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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not like school history!
The Wars of the Roses is not a period that I'm particularly familiar with. I had vague recollections from school history that it was fought between the Lancastrians and the Yorkists, but that was about all. I bought this book because I thought maybe it was about time I found out.

And I did! The book is not just about the battle of Towton, it is about the...
Published on 25 Aug. 2012 by Alan Lenton

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not much about the battle
I put this book on my Christmas wish-list as I wanted to know more about the Battle of Towton. I was disappointed by the book's balance: there was much about the background to the battle, the leading players, etc., but very little on the battle itself - and some of this was unclear. If you know nothing about the Wars of the Roses, then this may be a good introduction as...
Published 15 months ago by Pw Martin


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5.0 out of 5 stars You wouldn't want to be there..., 27 Jun. 2014
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You wouldn't want to be there if you were on the losing side. Brutal and thorough depiction of one of the worst battles on English soil. Unlike some historical treaties this is a very vivid and compelling read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Finally I understand what the War of The Roses was ..., 25 Feb. 2015
By 
Eileen Lee - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Fatal Colours: Towton, 1461 - England's Most Brutal Battle (Paperback)
Finally I understand what the War of The Roses was all about. Only spoiled by Mr Goodwin's comment towards end that the "Princes in the Tower" were murdered on the instructions of Richard III, much more likely to have been Henry VII.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Twilight of the Monarchy, 23 Feb. 2014
By 
Roderick Blyth (Oxfordshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fatal Colours: Towton, 1461 - England's Most Brutal Battle (Paperback)
This is a short account of the background, personalities and events leading up to the battle which may be said to have dealt a blow to the mystique of the mediaeval monarchy from which it never really recovered. It has been written not for experts or for would-be experts, but for those with a broad interest in the period 1422-1461, and a particular interest in the area around York and Pontefract. As regards the general period, the book is useful in that it publishes to a wider public, and in popular form, recent academic work done by Michael Hicks, Ralph Griffiths, John Wattts and A.J.Pollard, but in relation to the battle, the writer's touch seems less sure. This is partly because comparatively little is known about it, partly because what is known is not particularly trustworthy, and partly because Mr Goodwin seems over anxious to magnify the scale.

Of the 200 odd pages of text, 134 set the scene, leaving 66 for the campaign. much of it actually concerned with descriptions of munitions, armoury, and supplies. The account of the battle itself covers less than 15 pages. The agreed facts appear to be (a) that the battle was fought in appalling wintry conditions which favoured the Yorkist victors; (b) that the Lancastrians were driven from a strong defensive position, on a plateau between two marshy areas of ground; and (c) that the decisive event was probably the arrival, late in the afternoon, of a Yorkist force under the Duke of Norfolk which came up from the lower ground to the Lancastrian left, and caused that flank to disintegrate, thereby precipitating a general rout.

Mr Goodwin takes at face value reports of the day which suggested that 28,000 were killed, and accepts the argument that anything between 50,000 and 75,000 men were engaged. These figures seem extraordinary given the period, the season, the shortage of time which Edward IV had had to muster his forces, and the general principle which says that when dealing with numbers in historical sources pre-dating the availability of public records, the safest course is to reduce all figures to one tenth of the number advanced in any given source. Dealing with the archaeological evidence, Mr Goodwin emphasises the discovery of a grave pit unearthed near Towton Hall in 1996 the 38 bodies in which bore the marks of summary and savage execution. Horrible though the facts are, neither they, nor any other archaeological evidence, would seem to corroborate the extraordinary figures for the dead. The suspicion must be that that the number of killed was unusual by contemporary standards, but that putting precise figures on them, whether by reference to contemporary documents, or on academic calculations based on the supposed proportion borne by males eligible for military service to the total population for the period is an all but pseudo-scientific exercise.

Whilst the lack of reliable evidence means that accounts of the battle can only be sparse and disappointing, Mr Goodwin's account of the period as a whole is competent and well-written, not only in the way it deals with a confusing series of events and people, but in the way it traces the collapse of the Lancastrian monarchy. Under Henry V, the pride of England had been restored to a position of international prestige unmatched since the reign of Edward III. Under his infant, and later half-witted son, England collapsed into anarchic savagery. Controlled initially, by his able and prestigious uncles, the kingdom and its overseas empire fell apart as the mentally incapable king came of age and failed to impose his will. Instead, a clique or faction soon established a dominance which reduced the wealth, power and prestige of the monarchy, and created in its turn, an alliance of the excluded. As men of all ranks lost confidence in the ability of the government to guarantee law, order and probity, traditional hierarchies of service and patronage were broken, and the chivalric principles which had guaranteed the decencies were replaced by the principles of pride, provocation and vendetta.

