nobility, including his cousin Richard, Duke of York, to contemplate replacing him, first as regent and later as King. After Richard’s death at Wakefield, his son Edward takes up the claim to eventually defeats Henry’s supporters to become Edward IV. While the author does a good job describing the many battles, including the major ones of Wakefield, Towton, and of course Bosworth, they are not his main focus. The focus seems to be the political maneuverings of the two factions. He offers a good look at the power behind Henry VI, his wife Margaret. He also discusses the power of various nobles including the Earl of Warwick who became known as the King Maker. As he gets to the later stages of the Wars, Mr. Jones takes on the traditional view of Richard III. Although I felt the author is sympathetic to reasons Richard usurped the throne of his nephew, Edward V. He does support the opinion that Richard had Edward and his brother, the Princes in the Tower, killed. In this there is ample president in English history. Mr. Jones does also give a good look at Richard’s deteriorating political situation prior to Bosworth and the double dealings of the Stanley family that in all probability cost Richard both his throne and his life. In summary, Mr. Jones doesn't just tell the story of the Wars of the Roses, but gives the reader an insite to why they occured and why they turned out the way they did. I felt this was a solid 4 star read and whould recommend it to any one interested in English or Medieval history.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alyson Stone

    Book: The War of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors/ The Hollow Crown Author: Dan Jones Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars I was first introduced to Dan Jones’s wonderful writing through The Plantagenets. I picked up this gem this summer and was pulled right in. There is just something about Dan’s writing that makes me want more. Since this summer, I have watched all of his programs, which if you haven’t checked out, I strongly suggest that you do. I have all of his books on m Book: The War of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors/ The Hollow Crown Author: Dan Jones Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars I was first introduced to Dan Jones’s wonderful writing through The Plantagenets. I picked up this gem this summer and was pulled right in. There is just something about Dan’s writing that makes me want more. Since this summer, I have watched all of his programs, which if you haven’t checked out, I strongly suggest that you do. I have all of his books on my to read list. He is just one of those writers who has the gift of pulling you in and leave you wanting for more. While I do like Game of Thrones, I don’t really care that the War of the Roses is the back story to it. I love the time period, plain and simple. Henry VI’s mental problems have left England in a state of instability, which, of course, led to civil war. It is this that has led to many of the nobles to wanting the English crown for themselves. Richard, Duke of York, makes the grab, first by being regent, then going for the prize of King of England. When Richard dies, his son Edward takes up the fight. Edward, of course, wins and becomes Edward IV. Good stuff, right? Yeah, I know it sound confusing, but don’t let it. Dan is wonderful at making a complicated matter really simple. He doesn’t write in what I would call a scholarly way. To me, Dan writes for the common person-meaning that if you don’t know anything about the War of the Roses, you will be able to understand what is going on right away. Dan looks into a number of battles and important people. It’s not just focused on the king. We get to meet Margaret, who in my mind is the real power behind Henry VI and the Earl of Warwick, the King Maker. We also travel to Towton, Wakefield, and Bosworth. There is a lot of focus on Richard III and how he got to power. We explore the legend of the Princes in the Tower and what really happened to them. I do agree with Dan’s point of view on the matter. Meanwhile, let’s add the Stanley family into the mix and we are sure to have a great political mess. See, what I mean? It’s not just another history book. We just aren’t told what happened, but why the events happened and given theories on them. We get to see why English history turned out the way it did. After all, how in the world did the Tudors end up on the English throne? Well, if you have always wanted to know, picked this up and take a look. Please note that The Hollow Crown is the same book. I have seen a lot of people confused by the two titles before.

  4. 4 out of 5

    fourtriplezed

    I looked at my review of a previous Dan Jones history I had read and had made comment that it was “A very enjoyable popular history and hard to be too critical.” And it is hard not to say the same for this very readable installment that he has produced on the madness that was the Wars of The Roses. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... If one likes populist narrative history told with “…..pace and flair…”, as the cover blurb says, this is right up that target audiences alley. It is however no I looked at my review of a previous Dan Jones history I had read and had made comment that it was “A very enjoyable popular history and hard to be too critical.” And it is hard not to say the same for this very readable installment that he has produced on the madness that was the Wars of The Roses. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... If one likes populist narrative history told with “…..pace and flair…”, as the cover blurb says, this is right up that target audiences alley. It is however not my style of delivery. Far too much subjectivity for me. A few too many “it was a blistering hot day” observations. And to quote my previous review of the authors work “A pity really as there is a magnificent Further Reading chapter at the end and the (Epilogue) was also a good read.” The footnotes are lot better as well. But…….as much as I enjoyed it is was just a good read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    As with his earlier volume, The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England, Jones has developed narrative nonfiction covering a complicated era of history and made it a pleasure to read. He clearly establishes that the Wars of the Roses were about so much more than who had the strongest royal blood. When Henry Bolingbroke determined to steal his cousin's crown in 1399, he could have had no inkling of the future that he was setting into motion. By showing that the throne of Englan As with his earlier volume, The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England, Jones has developed narrative nonfiction covering a complicated era of history and made it a pleasure to read. He clearly establishes that the Wars of the Roses were about so much more than who had the strongest royal blood. When Henry Bolingbroke determined to steal his cousin's crown in 1399, he could have had no inkling of the future that he was setting into motion. By showing that the throne of England was up for grabs to whoever was strong enough to take it, he put the Plantagenet dynasty on a collision course that would decimate the family, leaving the unexpected Tudors in control. That was quite a rise for the grandson of Owen Tudor who, due to his Welsh blood, had not even been allowed to own land and was imprisoned for daring to marry the widowed dowager queen Catherine. Henry Tudor becoming king had to be the last thing on anyone's mind - except maybe his mother's. Jones carefully unravels the complex political maneuverings that resulted in the end of the mighty Plantagenets in favor of a minor noble of mixed Welsh, French, and English blood. Much time is spent on analyzing the motivations of Richard, duke of York. Far from the characterizations many have painted of him, Richard Plantagenet did not immediately set out to make himself king. By refusing to be a king, Henry VI ensured that a more suitable cousin of royal blood would take over, just like his grandfather had done. By looking at families, politics, and foreign policy over the course of decades, Jones demonstrates how things slowly, yet completely, fell apart. Some readers will be disappointed that the author takes a traditional view on the topics of Richard III and the later Yorkist pretenders Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck. He states that Richard killed his nephews after usurping the crown, taking only about a paragraph to give voice to other theories. In the same way, there is no evaluation of the supposed Edward VI and Richard IV potentially being true sons of York (other than a later discussion of Richard de la Pole). Since this book covered such an extensive piece of history, I found that it was appropriate to not delve to deeply into these controversial issues, but other readers may feel differently. In the same way, Jones never puts forth any serious doubt that Prince Edward of Lancaster was indeed the son of Henry VI. I applaud Jones for making complicated history accessible to the amateur historian. While this installment may be somewhat more complex than its predecessor, I still found it quite easy to read, at times capturing events in novel-like fashion. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a greater understanding of the Wars of the Roses. Thank you to NetGalley and Viking Publishing for my copy of this book. Opinions are my own.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I really loved this book. Going into it, I had strong opinions about the warring families, having studied the Tudors for 16 years and Shakespeare’s histories in college—but also because my ancestors had been strong supporters of the Lancastrian claim. So imagine my surprise when I read at the end of chapter 11 that “Sir James Luttrell of Devonshire” was later credited with the capture of Richard, Duke of York! For all I knew about my family’s history, I never knew THAT incredible information! I I really loved this book. Going into it, I had strong opinions about the warring families, having studied the Tudors for 16 years and Shakespeare’s histories in college—but also because my ancestors had been strong supporters of the Lancastrian claim. So imagine my surprise when I read at the end of chapter 11 that “Sir James Luttrell of Devonshire” was later credited with the capture of Richard, Duke of York! For all I knew about my family’s history, I never knew THAT incredible information! I don’t know how Sir James would have felt about his descendant cheering him on 550 years later, but it’s a rare thing to find a book that makes you feel like you are in the midst of the action. I was fortunate to win this book through Goodreads First Reads, and truly, for a 300+ page history book, it was a quick and exciting read. The Wars of the Roses had many twists and turns, and many characters with complex personalities. Jones’ book covers these events as well as a brief introduction to Henry V to start the setting off, and a conclusion exploring Henry VIII as “the Golden King” he was often characterized as in his youth. It is, therefore, a very ambitious undertaking to explore so much territory in so few pages. Jones does a remarkable job of telling this story in an engaging way, however, I believe that it might be confusing for someone with limited or no knowledge of the Yorks and Lancasters. The pacing of the book is surprisingly quick and while enjoyable for me, might leave some asking “Which Richard are we talking about now?” So, if you’ve read about the Wars of the Roses before, or even if you haven’t and are looking forward to jotting down a few notes, I would highly recommend this book. While the scope of Jones’ research is vast, he also gives a wonderful, rather intimate perspective of how the key players are related to one another, what they stood for—and, in many cases, what they ultimately died for.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    I received this ebook free from the publisher through NetGalley.com. I gave it three stars because of three major defects. The table of contents listed maps, genealogical tables and an index--all three were missing. The book is easy to read and well researched, with extensive footnotes and bibliography. This book would be suitable for both lay readers and professional historians,if the missing items were reinstated. The author goes back to 1420 to set the background and does a good job explainin I received this ebook free from the publisher through NetGalley.com. I gave it three stars because of three major defects. The table of contents listed maps, genealogical tables and an index--all three were missing. The book is easy to read and well researched, with extensive footnotes and bibliography. This book would be suitable for both lay readers and professional historians,if the missing items were reinstated. The author goes back to 1420 to set the background and does a good job explaining the origins of the war. The publisher did not respond to my question "Why did you send me an incomplete book?"(sent 6 months ago). I therefore recommend purchase of only the print version of this book

