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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
The story is compelling and vividly told, simply incredible how little events could have significantly altered the course of Henry becoming king. Very well exposed is also the high degree of uncertainty under which even decisions to enter battle were taken.
Why not 5 stars? My impression is that the first and longest part of the book, before Bosworth battle war is...
Published on 31 May 2013 by limbourg

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been so much better
Weeeeelllll, I love this period of history and looked forward to reading this book. But, I found the authors tendency to colour the narrative to influence the reader into believing Richard was a ruthless, plotting and cynical human being to be pretty irritating. Expressions such as 'playing the role of a concerned uncle ' (or something similar) pepper the text, way before...
Published 8 months ago by BermondseyStu


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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read, 31 May 2013
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The story is compelling and vividly told, simply incredible how little events could have significantly altered the course of Henry becoming king. Very well exposed is also the high degree of uncertainty under which even decisions to enter battle were taken.
Why not 5 stars? My impression is that the first and longest part of the book, before Bosworth battle war is better written and researched, while I found the part after Bosworth written somehow in a rush like attempting to finish the book and if as the author was less interested in the topic. This is also the part where there are some repetitions of events or even phrases. I think a better editing and a deeper analysis of the challenges still faced by Henry the VII would have benefited the book and pleased the reader, eg there is no mention of the extinguishing of the Plantagenet male line thru the execution of Eduard Earl of Warwick.
As a reader from the Continent less acquainted with geography of the British Island, I also would welcome more and more detailed maps.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The hand that rocks the cradle, 16 Jun. 2013
Bosworth, The Birth of the Tudors is a re-telling of the lethal soap opera which modern readers know as the Wars of the Roses, culminating in the end of the ruling Plantagenet line at Bosworth field 1485.

It begins with the unsuitable mating of Owen Tudor with Katherine de Valois, widow of the late king Henry V, producing two sons: Edmund and Jasper. From this inauspicious beginning the next ruling dynasty would come - after Richard III's act of usurpation brought his house to a finish.

All the events are covered: Henry VI's ineptness; his Queen's militancy; the physical intimacy which brought about the birth of a prince but catapulted the sire into a catatonic state; the rage of men who physically fought to keep the English Kingdom of France 'betrayed' by the politicians at home and a 'French' queen; the apportioning of blame and the power plays which brought a nation to its knees both by the culling of the ruling aristocracy and the ruination of the land; the 'Yorkist' supremacy brought to an end by its King's carnal appetites and a mother's love which burned quietly and fearlessly, it's ambition increasing opportunistically with every error of Richard's, to deliver to the exhausted and indignant nation a 'Lancastrian' king.

One of Richard's misfortunes was to have no power base in the south. When he sought the assistance of his northern supporters to shore up his regime, the north/south divide was all too obvious. He also gave too much to Buckingham and although almost everyone hated the Woodvilles, nobody hated them as much as Richard did to forgive the murder of his brother's children. I suspect also that Richard's appearance worked powerfully on the medieval mind, which equated deformity with the dark side. Especially in contrast to the tall, handsome blond brother he sought to replace. (Edward could trade kisses for tax money - one widow doubling her contribution for a second embrace!). No, with hindsight, it could never be carried off.

Then there was his opposition. Margaret Beaufort had tried all through Edward's reign to have her son (her only child) reinstated to his just rights and inheritances and returned from exile. With each mistake Richard made, Margaret's ambition for her son increased. Although most women will never experience the depth of Margaret's love for her son, it struck me as understandable. Impregnated at 12, (far too young, far too undeveloped and contrary to church teaching), so that Edmund Tudor could legally receive the income of £800 a year her estates rendered. There must have been significant damage caused to her internally for she never conceived again. Her ambitions for that child, and her religion, must have been true consolation.

On the battlefield itself, John, Earl of Oxford's tactics carried the day. The Stanleys intervened at the opportune time and Richard met a brutal end. I was heartened to see that a Talbot turned out to whole-heartedly support Henry's claim. His ancestor 'The English Achilles' died in Lancastrian service in France and most definitely would have defended Henry VI against usurpation of his crown. Skidmore writes that he was where the fighting was fiercest - driving a wedge through Richard's line as Oxford drove through the other. I wonder if the cry 'A Talbot' 'A Talbot' rang out as he and his men were hardest pressed - 'the Talbot cometh, let all men dread'.

