The Stolen Crown: The Secret Marriage that Forever Changed the Fate of England

The Stolen Crown: The Secret Marriage that Forever Changed the Fate of England

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by Susan Higginbotham
     
 

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On May Day, 1464, six-year-old Katherine Woodville, daughter of a duchess who has married a knight of modest means, awakes to find her gorgeous older sister, Elizabeth, in the midst of a secret marriage to King Edward IV. It changes everything-for Kate and for England.

Then King Edward dies unexpectedly. Richard III, Duke of Gloucester, is named protector of

Overview

On May Day, 1464, six-year-old Katherine Woodville, daughter of a duchess who has married a knight of modest means, awakes to find her gorgeous older sister, Elizabeth, in the midst of a secret marriage to King Edward IV. It changes everything-for Kate and for England.

Then King Edward dies unexpectedly. Richard III, Duke of Gloucester, is named protector of Edward and Elizabeth's two young princes, but Richard's own ambitions for the crown interfere with his duties...

Lancastrians against Yorkists: greed, power, murder, and war. As the story unfolds through the unique perspective of Kate Woodville, it soon becomes apparent that not everyone is wholly evil-or wholly good.

Award-winning author Susan Higginbotham's The Stolen Crown is a compelling tale of one marriage that changed the fate of England forever.

Praise for The Stolen Crown:
"The Wars of the Roses come spectacularly to life in Susan Higginbotham's compelling new novel about Kate Woodville, sister to Queen Elizabeth of England. A sweeping tale of danger, treachery, and love, The Stolen Crown is impossible to put down!" -Michelle Moran, bestselling author of Cleopatra's Daughter

"A fascinating and compelling look at a tumultuous era. Susan Higginbotham writes the perfect blend of historical fact and fiction." -Elizabeth Kerri Mahon, creator of the Scandalous Women blog

"A new King with a secret Queen; love and tears, loyalty and turmoil. With a single stroke, Susan Higginbotham transports her readers into a vividly portrayed past, where the turbulent lives of her characters become very real. Probably her best novel yet!" -Helen Hollick, author of the Pendragon's Banner trilogy

"A tale of love, palace intrigue, and betrayal...Susan Higginbotham draws the reader under her spell, her characters vivid and real: their voices, their loves, their losses. She brings the dead to life." -Christy English, author of The Queen's Pawn

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781402247019
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Publication date:
03/01/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
101,263
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt

You might think that the last night of a condemned traitor would be a rather solitary affair, but you would think wrong, for the last couple of hours have been bustling with people coming and going. In some ways I welcome the commotion; it keeps my mind from the object that lies hard by my lodgings here at the Blue Boar Inn in Salisbury. It is a scaffold, and I will be its first, and probably its last, occupant, for it has been built just for me. Such is the fate of a man who tries to take a king from his throne, and fails.


Yet I do wish that things were more peaceful so I could better gather my thoughts, for what I say in the next world about my life will determine whether I am saved or damned. The best way to explain myself, I suppose, is to start at the beginning.


People who knew all of us say-or said, for there are few of them alive now-that I favor my mother more than my father. I will have to take their word for it, for he died just a month or so after I turned three. I remember a man who bounced me on his shoulders and held me on his lap when I saw him, which was not all that often, and I remember the scar on his right hand, which I would trace wonderingly because it made the hand so different from my mother's, soft and white, and my nurse's, plump and scarred by nothing worse than years of honest labor.


Father's scar was from the battle at St. Albans in May 1455. The battle had been a disastrous one for my family. My mother's father, Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, had died there, and his eldest son, Henry, had been hauled away insensible in a cart, more dead than alive. My paternal grandfather, Humphrey, had had his face slashed, and my father too had been badly injured. Worse, the battle had left the Duke of York the ruler of England in all but name, and my family had fought for the House of Lancaster. All of this must have dispirited my parents, and I like to think I cheered them a little when I was born on the fourth day of September of that year and when I was named not Humphrey, the name my father and his father bore, but Henry, after the king for whom they had fought. I do hope indeed I cheered them, for in my eight-and-twenty years in this world I do not think I can say that I have done so for many people.