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~

    This is really good I just don’t think I’m absorbing it by listening. Will definitely resume in physical form!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Silvana

    I wish I had counted how many heads that rolled from the first page. It seems that the best way to live as royalty at those times in England is to stay the hell away from the court and all the intrigue. Just less in five years, there were three kings. A Clash of Kings, you say? Oh yes, George R. R. Martin definitely was inspired by the Wars of the Roses so much he basically took all the York brothers and put them in Westeros to become the Baratheon brothers. Oh, I was definitely enjoying my time I wish I had counted how many heads that rolled from the first page. It seems that the best way to live as royalty at those times in England is to stay the hell away from the court and all the intrigue. Just less in five years, there were three kings. A Clash of Kings, you say? Oh yes, George R. R. Martin definitely was inspired by the Wars of the Roses so much he basically took all the York brothers and put them in Westeros to become the Baratheon brothers. Oh, I was definitely enjoying my time trying to draw parallels to A Song of Ice and Fire characters and hoping the ending of one character would be the same as in the books. This book is easy to read. All the other reviews mentioned that the narrative is accessible and the stories are expertly woven. For me, I could use a book with less name repetitions - too many Edwards, Elizabeths and Margarets to my liking - but I guess that's what X-Ray feature in Kindle is for. As for the narrative itself, it is indeed digestible, without being too dry - as what could happen in history books. Being a chronicler at those times probably kind of exciting (as long as you're not implicated in one plot or another). Kings in the middle ages basically had two duties: uphold justice and wage wars. Well, I would also add marry someone that could help you keep the throne. And produce an heir. Now, after the fall of Henry VI - Dan Jones seemed to hate him so much he practically blamed Henry for everything - at least four families could claim descent from Henry VI’s great-great grandfather, Edward III. Why of course, there were many claimants who fought for their rights and stuff, and many died for it, either getting their heads chopped off (which were a lot) or in battlegrounds. The battles in this book (Tewkesbury and Towton especially) are not described in details (or as much as I wanted) but the results are just still ghastly and bring more suffering to all these families, ending with extinguished lines with the last of them, The Tudors, barely escaped. I had some doubts a long the way about the book. I complained on why the author did not tell the story of the Lancasters until almost halfway through the book and I grumbled or why no roses were mentioned until 2/3 of the book. It was silly, really, but I just had to know why. I did found out why but I won't spoil it here. Okay, now the women. I remember reading The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir and found out that while men fought battles, the women waged wars. Elizabeth York, Margaret Beaufort, those are some fantastic real-life characters that were tenacious and dedicated to their causes. I love reading about powerful women. They are not always have to be femme fatales, you know. Anyway, a highly recommended book - not too long but pretty comprehensive - for those who are interested in English history or like me, who loves A Song of Ice and Fire, wars and politics and the game of thrones.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    I have mixed feelings about this book and would probably give it 3-1/2 stars if I could (why, oh why can't we give half-star ratings?). My main problem is that for me the author's biases show a bit too much, not only against Richard III (who he asserts as fact in the Introduction "killed [his brother] Edward's sons" - even a "most historians agree" would have been more tolerable), but also in favor of other characters, such as Richard's father Richard Duke of York, who Jones repeatedly asserts h I have mixed feelings about this book and would probably give it 3-1/2 stars if I could (why, oh why can't we give half-star ratings?). My main problem is that for me the author's biases show a bit too much, not only against Richard III (who he asserts as fact in the Introduction "killed [his brother] Edward's sons" - even a "most historians agree" would have been more tolerable), but also in favor of other characters, such as Richard's father Richard Duke of York, who Jones repeatedly asserts had no intention of usurping his cousin Henry VI's crown, until, presumably, he actually tried to do it, and Edward IV, whose "mercy" toward Henry in not having him killed was (IMO) actually a calculated political decision that lasted precisely as long as Henry's usefulness to him and not a moment longer. (As long as Henry had a son living it was valuable for Edward to keep him alive rather than have a vigorous young man out there claiming to be King, but as soon as that son was dead, the father was also killed.) However, like Dan Jones' previous book, The Plantagenets, The Wars of the Roses was on the whole a well-written, (mostly) balanced and vibrant account of a fascinating period in English history.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brendan Monroe

