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40 of 41 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 15 months ago by limbourg

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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars the book is okay
The book starts of well but then once we get to the death of Edward IV and the reign of Richard III, the story became bogged down in unnecessary detail. For example the writer spends a long time listing which nobles and lesser gentry lost their titles after Richard III had usurped the throne and continues to do so throughout the book. Its as if the writer is using this to...
Published 14 months ago by NK


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40 of 41 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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15 of 16 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 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
By 
D. C. Stolk (The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bosworth: The Birth of the Tudors (Kindle Edition)
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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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars the book is okay, 25 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Bosworth: The Birth of the Tudors (Kindle Edition)
The book starts of well but then once we get to the death of Edward IV and the reign of Richard III, the story became bogged down in unnecessary detail. For example the writer spends a long time listing which nobles and lesser gentry lost their titles after Richard III had usurped the throne and continues to do so throughout the book. Its as if the writer is using this to fill the spaces in the pages rather than actually continue with the story. I know lack of evidence is always a problem in this era but that does not mean you just fill the pages with unnecessary detail because you have nothing else to say. A good story teller will tell a good story, not simply list the facts.
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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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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull: A major disappointment after two earlier excellent books!, 27 July 2013
By 
Graham James "graydjames" (Leicester UK) - See all my reviews
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When I review history publications I always like to stress that I have very much an amateur interest only. Occasionally I have purchased books plainly aimed at the academic and readable they are not; mostly I have given up on these. I'm not aspiring to degree standard and I don't have the intellectual capacity to match up to your average Oxbridge First. Far be it from me, therefore, to take to task those of that class who set out to write history books of a more popular genre. There are plenty of them, especially those on the Tudor bandwagon and now, since the discovery of Richard III's body, the so called Wars of the Roses.

Nonetheless, I can say with authority that some succeed and some fail. With his books on Edward VI and the death of Amy Robsart, Chris Skidmore succeeded, on the whole, and, in the case of Edward VI, much more. I found this, his first book, fascinating. A real eye-opener, and well written.

Sad to say therefore, that I was deeply disappointed with Bosworth. I learned very little new and I found the book rambling and not terribly well written. It seemed rushed. A lot of paragraphs took some unraveling and several I gave up on. I think a good number of these difficulties were caused by misprints - some obvious some less so. Surely books should be better proofed than this. The first part is a brief history of the period leading up to Bosworth. This was adequate and I appreciate that it was not intended as a detailed analysis of that period. But it seemed to me neither one thing nor the other and I could have happily ignored this and moved on to the nub of it. Anyone wanting a good history of the whole wars should read Trevor Royle's excellent book: The Wars of the Roses. The section detailing the period from when Henry leaves France up to the battle itself I found better but the descriptions of the battle itself were a bit dull and coverage of the aftermath was utterly tedious.

There was no attempt to give a character review of Richard; the discusison on the whereabouts of the battle field at the end of the book was sprawling and very hard to follow. A map would have been a very helpful addition. The postscript on the discovery of Richard's body was understated in the extreme.

In general I just found this dull and can't find much else to say about it. A major let down, quite frankly, after his other works. Perhaps he's too busy being an MP!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bosworth Revisited, 9 July 2013
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I normally judge a book by how easy it is to put down and how easy to pick up and I must admit to keep going back to this book. At times I confess to find the detail to mind boggling and perhaps a little tedious for an easy read. However nit picking aside I did find it fascinating in it's presentation and found facts within it's pages I didn't previously know which being a medieval history buff I was surprised. Sympathies swung between protagonists and most of all I found this book thought provoking and encouraging to pursue this period of history even more. Would recommend but not for light reading!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Richard III - good or evil?, 2 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Bosworth: The Birth of the Tudors (Kindle Edition)
Actually this book doesn't set out to answer this question - it sticks to the facts and avoids getting into controversial areas. Well written, easy to read, but the Battle of Bosworth itself gets a surprisingly few pages. Very enjoyable
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spoiling the ship....., 15 Aug 2013
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At first glance the bookjacket design is excellent, but a closer look reveals knitted "chain" mail.. surely there are enough historical re-enactors to have provided the real stuff. I really enjoyed reading it, but there was much emphasis on how generous Henry VII was after the Battle and nothing about his subsequent culling of any potential rivals e.g. Clarence's son .. the third "prince in the tower" , nor his application of " Morton's Fork " to extract funds from all and sundry. It is worth a read , I don't wish to put anyone off..
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2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars, 14 July 2014
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Too much compression at beginning. Relationships could have been more clear with two/three "trees"
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