The Women of the Cousins' War: The Duchess, the Queen, and the King's Mother

The Women of the Cousins' War: The Duchess, the Queen, and the King's Mother

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Overview

#1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory joins two eminent historians to explore the extraordinary true stories of three women largely forgotten by history: Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford; Elizabeth Woodville, queen of England; and Margaret Beaufort, the founder of the Tudor dynasty.

In her essay on Jacquetta, Philippa Gregory uses original documents, archaeology, and histories of myth and witchcraft to create the first-ever biography of the young duchess who survived two reigns and two wars to become the first lady at two rival courts. David Baldwin, established authority on the Wars of the Roses, tells the story of Elizabeth Woodville, the first commoner to marry a king of England for love. And Michael Jones, fellow of the Royal Historical Society, writes of Margaret Beaufort, the almost-unknown matriarch of the House of Tudor.

Beautifully illustrated throughout with rare portraits and source materials, The Women of the Cousins’ War offers fascinating insights into the inspirations behind Philippa Gregory’s fiction and will appeal to all with an interest in this epic period.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451629552
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 01/08/2013
Series: Plantagenet and Tudor Series
Pages: 342
Sales rank: 144,623
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Philippa Gregory is the author of many New York Times bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl, and is a recognized authority on women’s history. Many of her works have been adapted for the screen including The Other Boleyn Girl. Her most recent novel, The Last Tudor, is now in production for a television series. She graduated from the University of Sussex and received a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, where she is a Regent. She holds honorary degrees from Teesside University and the University of Sussex. She is a fellow of the Universities of Sussex and Cardiff and was awarded the 2016 Harrogate Festival Award for Contribution to Historical Fiction. She is an honorary research fellow at Birkbeck, University of London. She founded Gardens for the Gambia, a charity to dig wells in poor rural schools in The Gambia, and has provided nearly 200 wells. She welcomes visitors to her website PhilippaGregory.com.

David Baldwin taught history at the Universities of Leicester and Nottingham for many years, and is the author of four books dealing with people and events of the Wars of the Roses, including the acclaimed Elizabeth Woodville, Mother of the Princes in the Tower.

Michael Jones did his Ph.D. on the Beaufort family, and subsequently taught at the University of South West England, the University of Glasgow, and Winchester College. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and now works as a writer and media presenter. He is the author of six books, including The King's Mother, a highly praised biography of Margaret Beaufort, which was shortlisted for the Whitfield Prize.

Hometown:

Yorkshire, England

Date of Birth:

January 9, 1954

Place of Birth:

Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa

Education:

B.A. in history, Sussex University, 1982; Ph.D., 18th-century popular fiction, Edinburgh, 1984

Table of Contents

Family Tree: The Duchess, the Queen, and the King's Mother viii

Battles in the Cousins' War: timeline and map xi

Introduction Philippa Gregory 1

Jacquetta of Luxembourg Philippa Gregory 47

Elizabeth Woodville David Baldwin 151

Margaret Beaufort Michael Jones 241

Index 323

Illustration acknowledgments 341

Reading Group Guide

This teaching guide for The Women of the Cousins' War includes an introduction and discussion questions for enhancing your book club. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
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INTRODUCTION

The Women of the Cousins’ War is a three-part biography of the heroines of Philippa Gregory’s Cousins’ War books. Together with the historians David Baldwin and Michael Jones, Gregory re-creates the extraordinary lives and times of Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford; Elizabeth Woodville, queen of England; and Margaret Beaufort, the matriarch of the House of Tudor.

In her introduction, Gregory writes revealingly about the differences among history, fiction, and historical fiction. She looks at why women have been excluded from the production of history and from history itself. How are fictional and historical narratives shaped by their authors? By turning her attention to three women, whose remarkable lives have gone largely unexamined by scholars, Gregory restores them to the historical record and raises important questions about the responsibility of the historian and the significance of women in medieval English society.


ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Dr. Philippa Gregory studied history at the University of Sussex and received a Ph.D. at the University of Edinburgh. She is a recognized author on women’s history; the author of several bestselling novels including The Other Boleyn Girl; and a regular contributor to TV, radio, and international newspapers.

