Blood Royal: The Wars of Lancaster and York, 1462-1485 (Wars of the Roses Book 2) by Hugh Bicheno
|Blood Royal: The Wars of Lancaster and York, 1462-1485 (Wars of the Roses Book 2) by Hugh Bicheno|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: The second and final part in this excellent factual Wars of the Roses series again bridges the gap between historical fiction and high falluting non-fiction. It's a ripping read written in an easily digested, unbefuddled way, yet packed with undumbed down information.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 416||Date: October 2016|
|Publisher: Head of Zeus|
Starting where Battle Royal finished, the Yorkists' victory at Towton looks as if the whole argument will be sewn up nicely but fate has more surprises before the end. Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick (the Kingmaker) has more ambitions than he feels that Edward can fulfil as his choice of king. So Edward needs to watch his back as Warwick uses sibling rivalries to manoeuvre the crown back towards his control. Mind you, Edward's mother isn’t helping matters much either!
Historian and former MI6 employee and analyst Hugh Bicheno provides us with a second volume and reason not to be scared of reading historical non-fiction. As he takes us from the aftermath of blood soaked Towton through a couple of changes of monarch to the aftermath of Bosworth Fields, we're again treated to fascinating stuff that can't be made up.
While we meet and reacquaint ourselves with some intriguing people, Hugh continues to turn our ideas of the era on their head. For instance, although a lot about the role of women may be lost in the mists of time, Hugh extrapolates a convincing case as to the power and influence they exerted. For instance, wealthy widows were in total control of their lands and goods, enabling them to choose a future husband as well as dictating the terms for the marriage.
Also we grow to understand that a lot of Edward's problems were created by his own mother, Cecily. Once Edward married Elizabeth Woodville (a less than biddable wife) Cecily watched her own dreams of ruling vicariously disappear. Hugh therefore presents us with evidence for the likelihood of Cecily's cunning ruse: the idea of telling key people that Edward was actually illegitimate, endangering his accession and rule. No, I don't think I'd like Cecily either!
Even more intriguing than this is Hugh's collated case for the idea that George, Duke of Clarence was poisoned and that Edward IV wasn't the woman obsessed, wife harried, thicko that he's painted. This is presented to us in Hugh's usual even handed way that includes other historians' viewpoints so that we can accept or disagree with his hypotheses.
Once again the facts are well-juiced rather than academically dehydrated and include something for everyone. I particularly love what can be summed up as one of history's 'D'oh!' moments.
King Edward IV (as he was by then) disliked one particular noble intensely. Therefore when this chap Cooke was arrested for treason, Ed hastily grabbed all Cooke's lands and belongings, getting of them quickly to pay a gambling debt. Then Cooke was found innocent and released… Awkward!
For those who prefer traditional history complete with maps, dates and charts, Hugh obliges with the same level of expertise demonstrated in Book 1. We revel in detailed battle maps and time lines as well as wonderful statistical ephemera like the numbers of knights, lances and archers provided by each aristocrat for battle in 1475. Indeed, if history had been taught like this when I was at school, I'd definitely have paid more attention.
(Thank you so much, Head of Zeus, for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: Do please treat yourself to Battle Royal if you haven't read it already. If you'd like to read about the Wars of the Roses end game – The Battle of Bosworth – in more detail, we also recommend The Last Days of Richard III by John Ashdown-Hill. Meanwhile Edward IV & Elizabeth Woodville: A True Romance by Amy Licence is a recommended for those who are fascinated in the marriage Edward's mother tried to avoid.
You can read more book reviews or buy Blood Royal: The Wars of Lancaster and York, 1462-1485 (Wars of the Roses Book 2) by Hugh Bicheno at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Blood Royal: The Wars of Lancaster and York, 1462-1485 (Wars of the Roses Book 2) by Hugh Bicheno at Amazon.com.
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