I throughly enjoyed this book and believe it would appeal to all levels of readership. Why then four stars? Poor editing, and at least one place where a full stop and capital would have given the true meaning of the sentence.

I would add, in view of the disappointed reviews from Ricardian(?) readers, that there is a major clue in the book's title 'Birth of the Tudors' that this book is following the fortunes of Henry Tudor rather than Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Therefore it is not an analysis of Richard's actions nor does it provide justification. I would add, however, that the clues are there: Hastings vowing he is off to Calais if Anthony Woodville enters London with a huge retinue of armed men; Richard's rebuff by his nephew Edward to come under his protection. Personally, I always look to the subsequent actions of Richard's sister Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy. Would you really undermine your brother's daughter and the continuation of your house if you did not view the Woodville inheritance with repugnance and as being tainted? Interestingly, Henry VII himself did not exalt what remained of the Woodvilles - as good a judge of character as Richard?

There are lots of books being published in the next 90 days about Richard. Maybe wait upon them ...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unlikely outcome., 30 Sept. 2014
Prior to reading this book, I had read Richard III and Warwick The King Maker by Paul Murray Kendall. Hence, I had some background knowledge. Kendall’s books were rather supportive of the Yorkist cause, so reading a fresh view point was welcoming. Although the title is Bosworth, the book is much more an account of the War of the Roses that culminated in Bosworth where Henry Tudor defeated Richard III. In this book, there is a lot of detail to take on so that some general prior reading would be helpful. I found it useful to make a copy of the family tree provided at the start and to use it as an aide memoir. Otherwise, I would have become hopelessly lost in the gigantic struggle for power between the Houses of Lancaster and York that lasted for over 60 years. Henry Tudor emerges from this mayhem rather like a side show of seemingly little relevance. His claim to the throne was dubious to say the least and yet improbably (in my view) he survived to establish the Tudor dynasty. If you want to know how, then read this book; I enjoyed reading it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been so much better, 1 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Bosworth: The Birth of the Tudors (Paperback)
Weeeeelllll, I love this period of history and looked forward to reading this book. But, I found the authors tendency to colour the narrative to influence the reader into believing Richard was a ruthless, plotting and cynical human being to be pretty irritating. Expressions such as 'playing the role of a concerned uncle ' (or something similar) pepper the text, way before you get to the princes disappearance or indeed the battle that ended Richards life. Clearly the author believes in his guilt and is doing his best to colour the readers judgement. But that aside for a second, it's also a clumsy read. The text wanders and you find yourself going off on (sometimes irrelevant) tangents. It is however very well researched, but the constant references to the sources and the endless lists of who got paid what according to somebody-or-others ledger interrupt the flow of the book. Granted, it's not a novel, but it still needs to flow and be engaging and this is where the author doesn't succeed so well. I found myself skipping reams of irrelevant minutiae to pick up the thread again. The timeline is a little weird too, I made it to Bosworth but in the end I just sort of gave up. It could so easily have been a gripping, interesting read, but sadly it falls short, although it may teach you some stuff that you may not know....it did me.
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2.0 out of 5 stars The Road To Bosworth Field, 13 July 2014
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This review is from: Bosworth: The Birth of the Tudors (Paperback)
Although this book is called Bosworth, it is more like a brief history of the entire Wars of the Roses. The actual battle itself is not described until Chapter 11!

The first ten chapters deal with the history of the Wars of the Roses year by year in a very methodical manner. The author touches upon the fate of Henry Tudor and his family from time to time, but much of this is unnecessary detail for a book supposedly about the Battle of Bosworth. It's like writing a book on D-Day and then detailing the whole of the Second World War up to that point.

By the time you get to the actual Battle of Bosworth you feel that the book has been unnecessarily prolonged. There is far too much detail about Henry Tudor's planning, and various aborted attempts before his succesful landing in England. This history of the The Wars of the Roses is described better in many more interesting and detailed books elsewhere (Alison Weir's book "Lancaster and York" for instance).