David Baldwin taught history at the Universities of Leicester and Nottingham for many years, and is the author of four books dealing with people and events of the Wars of the Roses, including the acclaimed Elizabeth Woodville, Mother of the Princes in the Tower.

Dr. Michael Jones did his Ph.D. on the Beaufort family, and subsequently taught at the University of South West England, the University of Glasgow, and Winchester College. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and now works as a writer and media presenter. He is the author of six books, including The King’s Mother, a highly praised biography of Margaret Beaufort, which was shortlisted for the Whitfield Prize.

For Discussion

1. What are some explanations for the notable absence of women from the historical record of the medieval era?

2. In her introduction, how does Philippa Gregory differentiate between history, fiction, and historical fiction?

3. To what extent can the series of skirmishes that later became known as the Wars of the Roses be traced to a specific triggering event? What explains the enduring conflict between the houses of York and Lancaster?

4. How does Jacquetta of Luxembourg’s marriage to John, Duke of Bedford, propel her into the political arena? How does her second marriage to Richard Woodville affect her political ascent?

5. What role does the legend of Melusina play in Jacquetta’s reputation as a seductress with magical powers?

6. Discuss the role of the supernatural in the medieval world, especially as it relates to the rise of witchcraft trials in this era.

7. Why does the controversy that surrounds Jacquetta in the aftermath of the secret marriage she facilitates between King Edward and her daughter Elizabeth come to define her historical persona?

8. Discuss how scholars play a part in selecting and shaping the information they include in what Gregory calls the “created narrative” that they reveal to the reader as “history.”

9. Discuss the culture of arranged marriages among the aristocracy of medieval England. How did the contractual nature of these marriages establish loyalties and political allegiances?

10. Why does King Edward’s secret marriage to Elizabeth Woodville anger those loyal to him? Why might such an unlikely alliance be considered suspect?

11. Discuss the concept of “loyal opposition” as it relates to the Earl of Warwick’s behavior in the Robin of Redesdale’s rebellion in Yorkshire. Why did the earl in particular object so strenuously to Edward’s marriage to Elizabeth?

12. How does King Henry respond to the emergence of the young Lambert Simnel, an impersonator of Edward, Earl of Warwick? How do the Irish lords react to Simnel’s story? To what extent does Elizabeth of Woodville’s involvement in a conspiracy to force Henry from the throne seem plausible?

13. Discuss the mystery surrounding the princes in the Tower. How does their disappearance complicate Elizabeth Woodville’s relationship with her brother-in-law, Richard III?

14. What does Elizabeth Woodville’s will reveal about her relationship with her daughter the queen and what does it suggest about her relationship with her son-in-law King Henry?

15. Discuss the rise of the merchant class in the late Middle Ages. How did a rise in social mobility and the transformation of English society from a land-based economy into a land-and-cash economy impact the aristocracy?

16. How does John Beaufort’s failure as a war commander and his eventual suicide affect his daughter, Margaret? What do her reactions to these potentially devastating social circumstances suggest about her character?

17. What do Margaret’s exchanges with her confessor and spiritual adviser, John Fisher, indicate about her piety and religious awareness, even at a young age? Do you accept these stories completely?

18. At twelve years of age, Margaret Beaufort finds herself widowed, pregnant, and living in an unruly region of Wales. Discuss the series of events that lead to this. To what extent does Margaret bear responsibility for the unfortunate situation in which she finds herself?

19. Discuss the significance of Margaret’s joining the confraternity of the Abbey of Croyland and the Order of the Holy Trinity. What do these organizations offer her and her family?

20. How does Margaret’s marriage to Thomas, Lord Stanley, enable her to secure a place for her son, Henry Tudor, in the Yorkist realm led by Edward IV?

21. If Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Elizabeth Woodville, and Margaret Beaufort were given the same opportunities as their male peers, how might their lives have differed?

22. In the medieval era, physical beauty was believed to signify goodness. How did this belief both help and harm the three women profiled in this book?

23. How might the many uncertainties that characterized this era—a high infant mortality rate, a short life expectancy, the spread of the Black Death, near-constant political strife, and government unrest—have contributed to a rising belief in the supernatural?

