Edward IV and the Wars of the Roses

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mrs archer
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Edward IV and the Wars of the Roses

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Edward IV and the Wars of the Roses, David Santiuste, Pen & Sword Books Ltd., 2010, £19.99

This handsome hardback study of Edward IV’s military career would make a good addition to anyone's bookcase. It has 16 black & white plates, three battle maps and a family tree, and is introduced by a very useful summary of 15th century warfare and the historical sources referred to throughout. Chapter 1 discusses Edward’s early life in the context of English setbacks in France and upheavals at home from 1442 – 59, and suggests he was a militarily precocious 12-year-old who acted as a figurehead for raising troops on his father Richard of York's behalf. Chapters 2 and 3 deal with Edward’s actions following his flight from Ludford Bridge to his advent as a brave and audacious commander, the avenger of his father and brother at Mortimer’s Cross and Towton. Chapters 4 through 7 follow his career as King of England: the suppression of Lancastrian rebellions, his extraordinary marriage, growing alienation from (and subsequent ousting by) Warwick and Clarence, his exile in the Netherlands, and triumphant return to power after Barnet and Tewkesbury in 1471. The epilogue summarises Edward’s later career with particular emphasis on his 1475 expedition to France, persuasively concluding that ‘his reluctance to fight [there] has denied him a place in history as one of England’s great warrior kings.’

Altogether, this is a well-researched, cogently argued and eminently readable account. It paints a vivid picture of Edward IV as a courageous and able soldier, capable of utter ruthlessness when the occasion demanded - but also a cultured hedonist who declined to pursue military glory for its own sake, even at the cost of disappointing noble expectations and foregoing a reputation as another conqueror of France.

Further details can be found on http://www.amazon.co.uk or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk . David has also become a writer at Historytimes.com; his personal page is at http://www.historytimes.com/fresh-persp ... -santiuste.
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