And yet Towton was a battle that the Lancastrians should have won, not least because the institution of kingship still had a mystique that transcended the personal qualities of whoever occupied the throne for the time being, Richard of York's ill-executed bid for the throne in 1460 ended in disaster, not least because it was perceived by too many potential supporters as an intolerable usurpation by a man who, at every stage, had used successive Parliaments to advance his own interests at the expense of his opponents'. The irony is that his son's bid succeeded largely because he controlled London and Calais - the new centres of wealth and commerce controlled by a mercantile class that were beginning to demand a voice of their own in the affairs of the nation, and who saw the young, vigorous combination of the Earls of March and Warwick a guarantee of their own ambitions and aspirations.

The defeat at Towton, the death (or possibly, the execution of) his son at Tewkesbury, and the murder of Henry VI shortly thereafter were series of events that dealt crushing bows to the idea of divinely ordained monarchy, and when Edward IV married a commoner, and sired heirs whom a large proportion of the aristocracy felt inferior to themselves in terms of birth and rank, the monarchy was further compromised. Faced with the second long minority in two generations, and a powerful interest group again ready to siphon of the kingdom's wealth and patronage, it was hardly surprising that Richard of Gloucester and Henry Tudor should have been ready to massacre innocents in order to prevent the kingdom spiralling once again into anarchy.

The moral is that any form of government that combines being corrupt, self-serving and inefficient with a failure to represent the interests of real power and money (which were rapidly becoming more or less the same thing) is likely to end in ruin and disaster - if you want examples, just look around you.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A well researched book. The author does well in ..., 17 Mar. 2015
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A well researched book. The author does well in his attempts to tell the story of the Towton campaign in as unbiased a way as possible.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Informative., 22 May 2013
By 
N Attfield "Neilatt-UK" (Somerset, UK) - See all my reviews
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Not bad but far too much initial background. A lot of this has been written about - more interested in the immediate run up to the battle and the aftermath.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars TOWTON BATTLE AND BACKGROUND, 26 May 2011
By 
A Happy Chappie (Surrey England) - See all my reviews
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A very good overview of the Battle of Towton, the characters involved, their motivation and the power politics of the time and I found it totally boring. Having said that Mr Goodwin does an excellent job with the material he has, although I would have preferred more detail on the battle itself which only rates some 4 or 5 pages in a book some 200 pages long.

The problem is that when analysed the people involved have very little to recommend them except their greed and avarice! Frankly I got lost in among all the names, which probably says more about my boredom threshold than them. I would have like to see more detail on the injuries and back ground of the remains from the burial pits.

Dare I say it that I found the lengthy introduction to the book by David Starkey a master class which struck me as more a statement of "You may have written this book Mr Goodwin but I'm the real expert on the period". I must stress that that is a personal view and there is nothing overt, beyond my imagination, in the written word to support it.

Overall a well written book with lots of detail but ultimately lacking in ability to sustain this readers interest. There are lots of colour illustrations and one or two line drawings of the various troop dispositions before and during the battle.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 19 Feb. 2015
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Loved this book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very well researched book, 10 Aug. 2013
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This book covers the period up to the Battle of Towton and details many aspects of life and death in the 15th century.
A very interesting read to complement the many fictional books of the period
Very enjoyable and a lot of information to absorb.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment, hard copy and kindled., 7 Sept. 2014
This review is from: Fatal Colours: Towton, 1461 - England's Most Brutal Battle (Paperback)
Long on the lead up to Towton with a plethora of names and tactics associated with the war between the colours to deal with ..... and then a colourless and not very well illustrated look at the battle itself!!
I'll visit the site, though.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars towton, 7 May 2013
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This review is from: Fatal Colours: Towton, 1461 - England's Most Brutal Battle (Paperback)
this is a fascinating book. it gives all the background information needed to understand the reason for the battle, the battle itself is well described and the aftermath thoroughly explained. highly recommended
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Fatal Colours: Towton, 1461 - England's Most Brutal Battle
Fatal Colours: Towton, 1461 - England's Most Brutal Battle by George Goodwin (Paperback - 16 Feb. 2012)
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