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on 9 October 2009
Even though I'm a member of the Richard III Society and read everything I can lay my hands on about him and The wars of The Roses, I'm definitely not an expert. This book offers a new perspective on the execution of William Hastings in the Tower of London in 1483 and to my mind does a pretty convincing job. I've always been uneasy with some of the explanations regarding Hastings and his supposed plotting with the Woodvilles, and the alterntive suggestion as to why Hastings met such an untimely death might well be the correct one. Of course much of the book is based on supposition, which the author freely admits to and we will never know the truth. It is well worth a read but I would suggest that you might get more out of it with some background knowledge on the subject.
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on 7 November 2013
You could say that I'm a Ricardian. That I've never believed in the monster created by Shakespere and portrayed so magnificently by Olivier. Having said that Mr Hancock looks at the bizarre course of events that led to the extremely fast execution of Lord Hastings in the tower, and does so convincingly in a very well constructed book. Here we see Richard the man ( or as close to the man as is possible) but more importantly we see Richard set in his own time embroiled in the rather vicious politics of the day and not judged with modern day sympathies , values or morals. We see him struggling against all sorts of deceits, plots and betrayals by power hungry magnates. He was certainly up against it !
Shakespere's propaganda has ingrained itself into our English history. The Tudors rather tenuous claim to the throne of England had to be justified somehow and how better than to completely destroy the last Plantagenet king by word as well as by deed.
Whether you beleive in Shakespere and/ or the Tudor propaganda or not you should read this book. It is refreshing.
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on 21 January 2010
Peter Hancock has written an intriguing, well researched and persuasive argument to explain the events surrounding Richard's decision to take the throne, and in particular the death of Hastings which has never, to my mind, been convincingly explained. Hancock's case fits the known facts better than the 'traditional' explanation does, and he has delved into the backgrounds of some hitherto largely overlooked characters to back up his theory with fact. On the odd occasion when he descends into speculation, he is meticulous in saying so and takes pains to explain why he thinks what he does.

Essential reading for anyone interested in Richard III, although I wouldn't recommend it for the novice as it assumes some prior knowledge of these events.
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on 20 January 2010
As a very committed Ricardian of some 40+ years, it was very refreshing to read a book about Richard that concentrated on facts and actual documentation, rather than opinions of various commentators who were not privy to such information.

The hypothesis about the reason for Hastings execution being the concealment of his knowledge of the pre-contract from Richard rather than a plot with the Woodvilles (who were Hastings' opponents), certainly seems to me a more realistic reason for the event, especially when you consider the rewards showered upon Catesby who revealed Hastings' deception to Richard. Richard's fierce anger at Hastings' betrayal (something Richard abhorred, as his enduring loyalty to his brother shows) makes sense, and I agree with the author that when he calmed down he regretted his action, bearing in mind his generous treatment of Hastings' widow.

