History Books


I have had a re-organise of my bookshelves this week; there wasn’t enough room on my nonfiction shelves anymore as I have had quite a few books gifted to me from lovely publishers for review!

I organise my books chronologically as far as I can – how do you organise yours?

I start at the top move downwards, as follows:

  • General monarchy, kings and queens
  • Plantagenets
  • Wars of the Roses general
  • Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville
  • Princes in the Tower
  • Richard III and Anne Neville
  • Tudors general
  • Henry VII and Elizabeth of York
  • Henry VIII
  • Six Wives
  • Katherine of Aragon
  • Anne Boleyn
  • Jane Seymour
  • Anne of Cleves
  • Katherine Howard
  • Katherine Parr
  • Edward VI
  • Lady Jane Grey and her sisters
  • Mary I
  • Elizabeth I
  • Mary Queen of Scots
  • Reformation
  • Places, palaces, castles, houses, guidebooks
  • General history

Obviously this list will expand as my interests and book collection expands, I’m hoping to add books on Jack the Ripper, Regency England, and the Holocaust. I have already read around this subjects, but many borrowed from the library rather than books I own.

I have a long list from publishers still to review so look out for reviews on these in the coming months!

  • John Ashdown-Hill – ‘Elizabeth Widville: Lady Grey, Edward IV’s Chief Mistress and the ‘Pink Queen’ (Pen and Sword)
  • John Matusiak – ‘Martyrs of Henry VIII: Repression, Defiance, and Sacrifice’ (The History Press)
  • Matthew Lewis – ‘Richard III: Loyalty Binds Me’ (Amberley Publishing)
  • Robert Stedall – ‘Elizabeth I’s Secret Lover: Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester’ (Pen and Sword)
  • Amy Licence – ‘1520: the Field of the Cloth of Gold’ (Amberley Publishing)
  • Heather Darsie – ‘Anna, Duchess of Cleves: The King’s Beloved Sister’ (Amberley Publishing)
  • Nathen Amin – ‘Henry VII and the Tudor Pretenders: Simnel, Warbeck, and Warwick’ (Amberley Publishing)
  • Linda Collins & Siobhan Clarke – ‘King and Collector: Henry VIII and the Art of Kingship’ (The History Press)
  • Jan-Marie Knights – ‘The Tudor Socialite: A Social Calendar of Tudor Life’ (Amberley Publishing)
  • Sarah Bryson – ‘La Reine Blanche: Mary Tudor, A Life in Letters’ (Amberley Publishing)
  • John Jenkins – ‘The King’s Chamberlain: William Sandys of the Vyne, Chamberlain to Henry VIII’ (Amberley Publishing)
  • Amy Licence – ‘Tudor Roses: From Margaret Beaufort to Elizabeth I’ (Amberley Publishing)
  • Mickey Mayhew – ‘House of Tudor: A Grisly History’ (Pen and Sword)
  • Stephen Browning – ‘On the Trail of Sherlock Holmes’ (Pen and Sword)
  • Tony Morgan – ‘Power, Treason, and Plot in Tudor England: Margaret Clitherow: An Elizabethan Saint’

Thank you to Pen and Sword, Amberley Publishing, and The History Press for sending me complimentary copies of the above, and I promise I will try and get reviews of these up as soon as possible!

Book Review – ‘Usurpers: A New Look at Medieval Kings’ by Michele Morrical


Thank you to Pen and Sword Books for giving me a copy of this to review.

I was so excited to receive a copy of this book for review! I couldn’t wait to get stuck in after finishing writing my own book and I wasn’t disappointed.

This book looks at the kings through the medieval period who could be considered to be usurpers – William the Conqueror, King Stephen, Henry IV, Edward IV, Richard III, and Henry VII. Each section goes through the context of the seizure of power, the consequences of that seizure, and then a short discussion of whether the king could be considered a usurper.