    The politics of blood has always amused me. The idea that someone is automatically deserving of something – a crown, for instance – because of who their father or mother was, is probably the most absurd, unjust thing ever thought up. So we have Dan Jones’ book “The War of the Roses” in which many characters run about claiming that this person has more of a right to wear the crown than that person because they’re supposedly a more direct descendant of a former king or queen. The idea of “royal bl The politics of blood has always amused me. The idea that someone is automatically deserving of something – a crown, for instance – because of who their father or mother was, is probably the most absurd, unjust thing ever thought up. So we have Dan Jones’ book “The War of the Roses” in which many characters run about claiming that this person has more of a right to wear the crown than that person because they’re supposedly a more direct descendant of a former king or queen. The idea of “royal blood”, rightful claimants to the throne, and bastard children of a king being unable to rule because they weren’t conceived in wedlock is all pretty absurd. But was it borne out of a desire for order by a civilization not developed enough to function fully as a democracy, or is thinking that a person’s superiority was directly related to who their relations were simply a result of primeval thinking? It doesn’t feel too far removed from today’s world either. A recent U.S. President and the current Canadian Prime Minister both got their jobs based not on their qualifications but because of whom their fathers were. Likewise, having a celebrity parent doesn’t just guarantee you a rich inheritance, but a plum posting on television as though you were some sort of expert on anything other than how it felt to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth (looking at you, Meghan McCain, among others). Royal families the world over are just one of the oldest forms of nepotism. As a critic of such behavior, I find it hard to care much when reading about how a “rightful” heir was suddenly cut down by some usurper. In other words, all hail Richard III! Now there was a man who truly fought against the odds – and on the battlefield, to his ultimate demise – and refused to kowtow to the ravings of the blood cult (not that Richard III was above trying to claim his own blood made him superior to those prepubescent boys he threw into the tower). In real life, of course, Richard III was unheard to have muttered “my kingdom for a horse” when felled in battle, and deeds just as villainous as those which Shakespeare saddled the scoliosis-afflicted king with could easily be ascribed to just about every other king. Of course, Richard III’s attempt to wed his brother’s daughter isn’t something that will be looked upon positively in the history books – or even in those times apparently, as his, ahem, desires were thwarted. Throw in the possible murder of the aforementioned prepubescent boys and it's clear we're not exactly talking about Mr. Rogers here. Today too, people will eagerly cite English or other nobles as distant relations as if, somehow, that should mean anything to anybody. We’re all related when you go back far enough. I didn’t quite enjoy “The War of the Roses” as much as I did Dan Jones’ previous book on the Plantagenets. Perhaps that’s because the “war” constantly mixed things up in this book, leaving all the characters in a bit of a muddle for me. Indeed, I found that listening to this in audio was perhaps not ideal as it required a level of focus that my easily distracted mind – which would quickly flash to thinking of all the people I know who are, in fact, “bastards” – couldn’t maintain a grip on because now that Edward is gone and this one is here, and that Henry is crazy, oh, but now he’s not crazy and now he’s dead and they all die so young when you think about it and England seems to half the time be in the control of children and what would happen if children ruled the world these days and I suppose that would actually be an improvement on Trump … King Arthur! Yes, these British folk were positively obsessed with King Arthur. Except that naming your child Arthur seems to be ensuring them an early death. Alas, there has never been an actual King Arthur, despite many attempts. Just imagine if Elizabeth II had named her son Charles, Arthur. That guy? The first King Arthur? He's not pulling any swords from stones! Now a brief review of King Arthur in film: 1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail. So obviously the best that we might as well stop here. It's not just the best King Arthur film, it's one of the best films ever. The knights who say "ni", the coconuts, the killer rabbit, the black knight, the curtains - it's all glorious. Annnnd then there's quite a serious drop in quality. 2. First Knight. It’s here because of Sean Connery, of course, though Richard Gere and Julia Ormond are also sexy. The casting of Sean Connery, a Scotsman, to play Arthur, a Welshman, is probably a bit of an improvement over casting him as Richard I, an Englishman, in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” (See Robin Hood film criticism, here), but both end up working because it’s Sean Connery. 3. The Sword in the Stone. It’s here only because it isn't horrible like all the others. END KING ARTHUR FILM CRITICISM No matter what anyone says, everyone has their favorite bastard child, and Richard III was no exception. “Our dear bastard son,” Richard proclaims at a ceremony making the bastard son in question, John of Pontefract, a captain. We have no evidence suggesting that those attending this 1485 ceremony in York were unable to refrain from laughing, but I have my doubts. A worthy read if you’re interested in the history, but only those who take the most uninteresting routes to work should tackle the audio version.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Heidi Murphy

    I’ve always been fascinated by the Wars of the Roses, it’s a complex and rewarding era to study and research but all too often accounts of this era have somehow disappointed. In The Hollow Crown, Dan Jones takes this complex era and its cast of fascinating characters and weaves a tale so gripping that even though you know what will happen next you are still completely hooked. All the key characters are here, Henry V, victor of Agincourt, his son, the well-meaning yet inept Henry VI, the ambitiou I’ve always been fascinated by the Wars of the Roses, it’s a complex and rewarding era to study and research but all too often accounts of this era have somehow disappointed. In The Hollow Crown, Dan Jones takes this complex era and its cast of fascinating characters and weaves a tale so gripping that even though you know what will happen next you are still completely hooked. All the key characters are here, Henry V, victor of Agincourt, his son, the well-meaning yet inept Henry VI, the ambitious and arrogant Richard, Duke of York, Warwick the Kingmaker, Edward IV, the ‘talented soldier’ and ‘capable politician’ who took his chance, seized the throne and briefly brought stability to the country, the tragic Princes in the Tower, the enigmatic Richard III whose ruthless coup in 1483 set in motion a chain of events which eventually led to the destruction of the House of York and the rise of the Tudors. Scholarly, yet accessible this is a terrific read, set in a period of ruthless power-struggles, bloody battles and political instability, where brother turned against brother and the people of England all too often saw the Crown violently change hands. Packed with fascinating characters this is not a simple tale of 'Hero' versus 'Villain', York versus Lancaster, because in Jones’ hands there is no black and white there are simply facts, insights and understanding. It’s a book I thoroughly enjoyed, will regularly return to, and would recommend to anyone with an interest in royal history in general and the Wars of the Roses in particular.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Annika Hipple

