Customer Reviews


128 Reviews
5 star:
 (76)
4 star:
 (25)
3 star:
 (18)
2 star:
 (4)
1 star:
 (5)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard III - back to the future!
John Ashdown-Hill has done it again to follow up his excellent and intriguing book, Eleanor the secret Queen. This time he does what all good historians should do - take you to the appropriate moment and examine the subject, having tried to forget the future. Following the example of Micheal Jones, who tries to portray Richard as a proactive king rather than the reactive...
Published on 31 July 2010 by Charles

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't work for me
Unfortunately, this book did not work for me. I was swayed by the other reviews to buy the Kindle edition as a 'new' Rickardian, and had enjoyed the two television programmes, so thought it would be better than I found it. As a lecture on medieval life and customs, it probably fits the bill, but to learn more about Richard 111, it did not. There seemed to be a lot of...
Published 19 months ago by D. Digital


‹ Previous | 1 213 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard III - back to the future!, 31 July 2010
John Ashdown-Hill has done it again to follow up his excellent and intriguing book, Eleanor the secret Queen. This time he does what all good historians should do - take you to the appropriate moment and examine the subject, having tried to forget the future. Following the example of Micheal Jones, who tries to portray Richard as a proactive king rather than the reactive monarch of Shakespeare, Ashdown Hill's Richard becomes quite different. His day to day rituals and acts of routine piety are related in detail and the fact that Richard went hunting a few days before Bosworth; not the action of a nervous underconfident King. As a Dr I was very much persuaded by his conjecture that Richard may have been ill before Bosworth, accounting for his possible nightmares. We all have apprehensions before a big day but Richard's possible dreams sound much more like a pyrexia than just nerves. Did he suffer from the contemporary sweating sickness? Was he ill on the morning of Bosworth and was he overkeen to get the thing over with? Ashdown-Hill is also much kinder to Henry; Henry's treatment of Richard was in fact straightforward and proper (being killed in battle was after all unique for a post Norman King!)Richard's body was slung over the back of a horse; how else would you do it? Henry did not pre-date his reign from 21st August. He then goes on a hunt for Richard's mitochondial DNA following this with the possibility that Richard's remains could still exist. If so Richard could be identified positively and so many answers, his height, his deformity or lack of it, his mode of death could be established. Ashdown-Hill's scholarship combined with a vision of revelation make this another tasty meal for those who wish to set the Historical record of Richard III straight.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting perspective, 15 Aug. 2010
By 
I confess an interest in Richard III and have read fairly extensively around the fifteenth century so I approached this fairly short book not expecting to find much new within. I have to say however the narrative style was very clear and the whole concept of taking the king through his last months and beyond into the whole debate of where his body is and who exists today as distant relatives provided a new angle on a much written about king. The illustrations are refreshingly different from the usual and the book is attractive overall. I thought there was little more to say on his short period as monarch, it just shows how you can be wrong! The book is well suited for the lover of medieval history or those who have read on Richard III previously. Very enjoyable.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A new angle, 4 July 2010
By 
C. Aitken (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book was interesting for filling in some gaps about Richard's activities before his death, but most interesting of all was the discussion of the current state of play re DNA research into these last Plantagenets and their modern descendants. I did not think I would have found this section as interesting as it was. The discussion of the fate of Richard's tomb was illuminating and his theory that Henry Tudor built something more up-market in response to the Warbeck threat is an interesting one. Despite this I confess that, like strawberries, it left an unsatisfied feeling behind, something there should have been (like cream), but wasn't, and I can't put my finger on what it is! Nevertheless, essential reading for any Ricardian, and certainly not the sort of book which the anti-Richards can scream bias about!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An important Ricardian book., 26 Oct. 2010
By 
K. J. Greenland "kevinthegerbil" (Cardiff, Wales) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Forget Tudor history, which is what I've been overdosing on over the past few years. Richard III is where it's at! My knowledge of this period is pitiful to say the least but has never been based on the one-sided, two-dimensional rubbish you are fed on in primary school.

John Ashdown-Hill writes of Richard's last 150 days refreshingly without hindsight, of a religious man who believed in his right to be king, a man who was confident of victory against Henry Tudor and a man looking to the future after the recent deaths of his son and wife. The initial eight chapters covering the last 150 days are compulsory reading for both novices and those well read in Ricardian history.

