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The Woodvilles: The Wars of the Roses and England's Most Infamous Family

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  289 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
From an acclaimed historical fiction author comes the first nonfiction book on the notorious and perennially popular Woodville family,investigating suchcontroversial issues as the fate of the Princes in the Tower and witchcraft allegations against Elizabeth and her mother In 1464, the most eligible bachelor in England, Edward IV, stunned the nation by revealing his secret ...more
224 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by The History Press Ltd
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Community Reviews

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The influence, power, and dominance of large families have been a prevalent concept in both history and modern times. One of these families, who played a key role in England during the Wars of the Roses, was the Woodvilles: the family of Elizabeth, Queen Consort to Edward IV. Susan Higginbotham explores the role of this notorious family in, “The Woodvilles: The Wars of the Roses and England’s Most Infamous Family”.

Higginbotham is well-known for her historical fiction novels focusing more on the
Rio (Lynne)
4.5 stars. I couldn't wait for the US release, so I ordered this from England. I'm so glad I did. I love that Susan Higginbotham takes subjects (whether fiction or non-fiction) and studies her subjects immensely and doesn't assume popular myths or so called facts. Some have said this book is pro-Woodville, but I believe Higginbotham simply states facts she has uncovered and never states her opinions as truth. She lays what she has found on the page and then we can discuss the whys and actions? ...more
May 09, 2014 happy rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-english
In this slim volume (appox 170 pgs) historical novelist Susan Higginbotham takes issue with the commonly accepted portrait of the family of Edward IV’s wife – the Woodvilles. In this meticulously researched, book the author tells the reader of the rise a fall of the Queens family – starting with the fortuitous marriage of her father to the widow of Henry V’s brother - the Duke of Bedford, Jacquetta of Luxembourg and ending with the death of Elizabeth, the Queen Dowager in 1492. This is so well ...more
Jan 31, 2014 Lizbit rated it really liked it
I wavered a lot between three and four stars and finally decided on four. Here are some basic pros and cons of this read.


The research that went into this book is substantial and you can tell while reading it- if you've read a lot on the time period, you're still not going to feel as if you are reading all the same stuff over again. Even where information overlaps, the opposing perspective is pretty refreshing. At the same time it is very readable. I doubt people without an interest in the t
Nov 04, 2013 Jemidar marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tbr-nonfiction

Really excited about this book. Can't wait!
Athena Ninlil
For a family that has been the on the mouths of everyone lately because of recent popular fiction and TV shows, they have been either portrayed as supernatural beings aided by the mysterious force known as Mesluina, the "river goddess" that Jacquetta refers to in Philipa Gregory's White Queen and the mini series by the same name. However as Higginbotham stresses, *EVERY* noble family, it was common to have a mythological being attached to their ancestry. She noted the Nevilles through the Earl ...more
Carole Roman
Feb 05, 2014 Carole Roman rated it it was amazing
Excellent accounting of the Rivers family. Susan Higginbotham has written a precise and unbiased book about the Elizabeth Woodville's' large family. She describes each one of them, giving both depth and substance to a family long maligned by their detractors. Stripping away gossip and legends, she is able to paint an authentic picture of a group coping with political dynamics in the fifteenth century. She addresses the family myths, describes the customs, and gives a very good idea of life ...more
Nov 09, 2013 Ernestina rated it really liked it
Shelves: richard-iii, history
This is not a work of fiction, so you don't have to expect the author telling you what was in the mind of the various characters. Instead you will find plenty of informations, and what is most important, almost every statement is supported by a reference to the corresponding source. And at the end of the book eleven pages of bibliography, with primary sources separated from secondary sources.

At the end of this reading, apart from the subject matter which is certainly very interesting for a lover
Small Review
Ok. Not my favorite type of non-fiction. "Themed" chapters with lots of references to other authors instead of a straight narrative of events.

Originally posted on Small Review

I've been dipping my toes into historical non-fiction lately, and I'm quickly learning to group these books into two personal categories: Narrative (more or less straight historical recounting) and Academic (themes and lots of quotes from other people). I very much like the first group, but I'm rapidly learning I could do
Dec 02, 2014 Linda rated it liked it
I happen to be a supporter of Richard III and, of course, the Woodville family is quite important in the War of the Roses and the time leading up to the beginnings of the Tudor dynasty.

