In the aftermath of the Wars of the Roses, the new queen of Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty, struggles with divided loyalties.
After he returns from exile to defeat Richard III in the Battle of Bosworth, Lancastrian conqueror Henry Tudor marries Yorkist princess Elizabeth, daughter of Richard’s predecessor, King Edward IV. The marriage, intended to finally reconcile the warring Yorks and Lancasters, does the opposite. Edward’s dowager queen Elizabeth Woodville (The White Queen, 2009) and her sworn enemy Margaret Beaufort, Henry’s mother (The Red Queen, 2010) engineer the marriage, each to promote her own agenda. Princess Elizabeth, who had been the lover of Richard III, is horrified to have her distrust of Henry and his mother confirmed by a pre-wedding rape: Henry and Margaret want to make sure she proves fertile before vows are taken. After her marriage, and the “premature” birth of son Arthur, Elizabeth forms an uneasy truce with Henry that will lead, eventually and after the birth of more children (including future king Henry VIII), to an interlude of genuine affection. However, her mother and she remain York sympathizers at heart, particularly after their young cousin Edward Warwick is placed under house arrest in the Tower. This is an ominous reminder of the imprisonment of King Edward and Queen Elizabeth’s two sons, Edward and Richard, in the Tower, from which they later disappeared. Rumors abound: Prince Richard may still be alive and may be coming to England to assert his entitlement to kingship, far superior to Henry’s. Both Elizabeths know more about such claims than they dare let on: Years before, they had substituted a pageboy for Richard when the two princes went into captivity. A ruthless monarch who rules by intimidation, Henry can never escape the nagging fear that a Yorkist heir will unseat him, especially since the Yorks are so much more likable and better looking than the Tudors.
As usual, Gregory delivers a spellbinding (and definitely York-biased) exposé.