The remainder discusses the whereabouts of Richard's body, tracing Richard's DNA to the present to aid this. Where is Richard buried is of course still an important unanswered question, but I did find this chapter a little too detailed and scientific for my liking.

Thank you John. You have helped me escape the Tudors!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't work for me, 4 Aug. 2013
By 
D. Digital (Buckinghamshire) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Last Days of Richard III and the fate of his DNA: The Book that Inspired the Dig (Kindle Edition)
Unfortunately, this book did not work for me. I was swayed by the other reviews to buy the Kindle edition as a 'new' Rickardian, and had enjoyed the two television programmes, so thought it would be better than I found it. As a lecture on medieval life and customs, it probably fits the bill, but to learn more about Richard 111, it did not. There seemed to be a lot of academic padding, with long tangential passages, eg:. Henry Tudor has landed at Milford Haven, Richard goes hunting at Nottingham - there are pages about how the hunting reserve was created, who created it; did Richard go hawking, what are the best birds for hawking etc. Not what I really wanted to know, given the drama of the situation. On the day of Bosworth, the author agonises over whether Richard had breakfast before Mass, what he had for breakfast, or indeed, did he actually have Mass at all. Christian festivals are described in detail, and the author at times quite waspishly dismisses other historians' accounts of Richard's last days as 'nonsense'; this isn't what I wanted to know at this particular time. The second part of the book goes into minute detail about the lives of Richard's descendants - people I don't actually have any interest in - so I'm afraid the book didn't really work for me. I hope Philippa Langley's book will be a better read when it is published.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars new information, 14 Aug. 2011
By 
This book has given me new information. Although I have read a couple of books on the to me immensely interesting King Richard III I hadn't come across such a detailed account of the treatment of his body after the battle. Very illuminating that this seems to have been no vicious or vindictive maltreatment but rather the best of what could have been expected in those circumstances, when both parties didn't know beforehand how the day would end.
I was also not aware of the custom that at Easter the king was expected to wash the feet of the same number of poor men as his age at the time. Was this always done, even by old kings like Edward III, fat kings like Edward IV or mentally unstable kings like Henry VI? And what about minors like Richard II or [again] Henry VI?
It is understandable but a pity nonetheless that the chances of royal graves ever getting opened for modern research are virtually non-existent. Also the digging up of the built-over parts of the Greyfriars church, where the body of the king might still be lying is extremely unlikely in any near future. We would all like a thorough examination of his remains, in order to determine on the one hand if he was in any way misshapen and on the other hand how he exactly was killed.
I have to resign myself to the fact I will never know.
This book is recommended reading for those who are interested in King Richard and his time.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reaches the areas others haven't reached, 2 May 2014
This review is from: The Last Days of Richard III and the fate of his DNA: The Book that Inspired the Dig (Kindle Edition)
John Ashdown-Hill poses a question that should be an obvious one, but for the fact that none of the historians or novelists I have read on Richard III have actually tackled. He tries to piece together, from recorded evidence, what Richard was actually doing and planning to do in the future in the months before Bosworth. Of course he didn't know that battle would take place at all and, even if he suspected that he would have to fight Tudor at some time he couldn't know when, nor could he foresee the outcome. There's plenty of evidence to suggest that contemporaries expected any such struggle to be a successful one for Richard, given his proven prowess on the battlefield and the shakiness of Henry Tudor's claim to the throne. Richard was just short of his 33rd birthday on 22nd August 1485 and could easily expect another 20 years of life if not more, so plans for the future must necessarily involve the provision of a new successor to replace his deceased son and for this he needed to replace Anne Neville, his deceased wife. This is fairly common ground, though many writers, including most recently Philippa Gregory, seem to think his chosen replacement was his own niece, Elizabeth of York.
Niece she was even if illegitimate according to his own Act of Titulus Regius of 1484. Such degree of kinship would certainly require a papal dispensation which wouldn't have been an easy matter. The very idea was shocking to contemporaries - and indeed monstrous. If he did it he would put himself into the category of Roman Emperor Claudius, who married his niece Agrippina for political reasons. Indeed it would be worse than that instance because Richard was clearly intending marriage to provide legitimate heirs of his own body, so he was definitely intending e sexual relationship. The suggestion was obviously made at the time and denied by Richard for the obvious reason that it wasn't true. Hill points out that a dual Lancaster-York marriage was on the cards with himself to marry a princess of Portugal and Elizabeth the Portuguese prince who later became King Manoel of Portugal. He thus lays this last bit of Tudor agitprop to rest - and not before time!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Last Days of Richard III..a review by Hugh Loxdale, 12 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A great read and extremely well-researched by an expert historian and genealogist. The author's finding and contact of a living relative of Richard III's sister, Anne of York (1439-76) - 17 generations in the female line, is a splendid achievement. So is the discovery of Richard's body below the famous car park in Leicester and the University of Leicester's excellent work, thanks largely to Dr. John Ashdown-Hill's tracing of living descendants who could provide mitochondrial DNA samples, which is also quite astonishing. Surely one of the great archaeological/genealogical triumphs of the 21st century, certainly in the UK.

