The brothers York A royal tragedy

Thomas Penn

Book - 2020

"For fans of Hilary Mantel and The Tudors, this is the dramatic story of the concluding episode in England's War of the Roses, featuring three brothers, two of whom became kings, Edward IV and Richard III, famous from Shakespeare's great history play Richard III."--

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New York, NY : Simon & Schuster 2020.
Main Author
Thomas Penn (author)
First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
Item Description
"Originally published in Great Britain in 2019 by Penguin Random House UK."
Physical Description
xxiii, 660 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (chiefly color), maps ; 25 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • List of Illustrations
  • Maps
  • Family Tree
  • Note on the Text
  • Introduction
  • Part 1. Blood Royal Winter 1461 - Summer 1464
  • 1. Three Suns
  • 2. The Rose Stands Alone
  • 3. The World is Right Wild
  • 4. Two Kings of England
  • Part 2. Blind Affection Summer 1464 - Spring 1468
  • 5. Now Take Heed What Love May Do
  • 6. They Are Not to be Trusted
  • 7. Love Together as Brothers in Arms
  • Part 3. A Season of Punishment Spring 1468 - Summer 1471
  • 8. Robin Mend-All
  • 9. The Matter Quickeneth
  • 10. They Think He Will Leave His Skin There
  • 11. The Knot is Knit Again
  • Part 4. Brother Against Brother Summer 1471 - Spring 1483
  • 12. A New Foundation
  • 13. Master of the Game
  • 14. War Outward
  • 15. The Most Extreme Purposed Malice
  • 16. Diamond Cuts Diamond
  • 17. They Have Taken Away the Rose of the World
  • Part 5. The Gaze of Our Inward Eye Spring 1483 - Summer 1485
  • 18. Old Royal Blood
  • 19. No Long Time in Rest
  • 20. The Castle of Care
  • 21. A Beginning or End
  • Epilogue
  • Acknowledgements
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • List of Illustrations
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Medieval historian Penn (Winter King) delivers a panoramic chronicle of the rise and fall of the House of York in 15th-century England. From the dubious enthronement of Edward IV in 1461 to the killing of his younger brother, Richard III, by Henry Tudor's forces in 1485, Penn recreates the jousting tournaments, battlefield clashes, and ever-shifting political alliances of the era, adding texture and color to the historical record. Though the York brothers--magnetic Edward, who crushed the rival house of Lancaster at the Battle of Towton; treasonous George, " simmering stew of self-entitlement and personal inadequacy," who was executed on his older brother's orders; and cunning Richard, who quietly accreted power in the background before sending his nephews to the Tower of London and seizing the throne following Edward's death in 1483--take center stage, Penn also draws distinctive portraits of their allies and rivals, including "ruthless" Richard Neville, earl of Warwick; Henry VI's indefatigable wife, Margaret of Anjou; and French monarch Louis XI. Though a bit baggy, this rigorous and richly detailed account breathes new life into the Wars of the Roses. Medieval history buffs and fans of Shakespeare's Richard III will be rewarded. Agent: Anna Stein, ICM Partners. (June)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

King Edward IV of England (1442--61) is perhaps most well known to readers as the father of the "princes in the tower"--Edward and Richard--murdered by the Duke of Gloucester, Richard III. But William Shakespeare's play, Richard III condenses the time line of this period in England's history so much that it is easy to forget Edward was king for more than 20 years and died of natural causes. In this readable title, Penn (The Winter King) paints a picture of a fun-loving adonis, reminiscent of his grandson Henry VIII, who nonetheless had a dark side. The largest part of the book covers the early years of Edward's reign when all three "brothers York" were alive. Edward fancied himself a great diplomat and loved to play rivals off one another, whether the King of France and the Duke of Burgundy or his brothers Richard and Clarence. As he aged, Edward grew ever more prone to excesses and paranoia. Although his betrayal of Clarence is still shocking several centuries later, one can clearly see the events that led up that tragedy. Richard's subsequent betrayal of Edward's sons is likewise foreshadowed. VERDICT Penn's latest is a treat for dedicated readers of English history who know the outlines of the story covered but wish to learn more.--Cate Schneiderman, Emerson Coll., Boston

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

A dramatic portrait of 15th-century England, which was besieged by political upheaval, betrayals, and ruthless violence. Penn, publishing director of Penguin Books UK and biographer of Henry VII, the first Tudor king, brings keen understanding and a sharp eye for detail to his prodigiously researched, engrossing history of the decadeslong conflict between the houses of Lancaster and York that ended, in 1485, with the advent of Henry VII. The brothers York were Edward, who reigned as Edward IV; George, duke of Clarence; and Richard, whose stealthy machinations gained him the crown after Edward died and his sons--Edward's heirs--mysteriously disappeared under Richard's watch. When Edward ascended to the throne in 1471, after the murder of the Lancastrian Henry VI, the brothers were heralded as representing a "new Yorkist unity" whose "fraternal love" was evidence "that the rightful order of things had been restored." That bond, though, proved fragile, as the lust for land, wealth, and power came to shape the brothers' relationships with one another, their political alliances, and their marriages. Knowing that family ties did not ensure loyalty, Edward heaped land grants and sumptuous goods on George to buy his faithfulness. As Penn writes, he "would be enveloped in Edward's smothering love; in return he would give the king his unconditional obedience." But when Clarence married an heiress, his need for his brother's largesse diminished, and he became susceptible to treasonous plots. After a decade of Clarence's defiance, Edward finally had enough; being the king's brother could not save him from an ignominious fate. As for Richard, the young man praised for his "reckless bravery" grew into a violent, arrogant, and devious politician with his eye on nothing less than the throne. Besides chronicling intrigues, conspiracies, and shifting alliances among a large cast of characters, Penn details the "messy reality of life" among the nobles and their subjects: births and deaths, festivals and weddings, feasts and tournaments, famines and illness, and, not least, the unstoppable gossip that circulated constantly. Rebellious decades come to life vividly in a taut, spirited history. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.