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The Wars of the Roses

Overview

The Wars of the Roses (1455–85) were a major turning point in English history. But the underlying causes for the successive upheavals have been hotly contested by historians ever since. In this original and stimulating new synthesis, distinguished historian Michael Hicks examines the difficult economic, military, and financial crises and explains, for the first time, the real reasons why the Wars of the Roses began, why they kept recurring, and why, eventually, they ceased. Alongside fresh assessments of key ...

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The Wars of the Roses

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Overview

The Wars of the Roses (1455–85) were a major turning point in English history. But the underlying causes for the successive upheavals have been hotly contested by historians ever since. In this original and stimulating new synthesis, distinguished historian Michael Hicks examines the difficult economic, military, and financial crises and explains, for the first time, the real reasons why the Wars of the Roses began, why they kept recurring, and why, eventually, they ceased. Alongside fresh assessments of key personalities, Hicks sheds new light on the significance of the involvement of the people in politics, the intervention of foreign powers in English affairs, and a fifteenth-century credit crunch. Combining a meticulous dissection of competing dynamics with a clear account of the course of events, this is a definitive and indispensable history of a compelling, complex period.

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Editorial Reviews

Times Literary Supplement

"[a] handsome book – produced to Yale University Press’s customarily beautiful standards – seeks not to trace a single thread but to sketch the whole historical tapestry of the complex and bloody conflicts that convulsed England in the second half of the fifteenth century."—Helen Castor, Times Literary Supplement

— Helen Castor

Tribune

“This is a comprehensive account of the period, logically laid out, explaining why the Wars of the Roses were fought and why they ceased.”—Richard Woulfe, Tribune

— Richard Woulfe

The Tablet

"In this impressive book Hicks reinterprets the wars between York and Lancaster and rejects Tudor inevitability."—Desmond Seward, The Tablet

— Desmond Seward

English Historical Review
“…this book will be required reading for all serious students of the late-medieval English polity.”—David Grummitt, English Historical Review

— David Grummitt

History Review
“….an important and valuable contribution to the canon of literature on the middle years of the 15th century, which will surely take its rightful place on student reading lists everywhere.”—Hannes Kleineke, History Review

— Hannes Kleineke

Northern History
“…a valuable work of synthesis, and a refreshing, analytical reconsideration of the main issues, together with a clear narrative…He presents a stimulating argument in an important work which clarifies the entire subject in an authoritative fashion.”—Northern History
Times Literary Supplement - Helen Castor
"[a] handsome book – produced to Yale University Press’s customarily beautiful standards – seeks not to trace a single thread but to sketch the whole historical tapestry of the complex and bloody conflicts that convulsed England in the second half of the fifteenth century."—Helen Castor, Times Literary Supplement
A J Pollard
'A refreshing and stimulating challenge to current orthodoxy about what happened in the middle of the fifteenth century, of which all future accounts will have to take note.' - A J Pollard, author of Warwick the Kingmaker
Mark Ormrod
"A well-judged, vigorous and vivid account of England's fifteenth-century civil war, The Wars of the Roses interweaves a strong narrative thread with important analysis to explain the issues on which England's rulers and their rivals vied so often, and with such brutal consequences, between 1450 and 1485. For anyone interested in the personalities and controversies that surrounded the reigns of Henry VI, Edward IV, Richard III and Henry VII, The Wars of the Roses will make vital and compulsive reading." - Mark Ormrod, author of Political Life in Medieval England
Tony Goodman
"This is both a summation and a groundbreaking book, replete with new insights. It distils the mature expertise and judgments of a leading later medieval historian who has greatly advanced our understanding of the medieval English nobility." - Anthony Goodman, author of The Wars of the Roses: The Soldiers' Experience
Tribune - Richard Woulfe
“This is a comprehensive account of the period, logically laid out, explaining why the Wars of the Roses were fought and why they ceased.”—Richard Woulfe, Tribune
The Tablet - Desmond Seward
"In this impressive book Hicks reinterprets the wars between York and Lancaster and rejects Tudor inevitability."—Desmond Seward, The Tablet
English Historical Review - David Grummitt
“…this book will be required reading for all serious students of the late-medieval English polity.”—David Grummitt, English Historical Review
History Review - Hannes Kleineke
“….an important and valuable contribution to the canon of literature on the middle years of the 15th century, which will surely take its rightful place on student reading lists everywhere.”—Hannes Kleineke, History Review
Library Journal
The English civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses lasted for 30 years (1455–85) and led to the Tudor monarchy with the ascension of Henry VII after the defeat of Richard III. Hicks (medieval history, Univ. of Winchester, UK) does a remarkable job of outlining the preconditions for this compelling dynastic struggle that tore England apart (and provided fodder for both Shakespeare and over five centuries of study). Hicks contends that this conflict between the houses of York and Lancaster was inevitable after Henry IV's fairly questionable usurpation of the throne from Richard II in 1399. His examination of the social and economic background illustrates the agency of English citizens affected by the conflict. Most engaging is how Hicks describes the foolishness and scheming of key figures, e.g., the somewhat incompetent Henry VI and the ambitious Richard Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III), whose well-rounded portrayal here refreshingly shows that his ambitions were not necessarily in line with those of a Machiavellian traitor. VERDICT Another creditable work is Christine Carpenter's The Wars of the Roses: Politics and the Constitution in England, which focuses more specifically on constitutional issues. All readers interested in late medieval history, whether or not they have Carpenter, will appreciate this.—Brian Renvall, Mesalands Community Coll., Tucumcari, NM
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300181579
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 969,425
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Hicks is professor of medieval history and head of the Department of History, University of Winchester, and a specialist on late medieval England. He lives in Winchester, UK.

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