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 VIfounder 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.
|Publisher:||Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.|
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations ix
Introduction David Starkey xi
England, 1422-1450 xxv
England, Spring 1460 xxvii
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
Select Bibliography 215
Selected Places to Visit and Related Organisations 223
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
For the 550th commemoration of the battle of Towton which took place in northern England on March 29th in 1461, George Goodwin has written a good general introduction to the War of the Roses that led up to this battle which is usually marketed as England's bloodiest. This claim is not backed by facts. The large number of participants in this battle, far larger than in all the other battles of the War of the Roses relies either on monkish non-witness sources or on a napkin calculation of England's male population. In my guesstimate, it is unlikely that more than 30.000 men were engaged. If one counts actual fighters, the numbers would shrink even further. Given the absence of documentation, all numbers are but speculations.Goodwin thus speaks of "England's most brutal battle", even if the true butchery happened after the battle. As in most medieval battles, the majority of casualties occurred in the aftermath of the battle, when the blocked fleeing Lancastrians were massacred. The battle is, however, only the endpoint of this book, its final tenth chapter. The first eight chapters recap the origin of the conflict between the Yorkists and Lancastrians. I found the presentation of Henry VI's schizophrenia one of the highlights of the book. The character vignettes are also well done. The military aspects and the quality problems of the Lancastrians would have merited a more extensive treatment than chapter nine's examination of the campaign and the battle of Towton in chapter ten. Those interested in the battlefield mechanics should look to Boardman's and Haigh's books about the battle. Recommended to the general reader.