Category Archives: Wars of the Roses

(Giveaway!) The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Philippa Gregory

Please see the end of the review for how to enter for your copy of The Kingmaker’s Daughter!

(UK cover)

A blend of treachery, sorcery and devotion.

The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Philippa Gregory (Cousins’ War #4)
Simon & Schuster UK/Touchstone August 14, 2012
Hardcover 432 pages
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:

Spies, poison, and curses surround her… Is there anyone she can trust?
In The Kingmaker’s Daughter, #1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory presents a novel of conspiracy and a fight to the death for love and power at the court of Edward IV of England.

The Kingmaker’s Daughter is the gripping story of the daughters of the man known as the “Kingmaker,” Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick: the most powerful magnate in fifteenth-century England. Without a son and heir, he uses his daughters Anne and Isabel as pawns in his political games, and they grow up to be influential players in their own right. In this novel, her first sister story since The Other Boleyn Girl, Philippa Gregory explores the lives of two fascinating young women.

At the court of Edward IV and his beautiful queen, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne grows from a delightful child to become ever more fearful and desperate when her father makes war on his former friends. Married at age fourteen, she is soon left widowed and fatherless, her mother in sanctuary and her sister married to the enemy. Anne manages her own escape by marrying Richard, Duke of Gloucester, but her choice will set her on a collision course with the overwhelming power of the royal family and will cost the lives of those she loves most in the world, including her precious only son, Prince Edward. Ultimately, the kingmaker’s daughter will achieve her father’s greatest ambition.
Read my reviews of the earlier titles in the series:
The Kingmaker’s Daughter brings us another installment in the Cousins’ War series, this one focusing on the point of view from Anne Neville. Fans like myself of the history of the Wars of the Roses would recognize the Neville name as being closely connected to the Yorkist kings, as Richard Neville was the Kingmaker who helped put Edward IV on the throne of England.
This was a period of time where many factions were created and put down, and turn coats and traitors were just as easily made. There was never a pure period of peace, there always seemed to be a rivalry for the throne of England. Before this novel opens, Anne’s father had successfully ousted the Lancastrian Henry VI and his wife Margaret of Anjou to put the Yorkist family on the throne. Anne had grown up fearing this “bad queen” and feeling sorry for the “sleeping king”, but never once doubting the righteousness of the Yorkist claim. When the new King Edward chooses Elizabeth Woodville, the new Queen Elizabeth rises her huge family to greatness with lands and wealth which old lords and honorable nobles felt entitled to.
Philippa Gregory loves her Witchy Woodville girls, and they are back causing evil and torment to all those who stand in her path. The Woodvilles are of the upstart House of Rivers, and King Edward IV married Elizabeth Woodville, essentially a commoner, and sired many children with her. Alliances are made for these children, and unrest grows. King Edward seems to lead the country at the wishes of his witchy Queen, and it causes Anne’s father to become a turncoat himself as he becomes an ally to The Bad Queen (Margaret of Anjou). Anne is betrothed to her Lancastrian heir, Edward, and everything that she has been taught as a child has become overturned.
She is to be a Lancastrian with her marriage to Prince Edward. As most lovers of the story know, this new uprising fails, and long story in the end Anne finally does end up with Edward’s brother, Richard. Anne and her sister Isabel are now both married to King Edward’s royal brothers, and things should end happily ever after, if not for the Woodville clan.
Elizabeth Woodville was portrayed throughout Gregory’s novels as a witch, seductress, temptress.. and the same themes hold true in the new installment. Anne suffers greatly once she marries Richard, and each loss she attributes to the witchy Queen. As I neared the end of the novel, I had hoped for more for Anne, but it seemed that Elizabeth Woodville, even from her far sanctuary, had won the last battle.
There are many story lines weaved throughout, which fans of Gregory would remember such as the legend of Melusine, or the rumors that historians like to hate and refute, but Gregory always manages to turn facts and rumors into an entertaining story. I love the Wars of the Roses era and the Plantagenets far more than I do the Tudor era for all of the many side stories that would be a novel by themselves.  Even though I disliked both the juvenile style of the beginning of this book and the depressing way the book ended, I enjoyed this story a bit more than some of the others.

This time, I really felt the plight of the Neville sisters of Anne and Isabel, and I actually was sympathetic to Richard, whom some feel may have murdered those princes in the Tower (raises hand). There is so much history that we will never truly know, and historians will decipher letters and evidence as they see fit, and I love how Philippa Gregory brings to life an otherwise forgotten time period as she has with her Cousins’ War series. Since Gregory doesn’t bog down this story with many historical facts or details, the drama speaks for itself with its blend of treachery, sorcery and devotion and I can recommend this novel to any historical fiction fan wishing for an entertaining read, as well as it being suited for a young adult audience.


Discuss your opinions of the Wars of The Roses. Where would you have put yourself in the wars: Lancastrian or Yorkist? Or if you have read the other books in the Cousins’ War, which one was your favorite so far?
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Filed under #histnov, 15th Century, 2012 Releases, 2012 Review, Anne Neville, Edward IV, Elizabeth Woodville, Jacquetta Woodville, Philippa Gregory, Richard III, Wars of the Roses

Review: The Lady of the Rivers: A Novel (Cousins’ War #3) by Philippa Gregory

Simon & Schuster October 18, 2011
Hardcover, 464 pages
ISBN 978-1416563709
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:

Jacquetta, daughter of the Count of Luxembourg and kinswoman to half the royalty of Europe, was married to the great Englishman John, Duke of Bedford, uncle to Henry VI. Widowed at the age of nineteen she took the extraordinary risk of marrying a gentleman of her house-hold for love, and then carved out a life for herself as Queen Margaret of Anjou’s close friend and a Lancaster supporter – until the day that her daughter Elizabeth Woodville fell in love and married the rival king Edward IV. Of all the little-known but important women of the period, her dramatic story is the most neglected. With her links to Melusina, and to the founder of the house of Luxembourg, together with her reputation for making magic, she is the most haunting of heroines.

Philippa Gregory’s third novel in the Cousins’ War series focuses on Jacquetta of Luxembourg, who later becomes mother to the Queen of England. Her story is a fascinating one, and it is made quite entertaining Gregory-style. In Gregory’s previous novel The White Queen (2009), we are introduced to the legacy of Melusina when Elizabeth Woodville captures the eye of Edward IV and the stigma of witchcraft that the Woodville women are surrounded with. With this installment on Jacquetta, we are immediately brought into this magical element of Jacquetta’s upbringing and the legend of Melusina. Those readers who dislike this fantasy theme should not bother reading the book, as it is a large fragment of the story.

The White Queen centered around Elizabeth Woodville, who was Jacquetta’s eldest and beautiful daughter. The Lady of the Rivers moves back in time a bit, to Jacquetta and her story of survival, love and loyalty. (Could have been a publisher’s decision because two years ago Gregory was going to do the third book on Elizabeth of York: The White Princess). A young Jacquetta is forced to leave France as she is married off to England’s Duke of Bedford, who is on a mission to find the mystical answers to all things unknown, along with that pot of gold. Poor Bedford seems like a creepy little man, sadly for him. Meanwhile, Jacquetta finds a friend and protector in Richard Woodville who acted as Bedford’s right hand man. Once Bedford dies, Jacquetta throws caution to the wind, and usurps all authority in declaring her love for Richard.

Her story develops around the turmoil of England as they struggle to hold on to the lands in France that the late Henry V worked so hard for, but the young and weak Henry VI is ill advised and caught between the rising factions of the Cousins’ War. Jacquetta embraces her new country of England, and serves the Lancastrian King and Queen as she hopes against hope that her new husband Richard Woodville won’t be killed in battle. The love that grew between Jacquetta and Richard is lovingly portrayed and one can easily imagine, through Gregory’s eyes, how the unlikely pair found a lasting love that brought forth quite a brood of Woodvilles. There were repeated mentions of the blue eyes of Richard, but he was always in the background of the other novels I had read so it was nice to see him form into a handsome blue-eyed person with a knack for quickly making babies. He was quite the star in this novel, with his loyal and gallant characteristics, not to mention sex appeal.