    As with Jones's previous book, The Plantagenets: The Kings Who Made England, I found this a generally engaging narrative marred by some sloppy fact-checking and a few irritating choices in phrasing and interpretation. Jones is a fine writer, with an accessible style. He covers a lot of ground, but the narrative flows smoothly and the pages almost turn themselves. For readers unfamiliar with the Wars of the Roses, it's a good introduction that hopefully will prompt further reading on the subject. As with Jones's previous book, The Plantagenets: The Kings Who Made England, I found this a generally engaging narrative marred by some sloppy fact-checking and a few irritating choices in phrasing and interpretation. Jones is a fine writer, with an accessible style. He covers a lot of ground, but the narrative flows smoothly and the pages almost turn themselves. For readers unfamiliar with the Wars of the Roses, it's a good introduction that hopefully will prompt further reading on the subject. Jones is fairly even-handed in his treatment of the various players in the conflict, although I take issue with some of his discussion of Richard III, particularly the unilateral statement in the introduction that "Richard III murdered his nephews." I personally find other theories of the princes' fate more plausible, but I don't require every historian I read to agree with me before I give them a positive rating. What I do expect is that they acknowledge that no one actually knows what happened to the princes, and there is no proof one way or another. Jones does soften his treatment of the subject in the main section of the book dealing with Richard III (though still making it clear he believes in Richard's guilt). Had he not made that blanket statement in the introduction, I would not have quibbled much, though he does display a subtle bias against Richard despite his surface objectivity. Richard certainly wasn't perfect, but Jones seems a bit surprised that the king, known for his good government as Duke of Gloucester, should be "capable of being generous and sympathetic" after taking the throne. He also dismisses as "ridiculous" and without any discussion the idea of the illegitimacy of Edward IV's marriage—the grounds on which Richard III claimed the throne—and highlights opposition to Richard while downplaying the treason and treachery of leading nobles that was such a significant factor in his overthrow. Despite my issues with Jones's treatment of Richard III's brief kingship, I would have given this book four stars had it not been for the numerous factual and stylistic problems. They include the following: 1) In discussing the tensions between Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, and Cardinal Henry Beaufort, Jones goes back and forth between calling Beaufort Gloucester's cousin and uncle. In fact, as the half-brother of Gloucester's father, Henry IV, he was the latter. 2) After the Yorkist defeat at Ludford Bridge, Jones describes how the Earl of Warwick set sail for Calais with "his father Salisbury and his nephew, York's son Edward earl of March." In fact, Edward was Warwick's cousin, not nephew (if Jones intended to say—correctly—that Edward was Salisbury's nephew, his phrasing suffers from a lack of clarity). In general, Jones neglects to mention the close family relationship between Salisbury and Warwick and the York family—the Duchess of York, Cecily Neville, was Salisbury's sister and therefore Warwick's aunt—until quite late in the story, and then only in parentheses. I kept wondering when Jones was going to mention this relationship, which to my mind is an important one in understanding the Neville family's strong alliance with York (though they did have ties to prominent Lancastrian figures as well). 3) Elizabeth Woodville is described as giving birth to her "first child" when she goes into labor with Elizabeth of York, despite the fact that she already had two sons from her first marriage. Jones would have done better to say "her first child with Edward IV." 4) Richard of Gloucester (later Richard III) is described as "still only 22 years old in 1472." In fact, he was born in October 1452, so in 1472 he was only 19 or 20, depending on the specific date. 5) In discussing Richard's spinal deformities, Jones says they would have caused Richard to "walk with his right shoulder raised and his back hunched." While the recent discovery of Richard's remains did show severe scoliosis that would have caused his right shoulder to be higher than the left, the experts who analyzed his skeleton have clearly stated that this specific type of deformity would not have resulted in a hunchback and, although it would have caused severe pain, would in fact not have been readily visible beyond the uneven shoulders. 6) Jones also describes Richard III as tall, even though he was only 5 foot 8—not short for the time, but certainly not remotely tall, at least in comparison to his brother Edward IV's 6 feet 4 inches and especially not when considered that Richard's scoliosis is believed to have taken several inches off his apparent height. 7) During his discussion of the Kent rebellion, Jones names Thomas Howard as the Duke of Norfolk. In fact, the Duke of Norfolk at the time was John Howard. Jones later cites the famous warning the duke received before the battle of Bosworth: "Jack of Norfolk be not too bold, for Dickon thy master be bought and sold." (Norfolk was later killed during the battle.) Thomas Howard was Norfolk's son and the Earl of Surrey at the time of Bosworth; he was subsequently stripped of his lands by Henry VII, though he was eventually restored to his title and ultimately became Duke of Norfolk much later, in 1514 under Henry VIII. 8) When discussing the Lambert Simnel plot, Jones mentions that Margaret of York, the dowager Duchess of Burgundy and the sister of Edward IV and Richard III, "ruled the Netherlands...on behalf of her son Philip the Fair." In fact, Margaret had no children; Philip was her step-grandson, the son of her deceased stepdaughter Mary (the daughter of Margaret's husband, Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, from his first marriage) and her husband, Maximilian of the Habsburg dynasty (later Holy Roman Emperor). At the risk of nitpicking, I'll make a few final comments about more minor issues of phrasing: 1) At one point Jones calls Edward IV the "most able man to have worn the crown since Henry V"—a statement that hardly says much, given that there was only one king, the inept Henry VI, between Henry V and Edward. 2) When describing the death of Richard de la Pole, the last "White Rose" of Suffolk, in 1525, Jones calls him the "last remaining grandson of Richard duke of York"—not strictly true, since Jones himself has already noted that another de la Pole brother, William, remained alive in the Tower of London until the 1530s. Clearly, as a captive, William was no threat to the Tudors, but he was still a surviving grandson of York. 3) After the battle of Sandal Castle (Wakefield Green), Jones says the heads of Richard, Duke of York, his son Edmund Earl of Rutland, and Salisbury and his son Thomas Neville were displayed on Micklegate in York. I would expect any historian of the period to know that in York, as local tour guides love to explain to this day, streets are called gates and gates are called bars. Reflecting the area's strong Scandinavian heritage, the name Micklegate actually refers to the name of a street. The towering city gate upon which the heads were displayed is known as Micklegate Bar. It's a minor error, but just another example of sloppy editing or fact checking. Overall, this book is an easy read and a good but not problem-free starting point for readers interested in one of the most fascinating periods in British history. Hopefully readers will then go on to read other books on the subject and discover the nuances of the story that Jones's book—understandably, given its scope—does not cover.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    "It was a sure sign of the woe that had befallen the English Crown that anyone should have ever considered Henry Tudor as a potential king." pp. 280 5 stars for The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors by Dan Jones. I really enjoyed this book. It tells the story of the struggles between the Yorks and Lancasters for the English Monarchy over most of the 15th century. After the Lancasters overthrew Richard II in 1399 the crown of England changed hands 5 time "It was a sure sign of the woe that had befallen the English Crown that anyone should have ever considered Henry Tudor as a potential king." pp. 280 5 stars for The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors by Dan Jones. I really enjoyed this book. It tells the story of the struggles between the Yorks and Lancasters for the English Monarchy over most of the 15th century. After the Lancasters overthrew Richard II in 1399 the crown of England changed hands 5 times during the 1400's. The Lancasters and Yorks fought it out during what is called The Wars of the Roses. White Roses symbolized the Yorkists while Red Roses symbolized the Lancasters. The Lancaster's downfall was Henry VI. He was weak, sickly, and made many horrible decisions that wreaked havoc in England for 50 years. He was thrust into power as an infant after his father Henry V died, and the s**t hit the fan during his reign. In a way I feel sorry for Henry VI, but he made some very stupid decisions and was a puppet for most of his reign. The aftermath of The Wars of the Roses was the practically inexplicable rise to the the throne by Henry Tudor who had a tenuous (at best) claim to the throne (his father, Edmund, was the half brother to Henry VI- they had the same mother who was not of English royal blood). What Henry Tudor and then his son Henry VIII did to eliminate any other claimants to the throne (primarily the Poles) was probably the wisest of all the moves any of the Kings made during this period. Also, Henry Tudor's marriage to Elizabeth of York to finally bring together the Lancasters and the Yorks was obviously a very solid decision on his part. His son, Henry VIII became in a single person the culmination of the peace after nearly a century of wars and Henry Tudor's concatenation of both houses. There are a lot of names in this history and it is hard to follow at times, but it is a fascinating story, and it is hard for me to believe that all of this actually happened!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    Excellent, detailed book about a fascinating time in history. The book is well researched and brings the main characters to life. I have the book and audio and very much enjoyed both. The book has great information about the kings, queens, wives, dukes and other players in The War of the Roses. King Richard III is always a great, interesting subject. Poor Margaret Pole. This book is a must for anyone interested in English history.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Richter

    If you want an easy digestible history of the amazing but confusing period of British History, this book is for you. From Shakespeare to George RR Martin, writers have mined this period for inspiration. Jones' book is a great primer, the players are clearly identified and how everything comes into conflict.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Collins