The book has obviously been well-researched and is a concise and easy read. There are several sections of repetition where monarchs overlapped, especially with the final three kings who did all overlap with each other, so sections are repeated from the views of the different kings. There are also a couple of historical errors which I noticed when reading. These two points knocked it down to 4 stars for me, for what otherwise I might have given 5 stars.

Errors:

  • Page 129 – Richard Woodville, Earl Rivers, father of Elizabeth Woodville, met Edward IV when he landed at Ravenspur in March 1471 wasn’t possible as Richard Woodville had been killed in 1469.
  • Page 144 – The son born to George, Duke of Clarence, and Isabel Neville in 1476 which resulted in Isabel’s death was not their “first living son” as Edward, Earl of Warwick, had been born a year earlier in 1475.

It is a different view of kings in the Medieval period, looking at only those who could be considered usurpers, and how many there actually were. There were always several contenders for the throne, and it was when there were a lot of contenders that issues arose and prompted civil war. This is a very interesting book which I know I will come back to again and again.

Chapters:

Part 1: William the Conqueror 1066-1087
  1. The Anglo Saxons
  2. William the Bastard
  3. The Norman Invasion
  4. The Subjugation of England and Normandy
  5. Family Betrayal
  6. The Domesday Book
  7. Was William the Conqueror a Usurper?
Part 2: King Stephen 1135-1154
  • The Empress Matilda
  • Stolen Crown
  • Almost Queen of England
  • The Anarchy Continues
  • Changing of the Guard
  • Henry’s Final Invasion
  • Was King Stephen a Usurper?
Part 3: King Henry IV 1399-1413
  1. Edward III and the Succession Problem
  2. Rival Cousins
  3. The Lords Appellant
  4. Henry’s Invasion
  5. Was Henry IV a Usurper?
Part 4: King Edward IV 1461-1470 & 1471-1483
  • The Inept King Henry VI
  • The Wars of the Roses
  • The Rose of Rouen
  • The First Reign of Edward IV
  • Warwick’s Rebellion
  • The Second Reign of Edward IV
  • Was Edward IV a Usurper?
Part 5: Richard III 1483-1485
  • Loyalty Binds Me
  • The Unravelling of George, Duke of Clarence
  • The Road to the Throne
  • Unsteady Crown
  • Fall of the Last Plantagenet King
  • Was Richard III a Usurper?
Part 6: Henry VII 1485-1509
  • The Tudors and Beauforts
  • Henry’s Childhood and the Wars of the Roses
  • The Rise of Richard III
  • Henry Tudor’s Invasion
  • Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck
  • Henry’s Last Years
  • Was Henry VII a Usurper?

Who Was … Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales?


Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, was the Lancastrian heir to the throne. He was the only child of the Lancastrian king, Henry VI, and his wife Margaret of Anjou. His father was overthrown in 1461 and Edward went into exile in Scotland and then France with his mother. He was the last heir apparent to die in battle, when he was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471, allegedly by the future Richard III.

Name: Edward of Westminster / Edward of Lancaster

Title/s: Prince of Wales

Birth: 13 October 1453 at Westminster Palace, London, England

Death: 4 May 1471 at Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, England

Buried: Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire, England

Spouse: Anne Neville 1456-1485

Children: None

Parents: Henry VI 1421-1471 & Margaret of Anjou 1430-1482

Siblings: None

Noble Connections: Edward was the Prince of Wales, son of Henry VI of England. Through his mother, Margaret of Anjou, he was also related to the Kings of France. Through his wife, Anne Neville, he was also related to the Earls of Warwick, and distantly to Edward IV.

Continue reading “Who Was … Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales?”

On This Day in History – 1 May – Marriage of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville


Romanticised image of the first meeting of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville.
Romanticised image of the first meeting of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville.

Event– Marriage of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville

Year– 1464

Location– Grafton House, England

Although the date of the wedding isn’t certain, it is generally accepted that Edward IV married Elizabeth Woodville on May Day 1464, at the bride’s home of Grafton Regis, with only a few witnesses, including the bride’s mother, in attendance.