Jacquetta and Richard live out their life in fear of witch hunts as they do the royal bidding. Margaret of Anjou is insufferably unqueenly in this portrayal and her husband Henry is either a pious robot or a recluse. The city of London is a mob of dejected souls and Richard Duke of York is mentioned as the most-wished-for-wanna-be-king.. and other loose characterizations are formed and maintained throughout the story. The phrase ‘Edmund Beaufort Duke of Somerset’ is drilled into my head as he is mentioned umpteen times and who is not so subtly hinted as being in love with the Queen. History is a bit of a glazed backdrop as Gregory focuses the crux of the novel on Jacquetta and her experiences as Gregory imagines them as Jacquetta stands by the Queen’s side while her Richard goes off to fight for them. Historical buffs for the Wars of the Roses may be a bit bored and put off by the lack of dramatic emphasis in areas where we would expect them as the mystical elements play the stronger part in this telling.

Of course, as with all Philippa Gregory novels, there seems to be a major uproar when the fiction outweighs the history, and this is no different. I could not get a handle on what exact title Richard Woodville had (squire/knight/chamberlain/baron/commander whatever he was at any given time), and then since we truly know very little about Jacquetta herself except for royal occasions where she was present, Gregory fills in the rest with lots of gorgeous babies. I can’t remember my phone number sometimes so I wouldn’t dare attempt to find any historical accuracies, but I am sure that those readers who pursue inaccuracies within Gregory’s fiction as a sort of sport will be able to point them out to you. This reader doesn’t care, I love the genre of historical fiction because of the entertaining accounts of historical figures, and Philippa Gregory usually captures that need for me with flair (most of the time).

I have no idea what type of schedule the author keeps, but I think that her recent popularity may have zapped some of the story-telling skills that she once demonstrated in earlier novels. Gregory is one of the more well-known authors of  historical fiction with a following of many critics and has a lot to live up to. I would personally wish for something a bit more in-depth and rounded out characters, while others wish for a bit more accuracy in the details. Jacquetta Woodville, Duchess of Bedford, mother to a Queen.. Gregory has the potential to turn her life into quite a story with creativity and that midas touch that once made Gregory so popular…

However.. the last half of the book did not quite match the expectations that were solicited in the first half as I wished for a lot more substance and a lot less of the repetitive silliness that she emphasized when utilizing various rumors of the time. I really wanted this to be a fabulous read that entertained and absorbed me, but this time Gregory comes up short. I think that newcomers to the Wars of the Roses era would enjoy this novel, much like once upon a time I was a rookie in regards to the Tudor era and Philippa Gregory wrote some intriguing introductions to the Tudors with The Other Boleyn Girl and The Boleyn Inheritance.  Also recently released which I recommend as a brief summary on the main protagonists of Gregory’s Cousins’ War series is The Women of the Cousin’s War (my review), which is a collaborative effort with authors David Baldwin and Michael Jones.


Filed under 2011 Releases, 2011 Reviews, Elizabeth of York, Elizabeth Woodville, Jacquetta Woodville, Medieval Era, Philippa Gregory, Wars of the Roses

Review: The Women of The Cousin’s War by Philippa Gregory

Women of the Cousins' War

The Women of The Cousin’s War by Philippa Gregory, David Baldwin & Michael Jones
Simon & Schuster/Touchstone, September 13, 2011
Hardcover 352 pages
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:Four Stars

The Women of the Cousins’ War is an attempt to shed light on three important women of the Wars of the Roses, which Gregory refers to with the old fashioned name of the Cousins’ War. The Duchess refers to Jaquetta of Luxembourg, minor French nobility who married into English nobility of the Lancastrian side and who would probably have had a satisfied life if things ended there. Her first husband John, Duke of Bedford was the third son of Henry IV. When he dies, Jacquetta defies convention and marries Richard Woodville, who was merely her first husband’s chamberlain. Philippa Gregory writes the first portion of The Women of the Cousins’ War as a sort of prelude to her novel, The Lady of the Rivers, her third installment in the Cousins’ War fictional series.

David Baldwin writes the second portion of The Women of the Cousins’ War on the Queen Elizabeth Woodville, daughter of Jacquetta, mother of the lost princes in the tower, mother-in-law to Henry VII. Elizabeth Woodville underwent much scrutiny when she married the younger Edward IV, who enraged all nobility by bringing the large family of Woodville upstarts into the royal fold. She encounters foes on all sides, from the scheming Warwick to the King’s own brothers. Baldwin previously wrote a biography on Elizabeth Woodville, one of the few written.

Finally, Michael Jones brings us the third portion of The Women of the Cousins’ War with his writing on Margaret Beaufort, mother to Henry VII, who against all odds persevered throughout the tumultuous Cousins’ War and eventually was able to see Lancaster restored to the English throne via her own son. All three of these women are main protagonists in Gregory’s novels The White Queen, The Red Queen, and The Lady of the Rivers.

In the roughly forty-seven page introduction, Gregory explains that there is very little known about the female significant others of times gone by because women were simply considered irrelevant. Sometimes we have dates of birth and dates of death, and then a little can be filled in between the lines based on certain battles and where their husbands had traveled. And that’s exactly what Gregory provides us with when discussing Jacquetta of Luxembourg. As forewarned by Gregory herself, the actual lines that were devoted to Jacquetta in Gregory’s section of The Women of the Cousins’ War were full of probably’s and maybe’s with a summary of the Wars of the Roses. The last few pages focus a bit more on Jacquetta and her family, her legacy and the stigma of being a branded a witch (which she miraculously survived a trial intact).

David Baldwin’s portion on Elizabeth Woodville read much quicker, and the tone of Baldwin’s writing is pitch perfect. He calls into account more of Elizabeth’s actions during the events of her marriage to Edward IV, and he didn’t overlook some details that I had previously not comprehended. It seems that Edward IV had a peculiar way of ignoring rules and making stuff up as he went along to whatever suited his current needs. King Edward had even declared a countess legally dead in order for her lands to be distributed, even though she was very much alive. It becomes more understandable of the unrest at the time when Edward ignored the Yorkist nobles’ alliances with families regarding betrothals, bequeathals and land disputes. Even though most of the disgruntled nobles placed the blame on “the upstart Woodvilles”, we cannot but help but wonder where Edward’s mind was once he continued to stir the pot more and more. And so the magic/witch/evil spell factor comes back into play, because certainly Edward would not have knowingly been such an idiot when he married the Woodville widow…and he certainly would not normally have misplaced all his trust with the Woodvilles who were (up till then) staunch Lancastrian supporters. I had read Baldwin’s non-fiction book on Elizabeth Woodville a few years ago and I recall enjoying it more than other WOTR non-fiction. His writing in The Women of the Cousins’ War was just as enjoyable.

Michael Jones then writes of Margaret Beaufort, and we learn about her family and her own father’s tragic life. He had committed suicide when Margaret had turned a year old, but as Jones tells it, he was never far from her mind. Jones writes of John Beaufort’s tragic exile, his plundering the spoils of battles, enraging the pious Henry VI, his ultimate suicide and ponders what effect did these events have on Margaret? Jones emphasizes Margaret’s political acumen and her very act of survival during those politically treacherous times with appraisal. There were a few more details of Margaret’s family that I had not realized before, and her family’s name going back and forth in and out of royal favor occurred more than I had realized. Margaret’s ultimate success of seeing her son on the throne of England, and finally her grandson succeeding the throne without protest, must have been sweet success indeed.

The Women of the Cousins’ War is a quick read without bogging down the reader with minutia of details regarding the many angles and intrigues of the Wars of the Roses, and is a worthy resource (family trees, illustrations, notes and sources, and index included) for those who wish to know the real story behind the formidable women featured in Philippa Gregory’s novels of the Cousins’ War.