The book is put together very well with very little speculation about events, rather relying on factual provable information. I enjoyed it very much, and highly recommend it to students of this historical period, whether Ricardians or not.
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on 11 December 2011
I bought this book and tried really hard to read it (!) but ALL of the illustrations, graphs, photos, relevant land title documents etc are missing in the Kindle edition rendering it very difficult indeed to follow if you don't already possess a fairly good knowledge of that period of history. I loved the way it was written and he clearly seems to have researched his sources brilliantly and I was truly disappointed not to be able to enjoy it properly and ended up giving up and asking Amazon for a refund. I will try to buy the print version of the book locally as I suspect it's a really great book and so this review is IN NO WAY intended to put anyone off the actual book which is well-written, has some new perspectives and is very well researched, but just to warn other potential Kindle edition purchasers about the lack of accompanying illustrations as it ruined it for me and made the book impossible to fully enjoy or understand. As I say, if you already possess an in-depth knowledge of that historical period, then you may find it far easier to follow but to a dimbo like me, it all proved a bit too complex. I'd definitely buy the print book though.
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on 20 October 2009
Whilst I am a Ricardian at heart and can argue his "innocence" as regards the Princes in the tower.....(Henry VII and his role in their disappearance has not been inspected closely enough in my view) ...his murder of William Lord Hastings has left a bad taste in the mouth and difficult to explain. The Woodville plot and role of Jane Shore as some kind of go between just doesn`t ring true, and the report from More about Richard`s withered arm and sorcery belongs in childrens fiction.
Until now..... Mr Hancock has provided a well reasoned argument for Hastings despatch and Richards behaviour, based on the loyalty vs betrayal in the latters mind that fateful morning, and why his mood changed so dramatically.
The role of Catesby and his family connection to Eleanor Butler is appealing and his execution post Bosworth endorses the view. Maybe some day documentation from the pre-contract may emerge.....until then this explanation is the most convincing.
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on 10 September 2013
The premise here is good: the only murder Richard III was guilty of was the abrupt execution of Lord Hastings after a meeting in the Tower of London. Working on the theory the Richard III suddenly learned that Hastings knew Edward IV's marriage had been bigamous, he disposes of Hastings in a fit of pique. Hancock spends the rest of the book explaining how Hastings would have gained this knowledge . . . and explaining, and explaining and explaining ad nauseum. While I think he's right, the argument is laid out in a much more interesting and plausible way in the book Eleanor: the Secret Queen by John Ashdown-Hill.
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on 3 November 2010
The title may mislead you into thinking the book concerns the 'princes in the tower'. It does not. The purpose of the book is to justify Richard's claim to the throne, with Hancock believing the later you believe Richard sought the throne, the better view you have of him.

Peter A. Hancock offers a convincing theory (except maybe Jane Shore's role) that Richard did not seek the throne until a break in a council meeting to gather strawberries on Friday 13th June 1483, when Catesby informed him of his late brother Edward IV's pre-contract with Eleanor Butler. This therefore bastardised the late king's children with Elizabeth Woodville, including the two 'princes in the tower' Edward V and Richard, Duke of York. Furthermore, Catesby informed Richard that Hastings had concealed his knowledge of the contract, leading to his immediate execution following the break-up of the meeting; the 'murder in the tower'.

This is the second Ricardian book I have read; the first being John Ashdown-Hill's 'The Last Days of Richard III', and it has really ignited my interest in the period and has confirmed my pro-Ricardian leanings.

This is the first review I have awarded 5 stars to; I do not give that lightly!
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on 11 September 2012
This excellent book deals with the one and only murder that Richard III is guilty of, namely the murder of Lord Hastings, in 1483. The book expects that readers will have some knowledge of the period and events, so therefore may not suit everyone.
Richard is a much maligned king evoking strong feelings even today. This book gives the facts, and from it emerges ( for those who are interested) a more balanced outlook of a true, King of England.
One person has pointed out that he did in fact murder members of his brothers family,( his brothers-in- law) this is true, but it was mainly as an act of self preservation. As for "The Princes" there is no proof whatsoever that they were murdered and until such times as The Queen allows the bones in Westminster be removed and examined, this will continue to be the case. I still suspect Margaret Beaufort, she was the only one to directly "gain" from their deaths, i.e. Henry VII being her son. Henry VII and Henry VIII murdered many more, and created the reputation of "The Tower" for death.
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on 17 September 2014
Maybe slightly surprisingly, given the 3 star rating, I enjoyed reading this book. I have a strong interest in this period of history, though certainly not an authority, and I found it to be very informative. The author has obviously researched the subject well and he presents his arguments in a well structured style clearly identifying what are facts and what is conjecture. His theory and rationale for the sequence of events that took place on 13th June 1483 are well thought out, argued and fit the facts that are available at this point in time. It is, however, just a theory - there is no direct evidence to prove it, plausible though it is. There is a lot of information presented in the book with respect to the relationships between the key players in these events and I intend re-reading the book to mop up any links that evaded me on the first read through, If it's so good why 3 stars and not 5? I've taken one star off because I felt that the author, (though I found his writing style engaging), had a habit of making the same point several times over and I found this a little distracting. The second star has been taken off because I read the Kindle version, (not the author's fault, I know). The text makes many references to illustrations/figures and these are not available in the Kindle version. As and when I re-read this book it will be a hard-copy. I would, without hesitation, recommend this book to anyone who, like me, has an interest in this period of history and this monarch in particular.
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