Britain’s Bloody Crown Part 2 14.01.2016


Edward IV
Edward IV

One of the most turbulent and violent periods in Britain’s history.

1461 Henry VI had the throne snatched away by young and charismatic Edward IV – he was helped to the throne by Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick – the Kingmaker.

It took Edward 7 years to learn that to save the country a good king must do bad things.

3 months after Richard Duke of York’s death Edward IV takes his revenge on the king.

The bloodiest battle on English soil ends (Towton) and Edward IV succeeds as the king and queen’s forces have been wiped out and Henry VI and his family are forced to flee to Scotland.

28000 men slaughtered in 10 hours, pretty much half of the troops involved in the fight.

Edward declared king in 1461, aged just 18 – 12th plantagenet king of England.

Edward needs to end the violence, assisted by Warwick, to make the country stable and safe. Continue reading “Britain’s Bloody Crown Part 2 14.01.2016”

Britain’s Bloody Crown Part 1 07.01.2016


Henry VI 1540 at the National Portrait Gallery
Henry VI 1540 at the National Portrait Gallery

Nearly 600 years ago Wars of the Roses fought over the crown.

30 years crown changed hands 7 times.

Struggle erupted when there was a feud between Margaret of Anjou (Queen of England) and Richard, Duke of York, over the control of the weak king, Henry VI.

Trouble began because Henry VI was so weak that a vacuum opened in England that takes 50 years to be fixed.

May 1450 Henry VI in power, Duke of Suffolk papered over the cracks, but he is now dead by rebel hands.

Summer 1450, no one now left to keep a lid on trouble for Henry VI – rebels enter London and cause violence and looting.

Henry VI never seen a battlefield, shallow, pious and foolish.

Henry VI tries to placate rebels by giving them the corrupt Lord Say – they try and execute him at the Guildhall.

England dissolving into anarchy – Henry VI leaves London for Kenilworth. Continue reading “Britain’s Bloody Crown Part 1 07.01.2016”

Book Review – ‘Lancaster and York’ by Alison Weir


Alison Weir, ‘Lancaster and York: the Wars of the Roses’ (London: Vintage Books, 2009) Paperback, ISBN 978-0-099-54017-5

Alison Weir 'Lancaster and York'
Alison Weir ‘Lancaster and York’

Title: The title is very apt, as the book covers mainly the first part of the Wars of the Roses – when Lancaster and York were at war, and not the latter part where the war was between York itself (Richard III and the Princes in the Tower or Edward IV vs. the Duke of Clarence). It focuses on the role of Margaret of Anjou, and the conflicts between her and the Duke of York, which led to York triumphing over Lancaster.

Preface: The preface / introduction is quite short, but gives a quick overview of the main focal points of the Wars of the Roses, and explains where the idea came from to write about the Wars of the Roses when most of her books are written about the Tudors. Weir discusses the meagre amount of surviving sources, but then fails to build on that in the book itself.

Citations: There aren’t really any citations to speak of, which makes it difficult to track where certain information comes from. All there is is a general bibliography at the end, with a couple of family trees, which are useful as the period is a complicated one. What would probably have been more useful even than citations, particularly for a reader relatively new to the period, would have been a list of who was on the side of York and who was on the side of Lancaster. Continue reading “Book Review – ‘Lancaster and York’ by Alison Weir”

Spotlight: Margaret of Anjou


Name: Margaret of Anjou

Title/s: Queen of England / Princess of Naples / Queen of France

Birth / Death: 23 March 1430 – 25 August 1482

Spouse: Henry VI of England 1421 – 1471

Children: Edward of Lancaster 1453 – 1471

Parents: Rene, King of Naples 1409 – 1480 & Isabella of Lorraine 1400 – 1453

Siblings: John II Duke of Lorraine 1425 – 1470 / Rene 1426 – ? / Louis of Anjou 1427 – 1443 / Nicolas 1428 – ? / Yolande Duchess of Lorraine and Bar 1428 – 1483 / Charles Count of Guise 1431 – 1432 / Louise 1436 – ? / Anne 1437 – ? Continue reading “Spotlight: Margaret of Anjou”

Book Review – ‘The Last Medieval Queens: English Queenship 1445-1503’ by J.L. Laynesmith


JL Laynesmith 'The Last Medieval Queens'
JL Laynesmith ‘The Last Medieval Queens’

J.L. Laynesmith, The Last Medieval Queens: English Queenship 1445-1503 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), Paperback, ISBN 978-0-199-27956-2

Title: The lives of the last Medieval Queens – this book looks at Margaret of Anjou, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne Neville and Elizabeth of York. However, I think it could also have done with looking more at Jacquetta of Luxembourg and Margaret Beaufort because, although they weren’t Queens, sometimes they almost had the same power as them, and definitely influenced the Queens themselves.