Filed under 2011 Releases, 2011 Reviews, Edward IV, Elizabeth of York, Elizabeth Woodville, Jacquetta Woodville, Margaret Beaufort, Richard III, Tudor, Wars of the Roses

Book Review: Queen By Right by Anne Easter Smith

Queen By Right: A Novel by Anne Easter Smith
Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: Touchstone; Original edition (May 10, 2011)
ISBN-13: 978-1416550471
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
The Burton Book Review Rating:

In Cecily Neville, duchess of York and ancestor of every English monarch to the present day, she has found her most engrossing character yet. History remembers Cecily of York standing on the steps of the Market Cross at Ludlow, facing an attacking army while holding the hands of her two young sons. Queen by Right reveals how she came to step into her destiny, beginning with her marriage to Richard, duke of York, whom she meets when she is nine and he is thirteen. Raised together in her father’s household, they become a true love match and together face personal tragedies, pivotal events of history, and deadly political intrigue. All of England knows that Richard has a clear claim to the throne, and when King Henry VI becomes unfit to rule, Cecily must put aside her hopes and fears and help her husband decide what is right for their family and their country. Queen by Right marks Anne Easter Smith’s greatest achievement, a book that every fan of sweeping, exquisitely detailed historical fiction will devour.

Wars of the Roses followers recognize the Nevilles as having a strong family in the midst of the turmoil between the Yorks and the Lancastrians. Queen By Right gives us the story of Cecily Neville, daughter of Ralph Neville and Joan Beaufort, and shows us an indulging upbringing for her as well as an indulging marriage to Richard Plantagenet of York. A young Henry VI is on the throne, and Richard seems pleased to be this Lancastrian King’s man even though he has his own strong claim to the throne that none can dispute.

Richard and Cecily are blessed with children, and history aficionados will know that these children include Edward IV and Richard III among the most notable. But who were their parents, and how did they get to the royal title? Focusing on Cecily, we become entwined with her character as the author dramatizes her young life as one long flashback to the elder Cecily ponders the very question of how this all came to be. The book opens to Cecily mourning the loss of her husband and favorite son Edmund in a battle against the Lancastrian king. But it wasn’t always York versus Lancaster, so how did things get so convoluted as to battle for the throne?

The way Cecily’s character is written makes her very likable from the beginning, but about halfway through we somehow lose touch with her. The character development of both Richard and Cecily left much to be desired as they seemed to stray from their once noble paths. Once Cecily becomes an adult, and a mother bent on favoritism, the story began to be more (ambiguously) focused on the politics of Lancaster versus York. Richard was away serving the king on various military appointments and never receiving payment for the money spent on the soldiers he lead, which bred discontent for years. And since this is where the focus lay, I was becoming impatient for the story to get on with it. Instead, we learn of Cecily’s aversions to certain people such as Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford, or fascination with others like Joan of Arc (the author mentions this was her poetic license). There is also quite a bit of sex but at least it didn’t encompass the whole book, but the couple seemingly had eyes only for each other. A plus is that the rumored archer affair did not weave its fiction into this story. The author ascertains that the marriage between Richard and Cecily was a love match beginning in their childhood, though in her author’s note she theorizes about the late development was in producing heirs.

An intriguing figure of this time is Jacquetta: Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Duchess of Bedford, or Jacquetta Woodville as she also may be known. She is mentioned several times in the story as she is a high ranking noble in her own right. Jacquetta is peeking out windows witnessing Cecily’s actions, and she sends Cecily shivers down Cecily’s spine many times. Jacquetta also befriends Margaret of Anjou and Cecily wonders how that could be. Was it Melusina at work? Jacquetta’s first husband was related to the throne, but he passed away so Jacquetta made a scandalous love match with Richard Woodville. I mention all this because as a reader I paid attention to all the innuendo and the foreshadowing the author related when mentioning Elizabeth and her beautiful daughter, another Elizabeth, who ends up marrying Cecily’s oldest son.

The first half of Cecily’s life when she was growing up was an intriguing adventure. In the middle of the book we seemed to be merely skimming the surface, watching things happen from afar, and it just couldn’t draw me into the story as it had at first. It was enjoyable reading about Cecily’s early life, but as a mother and wife to Richard it became more about the antics of the children, and that of Richard himself. We all knew what happens to Richard in the end, because that is discussed within the first sentences of the novel. Getting to that point with that ill-fated battle became a long drawn out process of Richard whining about not getting paid for his services and Cecily praying to the Virgin Mary. The names of uncles and nobles who were in favor at court when Richard wasn’t became a quagmire to sift through at first.

Still, I did gather a bit of information of Cecily and her life, and I was eager to learn a bit more about the struggle of why Richard Plantagenet did decide to grasp the throne for himself. He is not portrayed as an evil man as Lancastrian reads like to paint, as Richard states many times that he swears fealty to Henry VI as God’s anointed. Keeping Richard out of the court’s loop was also an annoying tactic of Henry VI, as he sent Richard off to Ireland and France to keep the peace but not supporting Richard monetarily to do so. Richard didn’t like what was happening to the government at the hands of the king’s advisers, and Richard had many who backed his own Yorkist claim to the throne after years of mismanagement. England seemed glorious under King Henry V, but his son was nothing like him. The loss of lands in acquiring the Queen for Henry was also an ill omen of things to come.

For those readers who really want to know more about the struggles of Cecily and Richard Plantagenet and those inherited by their children, the author does well to cover them in Queen By Right. Most Wars of the Roses fans don’t get the ‘before’ scene of the Wakefield battle, as most know that it is Richard’s son, Edward IV, who becomes successful for the Yorkist cause. It wasn’t until the last quarter of the book that we are finally brought to this climax and started becoming intriguing again. Queen by Right delivers the details and the purported minds behind Richard and Cecily during the years before the famous battles. Anne Easter Smith is well known for her Yorkist novels, and for those readers who enjoyed her books like A Rose for The Crown or Daughter of York would enjoy Queen By Right as well for the lesser known story of Cecily’s family and the separate factions of the land. I also must disclose that I have always seemed to lean towards the Lancastrian point of view rather than the Yorkist, and the novel is obviously Yorkist focused. Richard’s wishy-washy character himself was portrayed in such a way that this reader wanted to slap him, as much as Cecily did when Richard put his family in such extreme danger. Also included with the book were a few helpful genealogy charts, map, bibliography and glossary.


Filed under 2011 Releases, 2011 Reviews, Anne Easter Smith, France, The Rose of York: Love and War, Wars of the Roses

>Book Review: Pale Rose of England: A Novel of The Tudors by Sandra Worth


Pale Rose of England: A Novel of The Tudors by Sandra Worth
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade (February 1, 2011)
ISBN-13: 978-0425238776
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
The Burton Review Rating:

It is 1497. The news of the survival of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, has set royal houses ablaze with intrigue and rocked the fledgling Tudor dynasty. With the support of Scotland’s King James IV, Richard-known to most of England as Perkin Warbeck-has come to reclaim his rightful crown from Henry Tudor. Stepping finally onto English soil, Lady Catherine Gordon has no doubt that her husband will succeed in his quest.

But rather than assuming the throne, Catherine would soon be prisoner of King Henry VII, and her beloved husband would be stamped as an imposter. With Richard facing execution for treason, Catherine, alone in the glittering but deadly Tudor Court, must find the courage to spurn a cruel monarch, shape her own destiny, and win the admiration of a nation.

I have all of Sandra Worth’s books, but have only found the time to read The Rose of York: Love and War (review) which paints a very different picture of Richard III than my normal style of reads. Worth is evidently pro-Richard, pro-Yorkist etc. and I still have not yet defaulted to that side, though Worth has made it her mission in life as far as a writer to put a glorious light on the Yorkist line as opposed to the usual vilification of Richard III. In my opinion, Sandra Worth’s first book was well written (yet it was slightly overdone with the romantic view of Richard), thus with the new Yorkist installment, Pale Rose of England, I was skeptical but ready to be open-minded. (And yes, I say this only because I have not yet read Sharon Kay Penman’s Sunne in Splendour, who probably turned many Lancastrians into Yorkists with that book).