    Here the author explains that the Wars of the Roses (this phrase wasn’t used until the early 19th century) did not come about “because two factions divided by blood were destined to atone through war for the sin of deposing Richard II”, but rather “this was a vicious and at times barely comprehensible period of deep political instability, which stemmed ultimately from a collapse in royal authority and English rule in France under Henry VI.” The introduction describes the botched execution in 1541 Here the author explains that the Wars of the Roses (this phrase wasn’t used until the early 19th century) did not come about “because two factions divided by blood were destined to atone through war for the sin of deposing Richard II”, but rather “this was a vicious and at times barely comprehensible period of deep political instability, which stemmed ultimately from a collapse in royal authority and English rule in France under Henry VI.” The introduction describes the botched execution in 1541 of the elderly Margaret Pole, the niece of Richard III and just about the last surviving member of the Plantagenet dynasty. Europe was shocked by the brutal act, ordered by an aging and increasingly dangerous Henry VIII, but as the author says, Margaret’s death “marked the end of the bloodbath that had been continuing on and off since the 1450s.” The author skips the story of Richard II being deposed by Henry IV, beginning instead with the marriage of the French princess Catherine of Valois to Henry V. He then describes the disastrous reign of their son Henry VI, “a highly impressionable and suggestible king, permanently childlike in his preference for allowing others to make decisions for him…. He may have been chaste, generous, pious and kind, but these were not very useful qualities in a king who was expected to direct government, keep the peace between his greatest subjects and sail across the ocean at regular intervals to slaughter the French.” Edward IV was equal to the task of kingship, but he made the disruptive mistake of marrying into the Woodville family. Richard III’s “ruthless usurpation” broke the rules of “political propriety”, opening the way for Henry Tudor, with his tenuous claim to the throne. “If Richard could seize the Crown, why should it not be seized from him?" At the end the author rather admires the effectiveness of Tudor propaganda. Henry VII used his marriage to Elizabeth of York to “project a subtle and effective political message, summed up in a striking visual motif”: the Tudor Rose, which declared that the split between the houses of Lancaster and York was the root of all problems, and was solved by their union. “This was a simplistic reading of history to say the least. But it was one that would endure for centuries.”

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Wilson

    I read this just after finishing Tuchman's A Distant Mirror—perfect! This picks up right where the last one ends...though obviously nobody can compete with Tuchman. Still, I found this book entertaining, and it explains the Wars of the Roses as straightforwardly as possible (no easy task). Takeaways: *Poor Henry VI, he was just not equipped for the job but it seems like he was an okay guy. *Not a fan of how this author portrayed Margaret of Anjou. For a fifteenth century lady saddled with a nonent I read this just after finishing Tuchman's A Distant Mirror—perfect! This picks up right where the last one ends...though obviously nobody can compete with Tuchman. Still, I found this book entertaining, and it explains the Wars of the Roses as straightforwardly as possible (no easy task). Takeaways: *Poor Henry VI, he was just not equipped for the job but it seems like he was an okay guy. *Not a fan of how this author portrayed Margaret of Anjou. For a fifteenth century lady saddled with a nonentity like Henry VI, she seems like an unmitigated badass, frankly. I get that she contributed to the wars by politicking like a man, but I don't exactly buy that the violence was mostly her fault. *Every author portrays Richard III completely differently. To me, he seems no worse than any of his recent predecessors (so many usurpations). He also seems to have been a much better ruler than the others, more focused on the people he was ruling than on fighting wars. I'm going to read Alison Weir's The Wars of the Roses next! I'm interested to see how her account differs.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ricardo

    I can see where George R. R. Martin got his inspiration from. This is a uber-complicated series of events that I had to reread passages to keep my head straight. It’s always confusing when people are referred to as their titles instead of their names (Warwick, York, Somerset). But this big boat of a story was still captivating. The struggle to claim the English throne featured court intrigue, illicit affairs, illegitimate children and even the bloodiest battle ever fought on British soil (Towton I can see where George R. R. Martin got his inspiration from. This is a uber-complicated series of events that I had to reread passages to keep my head straight. It’s always confusing when people are referred to as their titles instead of their names (Warwick, York, Somerset). But this big boat of a story was still captivating. The struggle to claim the English throne featured court intrigue, illicit affairs, illegitimate children and even the bloodiest battle ever fought on British soil (Towton). While all this drama was embroiling the elites, there is very little insight into how the commons took all of this. If a good many were literate, we could have a sense of their feelings. But the backstabbing theatrics kept me glued all the way through.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Albert

    I've read many books (variously) on the war, the time period and the main protagonists. But, until I read Jones, I never had a real sense of the turmoil. The changes of ruler, the vindictive killings, the changing of sides--Jones does an excellent job of making you feel what that was like. When I first got the book from the library, I saw he'd written a book on the Plantagenets and this was a sequel. I thought, "maybe I should have read that first." Then I saw that I read it 3 years ago and gave I've read many books (variously) on the war, the time period and the main protagonists. But, until I read Jones, I never had a real sense of the turmoil. The changes of ruler, the vindictive killings, the changing of sides--Jones does an excellent job of making you feel what that was like. When I first got the book from the library, I saw he'd written a book on the Plantagenets and this was a sequel. I thought, "maybe I should have read that first." Then I saw that I read it 3 years ago and gave it, also, five stars. So I recommend the book highly but do read Plantagenets first.

  21. 5 out of 5

    sweepea888

    I blew off watching the much awaited first episode of the season for 'Game of Thrones' to finish this book. Why settle for the plastic version when the real one is so much better? So much so that I can read yet another book on the Tudors and somehow not tired of it. Cleanly written, very well organized an extremely well researched. I loved how the author kept his personal opinions of the 'players' in this medieval political shell game to himself. Of course, some of my favorite books on the Tudor I blew off watching the much awaited first episode of the season for 'Game of Thrones' to finish this book. Why settle for the plastic version when the real one is so much better? So much so that I can read yet another book on the Tudors and somehow not tired of it. Cleanly written, very well organized an extremely well researched. I loved how the author kept his personal opinions of the 'players' in this medieval political shell game to himself. Of course, some of my favorite books on the Tudors have included a personal slant but this was a refreshing change. So no need for Richard lll lovers to balk at reading this! The author doesn't pull a fast one and slag off YOUR BOY! Yep, if you want to start a fight with anyone who in into the Tudors just make a snarky comment about how Richard lll was a greedy opportunist who murdered his nephews (the princes in the tower, and if you interested in that well there's a good book for that check out my reading list). Dan Jones gave plenty of credit to the indomitable Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Vll. She was the original bad ass mama bear and this book notes her incredible spirit and triumphs for anyone just getting into the Tudor history. Another thing I loved about this book? The detail of the major battles. And I'm talking about Towton, Agincourt and Bosworth in particular. The writing was visceral, very detailed and it was perfect for anyone interested in this aspect. Medieval warfare could literally turn on a dime ; inclement weather, etc. But when you are doing warfare 'War of The Roses' style? You have no idea who is going to switch sides. Plenty of turncoats running amok and political wannabe power players literally waiting in the wings to jump in once they can see who is winning the battle (ahem. STANLEYS. AHEM). I know Henry Vlll gets a ton of attention because he was larger than life (literally) and ok, slightly unhinged. But. But.. Henry V was an amazing warrior and politician, a king revered even by his adversaries. And poor Henry Vl ... the feckless king who went mad with no warning, left utterly helpless like a child (like his French monarch grandfather years before) his unstable reign caused years of problems. Edward the lV was an able monarch, full of bonhomie and bravado, he inspired loyalty in his advisers and his subjects. Unfortunately he descended into gluttony and the years of excess took it's toll on him and he died at a relatively young age. His wife, Elizabeth Woodville was an incredibly resilient queen luckily for him. One thing I forgot about and was reminded of in this book: in one of the schemes hatched to usurp Edward lV's crown, he fled the country leaving his wife, Queen Elizabeth in England ... while she was pregnant. Can I get a 'AW HELL NAW?' I laughed at this thinking of how I would pimp slap him. Queen Lizzy, why you such a doormat, GURL? Eddy came back though and they reunited and they kept it tight. If they had it handy they'd probably crank up the Air Supply and sip Courvosier. Making loooove... out of nothing at all! I will always and forever think King Richard was a bit gross, ok the curved spine freaks me out just a little. But the author seemed to present Dick's coup in a somewhat sympathetic light: he realized how long and hard his family fought for the crown. He merely wanted to prevent the avaricious Woodville family (Queen Lizzy's clan) from taking over after King Edward died. I get it, I do. All historical accounts point to the Wooodvilles being very comfortable and confident in their new status at court and it makes sense that they would see the king's death as the perfect time to take full control. But! The whole 'who dunnit' with the princes in the towers bit. Richard never spoke publicly about them (dodgy little squirrel) and never divulged their fate was to anyone. We will never know what happened. If this book piqued your interest in that aspect several books out there explore in detail. Alison Weir has an excellent one if you're interested. Great book. So good that I blew off the Game of Thrones premiere. That says a LOT. Also? This is real, way more dramatic that Game of Thrones and no annoying 'John Snow!' Giddyup.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Bryson

