Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses
Publication date: February 2013
Digital Book format: ePub (Adobe DRM)
You save: $3.00 (10%)
To contemporaries, the Wars of the Rosesthe series of dynastic conflicts that tore apart the ruling Plantagenet family in fifteenth-century Englandwere known collectively as a cousins war.” The struggle that ultimately brought into being the Tudor dynasty was truly a domestic drama, as fraught and intimate as any family feud before or since. What set the Wars of the Roses apart, of course, was that there was a kingdom at stake.
Since the end of the fourteenth century, control of the House of Plantagenetand the vast territory it ruled in the British Isleshad been claimed by both the traditional power-holders in York, and a rival faction based in Lancaster. The noblemen on both sides shared the same blood, the result of an extraordinary population boom within the Plantagenet family earlier in the fourteenth century. By the middle of the fifteenth century, the descendants of the long-ruling King Edward III and his children (the newly established dukes of Clarence, Lancaster, York, and Gloucester) had formed a formidable pool of claimants to the throne. Some were brothers, others distant cousins, but all hungered for the kingdom to which their royal blood entitled them.The events of this turbulent time are usually described in terms of the men who fought and died seeking power: the male leads, familiar to us from Shakespeare’s history plays. Yet, as historian Sarah Gristwood explains in Blood Sisters, these men’s mothers, wives, and daughters were as decisive as their male kin. An extraordinary circle of Plantagenet women shaped the course of the conflict; they, like their husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons, were locked in a web of loyalty and betrayal that would ultimately determine the fate of England.In an epic narrative stretching from 1445 to the first decade of the sixteenth century, Gristwood traces the rise and rule of the seven critical female figures in the Wars of the Roses: Marguerite of Anjou, wife of the Lancastrian Henry VI, who ruled the kingdom in her insane husband’s stead, and whose refusal to treat with the Yorkist claimants sparked the Wars of the Roses; Cecily Neville, whose son Edward IV, the first Yorkist king, ordered the execution of his own brother in order to maintain his grip on the throne; Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV and a tormented widow who sent her daughters to make merry at the court of her brother-in-law, the successor Richard III, even in the awareness that he had murdered her sons; Anne Neville (Shakespeare’s Lady Anne”), who was passed between the different royal families as though she were a piece of property; Margaret of Burgundy, Cecily’s daughter and sister of Edward and Richard, who bitterly opposed the Lancastrians from her seat in France; Elizabeth of York, who in 1475, as the decisive Battle of Bosworth unfolded, could only await the results of a fight to the death between the man she loved, Richard III, and the man she would marry, Henry Tudor, the future Henry VII; and Henry’s mother, Margaret Beaufort, who gave up her own claim to the throne in favor of her son, a relatively distant relations of the Plantagenets, and a man who would become the first of a new line of Tudor kings.
Taken together, the stories of these fascinating women form a new narrative of the Wars of the Roses: one that reveals the true balanceand the terrible costsof power in fifteenth-century England. A stunning retelling of this epic contest, Blood Sisters unveils the cunning and courage of the women who created a new English dynasty.