Don’t let the subtitle fool you… this is not yet another look at Henry VIII and his many wives, as this novel begins before Henry VIII’s rule. This novel is also an intriguing alternate history examination of what could have happened to the princes in the tower, namely, the boys locked away from their mother in terror during the usurper Richard III’s rule. Their uncle, Richard III, took the throne after Edward’s death, and little Edward and Richard simply vanished after being held in the Tower. Edward was supposed to be crowned in 1483 around age nine or ten, but Uncle Richard declared them illegitimate. No one can truly say what happened to the innocent young boys, but they never did return to the courts and take the throne in succession as they were meant to do after their father Edward IV. Since no one can realistically proclaim what really happened to those boys, I say alternate history because the author has used Perkin Warbeck as the Pretender who was out to take Henry VII’s throne for himself in the name of the Yorkist line.

In Pale Rose of England, the author uses a popular theory that young Richard was safely stowed away as a child, perhaps by Uncle Richard himself. Later, this same Richard Plantagenet returns to England, known as Perkin Warbeck to the English who ridicule him, bringing his Scottish wife Catherine Gordon with him.

“Without exception, the Tudor is hated. All he has brought us is fear and taxes. We pray daily for the restoration of your royal father’s line. When you leave here to march against the Tudor, you’ll see the truth of what I say. All Cornwall with rise up to join you.” says Prior John to Richard. Thus sets the scene for the very high hopes that Richard, Catherine and fellow Yorkists shared, and I realize I will have to put aside my strong Lancastrian (Tudor loving) tendencies in order to root for this Perkin fella. Which is not hard, with the way Worth has written this despairing, heart wrenching, soul gripping story. Henry VII is a force to be reckoned with, and is a part of the story as much as Richard is, which is a refreshing change of pace as far as characters go.  I enjoyed reading more about him and wondering about his characteristics as a ruler, as a miser, as a man under his mama’s thumb, even though I could never say he was a good guy. Lady Catherine Gordon was new to me, and she was her own pillar of strength in opposition to Henry, most of the time. Though I did want to slap her at some parts and tell her to run run run run run.. but she didn’t.

Sandra Worth sets forth her theories regarding this Pretender who really could have been England’s Richard IV.. who could have tossed the Tudor line off of the throne.. with as much attention to historical details as she could. This is not a piece of Tudor fluff, it became depressing beyond words and made my heart ache for Lady Catherine, a royal lady of Scotland who was kept an essential prisoner in the Royal Courts for much of the more than four hundred pages. Catherine went through one emotional upheaval after the other during her support for her husband’s quest, and as we know since thereafter was only a successful Tudor rule, she lost it all. Her story kept me reading, as I hoped she would somehow be redeemed, that somehow there would be a knight in shining armor for her, somehow her years of misery would be rewarded with something.

This is not an easy read, and runs along the lines of a tragedy with political forces pulling the strings. Who is pulling the strings this time was the Tudor usurper as we he was pleasantly called. The major dimension of the story of Catherine Gordon’s life is loss, torture, despair, and impossible situations and the cloud of doom hovers over the reader and Catherine throughout most of the 464 pages.

Whether or not this Perkin fella is truly Richard, Duke of York, the young “lost” prince in the tower, I cannot say. Worth certainly presents a compelling argument leaning that way.. but I am not utterly convinced, even though the major European rulers at the time seemed to believe the Pretender was not pretending. I am looking forward to reading Anne Wroe’s The Perfect Prince for further insight. As far as Worth presents this tangled weave of love and deception, you really have to be ready to put your lot in with Catherine and support her emotionally as you go along. Otherwise, I see a strong possibility of some not liking the novel because of the way Catherine let things happen around her. Yes, in reality, she may not have had much of a choice, but I still think that there were other things that could have occurred to help her plight, especially since her cousin was the King of Scotland. But that’s not the way history tells it, so neither does the author. Henry VII had a grip on her and the entire situation, and somehow all other major powers let Henry maintain this power. There are small quibbles I had with the plot, mainly because I didn’t want Henry to have so much power, but Sandra Worth tells a compelling, poetic and romantic story that really could sway Tudor lovers into becoming Tudor lovers with Yorkist tendencies. Ahem.

A few books from my library that I can recommend regarding the mystery of the Princes in the Tower include David Baldwin’s Elizabeth Woodville: Mother of the Princes in the Tower and Alison Weir’s Princes in the Tower as well as her The Wars of the Roses which are detailed (and conflicting) non-fiction reads. Sandra Worth has authored an interesting article regarding Richard/Perkin at On The Tudor Trail: Uncovering The Mystery of Perkin Warbeck  and she will also be the author of the month for the lovely ladies of the Historical Fiction Round Table. Be sure to watch that site for the links to the giveaway opportunities, reviews and more articles regarding the mystery of the Princes in the Tower.


Filed under 15th Century, 2011 Releases, 2011 Reviews, Elizabeth of York, Henry VIII, Perkin Warbeck, Princes in the Tower, Sandra Worth, The Rose of York: Love and War, Wars of the Roses

>Book Review: The Queen of Last Hopes by Susan Higginbotham


The Queen of Last Hopes: The Story of Margaret of Anjou by Susan Higginbotham
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (January 1, 2011)
ISBN-13: 978-1402242816
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
The Burton Review Rating:A Fantastic Reading Experience!

It would be called the Wars of the Roses, but it all began with one woman’s fury…

Margaret of Anjou, Queen of England, cannot give up on her husband-even when he goes insane. And as mother to the House of Lancaster’s last hope, she cannot give up on her son-even when all England turns against him. This gripping tale of a queen is at its heart a tender tale of love: passionate, for her husband, and motherly, for her only son.

The Wars of the Roses has been my favorite period to read about during the last two years. Following that would be the Tudor era, but the battles between the Lancastrians and the Yorkists are always full of passion and from so many points of view that I have not been bored yet after reading many books on the era. I will not recount the events of the novel as there are many characters and titles to decipher that is hard to keep up with. Using a few key players, such as the fatherly Suffolk, the must’ve-been-handsome Henry Beaufort or the seemingly murderous Yorkist factions, Higginbotham retraces Margaret’s story with a passion and talent as Higginbotham gives Margaret’s name a new found respect. Wars of the Roses fans know what is to happen by the end of Margaret’s story, but will they be sympathetic of Margaret of Anjou or to the Yorkists that stole the crown from her husband?

I will say that I haven’t had a desire to read for a day straight in months, yet I am honored that Higginbotham broke me from that sad fact with her story of Margaret of Anjou and the fruitless fight to put her son Edward on the throne of England. Once I had a chance to get 70 pages into the story, I could not put it down; I was so entertained by Higginbotham’s telling of Margaret’s story which is why I endowed the five star rating. Even knowing what historical tragedies would play out in the story, I was hooked and enamored with Margaret. In previous reads, Margaret is normally referred to as merely the Frenchwoman, the whore, the witch.. and finally we have a much more pleasant view of this consort of the saintly Henry VI. Their son Edward of Lancaster had always been in the background of my previous reads, as he had never gotten the chance to make his mark on England. Yet, the way Higginbotham tells it, readers of her newest Wars of the Roses novel will never forget Edward of Lancaster and the throne that should not have been stolen from him; and one cannot but wonder if only he had been successful in the Lancastrian cause…

If you had not chosen a side before, either Lancaster or York, be prepared to become Lancastrian. I had never felt Yorkist in nature, and this novel solidifies my Lancastrian leanings for me once again. Margaret of Anjou will undoubtedly gain much earned respect through this telling, as she was loyal to the country that she married and the man who was England’s rightful king. She held fast in her resolve even when others would have given up, and I am not ashamed to admit that Higginbotham’s novel of Margaret and her fight for the Lancastrian cause brought me to tears. Perhaps the story sheds too much of a positive light on Margaret, but to give the novel further credit, it is told with multiple points of view which helps round out and personify the events for the reader and for once, a multiple narration did not grate at my nerves as it is known to do.