In the fall of 1458, the pestilence, which in those days still swept through England regularly, paid one of its dreaded visits. It did what the Yorkists had failed to do-kill my father. As I was now the heir to the dukedom of my grandfather, he and my grandmother wished to take custody of me. So to their care I went, once the pestilence had stopped its raging and it was considered safe for me to travel. I was not much upset at the change. The two mainstays of my existence at that time were my nurse and my puppy, and both went with me.


I came to know my grandfather somewhat better than I had my father, being more of an age now to observe what went on around me-and being doted on by my grandparents besides that. (Four of their seven sons had died young, my father had just died, and neither of my surviving uncles, Henry and John, had sons yet. I, therefore, was precious.) Grandfather, Humphrey Stafford, was a good man who tried to do what was best for England and to protect King Henry while trying to reach some sort of accord with the Duke of York. If only he had lived longer for me to profit by his example!


As I settled into my new life with my grandparents, Fortune's Wheel, which had been spinning back and forth with regularity, spun in the direction of Lancaster. As a result, not long before the Christmas of 1459, visitors arrived at my grandparents' Essex manor of Writtle: Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, and her three youngest children, Margaret, George, and Richard. Cecily was my grandmother's younger sister. Needless to say, she and my Lancastrian grandmother had not been on the warmest of terms as of late, and though we politely referred to her and her children as our guests, it was no social visit the Duchess of York was paying now. The Duke of York was in exile, and his wife had been placed in my grandmother's custody at the order of King Henry.


Since the youngest of the York children, Richard, has proven to be the death of me, I wish I could say there was a sense of doom from the first day of our meeting back at Writtle, but of course there wasn't. I was four at the time, just a month shy of being three years younger than Richard and nearly six years younger than George. My younger brother, Humphrey, who had been born shortly before my father died, was living with my mother. Thus, up until now there had been no other boys in the household except for pages, whose duties kept them to themselves. Naturally, I was delighted by this new company. I tagged along behind the York brothers, did my best to insinuate myself into their games, and tried with all my might to impress them. I am sure they regarded me as a thoroughgoing nuisance-and a Lancastrian nuisance at that. Probably I was an annoyance in another way as well. At the time, neither Richard nor George was a duke or a king's brother; they were simply two younger sons, far less important in the grand scheme of things than their father or their two older brothers, Edward and Edmund, both of whom were earls. Even at my young age, I, on the other hand, knew full well that I would be the next Duke of Buckingham, heir to one of the richest estates in the realm. I probably pointed this out more often than was strictly necessary.


Yes, I must have been completely insufferable.

Meet the Author

Susan Higginbotham is the author of three historical fiction novels. The Traitor's Wife, her first novel, is the winner of ForeWord Magazine's 2005 Silver Award for historical fiction and is a Gold Medalist, Historical/Military Fiction, 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards. She writes her own historical fiction blog and is a contributor to the blog Yesterday Revisited. Higginbotham has worked as an editor and an attorney, and lives in North Carolina with her family.


Susan Higginbotham is the author of four historical novels, including The Stolen Crown, The Queen of Last Hopes, and Hugh and Bess. The Traitor's Wife, her first novel, is the winner of ForeWord Magazine's 2005 Silver Award for historical fiction and is a Gold Medalist, Historical/Military Fiction, 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards. She writes her own historical fiction blog and is a contributor to the blog Yesterday Revisited. Higginbotham has worked as an editor and an attorney, and lives in North Carolina with her family.