The actual account of the battle is surprisingly brief considering its supposed to be the main subject of the book. Chris Skidmore relies heavily on various ballad's to tell the tale of the battle, most notably "The Battle of Bosworth Field" which he quotes throughout. Ballads can hardly be relied upon as reliable sources, as it is unlikley those who wrote them were present, and there is a certain artistic licence involved in writing a song about a battle. Even so this is probably the best chapter in the book with some discussion of the movements of the two armies and a follow up chapter which debates the location of the battle. Sadly though there is only one small map of the battle, hidden among the text that shows very few details.

Some other reviewers have marked this book down because it portrays Richard III in a bad light. To be honest this really didn't bother me as Chris Skidmore makes no moral judgements on the man but lets the facts speak for themselves. Its hard to get around the fact that he became king only after conveniently disposing of his young nephews. Nor can you blame his image entirely on the Tudors as many Yorkist supporters rebelled against him at the time, suggesting he was a really unpopular king. Isn't is possible that he could have been brave AND ruthless, hunchbacked AND a skilled warrior?

Overall then I was less than impressed by this account of the Battle of Bosworth. I could have learned a lot more by reading the Osprey Campaign book on the battle, without the unnecessary preamble. The writing style is fairly dull and uninspiring and there is little attempt to describe the people, only the events that take place. Contrary to the cover quotation from Literary Review I would describe it as "Far From Thrilling".
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5.0 out of 5 stars who wrote a great play, but there is so much more to ..., 24 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Bosworth: The Birth of the Tudors (Paperback)
Why has this story never been told as a movie, or TV series, rather than just an interminable rehash of the Shakespeare plays. The real story is full of plot twists, wealth of characters, political intrigue, international maneuvering and of course, the murders. This is not to denigrate Shakespeare, who wrote a great play, but there is so much more to the story, which holds your interest, even when you know how it is going to end. There is a lot of detail to plough through and all of this was a long time ago, but it is better than most TV soaps and series such as 'Dallas'. You can draw your own conclusions on the motives of the main characters, but looking at the actions of people through a 500 year long lens is difficult, however, a lot can be revealed by the comments and diary entries of the on-lookers who were there at the time.

I have read other books on this subject, but have been impressed by the depth and impartiality of this title.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wars of the Roses...explained, 23 July 2013
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such well written history....with a superb family tree.....this really is the basics to Bosworth and the fight for the throne...NEVER forgetting the influence that Henry Tudor's mother had in the whole affair......it comes down to choosing between the userper, Henry and the Plantagenant, Richard.....unless you come from York...then there is no choice....Henry was the murderer! The book is so up to date with detail...even the King in the Car Park is addressed...not bad for a "very good to read" history book!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The end of the Plantagenets, the bloodsoaked start of the Tudor reign., 13 Dec. 2013
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D. C. Stolk (The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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The Battle of Bosworth took place on the morning of 22 August 1485 at Bosworth Field in Leicestershire, England, and was the most famous battle of the Wars of the Roses. These wars were fought between 1455 and 1487, when some of the bloodiest battles on England's soil took place as the noble houses of Lancaster and York battled each other in "a game of thrones" for the crown of England, in a civil war that would later became known as The Wars of the Roses. At Bosworth, (Yorkist) King Richard III's army faced the forces of the pretender to the crown, (Lancastrian) Henry Tudor, who had just returned after fourteen years in exile.

"Bosworth: The Birth Of The Tudors" by Chris Skidmore is a fascinating history of "what it all was about", and how the Tudors ended up ruling England. It starts as Henry Tudor first sets foot on English soil after his exile, bringing with him an army to support his grab for the throne.
"Bosworth" has recently been getting headlines in the newspapers again, because of the finding of King Richard III's grave in 2012; Richard III was the last king of England to die in battle. His remains, long thought lost, had been uncovered beneath a car park in Leicester. Early 2013, it was officially confirmed through DNA-testing that the skeleton found was that of Richard III.