Susan Higginbotham’s writing has an easy conversational feel to it, while deftly imparting detailed historically significant events throughout which makes Higginbotham a favorite historical fiction author of mine. The three novels of hers that I have read have all been read quickly by me, just short of devouring them. I appreciate the fact that although she takes some liberties with the historical accounts, she stays well within the realms of accuracy, and when she strays she explains both herself and history in the author’s note. I have nothing to say to criticize this novel, and am pleased to recommend this novel to any history fan interested in some of the struggles during the Wars of the Roses and how the Tudors came to their eventual throne. Readers will become immersed in the quest for the rightful owner of the crown of England, as history’s mysteries also seep through to help add to the titillation of the reader.

See my previous reviews and guest post from the author here at this link.


Filed under 15th Century, 2011 Releases, 2011 Reviews, Susan Higginbotham, Wars of the Roses

>GIVEAWAY! Review: The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

>The Burton Review has reviewed Philippa Gregory’s new release which has been duplicated here. There are two separate giveaways going on here and at The Burton Review. See the end of this post for more details.

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster Ltd (August 3, 2010 in USA; August 19 in UK)
ISBN-13: 978-1416563723 & 978-1847374578
Review copy provided by Simon and Schuster, thank you!
The Burton Review Rating:

Heiress to the red rose of Lancaster, Margaret Beaufort never surrenders her belief that her house is the true ruler of England and that she has a great destiny before her. Her ambitions are disappointed when her sainted cousin Henry VI fails to recognize her as a kindred spirit, and she is even more dismayed when he sinks into madness. Her mother mocks her plans, revealing that Margaret will always be burdened with the reputation of her father, one of the most famously incompetent English commanders in France. But worst of all for Margaret is when she discovers that her mother is sending her to a loveless marriage in remote Wales.

Married to a man twice her age, quickly widowed, and a mother at only fourteen, Margaret is determined to turn her lonely life into a triumph. She sets her heart on putting her son on the throne of England regardless of the cost to herself, to England, and even to the little boy. Disregarding rival heirs and the overwhelming power of the York dynasty, she names him Henry, like the king; sends him into exile; and pledges him in marriage to her enemy Elizabeth of York’s daughter. As the political tides constantly move and shift, Margaret charts her own way through another loveless marriage, treacherous alliances, and secret plots. She feigns loyalty to the usurper Richard III and even carries his wife’s train at her coronation.

Widowed a second time, Margaret marries the ruthless, deceitful Thomas, Lord Stanley, and her fate stands on the knife edge of his will. Gambling her life that he will support her, she then masterminds one of the greatest rebellions of the time—all the while knowing that her son has grown to manhood, recruited an army, and now waits for his opportunity to win the greatest prize.

In a novel of conspiracy, passion, and coldhearted ambition, number one bestselling author Philippa Gregory has brought to life the story of a proud and determined woman who believes that she alone is destined, by her piety and lineage, to shape the course of history.
The Red Queen The Red Queen is the story of Margaret Beaufort who is the mother to Henry Tudor, who later becomes Henry VII, who begins the popular Tudor rule. The novel opens to a very pious and somewhat haughty nine year old Margaret who learns that even though she feels destined to be an abbess she is instead to be used as the Lancastrian pawn. She was cousin to the Lancastrian King Henry VI who offered her his half-brother Edmund Tudor to wed. It was at this point that I thought that I disliked Margaret. And unfortunately, when I dislike a main character, I tend to dislike the book, such as part of my issue with The Other Queen. Warning bells went off. Thankfully, I read further.

What I wanted from this book is entertainment value. Although I have read a few Wars of the Roses books, both fiction and non-fiction, I have not read anything focused on Margaret and I wanted to learn more about her. What made her promise her only son, the precious Lancastrian heir, to the enemy Yorkist Elizabeth Woodville’s eldest daughter? What propelled Margaret to continually strive to get her son on the throne? In my Tudor novels, she is often portrayed as the elderly mother to Henry VII, and as being overbearing and obnoxious to Elizabeth of York. So, who really was Margaret of Beaufort? Gregory gives her a voice with this novel, and I was not disappointed.

Gregory portrays her as an annoying child who feels superior to everyone and wants to be noticed as such. Since this is stressed over much with the Joan of Arc theme, it gets a little tiresome. But, after awhile, Margaret grew up into her twenties and thirties and she in turn grew on me. Even though she continued to feel destined for greatness and never doubted herself or Joan of Arc, the story evolved in such a way that Margaret’s destiny was something that I could not wait to see how she fulfilled it. If anything, Gregory makes the reader admire Margaret’s tenacity. I hated her, liked her, hated her..Perhaps the most intriguing thing for me was that she was devious, yet still pious. Odd combo, eh? Twenty-eight years of waiting for her son to take their family’s rightful crown, and the story followed Margaret as she helped to make it happen. And as I have been a Yorkist-in-training with my previous reads, I had always had the lingering impression that the Tudors were a grasping bunch, and that the Beaufort boy was pretty darn lucky to have wound up on the throne like he did all because of a single battle. What a different view this paints! I almost believe that the Yorkists never had a right to be up there at all! (ducks head swiftly..)

And oh, the dear prodigal son Henry.. I have always had him pictured as miserly and almost frail in comparison to his boisterous son, Henry VIII. Gregory shows his character as being a darling brown-headed child that Margaret misses very much during his childhood that he spent with Jasper. The fact that he understood his calling, and that the Lancastrians were so patient before they finally pounced on the Yorks… I was awed. Of course, in order for Lancaster to have a leg to stand on, they needed French backing, and Henry was always looking around for his protector Jasper during the fight.. but still.. very intriguing. I have read books that focused on the York view, from Richard of Gloucester to Elizabeth Woodville, that this Lancastrian view from Margaret Beaufort was really intriguing for me. And Lord Stanley, Margaret’s third husband, I do believe he is the epitome of the term “turncoat”. Another one of those characters you love to hate. Always an enticing topic, the mystery of the ill-fated princes in the tower was also well played in this telling. Even though it still saddens me when I think of it. How would history be different in they had lived?

I really enjoyed how Gregory wrote this story, and the fact that I am being pleasantly entertained is all that I need when I am settling in to read a novel such as this. Being a casual Wars of the Roses reader, historical inaccuracy was not something that leaped out at me with this read, although again there will be many things that are debatable for all time. I love this era, I love this point of view, and I am so glad that I had a chance to read this novel and get another facet to an important historical event. (ducks again..)

As mentioned in other reviews, the letters that were exchanged between Margaret and her husband or Jasper were so far fetched that their appearances brought the plausibility of the novel to a lower level. Another annoying nagging thought I had while reading this was regarding the title. Who exactly was the Red Queen? Margaret was not it, although perhaps she wanted to be, and supposedly the publishers wanted her to be. The book ends in 1485 with Henry’s success and with Margaret once again saying she should be treated as royalty as the king’s mother. I can only applaud Margaret’s success as well (leaving the horrifying fact aside that she may have had something to do with the murder of innocent children…but we’ll never know..). She was only a ruler during her brief regency after her son died in 1509 and a young Henry VIII came to the throne. I wish the publishers had attempted to market this series with titles that would intellectually work for each book. Just because The White Queen title was accurate with the last one doesn’t mean the same is true for The Red Queen. The ending sequence with the shift away from Margaret and then a quick obligatory zoom in on her to finish it off was too much of a difference from the rest of the novel, making a good book end in a somewhat corny way which unfortunately takes away from the overall feel of the novel.

With that being said, I believe that anyone with the casual interest in the Wars of the Roses and how they had affected the chain of events that ultimately lead to a successful Tudor rule will find the newest Gregory novel to be an insightful read. And most of the current Philippa Gregory fans know ahead of time what they are getting with her novels, so I doubt they would be too disappointed with this one.

This review has been cross-posted at The Burton Review, where there is a giveaway for both of the current books in The Cousins’ War series The Red Queen and the newly released paperback of The White Queen.

Other reviews of The Red Queen:
Medieval Woman
My Fluttering Heart
Historically Obsessed

Followers of HF Connection are welcome to enter for the two-book-giveaway at The Burton Review, as well as the giveaway for a brand new Hardcover of Philippa Gregory’s The Red Queen offered here at HF Connection.

To enter:
Become a follower of HF Connection. Please comment on this post with your email address.

