The Last White Rose: The Secret Wars of the Tudors

Overview

A brilliant new interpretation of one of the most dramatic periods of British history: The Tudor victory and their dynasty. One of the most dramatic periods of British history, the Wars of the Roses didn't end at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. Despite the death of Richard III and Henry VII's victory, it continued underground into the following century with plots, pretenders and subterfuge by the ousted white rose faction. In a brand new interpretation of this turning point in history, well known historian ...

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The Last White Rose: The Secret Wars of the Tudors

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Overview

A brilliant new interpretation of one of the most dramatic periods of British history: The Tudor victory and their dynasty. One of the most dramatic periods of British history, the Wars of the Roses didn't end at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. Despite the death of Richard III and Henry VII's victory, it continued underground into the following century with plots, pretenders and subterfuge by the ousted white rose faction. In a brand new interpretation of this turning point in history, well known historian Desmond Seward reviews the story of the Tudors' seizure of the throne and shows that for many years they were far from secure. He challenges the way we look at the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII, explaining why there were so many Yorkist pretenders and conspiracies, and why the new dynasty had such difficulty establishing itself. King Richard's nephews, the Earl of Warwick and the little known de la Pole brothers, all had the support of dangerous enemies overseas, while England was split when the lowly Perkin Warbeck skilfully impersonated one of the princes in the tower in order to claim the right to the throne. Warwick's surviving sister Margaret also became the desperate focus of hopes that the White Rose would be reborn. The book also offers a new perspective on why Henry VIII, constantly threatened by treachery, real or imagined, and desperate to secure his power with a male heir, became a tyrant.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
01/13/2014
British historian Seward’s long-awaited sequel to his critically acclaimed 1995 history of late medieval England, The Wars of the Roses and the Lives of Five Men and Women in the Fifteenth Century, is an intriguing addition to the growing body of revisionist Tudor history. Contrary to popular belief, the Wars of the Roses did not end after Henry Tudor defeated Richard III in 1485 and unified the Houses of York and Plantagenet by marrying Elizabeth of York. Seward argues that there was great insecurity, fear, and even paranoia behind the Tudor façade of stability, magnificence, and power. Throughout their reigns, both Henry VII and Henry VIII had to contend regularly with rebellions, conspiracies, and plots hatched both internally and abroad by those who sought to rid England of a dynasty that so many regarded as having little or no legitimate claim to the throne. The policy of both monarchs—to neutralize pretenders and rival claimants to the throne by imprisonment or other means—increasingly became one of elimination on the slightest pretext, including, in Henry VIII’s later years, the execution of the elderly Margaret of Salisbury, for the crime of being the last White Rose. Seward delivers a scholarly yet engaging account of an era that continues to fascinate. (Apr.)
The Literary Review
“An entertaining and valuable exploration of the early Tudor period.”
Robert Hutchinson
“Gripping and enthralling. No writer of fiction, however imaginative, could dream up more spell binding plots than what actually happened, so skilfully recounted here.”
Jessie Childs
“The Last White Rose is history as it should be written: without hindsight or embellishment, but with erudition and a sense of immediacy that makes it a gripping and original read.”
Library Journal
04/15/2014
Henry Tudor's defeat of Richard III at Bosworth Field is commonly thought of as the end to the conflict known as the Wars of the Roses—the rivalry between the houses of Lancaster and York for the English crown. However, while the Lancastrians won the day and put the first Tudor on the throne, the roots of the white rose of the House of York proved difficult to extinguish, with figures both legitimate and false troubling Henry VII and Henry VIII throughout their reigns. The Yorkist claimants and pretenders are often relegated to smaller parts in histories of the Tudor monarchy, so a volume that focuses particularly on them and their supporters is a welcome sight. Unfortunately, though Seward's treatment of the subject is detailed, his reliance on biased sources and his tendency to present opinions and theories as fact undermine the book's worth as a whole. VERDICT Readers might find this work helpful in gaining better understanding of the tangled threads of the various Yorkist movements, but the text's overall weaknesses make this a very qualified recommendation.—Kathleen McCallister, Univ. of South Carolina, Columbia
Kirkus Reviews
2014-02-20
The Tudors have been written about ad nauseam, but historian Seward (Eugenie: The Empress and Her Empire, 2004, etc.) opens another branch of study harkening back to their beginnings at the Battle of Bosworth of 1485. The defeat of King Richard III did not eliminate all claimants to the crown. After his victory, Henry VII spent his reign ruthlessly quashing one after another. The genealogical tables at the front of Seward's book are indispensable for this and any English history, as authors must carefully refer to characters by one name only. For instance, John de la Pole, the Duke of Suffolk, and his sons, John, Earl of Lincoln, and Edmund, Earl of Suffolk, had claim to the crown, and all suffered for it. Choosing a single moniker for each character is preferred, except, of course, that Henry VII and his son, Henry VIII, tended to bestow and take away titles according to whim or worry. The paranoia of Henry VII was actually justified, as the Yorkist family had many eligible candidates, and popular support for restoring their reign was widespread. Challengers found support from Margaret of Burgundy, sister to kings Richard III and Edward IV, the French, who were always ready to stir things up, and the Irish, firmly in the Yorkist camp. By far the most interesting pretender was Richard de la Pole, who was educated at Henry VIII's expense, created a cardinal by the pope without ordination and considered as a mate for Princess Mary. Henry VIII was pathologically suspicious and saw conspiracies in every shadow, and the cream of England's aristocracy paid the price. The story of the descendants of the White Rose adds yet another black mark against the first two Tudors, as if they needed more. A fresh look at a well-worn field of study, appropriate for general readers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605985497
  • Publisher: Pegasus
  • Publication date: 4/15/2014
  • Pages: 413
  • Sales rank: 246,719
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Desmond Seward was born in Paris and educated at Cambridge. He is the author of Richard III, The Last White Rose, and The Warrior King and the Invasion of France. He lives in England.

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