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Book Review

‘The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors’

2/10/2016

In the 15th century, five different kings — all with claims extending from King Edward III — ruled England. There were two direct lines involved: The House of Lancaster and the House of York. The wars of this period were between these two houses, represented by the red rose for the Lancastrian line and the white rose for the Yorkist line. The crown changed hands five times until the Plantagenets line was exterminated and the rule of the House of Tudor began.

By Dan Jones Penguin Books Oct. 6, 2015 Paperback: $18 416 pages

By Dan Jones
Penguin Books
Oct. 6, 2015
Paperback: $18
416 pages

It was a brutal time, with power protected both by wars and by the execution of those who were accused as traitors. Henry V, who ruled in the early 1400s, was immersed in wars on the continent, trying to consolidate the English holdings in the area. He died in 1422, leaving an infant Henry VI to inherit the crown. Henry VI was a weak king, and by the middle of the century, stronger lords were gathering their private armies to gain control. Mental illness of the king further destabilized the kingdom. There were years of wars, starting at St. Albans and ending with Richard III’s death at Bosworth 30 years later.

In our world today, the English crown is stable, and it is difficult to imagine the power struggles that played out almost six centuries ago. Dan Jones is a talented historian who was able to relate this complex story and make it understandable in our own time. For those who enjoy CD/MP3 recordings, the narration by English actor John Curless is superb. CV

Harriet Leitch retired to enjoy her grandchildren, garden, dogs, flute and to return to her love of books.

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