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Stolen Crown 3.7 out of 5 based on 3 ratings. 393 reviews.
penname96 More than 1 year ago
First of all, the author knows her history, but this book was tough for me. There were parts that I couldn't put down, then there were parts that made my eyes glaze over. I want my historical fiction books to be as accurate as they can, but the author gives you so much information, it is overwhelming. Many reviews said to stick with it until Edward dies and they were right. The second half of the book was great. I also enjoyed the epilogue and the part where Harry's ghost supposedly haunts the inn, where the Blue Boar Inn once stood. Overall, I did enjoy this book. There are so many mysteries about that time, that we will never know.
Sensitivemuse More than 1 year ago
Well, the book started off a little too slow for me and although it was interesting to read about their lives, I found it not as interesting as some other historical fiction novels I have read in the past. What nearly threw me off of this book was the abundant number of characters, and the majority of them having the same name. So, it was hard for me to figure out who was who. There is a character page in the beginning of the book, detailing who's who in each family and how they are related. It's a lot of information to take and I would have preferred it in family tree format (it's presented as one long list). It did seem overwhelming for me and keeping the characters straight is difficult in this novel. I think one would have to be rather familiar with the history (Wars of the Roses, the Reigns of Edward IV and Richard III, and the Princes in the Tower) to actually grasp the characters and the main events in the storyline. I am not familiar with it, I'm sure if I was, my enjoyment of the novel would be magnified tenfold. However, I did not give up and continued reading - as I do have a love for history and although the plot didn't seem to go nowhere, it did pick up the pace halfway through the novel. Especially events after the death of Edward IV, this is where the story gets a lot more interesting. The narration from Harry dominates most of the time but you get an interesting point of view of events (like the Princes in the Tower). It's hard not to like him. I thought at first he was just a normal spoiled brat who cared about his inheritance and land but as he grew older and realized who Richard really was, it changed him and I felt a great feeling of sympathy towards Harry. I'm not sure how I feel about Katherine. I admired her after having to go through a lot of tragic events of losing her family and loved ones but I thought both Katherine and Harry were indeed fit for one another and 'looked' great together. I loved the ending of the novel, there was a feeling of hope and happiness that Kate deserved after what she had been through. Also, I didn't realize Jasper Tudor could be such a dashing man (albeit, he had a very small part in the novel towards the end but it was enough to make an impression to me). The author's note is very informative and extensive but it is well written and a great follow up to those not familiar to the history. Overall, I would say, don't give up on this novel if you feel so overwhelmed with the names and characters. If you get the general idea on who is who then reading this should not be a problem. I recommend this novel to those in love with history particularly the Wars of the Roses, Richard III and the Princes in the Tower however those new to that time period like I am, give it a chance. I found myself learning a lot and wanting to read more of the history to understand better of the events portrayed in the book.
LHedgpeth More than 1 year ago
As a relatively recent historical fiction reader, I had yet to read anything by Susan Higginbotham but had read rave reviews and energetic exclamations from other bloggers. Having finished my first Higginbotham novel, I completely understand it. In short, I LOVED The Stolen Crown. The Tudor period has been revitalized with the rash of historical fiction releases and the success of Showtime's The Tudors. The Stolen Crown takes place during the York/Lancaster reign, immediately prior to Henry Tudor's reign (father of the infamous Henry VIII). I didn't know much about this period, nor about Richard III. What I did learn was fascinating, between his relatively short reign and how he managed to acquire the crown (hence, the title of this splendid book). Ms. Higginbotham took very much supporting characters to this slice of British history, using Henry ("Harry") Stafford, the 2nd Duke of Buckingham and his wife, Katherine ("Kate") Woodville, as narrators of this complex story, rather than one of the kings themselves. And it works, many times over. I was immediately drawn into the story, thanks in equal parts to Ms. Higginbotham's descriptive and warm writing and the sympathetic and engaging Kate and Harry. In my mind, historical fiction novels can be a tricky business. So much research is necessary to go into them and sometimes the story itself can end up as dry as the proverbial Thanksgiving turkey. Not a bad thing, necessarily, but if you want a good, enriching story to go with your history, you might want more than just history. Ms. Higginbotham has no worries here. The story is rich with both history and characterization. The 15th century comes alive in the pages of this book and even if you know the story and the outcome, it's an incredible read and one I encourage you to make. Personally, I did not know all of the history surrounding these events but reading Ms. Higginbotham's tale sent me to do some online researching about the real people. Fans of historical fiction, have no worries. You should be more than pleased with The Stolen Crown. For those readers on the fence about the genre, this book may sway you into fandom territory. The Stolen Crown is not a bodice-ripper; while there is sex, it is mentioned more in passing than in exquisite (or excruciating) detail. There may be a few objectionable words here and there but if you take issue with that, the richness of the story will probably render the words a moot point. Is there anything about The Stolen Crown I didn't care for? Honestly, no. I enjoyed all the characters, even the ones you love to hate. I loved the richness of the characters, the way they were fully developed and I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of 15th century England. My time spent with Harry Stafford, Kate Woodville and a King of England here and there was absolutely worth every minute. Susan Higginbotham is firmly ensconced on my list of "must read" authors.
