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The Women of the Cousins' War: The Duchess, the Queen, and the King's Mother

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,864 Ratings  ·  252 Reviews
#1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory teams with two eminent historians to explore the historical characters in the real-life world behind her Wars of the Roses novels.

PHILIPPA GREGORY and her fellow historians describe the extraordinary lives of the heroines of her Cousins’ War books: Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford; Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV;

Hardcover, 342 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Touchstone (first published January 1st 2011)
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Here we have it, folks: Phillipa Gregory’s first attempt to formularize a historical essay without her usual fictitious flair. How did it go? Read on, my friends.

The Women of the Cousins’ War began with a 40 page “introduction” which delivered Gregory’s thesis relating the similarities between historical fiction novelists and “actual” historians. Although Gregory made some interesting points regarding the composition/narration of both fiction and factual accounts, the speculation involved in bot

Since this book is co-authored by three very different writers, it is best examined in three parts. David Baldwin is the author of the book’s essay on Elizabeth Woodville. It’s a pacy effort, interesting, to the point, and makes no mention of the fairytale episodes of popular myth and which Gregory, incidentally, chose to include in her novel The White Queen. Baldwin also takes the time to explain why Elizabeth might have been accused of witchcraft in her own time. It’s readable, focused, and go
Dec 13, 2011 Jemidar rated it liked it

Classification: History Lite.

The worst thing about this book is Philippa Gregory's involvement, both the introduction and her essay on Jaquetta. The best thing is the final essay by Michael Jones on Margaret Beaufort. David Baldwin's section on Elizabeth Woodville falls somewhere between the two and was okay.

Michael Jones' contribution pushed this up to a three star read for me, before that it was languishing down around the two stars. I only wish I could give it more because his essay was excel
Nancy Ellis
Sep 08, 2013 Nancy Ellis rated it really liked it
In spite of all the criticism there is out there, I have no trouble enjoying this author's books, and this one is the best so far. I try not to get too hung up on finding fault, especially since I am far from ever being a qualified historian, and always assume when reading historical fiction of any era that there is going to be a great deal of speculation and insertion of the author's interpretation and personal preference. I found the introduction, written by Ms. Gregory, quite honest and open ...more
Christina (Confessions of a Book Addict)
If you are like me and you've truly enjoyed Gregory's The White Queen, The Red Queen, and upcoming The Lady of the Rivers, or you simply want to learn more about three remarkable women from the War of the Roses who are often overlooked, then this non-fiction books is a must read. The first portion focuses on Jacquetta of Luxembourg, who is the mother of Elizabeth Woodville (The White Queen) and the main character in Gregory's The Lady of the Rivers. The second section focuses on Elizabeth Woodvi ...more
Sep 18, 2011 Luci rated it it was ok
This work did not add much to my knowledge of these three women. Much like with Weir's biography of Katherine Swynford, it is hard to make any real statements regarding what these women really thought as there is a dearth of primary sources. It is a nice tie in piece to casual Gregory fans - but if you read historical writers such as Weir or Fraser, there is little new here. In my opinion, Weir should stick to history, while Gregory is a fine historical fiction novelist.
Nov 30, 2015 Sandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Well if this book proves something then it is that history may be written by men, but it is not entirely made by men. All three women in this book were women of deed rather then thought alone.

The duchess, after becoming a widow, first secured a happy second marriage with the man of her choice and then despite everything managed to help her family rise to the highest position in the land and actually hold it. You can't but respect that.

The queen is no doubt harshly dealt with by history (which g
Aug 03, 2014 Nikki rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, history
I don't get on well with Philippa Gregory's fiction, so I'm not terribly surprised that I wasn't a great fan of this either. I do like David Baldwin's work, though I think I've already read a full biography of Elizabeth Woodville by him; Michael Jones' work here is strong enough and based solidly enough on actual research to intrigue me.

I actually quite liked Gregory's introduction, ridiculously long as it is. She does actually raise valid points about the writers of history, and about how hist
Jan 01, 2015 Kara rated it it was amazing

I was going to give this 3 stars for shoddy workmanship, but decided on 5 stars for pure entertainment value.

Ms. Gregory found two hungry Plantagenet scholars - poor man's Alison Weir and David Starkey, and, by throwing big sales numbers and money and a chance at real honest to goodness publicity at them, got them to write a third each of "her" new "history" book, and oh boy do they tow the party line, right down to overtly endorsing Ms Gregory's books.

