Wars of the Roses: 9

Desmond Seward, Author Viking Books $26.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-670-84258-2
With its shifting political alliances and its huge cast of characters, England's Wars of the Roses--that 15th-century bloodbath pitting rival York and Lancaster dynasties in a 32-year struggle for the throne--could daunt even readers of Shakespeare's plays. To bring clarity and order to this complex tale, British historian Seward (The Hundred Years War) organizes his dramatic, vivid narrative around five pivotal figures. Courtier-soldier William Hastings tried to rescue 12-year-old King Edward V from the ambitions of Edward's uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester, but Richard ordered Hastings's execution in 1483 and usurped the throne as Richard III. Steely, mystically inclined Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor (the future Henry VIII), forged the alliance between Lancastrians and Yorkists that toppled Richard III. Lancastrian nobleman John de Vere, earl of Oxford, determined to avenge the execution of his father and brother, joined a rebellion against Yorkist King Edward IV but was routed in 1471 when his men attacked their own side by mistake. Jane Shore, an alderman's daughter who became mistress of Edward IV, then of his friend Hastings, shared the secrets of powerful men, was forced by Richard III to do penance as a harlot and ended her days begging for bread on London's streets. John Morton, cleric and Lancastrian lawyer, switched his allegiance to the Yorkists after imprisonment in the Tower of London and later became Archbishop of Canterbury. Illustrated. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/1995
Release date: 10/01/1995
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 379 pages - 978-0-14-023402-2
Hardcover - 480 pages - 978-1-84119-424-0
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