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The Road to Bosworth Field: A New History of the Wars of the Roses: The Struggle Between Lancaster and York 1400-1487 [Hardcover]

Trevor Royle
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Feb 2009
There is no single history of the Wars of the Roses - the bloody conflict between supporters of the White Rose of Yorkshire and the Red Rose of Lancashire - which provides a military history while placing the conflict in the context of the political, cultural, religious and social background, not just in England and the rest of the British Isles but also in Europe. This book makes good that omission by producing the definitive account of one of the most dramatic and murderous periods in English history - the years when the rival heirs of King Edward III fought for the right to rule as absolute monarchs. It will also examine the wars and the main personalities against the account provided by William Shakespeare's cycle of historical plays. It paints the period on a broad canvas, refusing to be circumscribed by the narrow dates set down by earlier historians. Instead the story opens with the reign of Richard II and charts over a hundred years of dramatic internecine conflict, treachery and greed, a period in which powerful men perverted justice for their own ends, murdering their opponents and destroying their possessions in the process.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown & Company; First Edition edition (5 Feb 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316727679
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316727679
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.8 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 141,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


CRIMEA: * 'An excellent account of a complicated subject. Impeccably researched and elegantly written, it puts Britain's contribution to this much derided war into its proper context' - Daily Telegraph * 'A tour de force, a splendidly written account' - Literary Review * 'An exemplary history of an unnecessary war' - Scotsman

Book Description

* The first major single history of the Wars of the Roses for decades, written by renowned popular and military historian, Trevor Royle, out now in paperback --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Well written but careless on detail 12 Mar 2009
Despite the title, this book is really a brief account of the fifteenth century English kings from Richard II to Richard III. Each king gets two or three chapters. The problem is that the first half of the book has little or nothing to do with the Wars of the Roses. While Henry IVs usurpation and the faction between the nobility during the minority of Henry VI may be relevant, I find it hard to justify a chapter on the Agincourt campaign or the troubles in Ireland during the reign of Richard II. When he does eventually get to the Wars of the Roses, the accounts of the battles are too brief. Even the major ones like Barnet & Towton only get a couple of pages each. There are no maps or diagrams.

This is a comfortable history for the general reader but adds nothing new for anyone reasonably familiar with the subject.

That said it is well written; it took me less than a week to finish. Included are extracts from contemporary chronicles though there are no actual notes with supporting references. The summary at the end, giving a description of not just the main players but more obscure ones as well, is useful.

What spoils the whole thing is the large number of fundamental errors. These are just a few that I spotted. A history student of the period would probably notice a lot more. Henry VI didn't inherit France on the death of his father, it was not until the death of Charles VI that he was able to under the terms of the Treaty of Troyes; the English didn't cede Maine & Anjou in the 1440s, they never occupied Anjou in the first place; Margaret Beaufort was the niece, not the sister of Edmund Duke of Somerset, if she had brothers she'd be of little importance. There are also geographical inaccuracies but these are less significant.

In summary this book is a good read but is marred by its lack of originality. The inaccuracies in this book have put me off reading his earlier work on the civil war.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An almost pertfect fully detailed account. 12 Dec 2011
I thought this was a marvellous book as close to perfection as a history book can be. I have four reasons for this:

Firstly it was very well written; it read almost like a novel and I was left with a sense of this being a true roller-coaster saga.

Secondly, it was balanced and avoided the opinionated arrogance of so many history books.

Thirdly, it was immensely detailed without a single loose end being untied.

Fourthly, it was the first book on the Wars of the Roses that I have read that covered the entire story from the remotest origins in Richard II's reign to the absolutely last vestiges of Yorkist sympathy in Henry VIII's reign.

Out of 100, I would award this book a decidedly fulsome 97! I deduct three marks: one because nothing can be absolutely perfect, and two because of a series of confusions about Richard III in the penultimate chapter. One was a claim that Richard III was taken to Newark after Bosworth, rather than to Leicester; I assume this was an aberration, or a simple slip of the pen, caused by the fact that some sources say he was buried at The Newarke in Leicester. Another was that initially the author makes mention of the fact that the precise location of the battle of Bosworth was located in 2010, but he later states that the location is not known (my guess is that this was an editing error in a later edition); and a third is that after painting a damning picture of Richard's behaviour and character, the author then spends some time denying the frightful reputation that history has given him (rightly in my humble view).

These are nitpicking points. I enjoyed this book to the full and it is undoubtedly the best, most complete, history of the Wars of the Roses that I have read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Book 12 Jan 2010
The Road to Bosworth Field: A New History of the Wars of the Roses by Trevor Royle is a good book dealing with the defining event of mid-fifteenth century England. It is well-written, fast-paced and very interesting and in fact shows that in many ways England in this period was run by what was in effect rival mobs with private armies settling family and political feuds. However, if you want an authoriative and definative history this probably lacks the level of detail you require, also if you want a military history this probably is not as informative as you would like. Overall though it is a good bok dealing with the causes (both long and short-term), the personalities and the events which make this such a crucial period in Enlgish history. All in all a very good book for the reader with a curiosity about the Wars of the Roses.
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