Check out the flap jacket - Gregory's got
Michelle (True Book Addict)
The Women of the Cousins' War was written to bring to light the "truth" behind the women featured in Philippa Gregory's Cousins' War trilogy, The White Queen, The Red Queen, and The Lady of the Rivers. Jacquetta (The Lady of the Rivers), Elizabeth Woodville (The White Queen), and Margaret Beaufort (The Red Queen) take center stage in this exploration of their lives and how they were very much a part of the Cousins' War, or the Wars of the Roses. I have to admit to not knowing much previously abo ...more
Kathleen Kelly
I love Phillipa Gregory, not only her historical fiction series but her contemporary works as well. I generally like to read the historical fiction versions of these famous ladies portrayed in this book and I am not a great fan of non fiction biographies of the medieval era as they can be pretty dry. This book however was awesome. I especially enjoyed the introduction by Phillipa Gregory as she clarified how she writes and how she researches. My feeling is that all authors of historical fiction ...more
Ray Campbell
Jul 21, 2013 Ray Campbell rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2013
This is a collection of essays by several historians including Philippa Gregory which cover the real history of the history fictionalized in her series: The Cousins' War. The book begins with a historiography, history of history, which discusses the art of history and the merits of historical fiction. I have to say that everyone who can read should at least read this essay. She articulates the nature of history as an art and explains that all historians invent, even if only by the facts they cho ...more
Sep 11, 2011 Amanda rated it really liked it
As someone who doesn't read very much nonfiction, I was a little apprehensive about reading The Women of the Cousins' War, but I was so fascinated by Elizabeth Woodville of The White Queen and Margaret Beaufort of The Red Queen, that I was drawn to this book, especially since it comes from Philippa Gregory. For the book, Gregory teamed up with two other historians, David Baldwin and Michael Jones, to explore the real lives of the women behind her novels.

Gregory opens the book was a unique introd
Two British historians team up with Philippa Gregory (queen of revisionist history, aka the lady that wrote The Other Boleyn Girl) to write the histories of three high-profile women of the Wars of the Roses: Jacquetta of Luxemburg, her daughter Elizabeth Woodville, and Elizabeth's mother-in-law, Margaret Beaufort.

The book does not start encouragingly. Doubtless in response to the (hopefully thousands of pages of) criticism her historical fiction has gotten, Gregory has prepared a 43 page introd
Bookworm Sean
This is a great companion novel to the White Queen, Red Queen and the Kingmakers Daughter series. It is an academic accounting of the events, during the series, thus I would not recommend it to those who are not interested in the history that inspired the books.

I found it a pleasure to read, being greatly interested in the wars of the roses. I read each corresponding section before the novel. For example I read the section of Margaret Beufort before reading, “The Kings Mother” section. I found t
Conor Byrne
Nov 30, 2015 Conor Byrne rated it really liked it
This collection of essays is intended for the general reader; thus its style is easy to read and absorbing. The book details the incredible lives of three women who lived during the Wars of the Roses and played active roles in the politics of the period: Jacquetta, duchess of Bedford; Queen Elizabeth Wydeville; and Lady Margaret Beaufort.

Acclaimed novelist Philippa Gregory examines the life of Jacquetta. Because she is the least known of the three women, and because there is far less surviving
Dec 04, 2015 Jen rated it it was ok
Shelves: english-history
I'm sure there is an excellent book on this subject out there. This is not it. This is mediocre at best.

Instead, it's anattempt to take advantage of Phillippa Gregory's virtual one-woman stranglehold on Tudor historical fiction but putting out a book about the three women of the War of the Roses. Let's face it, that's a pretty good subject.

Unfortunately, though Gregory might be an excellent fiction writer, she's not an enthralling non-fiction writer. Those are two very very very different skill
Rio (Lynne)
Apr 22, 2013 Rio (Lynne) rated it liked it
3.25 Stars. I thoroughly enjoyed Jones' part about Margaret Beaufort. I liked Baldwin's section on Elizabeth. She wasn't the conniving upstart I have been reading about lately. As for PG's take on Jacquetta, it was more Melusine and witchcraft oriented than I would have liked it to have been.
Sharon Jones
Nov 11, 2013 Sharon Jones rated it it was amazing
Non fiction - great account of the war of the roses or the cousin's war.
Oct 05, 2011 Pam rated it really liked it

It is true what they say: “you can take the girl out of politics but you’ll never take the politics out of the girl”. Don’t know that one? Well, it’s an old standby for me. Since I was a little kid, system dynamics and the stories of politics and power have always been of high interest. Now, I’ve generally relegated my interest to the past few decades or, at least, the last couple of centuries.

It turns out that the same old games have been going on for as
Apr 28, 2013 Kiley-anne rated it liked it
I am a huge fan of Phillipa's works. I don't think I have yet to come across a book of hers that I have not enjoyed.
Some certainly more than others, but I always enjoy them. Of course that will always be subjective and a matter of perspective.
So from a person who has not majored scholastically (as the author has) and from someone who simply adores reading anything from this period. I can not get enough of her works.
I found this book very helpful in fact, to aid in cementing the connections be
Jun 14, 2012 Rosemary rated it liked it
Being what my friend's call a Plantagenet junkie, I was avidly looking forward to reading this book. I've read many of this author's books and have enjoyed them - my favorite being The Constant Princess. Following the players in the see-saw of power is daunting. I keep copies of family trees at my side to help keep things straight. Reading this book is no exception. There is no doubt that Jaquetta, Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort were key players to and in the action. But because they ...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Jacquetta, Elizabeth, and Margaret are three formidable ladies that Gregory covers in her Cousins' War trilogy. Jacquetta was known for her witchcraft and for giving birth to one of the Queen's of England, Elizabeth Woodville. Elizabeth Woodville becomes one of the founding mothers of the new royal family. Margaret Beaufort becomes the grandmother of Henry VIII. All of these women had a profound affect on the future of the English royal family.