It is said that Elizabeth first met Edward when she went to petition him for the return of her dead husband’s lands. It was said that Edward tried to force himself onto Elizabeth so she threatened to take her own life with a dagger. Edward became so enamoured of her that he married her. Elizabeth bought no dowry or international connections, which would be expected of a Queen of England.

The marriage was significant because it was first time that an English king married a commoner without having a foreign wife first. Not only that, but Edward IV was the first Yorkist king, but the Woodville family supported the Lancastrian side in the Wars of the Roses, and Elizabeth’s first husband, John Grey, had died fighting for the Lancastrians. It was the marriage of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville that gave rise to the idea that a commoner could marry a King – this was the idea from which the likes of Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour managed to rise up from ladies-in-waiting to Queens.

Elizabeth and Edward’s eldest daughter, Elizabeth, married the future Henry VII, and their two eldest sons, Edward and Richard, became the ill-fated Princes in the Tower.

Further Reading

  • David Baldwin, Elizabeth Woodville (2002)
  • J.L. Laynesmith, The Last Medieval Queens (2004)
  • Amy Licence, Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville: a True Romance (2016)
  • Charles Ross, Edward IV (1974)

Heraldry Badges and Emblems of the Wars of the Roses


Henry VI

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

Chained swan, chained antelope, red rose, ostrich feathers, spotted panther

The red rose is the symbol of the House of Lancaster, although it didn’t really become so poignant until later on in history. Red is the colour of blood and life, of love and combat. Henry VI’s reign saw a lot of combat and bloodshed, but Henry himself wasn’t very involved. He seems to have caused the Wars of the Roses by his inability to rule England properly. He seemed to lack both life and love, however, as he didn’t seem to engage properly with people.

The ostrich feather symbolised the Egyptian goddess Maat. Maat was the ancient Egyptian goddess of truth, balance, order, law, morality and justice. Henry VI did at least push for justice and morality because of his faith in his religion. Ostrich feathers also stood for beauty and iridescence. Henry VI was obviously interested in beauty – he founded Eton College Chapel and King’s College Chapel, enhancing his father’s legacy of architectural patronage. King’s College Chapel has the world’s largest fan vaulted roof. Continue reading “Heraldry Badges and Emblems of the Wars of the Roses”

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”

‘Britain’s Bloodiest Dynasty’ Part 4 – Richard II – 18/12/2014


 

Richard II at Westminster Abbey mid-1390s
Richard II at Westminster Abbey mid-1390s

Richard II – golden boy who ended the peasant’s revolt
Most vicious Plantagenet of them all, dynasty crashing down around him
1377 decade of turmoil under Edward III until Richard II succeeds “Country’s saviour”
1381 Four years later peasants invade London = king takes refuge in the Tower, and his cousin Henry Bolingbroke (later Henry IV)
Rebels not after the king himself
Ruled by councillors – peasants see them as greedy and corrupt and intend to kill them
Councillors are the most senior in the land – most fled or in the Tower with the king
Most desperate councillors hatch a plan and send the king through the streets to create a distraction so that they can escape
Rebels let the king pass unharmed
John of Gaunt is an “evil councillor”, father of Henry Bolingbroke
King gone puts councillors in more danger – mob storms the Tower gates
Treasurer Sir Robert Hales and Archbishop Sudbury dragged into the street while Henry hides in a cupboard in the Tower – remains unfound
Sudbury and Hales beheaded in the street and heads stuck on London Bridge
Precipice of full-blown anarchy – Richard II could lose his crown Continue reading “‘Britain’s Bloodiest Dynasty’ Part 4 – Richard II – 18/12/2014”

‘Britain’s Bloodiest Dynasty’ Part 3 – Edward II – 11/12/2014


 

