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The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses and the Rise of the Tudors Hardcover – 4 Sep 2014

4.4 out of 5 stars 172 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; 1st Edition edition (4 Sept. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571288073
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571288076
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3.8 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (172 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 135,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


The Hollow Crown is exhilarating, epic, blood-and-roses history ... Jones's material is thrilling ... There is fine scholarly intuition on display here and a mastery of the grand narrative; it is a supremely skilful piece of storytelling. (Jessie Childs Sunday Telegraph)

Dan Jones's fine new history [...] locates the conflict not in the tedious familiarity of modern power plays, but in the fascinating strangeness of the attitudes and belief systems of that distant age: a world in which piety and politics converged, and where the outcome of war was nothing less than the manifestation of divine judgement. [...] Tautly structured, elegantly written and finely attuned to the values and sensibilities of the age, The Hollow Crown is probably the best introduction to the Wars of the Roses currently in print. (John Adamson Mail on Sunday 2014-09-14)

[Jones] is an extraordinary storyteller whose scene-setting is intensely visual and whose characters spring from the page. He has a gift for an arresting turn of phrase [...] and [...] highlights engaging details: that coronation rituals often bred head lice, and that Henry VI was shocked by, and abhorred, nakedness. Finally, he is comically wry [...] . This is narrative history at its most brilliant. [...] A Milanese ambassador in 1471 likened the task of describing the ever-changing nature of events in England to suffering torture. With history in such skilful hands as these, reading about them is anything but. (Suzannah Lipscomb The New Statesman 2014-10-24)

Henry VI was a born saint - and that was just the problem as Dan Jones shows in this racy and vigorous new narrative history. Picking up where he left off at the end of his acclaimed The Plantagenets with Henry VI's father, the incomparable warrior-king Henry V, Jones shows that a successful medieval king needed to rule strongly (but not tyrannically), father plenty of healthy sons and keep defeating the French (Christopher Hart Sunday Times)

...the gloriously resonant title title of Dan Jones's brilliant account of the Wars of the Roses - The Hollow Crown - conjures up Shakespeare's influence not just on our language but on the ways in which we think about our past ... Jones is a born storyteller, peopling the terrifying uncertainties of each moment with a superbly drawn cast of characters and powerfully evoking the brutal realities of civil war. With gripping urgency he shows this calamitous conflict unfold. (Helen Castor Evening Standard)

Jones, though a young man, is a traditional narrative historian in the mould of Starkey, Taylor and Trevelyan. In other words, he tells a good story. That is a good thing, since storytelling has gone out of favour among so many historians. (Gerard DeGroot The Times)

If you're a fan of Game of Thrones or The Tudors, then Dan Jones's swashbucklingly entertaining slice of late medieval history will be right up your alley. Exploring the world of the War of the Roses with a near-novelistic degree of pace and intrigue, while always remaining scholarly and insightful, The Hollow Crown is every bit as entertaining and readable as Jones's previous history blockbuster, The Plantagenets... a work of popular history that has as many cliffhanging moments of surprise and suspense as any TV miniseries, and is every bit as entertaining. (Alex Larman Daily Express)

Jones navigates the violence and treacheries that follow in such vivid prose that everything, even a non-battle, seems incredibly dramatic and exciting ... Fast-moving, witty and humane, The Hollow Crown is narrative history at its best. (Leanda De Lisle Literary Review)

[Jones'] greatest skill as a historical writer is to somehow render sprawling, messy epochs such as this one into manageable, easily digestible matter; he is keenly attuned to what should be served up and what should be omitted. It makes for an engrossing read and a thoroughly enjoyable introduction to the Lancastrian-Yorkist struggle. (Sean McGlynn The Spectator 2014-09-13)

Book Description

The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses and the Rise of the Tudors, from Dan Jones - the celebrated author of The Plantagenets - is an exciting, fast-paced history of the Wars of the Roses.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The Hollow Crown" follows Dan Jones' earlier work "The Plantagenets" and charts the implosion of England's longest reigning dynasty and the subsequent rise of the Tudors. This is narrative history at its best; a fast paced, well told story which immediately engages and entertains the reader. Academics, however, will be disappointed by the lack of analysis. Even to an amateur, the bias which Jones places in favour of the Lancastrians and their Tudor supporters is clearly evident.

