Book Launch – On this Day in the Wars of the Roses

On this Day in the Wars of the Roses

This book goes beyond the births, deaths, and marriages of the 15th century. The glamour of the court and coronations is joined by plots, uprisings, and reprisals. Scientific, literary, religious, and trading developments and breakthroughs are explored. Political wrangling’s, social justice, and the legal system’s intrigues emerge in events from each day of the year. Large bloody Battles, claiming hereditary rights and campaigning feature alongside the glamour of court, the ceremony of coronations, and royal marriages’ splendour.

A unique event from each day of the year is to be found in this book. King Henry VI, Edward IV, Edward V, Richard III and Henry VII all feature. Famous Queens and Regal events are included, such as Margaret of Anjou, ‘The White Queen’ Elizabeth Woodville and Elizabeth of York.

Within the book, you will find accounts from the time of battles, betrayals, trials, executions, weddings, and invasions. Alongside these are curiosities such as the first Wool Fleet, Licences to perform Alchemy and events that pose questions:

  • Was Henry VI mad?
  • How big was ‘England’s bloodiest battle’?
  • Was Prince George executed in a vat of Malmsey Wine?
  • How did Richard Duke of Gloucester become King Richard III?
  • When were the Princes in the Tower last seen?

The era of the Wars of the Roses wasn’t just fighting. Indeed, over the period 1455 to 1487 there was only around one years worth of actual campaigning. Sieges did take place and could take some time: the longest Siege to have taken place on British or Irish solid was that of Harlech during this conflict. So, with fighting often taking a back seat, there was a lot of other things taking place at the time. Some were related to the struggle between the Yorkists, Lancastrians and lastly, Henry Tudor. These were things such as Parliamentary Acts, Attainders, Arrays and Treaties that sought to improve the lot of one party over that of another.

Politics though isn’t the only matter of interest at the time. The period saw some of the most lavish marriage ceremonies and coronations on record. It saw breakthroughs in the fields of science and literature. Society changed in many ways as the decline of the Feudal System continued and the role of the Merchant Classes and increasingly empowered Yeoman classes increased.

Economically the nation saw huge problems. These were not due to the wars but they did little to aid recovery. A Great Economic Depression accompanied a Bullion Crisis that affected the whole of Western Europe. With the economy still recovering from the long term consequences of the Black Death, there was discontent. This manifested itself in the Staplers asking for protection from foreign trade. The commons remained frustrated at the problems that beset them due to the change in supply/demand for labourers, taxation and the cost of warfare.

Rebellion and Plots were therefore reasonably regular in the 15th century. These were linked to the causes of the Wars of the Roses as the disaffected tended to look toward the isolated Yorkist Lords for support at the highest level. Though links between rebels and the likes of the Duke of York, Earl of Warwick and their supporters within the nobility are hard to ascertain, the fact that there were calls for ‘men of royal blood’ to have a greater say in decision making aroused suspicions: and those Lords were disaffected themselves.

But the On this Day book doesn’t just look at all of these national events and social/economic issues. It includes quirkier material and tackles some of the big myths. This post begins with a list of some of the better-known questions from the period. There are other issues that are perhaps not as significant, but equally interesting:

  • Why were Pomegranates a significant import?
  • Why did English sailors undertake Piracy against English vessels?
  • Why did people refuse to support King Edward IV against the Scots?
  • Did England really want to reignite the Hundred Years War in the mid-1470s?
  • Why was England asked to engage in a Holy Crusade at a time of political upheaval?

Life in cities, towns, villages and castles is touched upon in the book. It covers things that mattered to the Royals, Nobles, Gentry and Peasantry. The role women played in the struggles of the second half of the 15th century is often overlooked, yet it was they who managed estates at times of war, when the menfolk were attending Parliament, or in one case, as commander when her home or her Castle were assaulted.

Women played a pivotal role on the national stage. With the marriage of Henry Tudor and Elizabeth of York being orchestrated by their mothers, it could be argued that it was women who won the wars. So too did they have a role in causing the outbreak of war, with the Queen Consort, Margaret of Anjou, clashing regularly with Richard Duke of York and the Earl of Warwick.

My ‘On this Day in the Wars of the Roses’ book seeks to offer readers a broad and accessible insight into the lifetime and events of the period. It draws on a year’s worth of research but is written in a manner that should appeal to general readers, lovers of the medieval era and teachers of history.


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