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4.7 out of 5 stars

VINE VOICEon 3 January 2010
Margaret of York (1446 - 1503) was a daughter of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville and sister to the Kings Edward IV and Richard III. In 1468 she became the third wife of Charles the Bold, the Duke of Burgundy. The marriage remained childless, but Margaret very quickly became a respected and loved Duchess, standing in for her husband. Most importantly she became very close to her step-daughter and the heiress to the duchy, Mary of Burgundy. When Charles died in battle in 1477 it was Margaret who acted decisively and ensured the swift accession of her inexperienced step-daughter, managed her marriage to Maximilian of Austria, later to be Emperor, and thereby ensured the survival of the Burgundian state in-spite of the onslaught of the King of France. The Burgundian state became part of the Habsburg Empire. Margaret was a great help and support for the Mary and her husband, even after Mary had died in 1482. She supported the policies of Maximilian and his heir Duke Philip.

Her connection with England remained intact and she had to experience the downfall of the York dynasty. She backed both Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, who tried to overthrow Henry VII Tudor, who was married to her niece Elisabeth.

Margaret was a great survivor - she survived the war of the Roses, the last of the House of York, she survived the catastrophic death of the husband, the last of the Great Dukes of the West. She ensured that Burgundy did survive. Christine Weightman presents an interesting, substantial and sympathetic biography of a remarkable woman. It is not an easy read. It is a bit scholarly. It is not written in popular style. Christine Weightman puts her life into perspective, but never looses track of Margret and the impact events had on her. Margaret appears as an immensely political duchess, not merely as a duchess-consort. Her relationship with her husband remains however a bit shadowy. It was not a love relationship, but properly one of respectful convenience. After his death she did not mourn beyond the expected, but acted for her step-daughter. Most interesting are the chapters on her support of the pretenders fighting Henry VII. Here is becomes clear that the support was linked to the political lines of the rulers of Burgundy. However some more in-depth study of the Warbeck episode is needed. Here some gaps exist.

All in all, it is book I enjoyed.
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VINE VOICEon 9 May 2014
'Margaret of York' is a carefully researched, well written and very readable work by Christine Weightman. First published in 1989, this edition was published in 2009. There are seven chapters, namely: 1: The Marriage of the century. 2: Daughter of York. 3: The Duchess of Burgundy. 4: 1477. 5: Madame La Grande. 6: 'This Diabolical Duchess'. 7: Bibliophile and Reformer. There's also a prologue and an epilogue. Numerous illustrations, a map and genealogical tables are also included along with notes, list of abbreviations, bibliography, notes and index.

Margaret of York (1446-1503) was the sister of two kings of England: Edward IV and Richard III and the wife of Charles the Bold (1433-1477), Duke of Burgundy, whom she married in 1468 and was aged 31 when he was killed in battle in 1477. Committed to the Yorkist cause, Margaret conspired to undermine and bring about the downfall of Henry VII, the first Tudor monarch of England. This work is all about how she both unsuccessfully contrived to do this and, at the same time, work towards preserving the integrity of the Duchy of Burgundy.

Although the book reads like a well written novel, it's much better than that because it's based on carefully researched facts, which makes it of interest to both to novel enthusiasts and historians. Those who like reading about strong women from the Middle Ages will find it particularly interesting. One cannot help feeling that Margaret would have made a good Queen Regnant of England. Her brothers Edward IV and Richard III were, in many ways, both more likeable than Henry VII and she had the potential of being an even better ruler than any of them. Read and enjoy.
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on 28 May 2015
Thorough and well written. Margaret of York is an overlooked player in the complex relationship between the great European powers in the late mediaeval period. If you ever wondered who funded Simnel and Warbeck or if you have ever asked what was the deposed Edward IV up to when he fled Enland, here is your answer. But it is so much more: a definitive account, founded on years on research of a political and indomitable woman.

As a generalist, rather than academic reader, I found it completely absorbing. I can't imagine that another historian will feel the need to write the life of Margaret of York for some time to come.
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on 8 May 2016
Excellent detailed and fascinating account of the life of Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy and sister to Richard III and Edward IV, who was an intelligent and formidable woman in her own right. Well researched and with a great deal more detail than anything else I have read about her.
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on 3 March 2018
In depth assessment full of historical facts. Item arrived before estimated delivery.
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on 3 January 2012
Margaret of York was the daughter of sometime heir to the English crown (father, Richard Duke of York), sister to two kings (Edward IV and Richard III), aunt to the first Tudor Queen (Elizabeth of York), pariah to the first Tudor king (Henry VII) and yet is virtually unknown today. This reissue, I think, will go a long way in correcting this curious oversight. Margaret was a royal princess at the time of her marriage to the rather eccentric Charles the Bold (or Rash) of Burgundy, whose wealthy, culturally influential province was on the northern border of modern day France. Although she never had any children of her own she formed a devotion to Burgundy and its young heiress, Mary of Burgundy, that is truly an exceptional for its depth of affection and continual effort to nurture and guide and protect her step-daughter.

This is such a fine biography that it can be read on a number of levels, where Margaret's life is a window into the politics of the late medieval period; as a fully realised patron of the arts and books in particular; as a iron-willed protectress to Mary and then to Mary's young children; and finally, as a relentless opponent to the usurping Henry Tudor. By extension Margaret was as involved in the "war of the roses" as if she were leading armies herself; Henry VII had no more single-minded, competent, staunch and tireless enemy than the dowager duchess of Burgundy. Others may have won the crown for Henry at Bosworth but once king he trusted only his mother, and together it was all they could do to counter the equally resolute force that was Margaret of York.

This is not a difficult read, although it could well have been. Weightman's tone is calming and assured, much the way a conductor is even when guiding her orchestra through a wildly emotional piece of music. She is well aware of the intricacies of the politics of the late 1400's, the unfamiliarity of many of the names, issues, hereditary feuds and simple twists of fate that beset her whole family and its times. But Weightman procedes through her material with what can only be called a kind of gracefulness, exhibiting Margaret as the prima ballerina of court and dynastic politics, as she moved through a brutal world dominated by men who were staggeringly duplicitous and ruthless, and with determination and aplomb. Margaret never lost a sense of her own dignity and even when limited by resources, from time to time, was always able to best the men who attempted to diminish her and control her life.

At a time when women - in any aspect of power - were and are usually overlooked Weightman has found so much material to provide a tangible background for Margaret that she becomes a living breathing entity despite the centuries between us and this woman. If Virtue is its own reward then Margaret of York, duchess of Burgundy, was wealthy indeed. This is such a fine example of what writing should be, not to mention the art of biography. If I could somehow persuade this author to take on Margaret's diverse trio of brothers, Edward, George and Richard, I certainly would, on bended knee and begging. It's a irony that Margaret,their sister, has done so much better with her biographer than all of them together have done!
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on 28 May 2013
A beautifully written and well-researched book about the life of an unjustly neglected woman.Thoroughly recommended.. the title (sadly) does not do justice to the content.
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