Skidmore tells in vivid detail how two families ended up facing each other in battle at Bosworth in a fight to the death for the crown: the Plantagenets and the Tudors.
The narrative is divided in four parts:
- "Beginnings" recounts how the Tudor family ended up being able to, on somewhat shaky grounds, make a claim for the crown of England. And how Henry Tudor was involved in a rebellion against Richard, making him return after fourteen years of exile at the head of an army.
- "Ascent" recounts how Richard came to the throne after his brother King Edward IV's death. King Richard III was the uncle of the "princes in the tower", the heirs to the throne after the death of their father. The shenanigans started when uncle Richard escorted the twelve year old King Edward V to lodgings in the Tower of London, where he was joined by his ten year old brother Richard. Through dubious proceedings, their father's marriage to their mother Elizabeth Woodville was declared invalid, making their children illegitimate and ineligible for the throne. This made their uncle King Richard III. The young princes disappeared, and a number of accusations circulated that the boys had been murdered on Richard's orders, giving rise to the legend of the Princes in the Tower, one of the most fascinating murder mysteries in English history and which historians are still arguing about to this day.
- "This our enterprise" recounts the prelude to and the battle itself at Bosworth Field in Leicestershire, where the two families ultimately clashed and faced each other in the persons of King Richard III and Henry Tudor.
- "Aftermath" recounts how Henry Tudor became King Henry VII. After winning his crown in battle he was successful in restoring the power and stability of the English monarchy after the political upheavals of the Wars of the Roses and became founder of the Tudor dynasty, bringing the Tudor family from obscure Welsh gentry to the throne of England.
The book ends with a (short) postscript about the rediscovery of Richard III's grave.

A bit of background:
Richard III (2 October 1452 - 22 August 1485) was King of England for two years, from 1483 until his death in 1485 in the Battle of Bosworth Field and the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty.
Henry VII (28 January 1457 - 21 April 1509) was King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor.
The Plantagenets ruled over England through eight generations of kings, the best known of them being King Richard "the Lionheart", who faced Saladin during the struggle for Jerusalem in the Third Crusade, and his brother King John "Lackland" (the "bad guy" of many Robin Hood-movies). King John's most enduring legacy was being humbled in 1215 over Magna Carta.
The Tudors are, if possible, an even more notorious royal family, the best known of them being Henry VIII and his six (in)famous wives, most of whom did not survive their marriage, and his daughter "Virgin Queen" Elizabeth I who faced the might of the Spanish Armada (and was fondly nicknamed "Queen Bess" by her subjects).

So why not five stars? Well, with just a scanty three maps, the narrative of the book would have benefited from more maps, especially for the battle-part. Skidmore also tends to be a bit rambling at times, which detracts from the story he is trying to tell. Also, he does not footnote his quotes but ends his book with an bibliographic essay, in which he references for each chapter the books that were used. A curious choice for a professional historian. And the part after Bosworth seems a bit rushed, as if the writer had to finish the book in a hurry to get it published in time to benefit from the headlines in the papers about finding King Richard III's body. This section of the book would have benefited if he had expanded it a bit more.

If you're interested in more history about these two royal dynasties, check out "The Plantagenets" by Dan Jones and "Tudor: The Family History" by Leanda de Lisle. For more about the War of The Roses, I recommend "Lancaster And York: The Wars Of The Roses" by Alison Weir. A more focused look at the Battle of Bosworth itself is to be found in "Richard III And The Bosworth Campaign" by Peter Hammond.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and well researched, 15 Sept. 2014
This review is from: Bosworth: The Birth of the Tudors (Paperback)
I didn't really know what to expect when I ordered the book and now, having finishes it then I can't praise it enough.

The book is evidently well written and very well researched and gives an insight into a topic which is very much a news item of late. The book not only helps paint a vivid and factual picture, it helps explain why Bosworth actually came about.

The only slight critism I have is that sometimes you can get lost with all the historical names and unfortunately the book is quite heavy on this. However, don't let this detract you from what is an informative and interesting book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good update, 24 Aug. 2013
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As someone who is interested and the period I looked forward to reading an updated account of the Bosworth Campaign.
Skidmore has an informative but easy to read style of writing and the book kept me absorbed throughout.
One or two errors made me think it was a bit rushed in publication in order to capitalise on current interest in the period but I would recommend the book to anyone who wants a good easy to read story of Henry Tudor's surprise victory in 1485.
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Bosworth: The Birth of the Tudors
Bosworth: The Birth of the Tudors by Chris Skidmore (Paperback - 5 Jun. 2014)
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