24. How do the individual experiences of Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Elizabeth Woodville, and Margaret Beaufort compare? Of the three women, which do you feel was most powerful in her own right, and why?

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Women of the Cousins' War 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
BookHounds More than 1 year ago
This book is an excellent companion piece to the series of books about the women who probably had more to do with the Tudor dynasty than they are given credit for. The book is broken into three parts, each written by a different author to give a place in history to these fascinating women. The wonderful introduction by Gregory explains that women were very rarely mentioned and record keeping about them, is spotty at best. By piecing together historical documents, letters and conjecture, it is possible to recreate the importance these women had in the history of the ruling class. The first section written by Gregory sparkles with her familiar style of bringing history to life and covers Jaquetta, the Duchess of Bedford and her rise in English Royalty. The next section written by Baldwin details the ascent of Elizabeth Woodville answers many questions about her life, but it lacked a bit in the sparkle department. The last section, written by Jones, reveals Margaret Beaufort, who I disliked in The Red Queen, but now understand a bit better. This is a must read for anyone that wants a better understanding of the lives of these women.
harstan More than 1 year ago
"Jacquetta of Luxembourg" by Philippa Gregory. The ultimate survivor (including giving birth to ten children in fifteen years), Jacquetta the Lancastrian married twice but it was her daughter from her second marriage, Elizabeth who enabled her to live prosperously in spite of reign change and constant war. That is until Warwick accused her of witchcraft and executed her husband and son without a trial. "Elizabeth Woodville" by David Baldwin. The ultimate commoner, Elizabeth married the king of England as her second husband. She loved King Edward IV in spite of his womanizing and had four children with him (plus two from her first marriage). When he died she risked all to insure her young son Edward V would sit on the throne. Her brother-in-law Richard the Protector sent Edward and his younger brother to the Tower. "Margaret Beaufort" by Michael Jones. The ultimate matriarch, Margaret married four times, but it is her second marriage to Edmund Tudor that impacted history. Deeply religious yet as deeply ambitious she insister her son Henry was the rightful king of England though his claim was weak. He became Henry VII and started the House of Tudor. This engaging biographical collection makes a strong case that women played major roles in the War of the Roses leading to the rise of the House of Tudor. The three bios are well written, filled with facts, references, pictures and maps. Although a brief treatise on what led to the Cousins' War would have anchored the scenario that enabled three courageous women to influence the future of England, readers will relish learning the impact of these intrepid females. Harriet Klausner
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
In this non-fiction book, the author, with the help of two prominent historians, tells readers about the true lives of the remarkable ladies who are the heroines of The Women of the Cousins' War series: First is Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford (the Lady of the Rivers); Second, Elizabeth Woodville, Queen of England; and, last Margaret Beaufort, Founder of the Tudor Dynasty. These three biographical essays written by three different authors tell the stories of the inspirational women depicted in these pages. Philippa Gregory writes the first essay about Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford. The author uses documents and histories to create the first biography of a very young Duchess who lived long enough to survive two reigns and two wars, to become the 'first lady' at two rival courts. Ms. Gregory has written many books about the history of the women of these times and their places in the history of their countries. She tells about the differences between real history and historical fiction and the roles of women in each element of writing. One question she likes to ask the readers is: Why has history traditionally ignored, vilified, or exalted most women? and, How have women historians and writers finally begun to change our understanding of women previously "hidden from history?" David Baldwin, an authority on the Wars of the Roses, tells the story of Elizabeth Woodville, the first commoner to marry a King of England for love; and Michael Jones, Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, writes about Margaret Beaufort the elder lady of the House of Tudor who contrived to hide her treason against an ordained King of England. Quill Says: These non-fiction essays by three extremely able historians bring readers into the lives of the family that preceded the Tudors to the throne of England and tells of the battles and infighting that was more commonly known as the Wars of the Roses. A must read for people who enjoy English History.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a fan of Philippa Gregory's historical fiction, and bought this book out of curiousity to read a non-fic tional account of the wonen of the cousin's war. It was am interesting book, with a surprising amount of information, considering the fact that women's lives weren't well documented in the medieval world. It made a good companion piece to Gregory's historical fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Only part of the way through it, but so far (especially after reading Philippa Gregory's novel series) I really enjoy seeing the actual history. I consider myself and anglophile and am always interested in histories.
