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Customer Discussions > History forum

The Wars of the Roses

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Showing 1-25 of 69 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 19, 2012 2:58:05 PM PDT
Being a rather minimal scholar of English history, I am looking for some information regarding the Wars of the Roses.

I was inspired to ask when a few days ago a box fell onto the floor as I opened a closet. It was an old English game called "Kingmaker" (presumably after the great noble Warwick). It is based on the dynastic struggle between the houses of York and Lancaster, famously known as the Wars of the Roses, which as everyone knows was won by Henry Tudor at Bosworth. Curiously, the casualties so great and Henry's claim so weak that Henry doesn't have a piece in the game (beyond being an Earl of Richmond) as do many of the pieces.

Bottom line, when I looked on Amazon for a book, many books were displayed. What is a real good unbiased (un-Tudorized) account that is reasonably comprehensive?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 19, 2012 3:21:27 PM PDT
Ku says:
I'm sorry to say I'm unaware of any good accounts. I suppose there would be biographies of the main rivals, Henry VI and Edward IV.

It's a period of English history that doesn't even get much coverage in my fav history book; 'The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain' didn't even mention the bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil.

About ten years ago, I heard about the battle of Towton and then searched the index of the aforementioned book to no avail. Sent an email to one of the authors asking why and he replied it just wasn't that big a deal in the larger scheme of things. Okay then.

There were 28'000 dead at the end of that day. Crippled the power of the House of Lancaster.

Posted on Jun 19, 2012 3:41:18 PM PDT
try wikipedia
see their references

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 19, 2012 3:49:45 PM PDT

It does not really contain the level of assessment I desire. What I am really looking for is a fairly even handed treatment rather than the bs lionizing which can sometimes happen

Posted on Jun 19, 2012 4:04:00 PM PDT
Trevor Roper: Lancaster Against York

My son, who read it right after I did, a big fan of shot, blow it up movies and video games, was horrified by it. It treats Henry as the lucky recipient because everybody else had died. Richard didn't have a hump.

Posted on Jun 19, 2012 10:58:12 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 26, 2012 6:28:13 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 20, 2012 8:30:46 AM PDT
R. Largess says:
This is not what you're looking for, but you might read the Shakespeare plays that cover this story of the Wars of the Roses, from "Richard II" to "Richard III". Reading them in historical order (not the order in which they were written) gives a unified epic whose overarching theme is the question of how to retain power (or lose it). From the standpoint of "hard" history, this is still one of the most important issues of the period. Plainly Shakespeare's epic gives us our basic conception of the Wars of the Roses that was the popular view in subsequent centuries. (But like you say, who knows anything about this stuff in America?) Still, Shakespeare had a good, detailed source - Ralph Holinshed's "Chronicles" - and penetrating insights into leadership and authority, and their place in the English mind. A good overview, a good place to start, and cuts right to the central issue - which is, once again, how does a King hold onto power, and how many ways can he let it slip through his fingers?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 20, 2012 9:32:56 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 20, 2012 9:33:58 AM PDT
R. Largess,

No, that is not what I am looking for. If I wanted that, I would just read "the Prince" and have done with it. But I do thank you for your kind suggestion.

I am really looking for a book that starts with perhaps even Richard II and continues up to the "final" defeat of the Yorks at Bosworth.

It does not seem like many of the posters on the history board know much about this, but I was just asking.

Posted on Jun 20, 2012 11:58:04 AM PDT
blueskies says:
The Lancaster vs York wars were not called the War of the Roses until Victorian historians so named it. They were designated the Cousins War because they were all related. The Tudor rose was emblematic of the union of the House of York and the House of Lancaster when Elizabeth of York married Henry VII, the victor.
The Women of the Cousins' War by Phillippa Gregory, David Baldwin, and Michael Jones is a historical account of three of the distaff side of the contest. Worth a read.

Posted on Jun 21, 2012 1:28:02 PM PDT
keith stone says:
War of the Roses? Was that the one fought in Pasadena?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 21, 2012 1:57:23 PM PDT
I thought my suggestion was pretty good. Is there something I should know about the book?

Posted on Jun 21, 2012 2:31:07 PM PDT

I was reading the reviews and I am not sure that is what I am looking for. The reviews seem to indicate that is a primer at which one would jump off at. I am looking at "Edward IV And The Wars Of The Roses" and Ross' "The Wars of the Roses: A Concise History" or perhaps Weir's "Lancaster and York: the Wars of the Roses" or Rowse's "Bosworth Field & the Wars of the Roses."