Edward II
Edward II

Edward II = king most famous for story of his death
Life even more extraordinary – revenge, savagery, passion, bloodlust
1307 Edward I dies on campaign, leaves a country in debt and beset by enemies
First thing he does is order recall of Piers Gaveston from France – old king banished him to France because of influence over the king, hated by every noble
Gaveston has mean names for the nobles
Gaveston is trouble but Edward can’t see it at all, can only see one step ahead, doesn’t see that all his actions have consequences, mostly bad ones
Disaster right from the start
Edward marries Isabella, 12 year old daughter of the Queen of France
Coronation feast – less like a coronation and more like a party for Edward & Gaveston
Gaveston wears purple, king only talks to him, and arms of Gaveston and the king entwined
Thomas of Lancaster, king’s cousin, incensed
French nobles walk out of the feast – destroys French goodwill
April 1308 first parliament, Lancaster and nobles turn up armed = Gaveston must go, accuses nobles of treachery
Edward refuses to budge, even threatened to lose his throne Continue reading “‘Britain’s Bloodiest Dynasty’ Part 3 – Edward II – 11/12/2014”

Discussion Questions – ‘The Forbidden Queen’ by Anne O’Brien


'The Forbidden Queen' by Anne O'Brien
‘The Forbidden Queen’ by Anne O’Brien

1) What do you think of Katherine? What appeals to you about her and what doesn’t?

I quite liked Katherine, and I grew to like her more and more as the novel went on. The progress of her personality and actions was inspiring, and it was good to see her develop through so much – three relationships, two marriages, crowning of her son as king, leaving her home and family for a strange land, and the restrictions placed on her during her widowhood. I thought that at the beginning Katherine was a little naïve and hopeful. She didn’t really understand the court and hadn’t been brought up that way. She was still a child at heart. After she was widowed she had no choice but to grow up. What appeals about her is her freeness with herself, particularly in her relationships, though I can understand why in the Middle Ages it was frowned upon. I also appreciated her zest for life when with Edmund Beaufort, and how she carried it through to her relationship with Owen Tudor. What doesn’t appeal about Katherine is her naivety – she must have realised that she was a prize to be won when Edmund Beaufort was courting her.

2) Apart from Katherine, who is your favourite character in the book and why?

Aside from Katherine, I think my favourite character in this novel is Owen Tudor, because he seems to be one of the more genuine characters. I like the contradictions of Warwick’s personality, however, as well. Nevertheless, Owen is still my favourite. I love the contradictions within his character and his heritage. I’ve never really read any Welsh history so this was interesting to me, and I am definitely more interested in that side of things now. Continue reading “Discussion Questions – ‘The Forbidden Queen’ by Anne O’Brien”

‘Britain’s Bloodiest Dynasty’ Part 2 – Henry III – 04/12/2014


 

Henry III funeral effergy in Westminster Abbey
Henry III funeral effergy in Westminster Abbey

Henry III and Simon de Montfort – “friendship that turned to hatred”
Led to civil war and changed monarchy forever
Henry III 1216-1272, came to the throne aged 9
1230 has been on the throne for fourteen years, but powers scaled back by Magna Carta, signed by his father, King John
Fourth Plantagenet king
Henry II was his grandfather – French lands lost by his father
Tough, warfare, politically savvy, justice, energy and appetite needed – Henry III lacks these qualities needed to be a king
Henry tried twice, but ended in expensive defeat
Barons stop lending him money, allowed to by Magna Carta; can’t raise taxes
Dreamer – big dreams like Westminster Abbey which he built
Henry not seen as a great king by his barons – not strong enough to take them on alone
Autumn 1230 Henry III first meets Simon de Montfort (minor French knight) who is a fanatic, backs belief with action
Henry sees a man with single-mindedness needed to achieve his dreams
So young when he takes the throne that others had always made his decisions for him – Henry drawn to de Montfort and vice versa Continue reading “‘Britain’s Bloodiest Dynasty’ Part 2 – Henry III – 04/12/2014”

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