BrokenTeepee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a non-fiction book. I have seen reviews where people read it thinking it was a novel and were disappointed - of course they were! Real history is never as fleshed out as an historical novel especially they further back you go in time. That does not mean it has to be a trial to read.This book was NOT a trial; it was very easy to read and very informative. Each author took one of the three woman that Ms. Gregory had profiled in her trilogy covering what most people know as The War of the Roses but what was known in its time as The Cousins' War. Ms. Gregory also provides a very extensive introduction as to the origins of the book and the difficulties in writing about people from the time period and about women in particular.Ms. Gregory explains in that introduction that there is very little historical record left about the three women profiled; Jacquetta Woodville, Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort and yet the book is sold as a tome about them. In this I was a touch disappointed - I suppose I wanted to know more about them but there is only so much to be known. The three separate histories were all very well written and I came away with a much deeper comfort level of the whos and whats of The Cousins War. It is a truly confusing time in history given that many of the names are quite similar and families were fighting each other. This is a very interesting history of the time written from three distinct points of view.Each author presents the events as they effect and surround his subject and while the facts do not change the players in each section do and that offers slight variations that make each woman a fascinating study. I cannot fault the authors that history did not leave more of a record and I want to know more. It was a time period when women were considered chattel if they were considered at all.I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book being the history geek that I am. If you are at all interested in this subject this would be a good book to help sort out the basics. As I said it is not at all dry and dusty and you will find yourselves drawn into a time when cousins were killing each other to try and rule England.
tanzanite on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Women of the Cousins War* by Philippa Gregory, David Baldwin and Michael Jones. Non-fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed the pieces on Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort, each written by the subject¿s major biographer. Philippa Gregory¿s contribution is on Jacquetta Woodville (Elizabeth¿s mother and the subject of her book, The Lady of the Rivers) as well as a lengthy introduction on women in history and history in historical fiction. Since there is very little that¿s really known about her subject, Gregory is forced into lots of ¿maybes¿, ¿perhaps¿ and ¿could haves¿. I liked her introduction much more and even though I don¿t agree with a lot of her theories, it was interesting to hear her point of view on the topic and how she approaches writing her novels. 4 stars (based on the contributions of Baldwin and Jones)
BookAddictDiary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As someone who doesn't read very much nonfiction, I was a little apprehensive about reading The Women of the Cousins' War, but I was so fascinated by Elizabeth Woodville of The White Queen and Margaret Beaufort of The Red Queen, that I was drawn to this book, especially since it comes from Philippa Gregory. For the book, Gregory teamed up with two other historians, David Baldwin and Michael Jones, to explore the real lives of the women behind her novels.Gregory opens the book was a unique introduction that explores the role (or lack thereof) of women in history, as well as Gregory's personal reasons for writing novels about this little-known women. Most interestingly, she gives readers a glimpse into her own writing process, own own motivations for writing what she does, and the difficulties of doing historical research that lead to large holes that are later filled in with fiction.Gregory takes the lead with the first essay on Jacquetta of Luxembourg, the mother of Elizabeth Woodville. Gregory explains that when she went to research Jacquetta for her novel The Lady of the Rivers, there was no biography available about her, so she had to conduct her own research to learn about Jacquetta. Gregory pens a fascinating account of Jacquetta's life, tracing it from her birth up to her death and through the many complex politics between. Of all the essays in the book, I found Gregory's to be the easiest to read and enjoy, mostly because it pulls on her fiction writing abilities and seems to explore more of her subject's motivations and emotions than the other essays.Next comes David Baldwin, who pens an essay on the life of Elizabeth Woodville, Jacquetta's daughter. Though filled with precise accuracy, I found it to be a little bit dry and difficult to read. This was probably because my brain had honed into Gregory's style in the previous essay, and Baldwin chose to stick more strongly to fact, and didn't theorize much on what Elizabeth likely thought or felt. While informative, I wouldn't consider Baldwin's essay light reading.Last, historian Michael Jones chronicles the life of Margaret Beaufort, the virtually unknown matriarch of the Tudor family and grandmother to Henry