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The Last Plantagenets (The Plantagenets #4)

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  761 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
Hardcover edition. It covers the period from 1377 to 1485 in England.This book covers the last of the Plantagenets from Richard II to Richard III including the War of the Roses.
Paperback, 447 pages
Published August 1st 1963 by Popular Library (first published 1962)
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May 22, 2012 Daniel rated it it was amazing
Very detailed history including that of Richard III. Part of a series by Thomas B. Costain which started in the first of the series with Geoffrey of Anjou with the feather in his cap, the "Planta Genesta" , going through King Stephen, Richard the Lion Hearted, King John, King Edward "Edward Longshanks" up to Richard III and then I recall ends with Henry VII and the beginning of the Tudor dynasty. It's been years since I read the series but I really enjoyed it. I would like to go back and again r ...more
Jan 04, 2008 Stuart rated it it was amazing
Read these four books before we went to France the first time in 1974. With the planta genesta family history in my lizard brain, I noticed on the map that the route between Paris and Rouen provided, with a short detour, the opportunity to stop at the ruins of one of Richard (the Lionheart)'s castles above the Seine (contructed in 1195). So I stopped and wandered and had a couple of hours that fed all my Ivanhoe fantasies of my yout'. Would never have stopped had I not read the book.
Abigail Hartman
Jun 26, 2013 Abigail Hartman rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Costain employs his novelist's flair to the last (and, I think, best-known) work in his Plantagenet series. It picks up with the decline and death of both Edward III and his son the Black Prince, then moves on to a fairly lengthy but still eminently enjoyable section on Richard II. Then, of course, there are the Wars of the Roses. Costain isn't always detailed, and he doesn't talk much at all about aspects like the Battle of Agincourt; but he does highlight lesser known and perhaps more critical ...more
Mike Luoma
Aug 12, 2014 Mike Luoma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good read and serviceable survey of the period. Nothing new for me here as a regular scholar of the period, but it is well presented and would make a great introductory book on the era. One interesting Ricardian note: Although written 50 years ago, Costain was willing to challenge the historical image of Richard III towards book's end, finding many historical sources to be biased and in some cases factually incorrect. As with many non-UK authors, Costain found when examining the actual evidenc ...more
Mar 20, 2007 David rated it it was amazing
Costain's able to keep the reader's interest for hours in subject matter that could easily become a little dry and dusty.
Very readable popular histories.
Feb 08, 2016 Marcus rated it liked it
This final volume of Costain's Plantagenet saga confirms what I started to suspect somewhere in the middle of 'The Three Edwards' - the undeniable darkness and tragedy that permeates the final chapters of Plantagenets' history seems to steadily sap the energy out of the author, so that in the end he's barely able to finish his grand story. Once the story reaches to the pathetic end of Henry VI, the author pretty much admits openly that he doesn't even feel like going through all the tiresome and ...more
Jan 25, 2010 Sara rated it it was ok
What to say about this book? I'm an Anglophile and generally love reading about the British, particularly stuff about the monarchy. This book took me well over a year to read, because it is so incredibly boring. Make no mistake -- it contains tons of useful and interesting information. But any book that talks about alliances, betrayals, torture, beheadings, disease, love affairs, infanticide, etc, should NOT BE THIS BORING. I was never able to read more than three pages in a row without falling ...more
S.J. Lewis
Apr 17, 2012 S.J. Lewis rated it really liked it
I discovered Costain's books on English history many years ago, and made a point of getting every one of them that I could track down. Every one is entertaining and informative and provides just enough detail about the politics and personalities involved to give a reader a clear notion of not just what was going on but why it was going on. With 'The Last Plantagenets', he covers the Wars of the Roses and the ending of a dynasty superbly well. He also has a few things to say about the demonizati ...more
Kathy  Petersen
Final volume in Costain's four-book popular history of the Plantagenets; I'm reading them in order, something I did a very long time ago.

This, in my rather informed opinion, is the best kind of "popular history": superbly written, chatty with a storyteller's verve, accurate and appropriately researched, with speculation well-identified as such and the author's perspective not presented as irrefutable.