In the end, I think it will be Weir, although it will come all the way from England. Mark, let me be clear on this, I really appreciated your recommendation. I knew nothing when I started and It got me to thinking about it and really looking at the choices. It would have been great had they all been in electronic format.

Posted on Jun 21, 2012 10:22:38 PM PDT
L. Boyles says:
I would highly recommend "The Sunne in Splendour" by Sharon Kay Penman.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 24, 2012 5:17:16 PM PDT
blueskies says:
I read that and it was very good. Edward IV was one lucky king, while he was alive.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 24, 2012 8:34:38 PM PDT
L. Boyles & blue

Is "The Sunne in Splendour" a novel (dramatization based on the facts) or a history book?

Posted on Jun 24, 2012 10:13:02 PM PDT
blueskies says:
The Sunne in Splendor is a historical novel and in it the author presents a contrasting view of Richard III than is given by Shakespeare. It is notable that Richard was married to the love of his life, Anne Neville, who had died just months before the battle at Bosworth Field, where Richard was killed when he personally charged against Henry Tudor, although outnumbered. He was killed. It is hard not to think that he wasn't committing suicide by Tudor when you read the account.

Posted on Jun 25, 2012 7:29:36 PM PDT
L. Boyles says:
Yes, Sunne in Splendour is historical fiction but I have never heard anyone argue about her facts other than that she brought a different interpretation (spelling?) of the life of Richard III. I was so enthralled by the book that I wanted to learn more about the
War of the Roses and recommend: War of the Roses by Desmond Seward, Wars of the Roses by Michael Hicks, Lancaster Against York by Trevor Royle, Richard III by Paul Murray Kendall, and War of the Roses by Alison Weir. I'm now trying to find books that cover the period from Richard II. I've done lots of reading about Henry II through Edward III and have read way too much about the Tudors ( Henry VIII through Elizabeth) but do plan to read the new biography about Henry VII. Hope this helps a little.

Posted on Jun 25, 2012 8:05:45 PM PDT
blueskies says:
L. Boyles,
I went the other way. I started reading about the Plantagenets--Eleanor of Aquitane and Henry II founded that dynasty. It lasted 300 years and ended with the Tudor victory.
I got addicted to the show The Tudors, which even though it was historically inaccurate, was gorgeous in scenery and costumes. It made Henry VIII a sympathetic character for the most part.

Posted on Jun 25, 2012 8:14:19 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 25, 2012 8:15:12 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 25, 2012 8:22:09 PM PDT
L. Boyles says:
Blueskies: I enjoyed the Tudors also in spite of its poor history though it took a while to get used to a thin dark-haired Henry and the dark-haired Catherine. I thought most of the cast was outstanding.

Posted on Jun 25, 2012 9:36:48 PM PDT
Hoo-Zen!! says:
From my point of view (Catholic) this war and the later Civil War are the death knells of Christendom. The external wars in Europe waged by the English, internalised and regionalised. Ready for the industrial revolution and the "age of empires" (a la Hobsbaum).
Autonomy and suppression as preparation for a the autonomy of the individual found in "conditions of equality" in industrial mass democracy. God works in mysterious ways alright.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 25, 2012 9:44:25 PM PDT
L. Boyles says:
I'm afraid you lost me.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 26, 2012 12:08:17 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 26, 2012 12:09:19 AM PDT
blueskies says:
I thought Sam Neill was excellent as Wolsley. Although, his suicide in the show the Tudors was very inaccurate. In fact, Wolsley died of an illness which was probably due to his age and the stress of becoming a target for Henry's shifting affections. I really enjoyed the whole series though. It made me look up a lot of things! Did you know that Lady Jane Grey, the 9 day queen, was the grand daughter of Charles Brandon, from his marriage to Henry's sister, Mary?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 26, 2012 4:28:47 PM PDT
Suet says:
blueskies says: "The Cousin's War by Kevin Phillips"

Er ... this is about what Phillips calls the three Anglo civil wars: the ECW, the Revolutionary War, and the ACW.
Unless he wrote another one. :-)

The Cousins' Wars: Religion, Politics, Civil Warfare, And The Triumph Of Anglo-America

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 26, 2012 5:10:18 PM PDT
I would suggest that you take a look at Alison Weirs book The Wars of the Roses
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Discussion in:  History forum
Participants:  24
Total posts:  69
Initial post:  Jun 19, 2012
Latest post:  Jun 29, 2015

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