Gregory, Jones, and Baldwin each take on one of the
Feb 08, 2016 Julia rated it liked it
A good grounding in three key women. I found the chapters on Margaret Beaufort very useful.
Apr 26, 2016 Gaile rated it really liked it
A history of three women who lived through the War Of The Roses or the Cousin's War as it was known at that time.
Jacquetta, Duchess Of Bedford
Elizabeth Woodville, her daughter who became queen to Edward IV
Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry VI
If you do know the history of this time, you should find this history enlightening. If you do know the history of this time, it is interesting to read it from a woman's viewpoint.
This was a violent time in history and life was cheap.
Apr 03, 2016 Cassandra rated it it was ok
As has been said, Gregory's talent lies with historical fiction. Unfortunately, I found her section the least engaging, and finished it feeling like I knew as much about Jacquetta as I did before I read it. Though not much is truly known for a fact about her, this section did nothing to enlighten us as to the "might have happened" based on probability, like the other two sections do. You might not even have mentioned Jacquetta at all, for what she factors in here. (extremely little)

The sections
Phil Syphe
Sep 06, 2014 Phil Syphe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three authors recall the lives of three women who were prominent figures during the Wars of the Roses.

Philippa Gregory first covers the little-known life of Jacquetta of Luxemburg. So little-known was this woman that most of this section recounts events that occurred during the Wars of the Roses and the author just speculates whether her main subject was present or how she was affected.

On one hand this is disappointing, as the reader learns little of Jacquetta; however, on the other hand, this
Tracy Terry
Having read the first four books in Philippa Gregory's The Cousins War series (I have the fifth, The White Princess, on my TBR pile) I was delighted to receive this 'facts behind the fiction' book which takes a look at the 'true' stories of The Duchess (Jacquetta of Luxembourg), The Queen (Elizabeth Woodville) and The King's Mother (Margaret Beaufort)

Beginning with what I felt was a slightly over-long and mundane introduction by Philippa Gregory its over to the perhaps best known of the authors
Aug 31, 2012 Carolann rated it it was ok
This was written very choppy.

The authors freely admit that at times they had no idea what happened.

There is lots of speculation and what possibly could have happened.

I enjoyed it but it was very hard to get into.

The plot jumped around so many times.

I appreciate they are trying to reveal more of who these women were.
Aug 16, 2015 Melanie rated it it was amazing
I don't understand all of the negativity toward Philippa Gregory or toward this book. I really enjoyed it and thought her research on the life of Jacquetta was well done, considering there was little primary source material available. It was interesting to see the development of Jacquetta's life from Gregory's interpenetration and how the author went on to utilize her findings in her novel "The Lady of the River." I was impressed with David Baldwin's work on Elizabeth Woodville in the novel as w ...more
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Dec 02, 2015 09:56AM  
2016 Reading Chal...: The Women of the Cousins' War 1 16 Jan 29, 2015 09:20AM  
Cousins' War as a TV series? 2 17 Feb 20, 2014 06:07AM  
Publication date - Sept. 5, 2011 2 6 Jun 26, 2012 12:31AM  
  • Elizabeth Woodville: Mother of the Princes in the Tower
  • The Woodvilles: The Wars of the Roses and England's Most Infamous Family
  • Elizabeth Wydeville: The Slandered Queen
  • Blood Sisters:  The Women Behind The War Of The Roses
  • The Wars of the Roses: Through the Lives of Five Men and Women of the Fifteenth Century
  • Edward IV and the Wars of the Roses
  • Anne Neville: Queen to Richard III
  • Death And The Virgin: Elizabeth, Dudley and the Mysterious Fate of Amy Robsart
  • Blood & Roses: the Paston Family and the Wars of the Roses
  • Traitors of the Tower
  • Tudor: The Family Story
  • Margaret Beaufort: Mother of the Tudor Dynasty
  • Queen of the Conqueror: The Life of Matilda, Wife of William I
  • The Hollow Crown: A History of Britain in the Late Middle Ages
  • Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England
  • Richard III: The Maligned King
  • The Maid and the Queen: The Secret History of Joan of Arc
  • The Wars of the Roses: England's First Civil War
Philippa Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the novel The Other Boleyn Girl, which was made into a TV drama and a major film. Published in 2009, the bestselling The White Queen, the story of Elizabeth Woodville, ushered in a new series involving The Cousins’ War (now known as The War of the Roses) and a new era for the acc ...more
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“If a woman is interested in her own struggle into identity and power, then she will be interested in other women. The lives of these, and other women, show me what a woman can do even without formal power, education, or rights, in a world dominated by men. They are inspirational examples of the strength of the female spirit.” 1 likes
“Hidden from History: 300 Years of Women’s Oppression and the Fight Against It, London: Pluto Press, 1973.” 0 likes
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