I couldn’t let today pass without mentioning the exciting news that was announced this morning: A skeleton discovered by archaeologists in Leicester has been identified as Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England who was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.
As followers of my blog will probably know, Richard III is one of my favourite historical figures and the Wars of the Roses is one of the periods of history I’m most interested in, so I’ve been anxiously awaiting this announcement for months! For those of you in the UK there’s a documentary on Channel 4 tonight at 9pm, The King in the Car Park, which will reveal the details of the archaeological dig and the scientific tests that were carried out on the skeleton. And in honour of today’s news, I have put together a list of the books (both fiction and non-fiction) that I’ve read over the last few years on the subject of Richard III or the Wars of the Roses in general.
This is one of my favourite historical fiction novels and the best book I’ve read on Richard III. Don’t let the length put you off! Penman does a great job of making a complicated period of history easy to understand as she tells the story of Richard’s life from childhood to his tragic death.
Published in the 1950s, this is the story of Inspector Alan Grant who in hospital with a broken leg and decides to investigate Richard III and his alleged crimes from his hospital bed. Reading everything he can find about Richard and the disappearances of the Princes in the Tower, Grant begins to discover that historical sources can’t always be trusted and that history is written by the victors.
Like The Sunne in Splendour, this novel also covers Richard III’s life but from the perspective of his cousin Martin Robsart, a fictitious character. I loved this book – it was well-researched, the characters were believable and I could even follow the battle scenes!
A parody of the historical novel, this book takes a humorous look at the Wars of the Roses through the eyes of 15th century ‘damosel’, spy and knight’s lady Alianore Audley. Some familiarity with the period is needed to fully understand all the jokes and get the most out of this book.
The Cousins’ War series by Philippa Gregory
I wasn’t a fan of Philippa Gregory’s Tudor court novels but have been following her Cousins’ War series from the beginning because I find this period of history so much more interesting. There are four books in the series so far and each one focuses on a different female historical figure: The White Queen (Elizabeth Woodville), The Red Queen (Margaret Beaufort), The Lady of the Rivers (Jacquetta of Luxembourg) and The Kingmaker’s Daughter (Anne Neville).
The Women of the Cousins’ War: The Duchess, the Queen and the King’s Mother
A non-fiction companion book to the Cousins’ War series mentioned above. The book contains three essays – one by Philippa Gregory on Jacquetta of Luxembourg, another by David Baldwin on Elizabeth Woodville and the final one by Michael Jones on Margaret Beaufort.
I read this book in January and will be posting my review soon. Like The Women of the Cousins’ War this is another non-fiction book that looks at the period from a female perspective.
A present day historian, Una Pryor, researches the lives of Elizabeth Woodville, wife of King Edward IV, and her brother Anthony, and begins to investigate the mystery of the Princes in the Tower. No review link for this one as I found it difficult to get into and didn’t finish reading it.
This is far from being a comprehensive list as this is a relatively new interest of mine and I have only featured here the titles I’ve read or have attempted to read – there are a lot of other books on the Wars of the Roses and Richard III that I’m looking forward to reading.
Please feel free to recommend your favourites!