VIII. Thankfully, Jones' writing reads much more smoothly than Baldwin's, and I particularly enjoyed the fact that Jones went further back than Margaret's birth to discuss the unique origins of the Beaufort family. Giving all this back story really helped to put Margaret and her life into context, and I felt like I had a greater understanding of Margaret's "character." Also, I kind of hate to say it, but I found Jones' short essay on Margaret to be a little more interesting than The Red Queen, which I thought was the weaker of Gregory's first two novels on the Cousins' War.A must-read for history buffs and hardcore Gregory fans, Women of the Cousins' War helps to reveal who these little-known women were and why their lives are worth the study and interest of people today. Complete with family trees, maps, portraits and other images of the period, the lives of these fascinating women from history fully come to life.
jasminemarie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am not a history buff by any means at all. However, I can happily attribute my introduction to historical fiction to Philippa Gregory and her books (in particular, The Other Boleyn Girl). I was never particularly interested in history growing up and I found the textbooks too boring and difficult to understand. I loved reading, but that was because I loved the stories. Gregory's books does a great job of tying the two together in an interesting way. I always had an interest in medieval times - which little girl doesn't want to know more about kings, queens, princes and princesses? However, Gregory's books were the first ones to get me hooked into historical fiction as a genre, with a special liking towards all things medieval. I wasn't sure what to expect going into this book and honestly, I was a little apprehensive once the book arrived and it was pretty thick! It reminded me of the history textbook days and I was a little anxious that I wouldn't enjoy it, but I was very wrong! There are moments when the sentences run a little long and there are so many facts thrown at you at one time that it can get confusing for a reader like myself, who is not used to reading non-fiction historical books. However, it was a very enjoyable read about three women who are not written about very much, if at all, in history, but had such an huge impact on the more well-known time of the Tudors. The book itself reads like a novel and that made it easy for me to read, coming from a historical fiction side rather than the history side.Gregory starts off the book with an introduction about history, historical fiction and women in history. I found it very interesting and reaffirmed what I already knew about Gregory - that she is an incredibly intelligent woman herself very well-versed in all things related to medieval times. I also enjoyed learning more about her process in writing historical fiction.I have read most of the Gregory's books in the Tudors period and often times found myself stopping to go to Wikipedia to read up more on the historical figures before proceeding through the rest of the book. I think this book would be a great book to have alongside while reading her series on The Cousins' War.The book is written in three sections. Gregory writes the first section about Jacquetta, the Duchess of Bedford. Baldwin writes about Elizabeth Woodville, Queen of England. Lastly, Jones writes about Margaret Beaufort, who ultimately ends up being the grandmother of Henry VIII. Each author does a great job of piecing together historical documents to put together a biographical account of their lives. It did not read like a history book at all and at times I had to remind myself that I was reading a non-fiction book, not a fictional story.Overall, I think Gregory, Baldwin and Jones do a great job of giving these women a place in history. I think all fans of Gregory's books, especially the The Cousins' War series, will find this companion book a very enjoyable and interesting read.
MaryinHB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is an excellent companion piece to the series of books about the women who probably had more to do with the Tudor dynasty than they are given credit for. The book is broken into three parts, each written by a different author to give a place in history to these fascinating women. The wonderful introduction by Gregory explains that women were very rarely mentioned and record keeping about them, is spotty at best. By piecing together historical documents, letters and conjecture, it is possible to recreate the importance these women had in the history of the ruling class. The first section written by Gregory sparkles with her familiar style of bringing history to life and covers Jaquetta, the Duchess of Bedford and her rise in English Royalty. The next section written by Baldwin details the ascent of Elizabeth Woodville answers many questions about her life, but it lacked a bit in the sparkle department. The last section, written by Jones, reveals Margaret Beaufort, who I disliked in The Red Queen, but now understand a bit better. This is a must read for anyone that wants a better understanding of the lives of these women.
Beamis12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not as much info as I would like about these woman, though Gregory does explain in her introduction that a lot just doesn't exist on woman from that time period as well as others. Unless a woman was involved in something big in her day, like Joan of Arc, there just isn't detailed written records. It is however well written, did like what was there, and the bibliography and introduction is very informative and interesting.
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