Preface: The introduction gives a broad overview of the lives of the women, and why these particular women are so fascinating. It gives a brief rundown of their lives, and how they link to each other. It also introduces other people who influenced the lives of the Queens and the monarchy, like the Earl of Warwick the “kingmaker”, the Duke of York, the Earl of Salisbury, the children of the queens, and the kings that the queens were married to. Continue reading “Book Review – ‘The Last Medieval Queens: English Queenship 1445-1503’ by J.L. Laynesmith”

Book Review – ‘The Women of the Cousins’ War: the Duchess, the Queen and the King’s Mother’ by Philippa Gregory


Philippa Gregory
Philippa Gregory

Philippa Gregory, David Baldwin and Michael Jones, The Women of the Cousins’ War: the Duchess, the Queen and the King’s Mother (London: Simon and Schuster Ltd, 2011), Hardback, ISBN 978-0-85720-177-5

Title: Although the book is called The Women of the Cousins’ War, the book only examines a few of them – Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Jacquetta of Luxembourg. It doesn’t look at Margaret of Anjou or Anne Neville in a lot of detail. Nevertheless, a good study of those it does examine in detail.

Preface: The preface discusses several important questions, like why write about these women? What’s so important about them? It also goes a lot wider, looking at what history is, and what fiction is, and how they can go together. There is also a sub-section on women’s place in history. The introduction is a little long, almost as long as a chapter. Continue reading “Book Review – ‘The Women of the Cousins’ War: the Duchess, the Queen and the King’s Mother’ by Philippa Gregory”

She Wolves – Episode 2 – Isabella of France and Margaret of Anjou 14.03.2012


Isabella of France 15th Century Portrait
Isabella of France 15th Century Portrait

1308 Isabella of France became Queen of England age 12
Little more than a pawn in power plays between England and France
Isabella and Margaret both known as the “she wolves of France”
Isabella daughter of the King of France – living embodiment of the treaty between England and France, keen sense of her own majesty
What she found different to what she expected
First public appearance – coronation
Piers Gaveston carried the king’s crown into the abbey and sat with him at the coronation feast
Her place at Edward II’s side had been taken by Gaveston
Edward had given some of the wedding presents to Gaveston from the French nobles
Three people in the marriage
King’s relationship with his nobles was souring because of his relationship with Gaveston – king offers leadership and security and nobles protect the realm
Nobles don’t think the king is doing what he should Continue reading “She Wolves – Episode 2 – Isabella of France and Margaret of Anjou 14.03.2012”

Comparing Monarchs: does it work? Does it add anything to our knowledge? Why do we do it?


Elizabeth I Darnley Portrait 1575
Elizabeth I Darnley Portrait 1575

Monarchs are often compared to each other, but does it really accomplish anything, and if so, what? Why do we do it? Elizabeth I and Mary I are often compared to each other as sisters and queens. Elizabeth II is often compared to her namesake, Elizabeth I. The wives of Henry VIII are also compared to each other, particularly the ones which replaced each other like Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour.

Comparing monarchs means that individual monarchs are not taken on the basis of their own ideas and achievements, but instead compared with either a namesake or a predecessor. Individual biographies are no longer as popular as they once were as comparative histories come to the fore. Possibly some of the best known historical comparisons are between the wives of Henry VIII, on which countless books have been written of them as a unit. The most notable of these are by the likes of David Starkey, Antonia Fraser and Alison Weir. It means that Anne Boleyn is compared to both Katherine of Aragon and Jane Seymour; and that Anne Boleyn’s supposed guilt is compared to the established guilt of Katherine Howard. These comparisons won’t ever stop. Continue reading “Comparing Monarchs: does it work? Does it add anything to our knowledge? Why do we do it?”

My Notes from the third part of ‘The Plantagenets’ shown 31.03.2014 on BBC


October 1399 8th Plantagenet king Richard II taken down the Thames – 1400 found starved to death.

Henry IV in the National Portrait Gallery from the 16th century
Henry IV in the National Portrait Gallery from the 16th century

Henry of Bolingbroke – Henry IV = right of kings undermined and whole dynasties collapsed – turned against each other and ended with the destruction of the dynasty.
1380s peasant’s revolt – Richard II forced to flee to the Tower.
Trigger = tax for war against the French.
Revolt against king’s councillors.
Simon Sudbury, Archbishop of Canterbury, seized and executed. The day after Richard met with the rebels, led by Watt Tyler. Tyler killed in a scuffle by the mayor of London.
Richard single-handedly halted rebellion = god-given right to rule.
Royal displays of kingship. Continue reading “My Notes from the third part of ‘The Plantagenets’ shown 31.03.2014 on BBC”

Book Review – ‘Stormbird’ by Conn Iggulden


Conn Iggulden 'Stormbird' 2013
Conn Iggulden ‘Stormbird’ 2013

Conn Iggulden, Wars of the Roses: Stormbird (London: Penguin Books, 2014), Paperback, ISBN 978-0-718-196-349

Genre/s: Historical / Action / Adventure

Setting: Calais, Anjou and Burgundy (France) & London (England)

Characters: Henry VI / Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York / Margaret of Anjou / Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick / William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk / Derry Brewer / Charles VII of France / Cecily Neville / Thomas Woodchurch / Yolande of Anjou / Jack Cale

Storyline: The story revolves around the reign of Henry VI, and his marriage to Margaret of Anjou, encompassing the Jack Cale rebellion against said marriage, and the rebel invasion of London. The fate of William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, is also explored. The particular focus is on the rebellion, and the war with France at the same time. Continue reading “Book Review – ‘Stormbird’ by Conn Iggulden”

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