As for the personality of Richard, it is still hard to gauge the man. Dr Ashdown Hill takes a sympathetic view and says the facts are still uncertain and we still do not know who ordered the killing of the Princes in the Tower. Even so, there can be little doubt that Richard was a driven and ambitious man who took his main chance and usurped the throne and by so doing, even if not directly responsible for the murders, brought about the Princes' early and tragic demise. Sure Richard was brave....but also slightly crazy to charge off as he did at Bosworth field, thereby ensuring his own early demise at 32 years of age and his replacement as King by Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, later Henry VII. Whatever the truth about Richard's act of usurpation, the fact that Richard was legitimate and the Princes illegitimate, according to the logic of the times, is all a load of (white) hog wash....if I can be allowed to use the expression. In the end, did it really matter who was sitting on the throne, so long as they ruled wisely and fairly and abided by the laws of the land. After all, Prince Edward, Edward V as he briefly became, was the King's son and alas, became a victim of inter-family feuding, rivalry and power-lust. He may well have done a very fine job as king...had he been given the chance and not been robbed of it by his wicked uncle. You only have to look at the Royal Pedigree in J.H. Plumb's 'The Plantaganets' to see how weak family affections were, many of the players being murdered in cold blood by their own kith and kin. So much for ideas of Hamiltonian kin selection....that is, selection in favour of one's nearest and dearest because they share very many genes in common with you! On the contrary, having such close genetic affinity was often a one-way ticket leading to early extirpation, however innocent you were of any rivalry or pretensions with regard to replacing the ruling person and dynasty.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars but was severely disappointed. Throwing in useless tidbits of information which may ..., 14 Oct. 2014
I bought the book expecting to be enthralled, captivated and enlightened such I have have with authors such as Ian Mortimer, Marc Morris, Juliet Barker etc, but was severely disappointed. Throwing in useless tidbits of information which may or may not have happened, the author is unashamedly a Richard III apologist who can find no fault with the man and simply slates and demonises the Woodvilles, his nephews and anyone else who disagreed with Richards decisions, with little or no evidence to back them up. And for some reason The Duke of Norfolk seems to be mentioned at any opportunity without any context. If you want a history book with a fair and balanced view, read something else.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simply Great, 2 Jan. 2012
By 
Mrs. D. J. Smith "eowyngreenleaf" (Luton, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This is only a fairly short book with a limited focus, but nevertheless I found it very interesting. It's odd really, because opinion on the subject tends to be so polarised that it's easy to lose sight of a few simple facts and some of what Ashdown-Hill presents here should really be so obvious! For starters, for all the association of Bosworth with Richard III he didn't know it was going to happen and obviously didn't go in 'knowing' that he was going to be defeated - hindsight may be a great thing, but not if you want to look at historical events in context!

The Portuguese marriage proposals was something that I did know about, but here it's presented so logically it makes absolute sense. The chosen bride was a princes of Portugal, with a Spanish Infanta also in the playing as a reserve option. Both of these princesses were descended from the legitimate and senior branch of the House of Lancaster! Furthermore, it seems that a Portuguese marriage was also in the offing for Elizabeth of York. That being so, the letter supposedly written by her (reported by Buck, but now seemingly lost) makes more sense as does the confusion over Richard II wanting to marry Elizabeth, his niece, which never made any real sort of sense as, if we accept the truth of the Eleanor Butler pre-contract, then the children of Edward IV by Elizabeth Woodville were undoubtedly illegitimate, so there would be absolutely no point in Richard marrying her. On the other hand, Elizabeth and her sisters were the closest things available to Royal Princesses to be traded on the dynastic marriage market.

Like other books by the same author, this one is worth a read. I was also very much interested in the DNA analysis and the supposition of the grave site. It rather made me want to call in Time Team and go and dig up that car park myself!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 213 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Only search this product's reviews