Things were different then!
I am no historian but I found this book riveting. Seward’s idea of following the action by using 5 main characters worked for me. I thought his choice gave us as good an idea of what life was like then as is possible from this distance. He chose two noblemen (one not nobly born), one archbishop and two women – very different from each other.
I liked his style of writing about a very complex subject. The Who’s Who was useful as the principles kept getting beheaded or exiled – or simply changed sides. So their titles and lands were passed on to someone else. In addition, there was a brief chronology as well as the expected family trees.
Those were difficult times and the story was well told and mostly as clear as could be hoped for. There were extensive references, but Seward succeeded in telling the story in an interesting and timely manner.
However, it ‘s said that history is written by the victors – and I think this was a case in point. Seward relied upon for example Thomas More – a Lancastrian whose views were quite probably biased. While some of Richard III’s behaviour was undoubtedly bullying the weak, other behaviours do have reasons and these were not explored.
The other thing I missed was maps of the principal battles. I would have liked a plan of at least Towton and Bosworth – it would have been nice to have been guided in visualising the red-coated troops of the turncoat Stanleys surrounding Richard on the field of battle.
That said – I very much enjoyed the book and learned a great deal about a confusing and rather brutal 30 years of our English history. And, in fact, since this book was written we find that history is still being rewritten, especially with the finding of Richards body beneath a car park, and some doubt as to the identity of the bones of two boys the tower.
This book made me think more about Richard 111’s culpability in the disappearance of the “Princes In the Tower”, it was thoroughly researched and very easy to become engrossed in. Very worthwhile.
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