harstan More than 1 year ago
King Edward IV marries Elizabeth Woodville in secret. Elizabeth's family, including her six year old sister Kate, is escorted to the royal court. Over time with maturity Kate overcomes her amazement of the regal world to marry the Duke of Buckingham, Harry Stafford. However, both her biological and marital families are caught in the War of the Roses between the houses of Lancaster and York. While King Edward IV fights to remain on the throne, Harry has to choose between loyalty to his brother-in-law and his best friend Richard, Duke of Gloucester who covets the crown. This is an entertaining biographical fiction that enables the audience to observe the late fifteenth century royal power struggles through the observations of the beleaguered queen's younger sister and her spouse. They, especially Harry, are yanked between extended family loyalty and his friend. Fans of English historical fiction anchored by facts will enjoy the exciting saga of The Stolen Crown. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having taken Tudor-Stuart history in college, how I wish this book had been around instead of the horrifically dry textbook outlining statistics about the black death and number of rats in Tudor London. Much conjecture here, but Higginbotham brings that period of time to life through the eyes of two relatively unknown players.
jomom5 More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Well written and researched by Susan Higginbotham, this is historical fiction at its best. (I really didn't understand the reviews that complained about the lack of research. The book was well-written, and the author's notes at the end fully explanatory.) It deals with an era, the War of the Roses, that I wasn't familiar with, and with the events leading up to the murder of the little princes in the Tower of London. By taking real people who were minor players in the events of the time, Higginbotham weaves a compelling narrative, with love stories, political intrigues and plots, wars and rebellions, all the ingredients of a first-rate romantic novel. And the added bonus is that you will learn some history along the way! Read this today!
KnudsenTX More than 1 year ago
When a book starts off by giving you three pages of characters and a brief background... well it can be a bit alarming. So I used it more as a reference as many characters shared first names it was nice to flip back to the beginning to clarify their position within the families. The two first person narrative made the story more compelling as it allowed you to sympathize with the position each character was put into. In all this book was entertaining and kept me intrigued until the very end!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stolen Crown is about the royals during the time of the War of the Roses. A lot of families are involved, and there is a good amount of detail. This could be a subject to leave one's head spinning just in the large quantities of people with the same names (Edward and Elizabeth, for example), but it is a great read! Susan Higginbotham unrolls an exciting tale that - in my opinion - compares well with the Fire and Ice series. The same maneuvering seen in Game of Thrones, the same excitement with the rising and falling of position and favor, and the same loathsome types of people can be found in Stolen Crown. You won't find supernatural beings, nor fights scenes in Stolen Crown, but otherwise, this is a great book for the characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At first it is a little hard to get into. But becomes very interesting as you get to know the characters. It was a great way to learn about the general history of the time. It really brought to life the upheaval of the time period. Why they describe it as war of the roses which brings to mind a war between two people is beyond me as that is not what it is about. It is about history of the time period from the perspective of two people that were married in contract as children.
Celticlady1953 More than 1 year ago
The story takes place from 1464-1496 and tells the story, mostly in Harry Stafford( Duke of Buckingham) and Katherine Woodville's voices. Katherine is the sister of Elizabeth, who when Kate is quite young, marries King Edward IV secretly. Kate and Harry are married at an extremely young age, Kate was 6 and Harry was around 11. Their marriage was not consumated until Kate was at least 17. King Edward IV dies from a short illness and his sons Edward V and Richard, Duke of York, are in succession for the throne, but Richard of Gloucester has other ideas and as the boys protector he assumes the throne supposedly until Edward is old enough to assume the throne. He has Elizabeth and Kates brother Anthony arrested and later executed for plotting to kill Edward V. Richard then gives orders for the boys to be locked up in the Tower at the advice of Lord Hastings whom Richard III later has executed. Richard declaring that Edward IV's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was illegitimate and that, in consequence, Richard, not his nephew, was the rightful king. According to this story Richard admits to Harry that he had issued an