On the Trail of the Yorks by Kristie Dean

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On the Trail of the Yorks by Kristie Dean

Category: History
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Van der Kiste
Reviewed by John Van der Kiste
Summary: Part biography of the Yorkist Kings (Edward IV, Edward V and Richard III) and their immediate family, part travel guide, this is a guidebook comprising a tour of various places at home and abroad associated with the major figures. For readers wanting to see these various places for themselves, this is a thorough guide as to what helpful notes are made as to what remains visible today and how to get there. It makes an excellent, even unusual complement to modern Yorkist studies for the general reader.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: March 2016
Publisher: Amberley Publishing
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1445647135

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Just when you wondered whether there was room on your shelves for another book on the Yorkist dynasty, here comes a very enterprising addition. Part biography, part travel guide, this is a guidebook comprising a tour of various places at home and abroad associated with the major figures.

As Ms Dean says in her introduction, the work came about after she had completed an earlier book on Richard III, and felt that certain locations associated with the family also deserved exploration. After a few pages comprising a simple genealogical table and maps, the text is divided into ten chapters focusing on the main figures. First of all comes the patriarch, Richard, Duke of York, the father of Edward IV and Richard III, as we follow him from his birth at Conisbrough Castle to Rouen, where he was stationed as Lieutenant Governor during the city’s last few years under English control. The trail then leads to Trim Castle, Meath, Ireland, where he was again Lieutenant, to St Paul’s Cathedral and the procession of shortlived reconciliation between the Yorkists on one hand and King Henry VI and Queen Margaret on the other. The second chapter looks in a similar way at the various places associated with the Duchess of York, born Cicely Neville, who was born at Raby Castle, Durham (hence the name ‘Rose of Raby’) and lived to a ripe old age at Berkhamsted Castle into the Tudor age.

During the Wars of the Roses, the pendulum of fate swung to and fro. One King was unmade, another made in his place – and their positions were temporarily reversed a few years later. Flights to religious sanctuary, or even to the continent when events conspired against them, were part of the pattern.

Successive chapters focus on the three Yorkist Kings, including the shortlived uncrowned Edward V and his brother Richard, the Princes in the Tower, on George, or ‘false, fleeting, perjur’d Clarence’ and their wives, and also on Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy, the Duke and Duchess’s youngest surviving daughter. As she spent most of her life abroad, much of her chapter is about her connections with places in the Netherlands and present-day Belgium. For her brothers, as expected, much attention is paid to particular castles, churches and abbeys, as well as the battlefields of Mortimer’s Cross, Towton and notably Bosworth. With the Duke of Clarence, his story comes to an ignominious end with his execution in the Tower of London, although the story of him being drowned in a butt of malmsey wine is referred to without any verdict as to whether the story is true or not. Like many events said to have taken place over five hundred years ago, of course, nobody will ever be sure.

From start to finish, this is a very satisfying book which combines details of the characters’ life stories with a travelogue as to where they lived their lives. We learn what the different places were like at the time and what is still left to see.

It is good to note that previous generations were also sometimes as respectful of their heritage as we are today. For example, when Queen Elizabeth I visited Fotheringhay, where the Duke of York and his son Edmund, both slain at the battle of Wakefield, were buried, she was appalled to see how dilapidated their tombs were. Thanks to her, replacements were commissioned. Her father’s dissolution of the monasteries, the civil war and to a lesser extent the great fire of London have all played their part in the partial destruction of certain artefacts, but fortunately a certain amount in the way of old buildings, some partial and some heavily restored, can be savoured today. Of some, only fragments remain. The sole trace of the Palace of Placentia, Greenwich, a favourite place of Edward IV’s daughter Elizabeth, is a plaque which marks the birth of her son, later Henry VIII, and his two daughters who later came to the throne. On the site of the Blue Boar Inn where Richard III is said to have spent the night before the battle of Bosworth, there is now a Travelodge hotel, and on the market square at Salisbury where the Duke of Buckingham was executed for treason in 1483 is a Debenham’s department store, one wall of which has a plaque marking his death. In case you plan to go shopping there, his ghost is said to haunt the store to this day, so if easily spooked take care.

For readers who wish to go and see these various places for themselves, helpful notes are made as to what is still visible, how to get there, details as to ease of parking or lack of it, postcodes and even relevant websites, with useful warnings as to which busy visitor attractions are best reached early in the day before it gets too busy for comfort. There is no index, but an extensive eight-page bibliography is provided, as is an extensive 32-page section of colour plates. It makes an excellent, even unusual complement to modern Yorkist studies for the general reader.

Among recent biographies of the Yorkists, Edward IV: Glorious Son of York by Jeffrey James and Edward IV & Elizabeth Woodville: A True Romance by Amy Licence are also particularly recommended, as is The Last Days of Richard III by John Ashdown-Hill. The Princes In The Tower by Alison Weir is a detailed study of the ever-enduring mystery, although regarded as somewhat biased.

Buy On the Trail of the Yorks by Kristie Dean at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy On the Trail of the Yorks by Kristie Dean at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy On the Trail of the Yorks by Kristie Dean at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy On the Trail of the Yorks by Kristie Dean at Amazon.com.


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