The Plantagenets are endlessly interesting folks, and Costain is obviously entranced with them,
Feb 08, 2015 Rikki-Tikki-Tavi rated it it was amazing
I read this when I was 10 or 11. I found fascinating at the time and would enjoy rereading it again. It probably was one of the books that launched me on a trajectory to a history degree.
Jul 12, 2015 Margaret rated it really liked it
Shelves: general-history
Fairly old book but still an entertaining read.

The author is even handed in his attitudes to each monarch. Well worth reading if you can get hold of a copy.
Aug 11, 2012 Kama rated it really liked it
I've learned a LOT reading this series. Not the least of which they should make "hanged, drawn and quartered" a drinking game and also people in the middle ages REALLY knew how to hold a grudge.
Sep 01, 2015 Gary rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to come across this treasure at a charity shop, and having a passionate interest in English history eagerly snapped it up.
And I am glad I did. With a novelists flair , Thomas Costain creates both a detailed history of England and its monarchs from the declining years of Edward III to the death of Richard III at the battle of Bosworth and the early early years of Henry VII.
Costain combines political history with social history, taking us through the overview while providing us
Oct 28, 2012 Kara rated it liked it
Shelves: plantagent-fact

First off – a detailed family tree would have [i]really[/i] helped.

Second, there is a bias that still, to this day, permeates the book world – a belief that only men “can” write historical non-fiction while only women “can” write historical-fiction. The bias is that women are so in tune to feelings and domesticity and babies and staying in the kitchen and falling in love and their teeny tiny widdle brains can only handle fluffy ideas and day to day matters while men have the strong, analytical m
Nov 26, 2016 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
Great book, I especially enjoyed the author's take on Richard III.
Jan 29, 2012 Scott rated it it was ok
This is the third of Costain's histories of the Plantagenet which I have read. And the first third was as enjoyable as the previous two volumes.

Costain is a great storyteller who makes his characters vivid. Noble kings, beautiful queens, wicked villains, courageous knights, inept councilors, jealous uncles, weak kings, crafty archbishops, seductive mistresses, proud peasant revolutionaries, etc., etc. And these are caught up in stirring battles, intricate diplomacy, and so many twists and turns
Mar 08, 2010 Bettie☯ rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is the last in a series of books on the Plantagenet Dynasty. I enjoyed the final chapter in this family's history!

Costain takes the reader all the way through the War of the Roses to the ascension of Henry II. Although, it is trickery to follow. If you have an interest in that period, I recommend you seek another book that focuses solely on the rivalry between the Lancasters and Yorks.

One interesting point is Costain's treatment of Richard III. He is clearly pro-Richard and makes no bones
Kaye Ogram
Jan 19, 2013 Kaye Ogram rated it liked it
I can rate this book only 3 stars. It is a very uneven book; the first part being extremely interesting if a bit disjointed in presentation. The second portion being somewhat similar to a foot race through the Wars of the Roses, and the third devoted entirely to a defense of the reputation of Richard III. His dismissal of More/Morton and Vergil's histories without benefit of reliable sources to the contrary leave a great deal to be desired to this reader. I am not satisfied with the explanation ...more
Jan 30, 2015 Richard rated it really liked it
The Last Plantagents! Bravo!

This is very good. The section on Richard II though is long. Too long considering how quickly The War of The Roses fly by.