For years, probably since they were alive, there have been questions about the role the family played in the reign of Edward IV, Richard's older brother, and why Edward would have married a woman of lesser rank, let alone an Englishwoman rather than a foreign princess for alliance purposes. Lots and lots of specul
Oct 23, 2015 Fergie rated it really liked it
Susan Higginbotham had experience writing about the fifteenth century's The Wars of the Roses period in English history prior to authoring THE WOODVILLES; THE WARS OF THE ROSES AND ENGLAND'S MOST INFAMOUS FAMILY. In fact, Higginbotham penned a novel whose heroine was a member of the Woodville family: Katherine, later to be the Duchess of Buckingham and Bedford. It's clear from reading both that novel and this book (which serves as an historical study of the famous family who changed the destiny ...more
Mar 06, 2014 Bettie☯ marked it as to-read
From the description: In 1464, the most eligible bachelor in England, Edward IV, stunned the nation by revealing his secret marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, a beautiful, impoverished widow whose father and brother Edward himself had once ridiculed as upstarts. Edward's controversial match brought his queen's large family to court and into the thick of the Wars of the Roses. This is the story of the family whose fates would be inextricably intertwined with the fall of the Plantagenets and the ris ...more
Oct 14, 2015 Jeanette rated it liked it
Very intense look into both the assorted recorded perceptions and documented research for the Woodville influence upon the English monarchy.

IMHO, it is rather biased but interesting. Regardless, the numbers of infusion to the upper nobility and hubris of influence! It's not at all beyond understanding that as a group they were both differential and obnoxious to the prevailing class system and alliances toward international power.

Present era affinity for Richard III's role or motives or not; dysf
Heidi Murphy
Oct 17, 2013 Heidi Murphy rated it really liked it
Although obviously written with a Woodville bias, this is a meticulously researched, well-written account of one of the most fascinating families ever to marry into the English royal family. The author manages to dispell myths and shatter our preconceptions about the family that allegedly tried to destroy 'the old royal blood of this realm' and who polarize opinion to this day. The perfect antidote to the White Queen. This Ricardian loved it!
Aug 20, 2014 Caryn rated it liked it
Clearly did copious research. However, as much as I've liked Ms. Higginbotham's fiction, the writing on this is too disjointed to be enjoyable. The other quibble I have is the bias she shows against Richard III throughout the book.
Jul 22, 2016 Laura rated it it was amazing
Very good. I liked the part where it talked about how long a mother in the Middle Ages had to stay in her chamber after she had her baby and the details of her churching.
Apr 03, 2015 Celina rated it really liked it
A well-researched book on the Woodville family, whose most famous member (Elizabeth Woodville) married King Edward VI, and who has garnered a lot of enmity since. Unlike some of the other books I've read that focus mainly on Elizabeth Woodville, Susan Higginbotham's book examines the entire family, with the most focus being on Richard and Jacquetta Woodville, Elizabeth's parents, Elizabeth Woodville herself, and her brother Anthony Woodville, with a decent amount on Edward Woodville and ...more
Sarah(All The Book Blog Names Are Taken)
Don't let the slimness of this volume fool you, it's packed full of information of the most infamous family in the history of England. On closer inspection however, we find that in truth, the Woodvilles were no more ambitious than any other family of the day. Perhaps they just set their sights higher, which made for a harder fall wished upon them by their enemies.

The author does a fantastic job of countering claims put forth by so-called Ricardians, attempting to rehabilitate the much-maligned (
Marty Seaney
Dec 30, 2013 Marty Seaney rated it really liked it
Susan Higginbotham's "The Woodvilles" addresses a family that often has been regarded as nothing short of notorious and even imbued with hints of sorcery in its ascent into the royal circles of medieval England.

She aptly and convincingly dispels many of those claims and attacks with a preponderance of evidence that counters earlier accounts of the fractious times and events that came to be known as "The War of Roses".

Furthermore, she dismisses claims by earlier historians like Paul Murray Kendal
May 13, 2014 Jennifer rated it really liked it
An excellent book that details not only the history of the Woodville family but also shows how their reputation has been tarnished throughout the years. The author factually supports her reasoning with primary sources, plus clearly shows the "who, when, why and where" aspect of certain negative remarks that have been captured and held onto by historians ever since.
I feel as though this book was very much needed, as the current readers of historical fiction are bombarded by negative and inaccura
Victoria Johnston
I loved this book. Most books mentioning the Woodvilles either fictional or otherwise paint them as grasping commoners intent upon bringing down the English nobility. It is nice to read a more balanced view of the family.

