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Customer Review

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dark, legendary story, 24 May 2008
This review is from: A Pride of Bastards: A History of the Beaufort Family, Their Origins and Their Part in the Agincourt War and the Wars of the Roses (Paperback)
If there's such a thing as a cult/indie history book, then Geoffrey Richardson has nailed it with 'A Pride of Bastards'. The book tells the story of the illegitimate Beaufort dynasty, beginning with the legendary romance of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford, the lives of their four influential children and their progeny down to Margaret Beaufort - the mother of King Henry VII. The unstoppable rise of the Beauforts is marred by a constant stream of violence, tragedy and sudden death - so much so that is reads in many ways like a bloody Norse saga, and Richards' enthusiasm for the period is highly infectious. I disagree with some of the criticism over the bias of this book. Although they were no worse than many other clans of their time, and acted wisely and successfully, I believe the Beauforts were bastards in all senses of the word, and Richardson's black judgement of their tidings adds inspiration to a story that could easily become remote. As the previous reviews show, readers are not so naive that they cannot distinguish the written history, backed up by evidence, from the authors opinion of it, which serves to spice up the story.

Richardson is right to place supreme importance on the Beauforts, whose actions served as the deciding factor in the battle between York and Lancaster. Richardson clearly understands the paradox of their illegitimate status - to be children of the crown but debarred from it, and the negative ways they acted out this frustration, eventually emerging as the real victors of the Wars of the Roses. Popular history has downplayed their relevance, but this book distinguishes itself in devoting itself to the Beauforts and unveiling much of their forgotten history.
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