Its all so well explained though, and he really introduces each character well, and lets you know exactly who you should be watching out for. This is a great device in this kind of book, as there are tons of characters that just pop up for a bit and then go away again, only to return in a key role 200 pages later. I don't think anyone else writes
Oct 08, 2011 Thomas rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This may be called "The Last Plantagenets", but "The Least of the Plantagenets" might summarize the characters and the book. It seems that Costain didn't really like this part of the story and rushed through it. What's more inexplicable is his inclusion of the entire House of Lancaster in this book. Yes, there may be a trace of Plantagenet blood legitimizing the Lancastrians, but we didn't really need to read about it. Of course, if Costain had kept the narrative quality to the same level as the ...more
Oct 21, 2011 RJay rated it liked it
While I love reading about the Plantagenet history, I struggled not only with the writing style, which jumped around quite a bit, but also with the title relative to the narrative. I expected a more equal treatment of all from Richard II to Richard the III and that wasn't the case. In fact, the portions on Edward the IV were paltry compared to the chapters ad nauseum on Richard II. I wouldn't recommend this book if you don't already have a fairly good knowledge about the time period as the autho ...more
Judy Weiner
Feb 19, 2014 Judy Weiner rated it liked it
This book covers a large period of British history. I had just finished the most recent book in the cousin's war, and was curious about the previous kings. This book only goes up to King Henry IV coming to the throne. I really wish it had covered the periods of Henry V and Henry VI also. I found the chapters covering Henry II, his wife Eleanor and their sons very interesting. So the title of the book is a little misleading as Richard III and possibly the lost little princes would be the last Pla ...more
Oct 10, 2012 Carrol rated it really liked it
A fine book. I tried reading this book years ago; before the advent of the Internet. Using Wikipedia with this reading made it much easier to keep all the characters straight (so many with similar names). Getting more background information on the characters enriched the reading experience. The most in-depth and interesting elements of the book: Richard II, Richard III, and the two young princes in the Tower of London. This is a non-fiction book that piqued my interest in possibly reading a good ...more
Feb 23, 2013 Jonathan rated it really liked it
Fun, light narrative that verges on novelistic in its sketches of characters and scenes from The Pages of English History, peppered with arch commentary and concluding with a long brief in defense of Richard III (as a King: able, honorable, and admirable, if melancholy; as suspect in the murder of his two nephews: nominally ambivalent, though Costain clearly thinks him innocent).

Costain's poetic license becomes a real strength if you imagine that he really thought himself privy to the thoughts o
After reading the first three of Costain's Plantagenet series, I had to read the fourth. It wasn't my favorite, however. Either he ran out of steam in the writing (especially around halfway through with the death of Richard II, who he considered the last true Plantagenet) or I ran out of steam in the reading. Still, following Richard II, TLP gave a brief history of the War of the Roses, which I will follow up by reading Alison Weir's The Wars of the Roses.
Bonnie Staughton
Jun 10, 2015 Bonnie Staughton rated it liked it
An interesting read. I understand there are other books in this series but this is the first one I have read. Lots of confusing similar names but interesting stories. As another reviewer wrote--A detailed family tree would have helped. I'm sure Thomas Costain did quite a bit of research and his stories sound like he knows what he is talking about. I thought it might be a "dry" read but it was interesting and informative.
Jennifer Post
Aug 15, 2009 Jennifer Post rated it it was amazing
A fascinating look at history from poor Richard II down through Richard III, and the controversy surrounding Richard III and his two nephews. Costain is a true historian, delving into the past for first "true love" of books. I've had to buy this book three times in my life, as I keep wearing it out.
Jun 26, 2012 Serfergirl rated it it was amazing
Although serious historians tend to dismiss Costain's history, he does make his books interesting and easy to read. His four-part book series called The Pageant of England was my second introduction to English History, the first being a really dry book by Winston Churchill! Without Costain it is doubtful that I would have gone on to study English medieval history.
Apr 01, 2014 Luann rated it liked it
Shelves: history
One thing is for sure: you have to be awake when you read this book. Even though well written British history requires one to have an ability to distinguish between all the Edwards, Henrys, Richards, etc. The english royalty have a penchant for numerous titles and names for each person. If their history wasn't so doggone colorful it would really be boring.
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  • Richard III
  • Henry II
  • Richard and John: Kings at War
  • Royal Blood: Richard III and the Mystery of the Princes
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  • The Plantagenet Chronicles
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  • Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Four Kings (Harvard Paperbacks)
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  • Shakespeare's Kings: The Great Plays and the History of England in the Middle Ages: 1337-1485
  • In the Lion's Court: Power, Ambition, and Sudden Death in the Reign of Henry VIII
  • The Last White Rose: Dynasty, Rebellion and Treason. The Secret Wars against the Tudors
  • Bosworth 1485: The Battle that Transformed England
  • The Last Days of Richard III
  • The Gunpowder Plot
Costain was born in Brantford, Ontario to John Herbert Costain and Mary Schultz. He attended high school there at the Brantford Collegiate Institute. Before graduating from high school he had written four novels, one of which was a 70,000 word romance about Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange. These early novels were rejected by publishers.

His first writing success came in 1902 when the Brantford
More about Thomas B. Costain...

Other Books in the Series

The Plantagenets (4 books)
  • The Conquering Family (The Plantagenets, #1)
  • The Magnificent Century (The Plantagenets, #2)
  • The Three Edwards (The Plantagenets, #3)

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