In many ways the fmaily were not so much grasping as victims of circumstance. It just so happened that at the time Elizabeth Woodville became Queen - the country was in turmoil and one of the most powerful men in the country had planned for the King to marry a foreign princess t
"Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge*
**A Nonfiction Book**

I was fortunate, that I already had some knowledge about the war of the roses, else this book would have made me so confused, that I'd have given up on it pretty much before I had really started it. Higginbotham has a tendency of getting ahead of herself, completely forgetten the chronology. She wadles around the subjects and often seem to forget what her primary goal was before finally regaining it. In truth it could have worked, if only she
Aug 02, 2014 Raluca rated it really liked it
The Woodvilles are not such a famous family, so I am assuming that whoever wants to read a book about them has at least basic knowledge of England in the Wars of the Roses. For this reason, it is quite OK that it is obvious that some prior knowledge is very helpful in reading this book. The book in itself is brilliantly written - it could be read as a novel and yet manages to offer a lot of information. I like the fact that it takes an unbiased approach and manages to steer clear of the ...more
Helene Harrison
Review? - A very interesting read. People know about Elizabeth Woodville and Elizabeth of York, as Queen Consorts, but less is known of Katherine Woodville, Duchess of Buckingham, and Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers. This book tries to remedy that by exploring what is known about them, and trying to fill in the gaps. The notes and bibliography are very comprehensive and it is easy to track down the sources used from the information given. The selection of images is also wide-ranging, from ...more
Donie Nelson
Oct 03, 2015 Donie Nelson rated it liked it
Fact-based account of the entire Woodville family (Richard Woodville & Jaquetta), whose eldest daughter Elizabeth Woodville, a widow, scandalized England when she married Edward IV. Relates how family members stayed involved in Henry VII's court at the end of the Woodville dynasty when none of the 5 sons had children. The female "Woodville" blood line continued through Elizabeth of York's two sons (Arthur & Henry VIII) who were part of the short-lived Tudor dynasty, but the descendants ...more
Nov 26, 2015 Lezley rated it it was ok
I'm usually a big fan of Susan Higginbotham but I was disappointed in this book. It's very well documented but does not flow smoothly. I feel that the author is out to give "a new look" to the Woodvilles, but the fact remains they were a power-seeking clan out to enrich themselves at the expense of generations of nobility. Had Edward IV married a foreign princess (as Warwick was planning) the Wars of the Roses would probably have ended much sooner. The Woodvilles were a bad lot that prevented ...more
Gina Basham
Jan 15, 2014 Gina Basham rated it it was amazing
This a very confusing time period in history and I am baffled that Ms. Higginbotham was able to help me keep it straight. There are so many common names it would be easy to confuse one from the next. I was able to follow it as it was very well written, researched and entertaining. If you are at all interested in this time period this is a fantastic book to help navigate all of the characters and time periods. It may seem daunting at first but keep reading. Highly recommend.
Nolan Ridley
Apr 30, 2014 Nolan Ridley rated it really liked it
A very balanced, contemporary and well-researched account of the period. The Woodvilles could easily be considered one of the most interesting and least understood elements of middle-English history, given their role in the pivotal transition between the Plantagenet and Tudor dynasties. Yet it is exceedingly difficult to find up-to-date information about them. I enjoyed this book immensely.
Nov 22, 2014 Erin rated it liked it
A very well-researched nonfiction in which many myths are dispelled regarding the Woodville family. A little hard to get into at first but the action soon picks up in the third chapter. I would recommend readers to refrain from reading this book on an e-reader as I did. There is a lovely appendix and many footnotes which become cumbersome when flipping back and forth.

Julie Fulkerson
Apr 11, 2016 Julie Fulkerson rated it did not like it
Started but soon dropped this book. I have read a lot about this era, both fiction and nonfiction, and was looking forward to an in-depth look at a remarkable family. But for me, the author's writing style wasn't interesting, compelling or clear enough to continue wading through.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »
  • Elizabeth Woodville: Mother of the Princes in the Tower
  • Edward IV
  • Elizabeth of York: The Forgotten Tudor Queen
  • Blood Sisters:  The Women Behind The War Of The Roses
  • Richard III: The Maligned King
  • The Last Days of Richard III
  • Royal Blood: Richard III and the Mystery of the Princes
  • The Wars of the Roses: Through the Lives of Five Men and Women of the Fifteenth Century
  • Margaret of York: The Diabolical Duchess
  • Elizabeth Wydeville: The Slandered Queen
  • The Rise of the Tudors: The Family That Changed English History
  • Isabella and the Strange Death of Edward II
  • Blood & Roses: the Paston Family and the Wars of the Roses
  • Tudor: The Family Story
  • The Life and Times of Richard III (Kings and Queens of England)
  • Margaret Beaufort: Mother of the Tudor Dynasty
  • Anne Neville: Queen to Richard III
  • The Plantagenet Chronicles 1154-1485: Richard the Lionheart, Richard II, Henry V, Richard III
I am the author of two historical novels set in fourteenth-century England: The Traitor's Wife: A Novel of the Reign of Edward II and Hugh and Bess. Both were reissued in 2009 by Sourcebooks.

My third novel, The Stolen Crown, is set during the Wars of the Roses. It features Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, and his wife, Katherine Woodville, as narrators. My fourth novel, The Queen of Last Hopes,
More about Susan Higginbotham...

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