    Dan Jones’ book on the Wars of the Roses is not simply a retelling of affairs that took place hundreds of years ago. It is a detailed, gripping exploration of the people and events that changed the very course of English history. While most books related to the Wars of the Roses start when the families of Lancaster and York first began to vie for power behind the feeble and inept King Henry VI; Dan Jones takes the reader back several decades before this time. He explores the life and reign of Kin Dan Jones’ book on the Wars of the Roses is not simply a retelling of affairs that took place hundreds of years ago. It is a detailed, gripping exploration of the people and events that changed the very course of English history. While most books related to the Wars of the Roses start when the families of Lancaster and York first began to vie for power behind the feeble and inept King Henry VI; Dan Jones takes the reader back several decades before this time. He explores the life and reign of King Henry V, the famous battle and victory at Agincourt and the King’s marriage to Catherine of Valois. Jones explores the political and social atmosphere in England and Europe at the time to give the reader a deeper and more fulfilling understanding of the events that lay behind the Wars of the Roses. It was fascinating to explore this period of English history, to learn about the men behind the King, their personal motives for power and beliefs on how England should have been governed. In detailing the Wars of the Roses it is vital to explore this period of history as Henry VI came to the throne as a mere babe and it was his uncles, brothers of the late Henry V, amongst others that helped to govern during his minority. It is interesting to learn that throughout Henry VI’s minority the men around the throne were able to govern with relative assuredness and stability. Although there were clashes in politics and personal feelings of betrayal and distrust, these did not yet spill over into the fierce battles that became so well ingrained with the Wars of the Roses. It was only when Henry VI reached his maturity and could rule England in his own right that things started to go so very wrong, not only for the King but for the country. Jones make a very pivotal point: the Wars of the Roses was not caused simply by the families and supporters of Lancaster vs York, but at it’s very core, the very essence of the Wars of the Roses was the weak, inefficient, mentally challenged rule of King Henry VI. While most books tend to focus upon the vying Plantagenet families, Jones’ book cuts to the very core of the instability. Jones explores the many reasons why Henry VI was an ineffectual and weak King unable to govern his people and country. This was compelling to read and Jones detailed how in reality Henry VI was nothing more than a mere puppet to be controlled by whoever had him in their power. It is a sad reality that so many lives were lost due to one man’s complete and utter weakness. Jones not only details the major battles that took place during the Wars of the Roses such as those at Towton and Tewkesbury just to name a few, he also goes into detail exploring the sometimes lesser known events and political movements that culminated in such dramatic and costly battles. It was these political movements that seemed to happen behind the scenes that were the driving forces behind so many of the decisions and actions of the Wars of the Roses and it was fascinating to explore these events in greater detail. I also greatly appreciated that Jones did not end his book with Henry Tudor’s victory over Richard III at the battle of Bosworth. Some books on the subject of the Wars of the Roses tend to limit their discussions of the events to this pivotal moment when the Tudors claimed the English crown. While it is true that through the marriage of Henry Tudor and Elizabeth of York the family trees of Lancaster and York were united, this was not the end of the Wars of the Roses. Throughout Henry VII’s life and even during the rule of his son Henry VIII the Tudors faced multiple threats, or what they perceived as threats to their rule. I savoured the fact that Jones included a brief overview of the rule of the Tudors and how their reign ultimately brought an end to the catastrophic Wars of the Roses. I loved Dan Jones’ book on the Wars of the Roses. From the moment I picked it up I could not put it down, I just wanted to keep reading and immerse myself in this politically unstable, deadly and passionate period of English history. I would overwhelmingly encourage everyone to read this book to gain a deeper and more rounded picture of the Wars of the Roses.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nicky

    Received to review via Netgalley Raised in Yorkshire, I always feel like I should know more about the Wars of the Roses. I’m sure there were attempts to teach me, and I’ve even read Shakespeare’s history plays — and enjoyed them — and yet the information just doesn’t stick. Unfortunately for this book, it was much the same again. I can keep the basics in mind, even some anecdotes (especially if they were also referred to by Will), but the whole tangle of the family trees, the politics, the exact Received to review via Netgalley Raised in Yorkshire, I always feel like I should know more about the Wars of the Roses. I’m sure there were attempts to teach me, and I’ve even read Shakespeare’s history plays — and enjoyed them — and yet the information just doesn’t stick. Unfortunately for this book, it was much the same again. I can keep the basics in mind, even some anecdotes (especially if they were also referred to by Will), but the whole tangle of the family trees, the politics, the exact relation of this family to that… It just won’t stay clear in my head. So I had the unfortunate experience with this book of reading it and taking time over it and nothing going in. And it’s not the author’s fault: the writing is clear, footnoted meticulously, follows a logical order, etc. It seems to be a perfectly fine book if you’re interested in the Wars of the Roses, and I even sort of enjoyed reading it. But alas, a casualty of my utter disinterest in most of the key players. (An exception is Richard III. I don’t know why, but I’ve been able to assimilate more information about him that others. Which I suppose makes sense, since I grew up in Yorkshire, except that if you’d asked me the names of kings on either side before a few years ago, I’d have been blank.) Originally posted here.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    In the companion book to this one, called The Plantagenets, Jones tells the story of the rise of the Plantagenet dynasty in the 13th and 14th centuries. This book tells the second chapter of the story which begins in 1399 when Henry Bolingbroke usurped the throne from his cousin. This act of aggression set in motion the complete unraveling of this Medieval Dynasty in the 15th century. The instability and civil wars left a power vacuum in the late 1400's which Henry Tudor was able to take advanta In the companion book to this one, called The Plantagenets, Jones tells the story of the rise of the Plantagenet dynasty in the 13th and 14th centuries. This book tells the second chapter of the story which begins in 1399 when Henry Bolingbroke usurped the throne from his cousin. This act of aggression set in motion the complete unraveling of this Medieval Dynasty in the 15th century. The instability and civil wars left a power vacuum in the late 1400's which Henry Tudor was able to take advantage of, resulting in the rise of the Tudor dynasty in 1485. This is a complicated time period in England's history. I have read several accounts which touch on this subject, but Jones' is the first one that I have found to be easy to understand, thorough, and, best of all, highly entertaining. I would recommend his pair of books if you have an interest in Medieval English history.

