THE LAST WHITE ROSE by Desmond Seward


The Secret Wars of the Tudors
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The Tudors have been written about ad nauseam, but historian Seward (Eugenie: The Empress and Her Empire, 2004, etc.) opens another branch of study harkening back to their beginnings at the Battle of Bosworth of 1485.

The defeat of King Richard III did not eliminate all claimants to the crown. After his victory, Henry VII spent his reign ruthlessly quashing one after another. The genealogical tables at the front of Seward’s book are indispensable for this and any English history, as authors must carefully refer to characters by one name only. For instance, John de la Pole, the Duke of Suffolk, and his sons, John, Earl of Lincoln, and Edmund, Earl of Suffolk, had claim to the crown, and all suffered for it. Choosing a single moniker for each character is preferred, except, of course, that Henry VII and his son, Henry VIII, tended to bestow and take away titles according to whim or worry. The paranoia of Henry VII was actually justified, as the Yorkist family had many eligible candidates, and popular support for restoring their reign was widespread. Challengers found support from Margaret of Burgundy, sister to kings Richard III and Edward IV, the French, who were always ready to stir things up, and the Irish, firmly in the Yorkist camp. By far the most interesting pretender was Richard de la Pole, who was educated at Henry VIII’s expense, created a cardinal by the pope without ordination and considered as a mate for Princess Mary. Henry VIII was pathologically suspicious and saw conspiracies in every shadow, and the cream of England’s aristocracy paid the price. The story of the descendants of the White Rose adds yet another black mark against the first two Tudors, as if they needed more.

A fresh look at a well-worn field of study, appropriate for general readers.

Pub Date: April 15th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-60598-549-7
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Pegasus
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2014


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