+3 entries Post the Giveaway on your sidebar, linking to this post.
+2 entries: Facebook, tweet; leave me a link to the post.
You must include your email address so that we can contact you if you win.

USA only! Contest ends August 20, 2010.


Filed under 2010 Releases, Book Reviews, Philippa Gregory, Wars of the Roses

>Richard III: What’s HIS story? by Robin from The Lady Gwyn’s Kingdom

>And for more on the Wars of the Roses, and the always intriguing topic of Richard the Third, Duke of York… Murderer or Maligned King? Robin explores..

If you ask someone about Richard III and if they actually know who you are talking about, their response is probably going to include: evil, hunchback, killed his nephews in the Tower. We have the wonderful William Shakespeare to thank for this view of Richard. I never bought into the evil, hunchbacked Richard of Shakespeare. I realized he was writing to satisfy the current Tudor monarchy and it certainly wouldn’t do to have a nice Richard (or to make Elizabeth I’s grandfather look like a usurper, which would make her claim to the throne shaky, etc). Aside from that, I never thought much about him until about the last year, when I started reading a lot on the War of the Roses and have spent lots of time researching on the internet (and listening to the folks in various discussion groups and forums) and came up with my humble opinion on what could have happened.

First, as to if he wanted the crown or not, I think most people at the time probably would not have minded having the crown of England on their head. I doubt Richard was any different. However, I don’t think he ever believed the opportunity would come his way, since he was first, the 4rd son of the Duke of York, and second, once Edward had sons they would naturally come after him. He also seemed quite content being Lord of the North and was very well liked in the northern part of England. So to that I don’t think he lusted after the crown and power, but once the opportunity presented itself, he took it.

Now, as to how that opportunity came about. From what I’ve read about Richard, it seems that he was a fairly good and honest person (as much as human beings can be anyway) who wanted to do what was good and right for the people. It certainly doesn’t seem like he wanted the crown upon his brother’s death. Something had to have happened to make him believe that the Woodvilles were up to something. He might have been concerned with what the Woodvilles would do, not only to him and his family, but also to the country, as they do come across as rather grasping and power hungry (I am not for or against the Woodvilles, just want to make that clear). Making sure that he was there with Edward V before he got to London and in the clutches of his mother’s family was, in his mind, probably the only way to make sure that Edward IV’s command that R3 be Protector was carried out (it is documented, I believe, that Richard was already weary of the Woodvilles). It does seem that he had every intention of making sure his nephew was crowned King of England (having people swear fealty to Edward, planning for his coronation, etc). If he had started out with the intent on taking the crown, why did he not come down from York with a full complement of soldiers ready for battle? He only sent for them later on and that, to me, seems like the actions of someone worried for his safety. He knew his brother wanted his son to follow him and Richard usually followed Edward’s orders. So something must have happened to alter Richard’s plans for Edward V. When he was confronted with the evidence (I have to believe that Stillington had SOMETHING that proved a pre-contract since I don’t think Richard would just take one person’s word on something that important. Then again, he might have been that trusting.) that Edward V was illegitimate, he felt that the only right thing to do was to accept the crown. I don’t believe he set out with the intention of cheating his nephews out of what was rightfully theirs (and after they were declared illegitimate, it wouldn’t have been their right anyway, correct?). This many years distanced from the events it is hard to know what R3’s true feelings and intentions were, of course.

On to probably the biggest mystery of R3’s reign: the boys in the Tower. I honestly don’t think Richard killed them or ordered their murder. Even if they WERE illegitimate, they were still his nephews and he seemed very loyal to his family. I have two theories on what happened to them.

1. Buckingham, on his own, took matters into his own hands and had the boys murdered, hoping that Richard would thank him for helping him out of a delicate situation. Then, Buckingham heads a rebellion against this same King he had been friends with. If this rebellion happened AFTER the boys disappeared and it was rumored that they were dead, Richard may have discovered that Buckingham had ordered it and become really angry at him, words may have been exchanged, Buckingham may have thought that he would loose the power he DID have and R3 would possibly arrest HIM, thus causing him to think that his best chance of survival (and retaining some power) would be to back Tudor. Now, why, if Buckingham did the boys in, didn’t R3 make some public acknowledgment of what happened, thus possibly clearing his name? Leaving it in the dark certainly made him look worse. It could be that, seeing how public opinion was already turning against him, he knew that the public would probably never believe that he hadn’t ordered it in the first place.

2. It seems fairly logical that the person with the most to gain or loose from the boys being dead/alive is Henry VII. If they are still alive, whether legitimate or not, they are going to be a rallying point for people still loyal to the Yorks and wanting to get rid of HIM. It seems that having them secretly murdered and letting the blame fall on Richard solves his problems. Smearing the reputation of the monarch you just defeated is always helpful. With them dead he can legitimize Edward IV’s children so he can marry Elizabeth without the taint of bastardy and not have to worry about anyone trying to set Edward V or the little Duke of York on the throne. As to the evidence proving Edward IV’s pre-contract, I think that if there was hard evidence proving this, Henry would have destroyed it as quickly as possible. He needed Elizabeth of York to be legitimate to help his claim. He did destroy all copies of Titulus Regius, which had declared all of Edward IV’s children illegitimate.

His mother, Margaret Beaufort, also could have ordered them murdered, knowing that having them permanently out of the picture would make the way easier for her son (she was rather ambitious for him, wouldn’t you say?). If this was the case, and he didn’t know, it could explain why Henry VII was so cautious about Perkin Warbeck’s claim to be Richard, Duke of York. She certainly was aware that Elizabeth of York was a key to holding the support of Yorkists and a marriage with her would help solidify his claim but she had to be a legitimate heir to the crown. However, once you legitimize her, you do the same for her brothers, so they had to be out of the way.

What about Shakespeare’s version of Richard’s story? Well, consider a few factors here. The biggest is of course, the fact that Shakespeare’s monarch was Elizabeth I. It certainly wouldn’t have done Will’s career any good to write a play portraying the grandfather of England’s favorite monarch as a usurper. Shakespeare also based some of his play from Thomas More’s A History of Richard III which was considered “the” authority on Richard’s life. Without going into a lot of detail here, More was just a small child when Richard was King and was defeated by Tudor so he would not have a reliable memory of what happened during Richard’s life or reign. He seemed to have gotten a lot of HIS information from a man who had hated Richard. Also, as with Shakespeare, you need to look at who was the reigning monarchs when More was writing: Henry VII and Henry VIII. I see More’s work as Tudor propaganda to further discredit R3. What better way to turn public feeling against a beaten King than turning that King into an evil, nephew murdering hunchback?

These are just my opinions. Now, Richard could have been lusting after the crown and made up the pre-contract and then had the boys murdered. It also has never been proven that they WERE murdered. It is entirely possible that R3 had them moved somewhere secretly for their own protection. Maybe Henry VII is totally blameless. Who knows for sure unless something concrete is discovered. Anything is possible. That’s what makes it so interesting and fascinating.

Reprinted with permission. Thank you to Robin  from The Lady Gwyn’s Kingdom for submitting this post and sharing her opinions.
What are your opinions on the famous Richard III?


Filed under Richard Duke of York, Wars of the Roses

>Wars of the Roses on Facebook: Susan Higginbotham

The following post was submitted by Susan Higginbotham, author of historical fiction novels such as Hugh and Bess and The Stolen Crown. This is a popular post with Susan’s blog followers, and is very funny if you know the characters of the Wars of the Roses AND Facebook jargon!

What if some of the figures from the Wars of the Roses joined Facebook (and some people from other centuries dropped in from time to time)? It might look something like this:
Margaret of Anjou joined the Frenchwomen Don’t Get Fat and French Girls Make Better Brides groups.
Henry VI needs a marriage manual. Fast.
    William de la Pole, Marquis of Suffolk commented: Just lie back and think of England.
    Henry VI sent a private message to William de la Pole, Marquis of Suffolk: It’s not working.
    William de la Pole, Marquis of Suffolk replied: Is the girl in the bed with you?
    Henry VI replied: Oh!!!!

