The subtitle sums up this short collective biography pretty well. The character flaws and foibles of fourteen well known people are shared in brief chThe subtitle sums up this short collective biography pretty well. The character flaws and foibles of fourteen well known people are shared in brief chapters arranged chronologically. All the names were familiar as were their major accomplishments, but the unhappy, sometimes sordid details were totally new for many of the historical figures Bragg chronicles. Readers in middle school and above will find this work enlightening and engaging, a quick read that does what so many full-blown biographies fail to do, show readers that heroes have feet of clay....more
Sir Thomas More was a man of principle, unfailingly true to his beliefs. He refused to compromise with what he believed to be true, yet he did not forSir Thomas More was a man of principle, unfailingly true to his beliefs. He refused to compromise with what he believed to be true, yet he did not force his belief upon others. Lord Chancellor of England, More was the highest legal authority and was widely regarded as the most honest man in the land. Commanded by the incredibly spoiled and selfish Henry VIII and his sycophants to support the King's setting aside Queen Catherine in favor of Anne Boleyn, he refused. More knew that to speak against Henry's Reformation - leaving the Catholic Church and establishing the Church of England with himself as its head - would be treason, so he resigned his position without comment and never spoke against the king or his activities, maintaining a careful silence. But even his silence was an unbearable reproach to Henry. More had to die so that Henry's conscience could be placated.
The film adaptation of this play won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1966. I was far too young to be interested in seeing it at that time. Sir Thomas More with his legal and moral struggles had far less appeal than Disney's fanciful cartoons and other light-hearted fare. But Bolt's morality play came to mind as I've been reading about the Plantagenets and the Tudors. It's a short but challenging read due to Bolt's use of the time appropriate language and style. Now it's time to go back 50 years and see the acclaimed movie version. ...more
It's getting hard to find Halloween stories with a new twist. There's nothing really new here, but it's a pleasant enough story for preschoolers and pIt's getting hard to find Halloween stories with a new twist. There's nothing really new here, but it's a pleasant enough story for preschoolers and primary students....more
Catherine of Aragon was an amazing woman and a gifted monarch who was largely responsible for preserving subjugating the rebellious Scots and preventiCatherine of Aragon was an amazing woman and a gifted monarch who was largely responsible for preserving subjugating the rebellious Scots and preventing Henry VIII's reign from being a complete debacle. Trained from birth to be a queen militant, the widow Catharine married her spoiled, selfish former brother-in-law and tactfully guided him for over 20 years. But even she could not overcome his wayward tendencies, and when their long marriage produced no make heir, Henry was easily led astray into numerous affairs and, eventually, to five more marriages that together last fewer years than his and Catherine's. ...more
Gregory turns the spotlight on the mystery of the young princes in the Tower in the fifth book of The Cousins' War series. I enjoyed her segue into thGregory turns the spotlight on the mystery of the young princes in the Tower in the fifth book of The Cousins' War series. I enjoyed her segue into the next generation of the Plantagenet cousins and found the young Elizabeth to be an engaging protagonist, especially as she aged and was able to look back upon the mistakes of her youth. I knew little about Henry VII, and her telling forced me to research the factual record of Henry Tudor and his formidable mother. ...more
It's not easy to write a first-person novel with a thoroughly unlikeable protagonist, but Gregory manages to do just that in this third book of the CoIt's not easy to write a first-person novel with a thoroughly unlikeable protagonist, but Gregory manages to do just that in this third book of the Cousins' War series. Margaret Beaufort considers herself to be special to God and called by Him to be the English Joan of Arc, leading the battle to restore the true king to the throne. Readers will quickly see the self-aggrandizement in Margaret's dreams and efforts since her idea of the true king is her own son, Edward Tudor. She works tirelessly to that end, plotting, scheming, and marrying to further her position. Gregory goes so far as to lay the deaths of the princes in the Tower at her doorstep as Margaret and her third husband, Lord Stanley, plot to murder the boys and let Richard III take the blame. Margaret's self-righteous assurance that her ascension is the will of God and inability to see her own faults rob her of all sympathy.
Gregory is masterful as she narrates many of the same events in previous books of this series without boring readers. Her ability to view events from her protagonists' viewpoints gives readers various subtle insights and clues to historical characters' ethics, the cunning and unending plotting, and the shifting tides of war....more
I have been interested in English history for many years, and Philippa Gregory's historical novels have been on my radar. But while I was a middle schI have been interested in English history for many years, and Philippa Gregory's historical novels have been on my radar. But while I was a middle school librarian there was little time for reading adult novels. Most of my time was spent reading YA books and picture books that linked to the middle school curriculum. Now that I have retired, it is time to start indulging my personal reading interests, beginning with the Wars of the Roses, and what better place to begin that with Philippa Gregory's Cousins' War series?
Elizabeth Woodville is a controversial figure in British history. Though she is recognized as one of the most intelligent and beautiful queens, she was polarizing. She was the second of only three commoners to become queen, and as such was highly resented by many English nobles. Her influence on Edward IV and the appointment of her many relatives to high positions or arranged marriages with noble families further estranged many. Gregory depicts Elizabeth as a complex woman who lacked political ambition until she fell in love with Edward IV. Her desire to secure Edward's claim to the throne, elevate her family, and determination to protect her children and their birthright are clearly portrayed.
Gregory wisely allows the disappearance and presumed death of young Edward V in the Tower of London to remain a mystery, with Elizabeth mulling the question of Edward's fate without coming to a definitive conclusion. But she is clearly a proponent of the largely discredited legend that Elizabeth's second son,Richard, Duke of York, did not die in the Tower but was switched with a young page boy and smuggled to safety in Flanders. The only jarring elements in the narrative are Gregory's inclusion of the supernatural, e.g., legends of Elizabeth being descended from the water goddess Melusina; and the witchcraft and prophetic sight she, her mother, and her daughters shared. All in all, The White Queen lives up to expectations and is a strong opening for Gregory's Cousins' War series....more