He begins his story with the magnificent reign of Henry V whose territorial gains in France had done much to secure the Lancastrian grip on the English throne by pleasing the ambitions of the powerful nobility. By taking this as his premise, Jones seems to imply that the Lancastrians were the rightful kings of England which, of course, they were not. Henry V's father, Henry Bolingbroke, had led a rebellion against Richard II. In the euphoria which followed the deposition of this most unpopular king, the rules of primogeniture were conveniently ignored and Bolingbroke had himself crowned Henry IV. The Lancastrians were usurpers.

Jones almost falls into the trap of attributing the origins of the Wars of the Roses to the chaotic reign of Henry VI who seems to have been the most amiable of men but sadly lacked his father's ability to control England's powerful warlords. No doubt Henry was a catalyst but one must skip back three generations to fully understand the rival claims to the throne made by the houses of Lancaster and York. Edward III was unusual for a medieval king in that he lived to a ripe old age and fathered a large brood of children who survived into adulthood. The Wars of the Roses were little more than a family feud which arose from the squabbling between his many descendants.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This is a popular narrative re-telling of fifteenth-century English history from Henry V to the rise of Henry VIII. Jones gives a lively edge to his story and keeps the complications of the period mostly comprehensible – though there are a lot of families and titles mentioned here. It is a story rather than analysis and forgoes scholarly approaches for narrative ease. In that sense, this is good for general readers rather than students of the period.

Jones’ take is that the strife known as the War of the Roses was caused not by dynastic rivalry between the Yorkist and Lancastrian factions so much as a response to the systemic stress of a weak and ineffectual king in Henry VI – though he really only floats this idea in the brief epilogue. I’m not sure causes can be separated or isolated in such a neat way but that’s a minor niggle.

Stylistically, this is an easy read – and Jones is not one to fear the well-worn historical cliché: tables ‘groan’ with food, soldiers are ‘prepared to fight to the death’ (even when they, er, don’t and are captured instead...), cavalry horses ‘strike mortal fear into the hearts of any man who saw them’, and houses ‘groan’ (just like those tables) with vast collections of art’.

So this is a good popular re-telling of a complicated period in English history: anyone who wants to understand this period of civil war and the attendant rise of the Tudor dynasty from a generalist viewpoint should enjoy this.

(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have taken delivery of 4 new books lately, and somehow this one magically jumped to the top of the pile. How glad I am that it did. Dan Jones has proved once again that with the right blend of considerable scholarship and first class pacy writing, history can be made totally accessible, enjoyable and as good to read as fiction. This is a great skill.

By taking the start point of his examination of the decline and fall of the Plantagenets and the rise of the Tudors as 1420 when Henry V, victor of Agincourt, married the French princess Catherine Valois, daughter of their mad king Charles VI, the author has placed the ensuing decades of turmoil in their proper context. The 5th Henry was an exemplary medieval king, skilled in managing both peace and war, but his too early death (from illness, rather than on the battlefield) was the catalyst for a century or more of strife. Henry and Catherine's infant son, Henry VI, came to the English throne on his fathers death, and whilst initially problems arose from his long minority, the most serious were saved for his actual reign: disastrously, the mental illness possibly inherited from his French grandfather manifested itself and increasingly paralysed government at a time when royal authority underpinned all. There were power vacuums aplenty, but it is also clear that many of the nobility laboured to maintain the status quo by supporting their feeble monarch.

The full cast of players is here: Henry V1 and Margaret of Anjou, Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, Richard III and Anne Neville, Henry Tudor and Elizabeth of York, Margaret Beaufort and Margaret de la Pole, all intertwined with the numerous powerful families and their affinities whose fortunes ebb and flow in the maelstrom of royal succession and favour.
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