Henry VI sent a gift of Maine to Charles VII.
    Margaret of Anjou, William de la Pole, Marquis of Suffolk, and Rene of Anjou like this

William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk joined the I’m a Duke Now, and Everything’s Going to Be Just Great group

William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk joined the Don’t Think of It as Exile, Think of It as a Holiday! group

William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, fails to appreciate how having your head chopped off with a sword is any better than having it chopped off with an ax.
    Anne Boleyn likes this.

Richard, Duke of York thinks it’s time to come back to England
    Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick likes this
    Edmund Beaufort, first Duke of Somerset commented: Oh, boy. I can hardly wait.
    Richard, Duke of York commented: Neither can I!

Margaret of Anjou joined the Preggers at Last! About Bloody Time! group.

Richard, Duke of York, wrote on Margaret of Anjou’s wall: Hey, it’s been a while since Henry VI posted! What’s up there?
    Margaret of Anjou: He’s just not into social networking anymore. That’s all. Don’t stress about it.

Margaret of Anjou joined the Let’s Name Our Firstborn Son Edward Just to Bug the Hell out of Future Historical Novelists group

Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick took a quiz: Who Fathered Margaret of Anjou’s baby? Would you like to take the quiz?

Richard, Duke of York is really excited about being named Protector of England while Henry VI “rests.”
    Cecily, Duchess of York likes this.

Margaret joined the Just Because I’m Halfway Civil to a Man Doesn’t Mean He Fathered My Child group

Henry VI is feeling much better now, thank you.
    Margaret of Anjou likes this
    Edward of Lancaster likes this

Richard, Duke of York, wrote on Edward of Lancaster’s wall: Aren’t you too young to have a Facebook account?
    Edward of Lancaster commented: Bug off, Ricky boy.

Richard, Duke of York joined the Don’t Think of It as Exile, Think of It as a Holiday! group

Richard, Duke of York does not have a Facebook account listed. Would you like to start an account for Richard, Duke of York?

Margaret of Anjou is looking forward to conquering her enemies and then getting back to her nice, comfy bed at Greenwich.

Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick sent a gift of a shiny new crown to Edward, Earl of March.

Edward, Earl of March has updated his profile to read “Edward IV, King of England.”

Margaret of Anjou [this post has been removed from Facebook due to inappropriate language]

Richard Woodville, Lord Rivers and Anthony Woodville, Lord Scales joined the I Love the House of York! No, Really! group

Margaret of Anjou and Edward, Prince of Wales joined the Don’t Think of It as Exile, Think of It as a Holiday! group

Elizabeth Grey joined the I Don’t Put Out! Not Even if You’re a King! group

Elizabeth Grey is heading to Reading today and can hardly wait until her next status update.
    Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford likes this.

Elizabeth Grey is married to THE KING!!!!! That’s right, girlfriends, THE KING!!!!!!
    Richard Grey, Thomas Grey, Anthony Woodville, Anne Woodville, Mary Woodville, Edward Woodville, Richard Woodville, Lionel Woodville, Jacquetta     Woodville, Joan Woodville, Richard Woodville, Lord Rivers, and Jacquetta Woodville, Duchess of Bedford like this
    Eliza, Lady Scales: You rule, girl!
    Katherine Woodville: Oh, I want to marry a duke!
    John Woodville: Got an elderly duchess for me, sis?

Facebook was temporarily unavailable today. Our technical support staff has investigated and discovered that this was due to excessively heavy traffic on our site in the area of Grafton, England. We apologize for the inconvenience.

William Hastings wrote on Edward IV’s wall. “Caught you, Ned, didn’t she?”

Cecily, Duchess of York is having a very bad day.

Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, is having an even worse day.

Eleanor Talbot is trying to figure out how to get the royal monograms off her silverware.

Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick sent a friend request to Margaret of Anjou. Message: If you ever feel like working together, Meg, just PM me.
Margaret of Anjou, Queen of England and Don’t You Forget It, Either! loves it when men do some serious groveling.

Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick has sore knees.

Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick joined the I Love the House of Lancaster! No, Really! group.

Edward IV, King of England joined the Don’t Think of It as Exile, Think of It as a Holiday! group.

Elizabeth, Queen of England, No Matter What That Frenchwoman Says is going for a nice little rest at Westminster Abbey sanctuary.

Henry VI, King of England wishes someone would explain to him why he has to come out of the Tower and put on the king outfit again.
    Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick sent a message to Henry VI: Just sit tight. I’ll explain it all to you when I get there.

Elizabeth, Queen of England, No Matter What That Frenchwoman Says joined the Let’s Name Our Firstborn Son Edward and Bug the Hell out of Future Historical Novelists group.

Edward of Lancaster, Prince of Wales, is really looking forward to chopping off some Yorkist heads.

Edward IV is BACK!!!!!! PARTY!!!!!!

Margaret of Anjou joined the Decorating Your Prison Cell for Less group.
    Henry VI left this group.

Anne Neville is thinking of taking some cookery classes to cheer her up in her widowhood.
    George, Duke of Clarence likes this.

Richard, Duke of Gloucester thinks it’s high time to get married.
    George, Duke of Clarence commented: Maybe there’s a Woodville girl free?
    Richard, Duke of Gloucester commented: I was aiming a bit higher, brother dearest.

George, Duke of Clarence joined the Decorating Your Prison Cell for Less group.

George, Duke of Clarence said he’d like to drown his sorrows, but he didn’t mean it lit–

Edward IV has an annoying head cold but should be just fine in a day or so.
    Richard, Duke of Gloucester commented: Hope you feel better soon, bro!

Richard, Duke of Gloucester is wondering how he would look in purple.

Edward, Prince of Wales changed his profile to read Edward V, King of England.
    Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers likes this.

Edward V is going to London with Uncle Anthony. Hope to see Uncle Richard and Uncle Harry on the way!
    Richard, Duke of Gloucester and Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham like this.

Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers is taking an unexpected trip to Pontefract.

Edward V, King of England would like certain people to remember that he’s the King of England. Not them.
    Richard, Duke of York sent a message to Edward V: Uncle Dickon giving you trouble?
    Edward V, King of England, replied: He’s a prick. I’ll text you.

Richard, Duke of Gloucester is reading What Color is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers on Goodreads.

William, Lord Hastings is getting ready to go to a boring council meeting. Then supper with Mistress Shore. Sweet!

John Morton, Bishop of Ely hopes everyone likes the nice strawberries he’s grown.

William, Lord Hastings fails to appreciate how wonderful it is to be the first person executed on Tower Green.
    Anne Boleyn likes this.

Edward V is really pissed that his Uncle Richard is making him close his Facebook account.
    Edward, Earl of Warwick: Bummer, dude. Text me.
    Richard, Duke of York: C U Soon, Ned!

Richard, Duke of Gloucester changed his profile to read Richard III, King of England.
    Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham likes this.

Anne, Queen of England is wondering if she’ll have time to get to the hairdresser for her coronation.
    Elizabeth, Queen of England No Matter What that Stupid Dickon Says commented: Just put a bag over your head, dearie. No one will notice.
    Anne, Queen of England: Well, I never!
    Elizabeth, Queen of England No Matter What that Stupid Dickon Says: Yes, that’s why you only have the one child, dearie.

Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham is feeling very important today.

Richard III, King of England is having a great time on his royal progress. They like me! They really, really like me!

Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham is feeling confused.
    John Morton, Bishop of Ely sent a message to Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham: What’s wrong, your grace? Maybe I can help.

Henry Tudor is looking for “England” on Map Quest. Oh, there it is!
    Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham likes this.
    John Morton, Bishop of Ely likes this.
    Jasper Tudor likes this.
    Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond, likes this.
    Elizabeth Woodville, Queen of England No Matter What That Stupid Dickon Says likes this.

Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond, wrote on Henry Tudor’s wall: You are my own sweet son and all my worldly joy. I will be so happy when you arrive in England.
    Henry Tudor sent a message to Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond: Er, Mum, next time could you send that to me privately instead of posting it on my wall?
    Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond replied: Sorry, my dearest. I haven’t got the hang of the Internet yet. Did you pack a pair of warm slippers for the voyage over?

Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, should have checked The Weather Channel before leaving Wales.
    Richard III, King of England commented: God, you’re pathetic, Harry. You know you couldn’t organize an orgy in a brothel, much less a revolt.
    John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln likes this.

Henry Tudor sent a message to Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond: Don’t worry, Mum, I’ll get here sooner or later.
    Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond: Sigh.

Elizabeth of York is SO looking forward to getting out of sanctuary and staying at Uncle Richard’s court.
    Richard III, King of England commented: Be sure to bring that dress I mentioned that time when I visited you and your mother in sanctuary.
    Elizabeth of York: But isn’t that the one you said was tight, Uncle?
    Richard III, King of England: That’s the one!

Eleanor de Clare, Lady Despenser invited Elizabeth of York to join the My Uncle the King Is One Swell Guy group.
    Elizabeth of York accepted the invitation.

Anne, Queen of England joined the It’s Not Consumption, It’s Just a Nagging Cough group.

Richard III, King of England just wishes people would mind their own business for a change. Can’t a lonely widower be friendly to an extremely good-looking, buxom young lady who happens to be his niece without everyone posting on Facebook and Twitter about it?

Elizabeth of York: Stupid Sheriff Hutton. Where’s the sheriff, anyway?

Henry Tudor sent a message to Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond: This time, Mum, I’m coming. I promise.
    Margaret Beaufort: Don’t forget your warm cloak.

Richard III, King of England, is headed out to show that Welsh upstart who’s the boss around here, once and for all.
    William Stanley and Thomas Stanley like this.
    William Stanley and Thomas Stanley unliked this.

You have an invitation from Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond to become a fan of Henry VII, King of England.
    Elizabeth of York became a fan of Henry VII, King of England.

Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond started the My Son is King of England, and What Does Your Son Do for a Living? group.

Henry VII, King of England is pleased to announce the birth of his second son, Henry, today.
    Catherine of Aragon likes this.
    Anne Boleyn likes this.
    Jane Seymour likes this.
    Anne of Cleves likes this.
    Katherine Howard likes this.
    Katherine Parr likes this.
    Elizabeth I likes this.
    The Church of England likes this.
    William Shakespeare likes this.
    The British tourism industry likes this.
    Hollywood likes this.
    The English-language publishing industry likes this.

Arthur, Prince of Wales is wondering what all the fuss is about. Stupid baby brother.   

Reprinted with permission. Susan Higginbotham’s blog can be found at Medieval Woman: Blogging with Historical Fiction Writer Susan Higginbotham


Filed under Richard Duke of York, Susan Higginbotham, Wars of the Roses

>Book Review: The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles


The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles (Book #1 Morland Dynasty)
Product ISBN: 9781402238154
Price: $14.99
Sourcebooks Publication Date: April 2010
Originally published by Sphere 1980
Review copy provided by Sourcebooks
The Burton Review Rating:Three and a Half Stars

Seeking power and prestige, grim, ambitious Yorkshireman Edward Morland arranges a marriage between his meek son Robert and spirited Eleanor, young ward of the influential Beaufort family. Eleanor is appalled at being forced to marry a mere “sheep farmer”; she is, after all, secretly in love with Richard, Duke of York.

Yet from this apparently ill-matched union, Robert and Eleanor form a surprising connection that soon will be tested by a bloody civil war that divides families, sets neighbor against neighbor, and brings tragedy close to home.

The Founding is a novel that Cynthia Harrod-Eagles wrote in 1980, originally intended to be a twelve volume series written by two writers. Which would have already been a large task, but somehow it turned into one writer penning all thirty-four novels (the thirty-fourth will be published in November 2010 by Sphere). Sourcebooks is now reissuing some of the earlier novels, such as this first book that starts in 1434 in England. The fictional Morland Dynasty is now the longest-running historical family saga ever, which follows the Morlands for over 500 years of their history.

Eleanor Courteney was a ward of a nobleman and fancied herself married to a nobleman one day. But she was with no dowry, so she was going to have to accept a lower standard and was forced to do so when she married into the Morland dynasty. The Morlands were not of the same group that Eleanor would have preferred, but they were known for their riches as they were successful sheep farmers. Eleanor was portrayed as haughty and materialistic, as she not so quietly put up with her father-in-law until he passed, and when he did she set to work on her weaker-minded husband as to how to raise a gentleman’s household. I did not feel very sorry for Eleanor, she was a bit sarcastic and snide, and even the word sarcastic was used a bit too much throughout the novel.

The story is very much a family saga epic style that I truly enjoy, and the one setback for me was Eleanor. As the main protagonist, I did not empathize with her much, as she continually disappointed me until the very end. Her children came and went and I did not feel as close to them as I wanted to either. I could not get my head totally absorbed in the characters, perhaps because there were so many. Yet, the whole package of the story set against the backdrop of the Wars of the Roses was very cleverly done and is what propelled me through. The Wars of the Roses is one of my most favorite periods to read about, and I always enjoy reading another view point.

Of course, this is truly fictional with the fictional Morlands being inserted at opportune times to be able to tell what is going on behind closed political doors, and of course Eleanor was very close to certain members, such as Richard Plantagenet, father to King Edward IV, and later her son/grandson/(I lost track) was also in service to the next king Richard. I was most happy when the history part came in to being within the writing, and less so when it was all about Eleanor. (Think “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!!” but replace that with Eleanor). Eleanor is strongly Yorkist, therefore the book is very pro-Ricardian and prejudiced against the Lancastrians. While I try not to stand too strongly in one camp, I do have respect for the Tudors, who are Lancastrian. There are mentions of the “vain-glorious and weak-headed Buckingham” and Henry Tidr (aka Henry VII) and the scoffing at Tidr wanting to change the spelling of his name to Tudor. Another favorite historical topic of mine deals with the missing princes in the tower, which was totally not accurately portrayed; along with many of the other historical details, but this issue could easily be overlooked by those who are simply enjoying the story of a family’s journey.

Along with Eleanor there are many children. There were births of those children, marriages, births of children to those children, and deaths. There had to be a few left standing though, in order for the next 33 books to be able to be called the Morland Dynasty. There are family trees in the beginning of each book that pertain to that particular branch and book, and you can also find them on the author’s website. I was having trouble keeping up with the kids and the kids of the kids and who belonged to who which is why the family trees come in handy, and I had to consult them often. I hated noticing the date of death for each person because then I knew what was going to happen. To top all that off, one kid was called either Thom or Thorn depending on what time of the day it was and I kept re-reading it to see if I had misread it. Turns out after I wrote this review that the name was supposed to be Thom but the ARC I had was wrong.

But through it all, although this is not a heart wrenching, tear jerking, literary masterpiece, I still enjoyed the story. I think if Eleanor was a bit more likable it would have reflected on the rest of the book for me as well. I have not given up though, as I have Book #2: The Dark Rose waiting in the wings for June 2010. The next one deals with Henry VIII’s times and I look forward to the the point of view of that time period, and sincerely hope that the protagonist there is someone after my own heart. I think moving away from the matriarch Eleanor and from my favorite Wars of the Roses topic, there is still hope for me with the series since I did enjoy the writing style very much and I am a fan of historical sagas. I have seen many many many many much more gushing positive reviews than my opinion here (I spelled out all the knit-picky things here which I normally don’t do) so I think I am the minority of those who did not absolutely adore the book. But, it must be said the ending did end well enough that I was deeply touched and the ending helped redeem the entirety of the novel for me. The novel did its job of keeping me entertained throughout, and I would recommend this for those who enjoy family sagas set against a historical theme.

Coincidentally, official publication dates that coincide with the April 1, 2010 reissue date for book #1 include:
The Fallen Kings (Book 32 Morland Dynasty) by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles (Hardcover – Apr. 1, 2010)
The Foreign Field (Book 31 Morland Dynasty) by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles (Paperback – Apr. 1, 2010)

Sphere is a UK publisher and these books will be available in the US and UK following the links.

See another review at Passages to the Past

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Filed under 2010 Releases, 2010 Review, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, Wars of the Roses