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The King's Mother: Lady Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521447942
ISBN-10: 0521447941
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Jones and Underwood have improved considerably on the previous biographies in two major respects: the care with which they situate their subject within the political and cultural context of her time and the assiduity with which they have drawn on a wide range of primary and secondary sources to supplement the household accounts still preserved at St John's. The diligence has paid handsome dividends, allowing them to draw a rounded and unusually intimate portrait of their subject." Simon Walker, Times Literary Supplement

"Unlike other studies of Margaret, Countess of Richmond and Derby, this excellent biography is the first to draw upon the wide range of manuscripts at Cambridge University, Westminster Abbey, and other archives. A remarkable woman of the pre-modern period, her life is much better documented than most of her female contemporaries." Albion

"This is an unusually readable book, careful in its scholarship, cautious in its judgements...well-produced, and with some excellent plates to enhance the text. It is much to be recommended and not only to the scholarly fraternity." Canadian Journal of History

"The great merit of The King's Mother is to bring together a large amount of material on a woman who impinged on many aspects of fifteenth-century history....The authors, one of them an authority on the Beauforts, the other the archivist of one of Lady Margaret's foundations, are particularly well placed to deal with this remarkable woman and have done her and their readers proud. Particularly welcome is the treatment of her generally unknown political role under her son....a substantial contribution to the still neglected subject of the internal politics of this reign." Christine Carpenter, Journal of British Studies

"This fine work of scholarly collaboration between a historian and an archivist illuminates the character of the pragmatic, unsentimental individual revered by those who worked with her, cursed by those she took advantage of, and underestimated only by the ignorant....[T]he authors deserve praise for clarifying how the countess used a crafty combination of marriages, patronage, political connections, and her own relentless vigilance to secure landed wealth for personal advantage and dynastic benefit....Underwood's previous writings on Margaret's endowments of two Cambridge colleges are well integrated into the biography....[T]heir meticulous and balanced work will stand among the best of the genre." Lorraine Attreed, Speculum

Book Description

This study of Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII and the founder of two Cambridge colleges, is the first biography to explore the full range of archival sources and one of the best-documented studies of any late-medieval woman.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 364 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (April 30, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521447941
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521447942
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,391,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Ricky Hunter on December 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
Lady Margaret Beaufort was the Countess of Richmond and Derby and the mother of a king, Henry VII, whose coronation put the finishing touches on the War of the Roses. Looking at her life is a wonderful way to examine this pivotal period in English history as she was a pivotal person, herself, during this period. Sometimes she was a pawn in the plans of others but often she created her own destiny, while all the time remaining a creature of politics and a survivor at a time when very many did not. The authors have done their research well and provide a very detailed account. Often the financial details can be very revealing and occasionally monotonous to the casual historian but always important. This is a very good study of an important woman.
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Let's face it, women of the medieval times aren't too well known, and those that are, such Eleanor of Aquitaine, are hidden behind shadows and are really only noticed through the male figure(s) in her life.

That being said, Jones and Underwood did a great job in illustrating just who Margaret Beaufort really was. Not only do they capture the influence that she had and the political maneuvering that she had to do, but they also capture her life after her son became king, showing her role in religious houses and orders as well as the universities.

A great bio for a great woman. Anyone studying the Tudors should read this book. Anyone, for that matter, interested in England in the fifteenth century must read this book. Margaret Beaufort's role was just too important.
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Format: Paperback
This is a thorough and competent study of Lady Margaret Beaufort. Study - not biography. At times it's almost too thorough; it presents a huge amount of information, but doesn't always do so in a lively manner, so that it occasionally reads like a dense catalogue of names, dates and events.

If you're after an easy-to-read biography that rushes along like a riveting novel, this is probably not what you want (Desmond Seward's The Wars of the Roses: Through the Lives of Five Men and Women of the Fifteenth Century might be a better option). But if you're already familiar with the woman and her era and want to read a detailed academic study, or if you're studying fifteenth century England and want reliable academic history instead of popular history of doubtful accuracy, you couldn't ask for more.
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