Fatal Colours: Towton 1461 - England's Most Brutal Battle

Fatal Colours: Towton 1461 - England's Most Brutal Battle

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The tumultuous reign of Henry VI and its climax in the carnage of Towton—the bloodiest battle fought on English soil.

The battle of Towton in 1461 was unique in its ferocity and brutality, as the armies of two kings of England engaged with murderous weaponry and in appalling conditions to conclude the first War of the Roses.

Variously described as the largest, longest, and bloodiest battle on English soil, Towton was fought with little chance of escape and none of surrender. Yet, as if too ghastly to contemplate, the battle itself and the turbulent reign of Henry VI were neglected for centuries.

Combining medieval sources and modern scholarship, George Goodwin colorfully re-creates the atmosphere of fifteenth-century England. From the death of the great Henry V and his baby son’s inheritance first of England and then of France, Goodwin chronicles the vicious infighting at home in response to the vicissitudes of the Hundred Years War abroad. He vividly describes the pivotal year of 1450 and a decade of breakdown for both king and kingdom, as increasingly embittered factions struggle for a supremacy that could be secured only after the carnage of Towton.

Fatal Colours includes a cast of strong and compelling characters: a warrior queen, a ruthless king-making earl, even a papal legate who excommunicates an entire army. And at its center is the first full explanation for the crippling incapacity of the enduringly childlike Henry VI—founder of Eton and King’s College, Cambridge.

With a substantive and sparkling introduction by David Starkey, Fatal Colours brings to life a vibrant and violent age.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393080841
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 03/29/2012
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

George Goodwin is a history graduate of Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he was awarded a Foundation Exhibition. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and the Royal Society of Arts and is a member of the Battlefields Trust. He lives near Kew Gardens.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Introduction David Starkey xi

Dramatis Personae:

England, 1422-1450 xxv

England, Spring 1460 xxvii

Prologue 1

1 A Step Too Far 5

2 A Great Man's Legacy-Minority 11

3 An Absence of Kingship-Majority 26

4 An Absent-Minded King 44

5 A Question of Honour 58

6 A Queen Transformed 77

7 'A Warwick' 94

8 The Sun in Splendour 109

9 A Country at War-North vs South 130

10 Towton-Palm Sunday 1461 151

In Memoriam 180

Dramatis Personae: After Towton 185

The Wound Man 189

Family Trees 190

Notes 195

Select Bibliography 215

Selected Places to Visit and Related Organisations 223

Acknowledgements 229

Index 233

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