  25. 4 out of 5

    poorvi cowkur

    For someone with no prior knowledge about this tantalizingly epic part of history, I fell instantly in love with this book.Dan Jones simplistic approach of writing makes it so easy to wade through the labyrinth of events that span over the course of thirty years,which came to constitute the war of the roses.This medieval family feud gone awry is also a story of avarice, revenge and thirst for power, a story of loyalties shifting and power exchanging hands, story of fortunes made and thousands of For someone with no prior knowledge about this tantalizingly epic part of history, I fell instantly in love with this book.Dan Jones simplistic approach of writing makes it so easy to wade through the labyrinth of events that span over the course of thirty years,which came to constitute the war of the roses.This medieval family feud gone awry is also a story of avarice, revenge and thirst for power, a story of loyalties shifting and power exchanging hands, story of fortunes made and thousands of lives lost.Its a story who's importance still resonates with us till this day and the likes of which have been tried to recapture through generations, be it in the form of William Shakespeare's plays or the more modern Game of Thrones.I recommend this book to everyone because I believe this is a story truly worth reading.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mandy Dimins

    The subtitle of this book should be: An essay on how many times you can flip-flop between two factions before your head gets chopped off and stuck on a pole somewhere. We all know the famous Wars of the Roses, which came directly before the equally famous reign of Henry VIII and the other Tudors. But history, and in a large part Shakespeare's plays, have simplified the event into a (relatively) simple conflict between the two warring families of York and Lancaster, represented by the red and whit The subtitle of this book should be: An essay on how many times you can flip-flop between two factions before your head gets chopped off and stuck on a pole somewhere. We all know the famous Wars of the Roses, which came directly before the equally famous reign of Henry VIII and the other Tudors. But history, and in a large part Shakespeare's plays, have simplified the event into a (relatively) simple conflict between the two warring families of York and Lancaster, represented by the red and white roses respectively. Dan Jones sets out in this volume to prove that the Wars were actually far, far more complex than that. Oh, and if you have trouble keeping track of Roman numerals and of a million and one Henrys, Edwards, Richards, Elizabeths, and Margarets, you're in for a ride - no, but I'd recommend that you at least keep a character cheat sheet with you while reading this book. One might wonder why the book starts in a seemingly unconnected time, some decades before the actual conflict begins, with Henry V on the throne, but I think Jones's point here is to draw a line between how some seemingly minor event occurring many decades prior (e.g. Henry V's widow, Catherine de Valois's second marriage to a relatively unimportant and unknown Welshman, Owen Tudor) to the major event that it will precipitate later on (e.g. Owen Tudor's grandson by Catherine, Henry Tudor, ostensibly ending the Wars of the Roses and ending up as King Henry VII). The butterfly effect on full display here. As you might expect from the title, this book is chock full of military strategy, battles, treachery, uprisings, and a ton of violence. Still though, I found myself a little bored in the first half of the book when it concentrates mostly on Henry VI's ineptitude, and the power struggle between Richard, Duke of York, and Henry VI's wife, Queen Margaret of Anjou. There were so many Somersets, Buckinghams, Warwicks, Suffolks, Norfolks that were cycled through not just in terms who these noblemen are (their titles passed from father to son very quickly because they kept getting killed in battle or executed for treason by someone or other), but also whose sides they were on (even I couldn't tell you that right now, just assume that they have all at some point been on either side and have flip flopped at least once, if not multiple times). I skimmed through some parts of the book because there was just so many times I could read about yet another battle, but I paid attention to who won and who got his head cut off so that I could still broadly follow on the political action. The most exciting parts of the book for me was after Edward IV, son of Richard Duke of York, took the throne and married Elizabeth Woodville, against the advice of everyone he knows. Even his most trusted advisor and ally, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, who was also nicknamed the Kingmaker because of how he had been instrumental in bringing Edward and his father to the throne against Lancastrian opposition, eventually flip-flopped over to the Lancastrian faction after this act of defiance. This was, to me, the meat of the book. It was fun seeing how Edward struggled to hold on to his newly claimed throne against his predecessor, Henry VI (of Lancaster), and then later how he even condemned his own brother George, Duke of Clarence, because he was an annoying upstart who had already led two rebellions against him. I'm also slightly more familiar with this time in history because of the very (in)famous Richard III, who was Edward IV's younger brother. He remains an enigmatic figure for me, previously a stout-hearted and loyal commander with an almost hero-worshipping attitude for his brother the King, Richard III is remembered by history to become some kind of misshapen villain in his later years, usurping the throne from his young nephews after Edward IV's death, locking them in the Tower of London and purportedly arranging for their mysterious disappearance. Thus, the legend of the Princes of the Tower was born. And yet, how much of what we know about this period was influenced by Shakespeare's plays? How much have we actually bought into the Tudor propaganda that has persisted since then? I remain intrigued by this period simply because so much of it has been "taken for granted" because of those plays, like Edward IV's bravery, Richard III's villainy, Richard II's tyranny, and Henry VI's incompetence. It's like someone painted a picture of what they wanted us to see and pasted it over a a slightly more accurate photograph, and we have grown so accustomed to this picture over the past four centuries that have passed since then that we are only now just starting to peel back the layers to uncover more historically accurate information beneath.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    5 Stars for the rule of Henry VI; 3.5 for the ruling of Edward IV, and 2.5 for the rest. It was a great start: the ruthless murder of Margaret de la Pole opens the narrative history in such a colloquial style that it reads less like a text book and more like a novel. While that's not a necessity for me to read, I'll read anything even passably well written on a historical era I find fascinating as long as its factually sound, it helps. But this was so heavily biased towards the Tudor's that it fe 5 Stars for the rule of Henry VI; 3.5 for the ruling of Edward IV, and 2.5 for the rest. It was a great start: the ruthless murder of Margaret de la Pole opens the narrative history in such a colloquial style that it reads less like a text book and more like a novel. While that's not a necessity for me to read, I'll read anything even passably well written on a historical era I find fascinating as long as its factually sound, it helps. But this was so heavily biased towards the Tudor's that it felt redundant and at times annoying. The final fall of Henry V is what truly opens this, and marks it as an odd follow-up to The Plantagenets book: that book ends with Henry IV taking the throne, and this one opens with Henry V's marriage and death. Reading such a meticulously detailed account of Henry VI's ruling was great, there's not much out there about him that isn't tainted with Shakespeare, or else focusing on Richard of York. Unfortunately, this wasn't out of any historical aim, but rather out of a bias towards the Lancastrian rulers that would show through the second half of the book. Edward IV is praised as a handsome and gallant ruler, and is even given political credit where many historians do not offer any. Then again, this could be becuase no one in Dan Jones's version of the WOTR marry for love. Somehow even Elizabeth Woodville must have had some kind of political importance, because thinking that Edward married her out of either love or lust is too much--no York thinks with such human emotions in this world. Now, I know that this is part of a particularly brutal era of history (Jones makes the egregious mistake later on to say that Henry VIII's and his children's rules--Mary's and Edward's skipped wholly, Jane Grey never mentioned, just right on to QE1--were RELATIVELY PEACEFUL??? The Renaissance was as bloody as its predeceasing centuries and to claim it was not is to fall into the trap of the 18th century's Golden Age thought processes that led only to more revolution and bloodshed) BUT the dehumanization of his figures, especially those of his women (save for Margaret Beaufort who is treated with shocking sympathy--which she fully deserves, but is unfortunately rarely granted by historians) is absurd. Could it get more ridiculous? The answer is yes. As I write the following, I look up to see if he's on Goodreads, becuase he's displayed before on social media outlets his distaste for defenders of Richard III, and I'm sure he or his fans are going to come out of the wood work and accuse me of alining with those who prefer a sainted image of the king. That's not what I'm doing. What I'm doing is saying that I'm pretty sure that William Shakespeare was his primary source (despite the wonderfully fleshed out bibliography) for the entire life of Richard III. Anne Neville, first of all, is only mentioned as she is needed to be the mother of Edward (whose death is obviously only mourned by Richard because he's lost his heir), her death is only mentioned in passing and more effort is put on the suggestion of rumors that Richard killed her in order to marry his niece, which he had to deny. He would have annulled the marriage to Anne after Edward's death, or at least set about the motions to do so, on the grounds that she had been married to Henry VI's son before him, and on the grounds that she was close in blood to him, and they may have married without full proper dispensation from the Pope, or the blessing of Edward IV. Even Desmond Steward's "Richard III: England's Black Legend" tells of these details--he didn't kill his wife, and could NOT have politically married Elizabeth of York for the reason that he had her and her siblings declared illegitimate. He could not say that she was legitimate without doing the same for her brothers, or at the very, very, very least only claiming her legitimacy would risk supporters of Edward V supporting her brothers claim to rule. Yes, the claim that they were all legitimate was 99% crap, and going by this, yes, Richard took the crown from his nephew. Politically he had support in this, seeing as Edward V was old enough to make commands without accepting guidance--even the words of a child would have be taken as law , even over his lord protector, if that child was the king. Last few times this happened, history didn't turn out so well, so its little surprise that the lords of England supported Richard III's claim, if it meant that an adult who grew up amongst battles and politics and civil wars, with all of that experience behind him, could take the crown and run the fragile country. He probably didn't kill the boys (which Jones says "no one knows" who did, but suggests that Richard had the most to gain from their death), for the reason that Elizabeth Woodville, their mother, remained on good terms with him, and remained part of his court, her children both by Richard's brother and by her first husband, and most of her family remained on good terms with him and his court as well. If the rumors were really true, or even likely, its doubtful that Elizabeth, not known for her political tact, would smile at the face of her children's murderer, and entrust him with the safety of her own person, and the lives of her family. The battle of Bosworth Field isn't even written as anything more than a blip, Tewkesbury and Towtown were more interestingly written, and it struck me as more than slightly odd that so very little attention was given to the last battle in English history in which a king was fought and killed alongside his men. Henry Tudor/Henry VII's the main "character" even of Richard's section of the book, and he starts getting more of a focus during Edward IV's reign.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ron Wroblewski