order to have Edward IV's sons killed. No one really knows for sure if this happened or not and there have been many different historians debating this issue. Richard III is the last king of the house of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. As lifelong friends, Harry is loyal to Richard until he realizes what Richard did to Edward V and the Duke of York. The story continues on and there are many characters portrayed in the story and it was a bit difficult to keep them all straight. I felt that the early years of Harry and Kate's friendship and marriage was a very loving one. They had 5 children together and seemed to be very happy. There were two big rebellions against Richard. The first, in 1483, was led by Harry Stafford. The revolt collapsed and Buckingham was executed for treason against the king at Salisbury near the Bull's Head Inn. In 1485 there was another rebellion against Richard, headed by Henry Tudor, 2nd Earl of Richmond and his uncle Jasper. The rebels landed troops and Richard fell in the Battle of Bosworth Field, the last English king to die in battle. Henry Tudor then becomes King Henry VII and marries King Edward IV's daughter Elizabeth and they become the parents of Margaret, Arthur and Henry who becomes King Henry VIII. I feel that the author did an impeccable job of research and telling this story in such a way that I found it very interesting although like I said I had trouble with all the characters. I liked the story of Harry and Kate and the love that they had between them, in spite of what some critics have said that Harry despised Kate. I kind of like this version better. Kate does go on to marry two more times, to Jasper Tudor, King Henry VII's uncle and to Richard Wingfield. This is a must read for historical fiction fans.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very hard to follow due to the amount of characters and their dual names and titles. That said, this book is a painless version of the War of the Roses. I couldn't put it down at times.
Pat427 More than 1 year ago
I found the book confusing at first because knowing nothing about the history of England's Kings and Queens it was slow going. The storyline was interesting and the amount of backstabbing and underhandedness took me by surprise. I ended up enjoying the book in spite of my initial confusion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book entertaining for the most part. It's not a new favorite but worth the read. Had me wondering which parts were historical facts and which ones were the authors inventions. So now I am reading A Childs History of England by Charles Dickens.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. If you like British history, you'll enjoy this book. If you are not familiar with the War of the Roses and the period that followed, you may have trouble following it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Historical novels are one of my favorite genres. This book gives a wonderful look into the manipulations used to take over the crown of England in days gone by. This is a well researched book on the violence surrounding the Kings of England in the 1400's. If the history of England is one of your favorite things, this book is a must read.
SnoodlesLaRue More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful read! Brought history to life on people I knew very little about. I have already bought 2 additional historic novels by this author. She really brings this period of history to life in this engrossing novel. She made me care about these people. I highly recommend this book to those with an interest in history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable and captivating. While not a Jean Plaidy novel, the author is competent.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Where do i even begin to talk about this book.... The story line is captivating! I didn't.. no... couldn't put it down. The story is excellently written and I got so into the book I cried!! The Stolen Crown takes you into it's world, makes you love and hate the characters, and wraps the story up very well in an ending you don't expect. Totally recommend the book (5 stars!!) especially if you like love stories, battles scenes, and the good v. evil plot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good read if you are a fan of historical fiction.
liongh More than 1 year ago
If you like reading about days of yore in English society this book has it in spades. I found it slow reading in spots.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Eye catching and full of facts of true history with in fiction. Keep tissues handy i needed it at times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story isn't too bad if you skip over all the detail. I felt like I was reading a high school history book. Some of the people mentioned didn't seem to have anything to do with the story at all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The stolen crown is a great read for adventure and history lovers. Susan Higginbotham has created an excellent novel complete with palace life, love, intrigue, betrayal, war, loss and new life. The discussion notes are also great for groups seeking reading selections. Nice lagniappe includes narrative of nobility life on the down low.
Punkybeth More than 1 year ago
The characters become real to the reader despite the knowledge that the author must fill in the story based on her research. I enjoyed getting to know the historical figures through this novel. I also respect that the author sets forth her reasoning for taking artistic liberty with the storyline and the reader becomes attached to the characters (both good and evil). I was sorry for the book to end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the insight into that particular period of European history. The story line itself was intriguing and held my interest. I would reccommend it whole heartedly.