    Let me summarize with a quote from the book: "Foreign diplomats, receiving their news piecemeal across the Channel, shook their heads and marveled at England's topsy-turvy politics. 'I wish the country and the people were plunged deep in the sea, because of their lack of stability , for I feel like one going t the torture when I write about them, and no one ever hears twice alike about English affairs', wrote Ambassador Bettini in a letter home to Milan." Constant waring over power - who should be Let me summarize with a quote from the book: "Foreign diplomats, receiving their news piecemeal across the Channel, shook their heads and marveled at England's topsy-turvy politics. 'I wish the country and the people were plunged deep in the sea, because of their lack of stability , for I feel like one going t the torture when I write about them, and no one ever hears twice alike about English affairs', wrote Ambassador Bettini in a letter home to Milan." Constant waring over power - who should be king. At least 70 years worth. This book ends about the time the novel "The Column of Fire" begins. Brilliant history, but reading about one battle after another gets a bit boring. Especially since it is hard to keep track of all the Lords, Earls etc involved and on which side they are fighting on.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    The Yorkist White Rose versus the Red Lancastrian Rose. It begins with the final days of the 100 years war where powerful Henry V (Lancaster) is king of France and England. Henry V is dashing, fit, a military leader, has political acumen, and heirs. He also dies early leaving Henry VI who has none of the qualities of his father. Henry VI is a simple man and easily ruled by others. He has no interest in maintaining an empire. France is slowly pulled from the English grasp. Whispers of rival claim The Yorkist White Rose versus the Red Lancastrian Rose. It begins with the final days of the 100 years war where powerful Henry V (Lancaster) is king of France and England. Henry V is dashing, fit, a military leader, has political acumen, and heirs. He also dies early leaving Henry VI who has none of the qualities of his father. Henry VI is a simple man and easily ruled by others. He has no interest in maintaining an empire. France is slowly pulled from the English grasp. Whispers of rival claims from stronger Yorkists. The Duke of York makes his move but loses his life. His son wins and becomes Edward IV. A new strong king is in place. But time goes by. Edward the IV is living the good life. Too much of the good life. He dies leaving a strong uncle, Richard of Gloucester, to watch over his sons Edward V and his younger brother the Duke of York. Richard meets the new King and promptly arrests him and throws him in the tower. Later, twelve year old Edward V is joined by his brother. They are never seen alive again and Richard Duke of Gloucester becomes Richard III. Meanwhile during all this time a small sect of Lancastrians has held out...they are the Tudors. Henry Tudor to be exact. Henry has a small miniscule claim to the throne and he is also on the run. Slowly over the years Henry develops potential followers...all while Richard III's popularity sinks over the years. Finally, Henry makes his move and lands in England. Richard III is an experienced war captain and has many experienced followers. Henry not so much. The armies meet at Bosworth field. Richard III makes his move and leads a personal attack...his fatal mistake. One of the last of the English kings to die on the battlefield, Richard III dies horribly. Henry is now Henry VII and he is king of England. Upon his ascension he ends the Wars of the Roses...his rose is both red and white. He also has a young son...Henry...later known as Henry VIII. But that is another story. A great book covering a fantastic period. I hope you enjoy.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Caidyn (he/him/his)

    This review and others can be found on BW Book Reviews. 4.5/5 Let’s face it. I already know a lot about this area of history. I know most of the chronology and the sides that people were on. Or, at least, I can recognize the names and piece things together from there. I didn’t really need to read this book. However, I just really love Dan Jones. I think he’s a great author. He puts his great voice into the work, and if you’ve ever seen anything that he’s been in as a historian then you know what I This review and others can be found on BW Book Reviews. 4.5/5 Let’s face it. I already know a lot about this area of history. I know most of the chronology and the sides that people were on. Or, at least, I can recognize the names and piece things together from there. I didn’t really need to read this book. However, I just really love Dan Jones. I think he’s a great author. He puts his great voice into the work, and if you’ve ever seen anything that he’s been in as a historian then you know what I mean. And, he knows how to make things simple, but not too simple. I think that takes a very good author since most just toss you in and hope you figure it out. Jones does that, but he also tries to explain things. Since I find this era highly interesting, I would have rated it highly no matter what. Then there’s my love of Dan Jones so it means that I’m going to enjoy it. The only reason it got that very picky half star taken off was just that I wish it had gone more in depth. At times, it felt like an overview when I wanted more to it. I expected more, too, thanks to how long it is on my Kindle. Again, a picky detail from someone who already knows tons about this era (I would never say I know everything because there are people even more drenched in it than I am). Just that I would have liked more. A good book to start off with to whet your interest, then you can get to books about specific people or monarchs that catch your interest off this.

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