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The Wars of the Roses: Peace and Conflict In Fifteenth-Century England
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The Wars of the Roses: Peace and Conflict In Fifteenth-Century England

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  174 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
The Wars of the Roses have traditionally been seen as the last dying convulsion of the Middle Ages, a marker between the medieval and the modern, and above all as a period of violence, horror, and civil disorder. John Gillingham's new book shows that this is a spurious view of the period. His authoritative analysis of fifteenth-century warfare proves that the actual battle ...more
Hardcover, 274 pages
Published 1981 by Louisiana State University Press
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Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Those who have read the magnificent and informative Lancaster and York: Wars of the Roses.
will have good insight into the dynastic wars in England during the 15th century known as the Wars of the Roses. Weir's book is a political history of politics and personalities, while in this book Gillingham focuses more on the military side of the conflict.
The armies, armaments, weapons and battles are described in painstaking detail, and sometimes the author rushes through the description of personalitie
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, medieval
A somewhat difficult read, especially when you’re not British and totally not accustomed to the long list of Houses, lineage and local nobility, but worth it in the end.

The author clearly details the events leading to campaigns and battles; local enmities, succession struggles and so on. The different periods are put into coherent chapters and my main regret would be the lack of lineage chart and maybe some maps here and there. It seems the author has inherently limited his audience to Englishm
Kristopher Swinson
2.8. Practically only the 15th century Englishman could be more relieved than I was when the Wars of the Roses finally ended. The initial charm of this work—which fell short of the back cover’s promised “dazzling account”—dissipated into protracted, seldom interesting the battlefield.

Gillingham employs skillful application of historical method, critical enough of traditional or variant interpretations (103, 106, 120, 132, 154, 200, 222). He’s unafraid to weigh the relative value o
Sep 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Thanks in no small measure to William Shakespeare, the Wars of the Roses looms large in the English historical imagination. For many, its factional conflicts between various noble families serves as a demarcation between the England of the Middle Ages and the era of the Tudors that began with Henry VII's victory over Richard III at the battle of Bosworth Field. Yet at John Gillingham argues, these events and their legacy is often misunderstood in terms of their scope and their legacy. As he demo ...more
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
It was not easy to read. It seemed to be so many tries to be king & to gain power. This power seemed to go back & forth. Almost like the continual bickering of young children. Full of deceit & lost loyalty.
Eugene Peery
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not an easy read, but worth it.
Kenneth Sherman
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gillingham gives a very readible account of the War of the Roses. For much of the 15th century the succession to the throne was disputed and king (two if you count Richard II) was executed and one was killed in battle and another disappeared and possibly buried in the Tower of London. Despite that, Gillingham pointed out that England was actually a more peaceful place than continental Europe during the 15th century. The English seemed to fight differently in England than in France, where they an ...more
Mar 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a telling of the Wars of the Roses mostly through the battles that were fought. While it was very interesting it was also a bit dry at times. The author does a good job of using different sources and makes sure to state when he is using only one to tell of events in case of any bias in the information. I also think that having a prior working knowledge of the events really helped in the reading and if I hadn't known what was going on I might have become lost in all the names, dates, and ...more
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My usual go to for history is much more biliographical or society analysis based. This focused more on the war tactics and the factions of the Wars of the Roses.

However, despite it not being my normal, I really, really enjoyed this book. I was able to get an understanding of this dynastic feud from an angle I haven't previously delved in to.

I will certainly be reading more of Gillingham's books.
Gerry Germond
Jan 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: medieval-history
A good account which helped me sort out this event. I especially appreciated the first three chapters which set the stage for the Wars of the Roses and laid to rest many popular misconceptions of them. There isn't much original source material and the author takes some pains to evaluate them for trustworthiness, weeding out Tudor propaganda. At only 257 pages, a good account.
richard mills
Aug 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good summary

This book focuses mostly on the battles. There is an attempt to put them in perspective and dispel myths but that is not the focus. It is more military minded than political or social. The material is well researched and the author does well to sort through conflicting accounts and biased reports.
Readable but a little dry. I think the story got lost a little in the facts, so I enjoyed the little anecdotes that were sprinkled throughout. I would like to have seen more on Margaret of Anjou.
Boulder Boulderson
As a book with a bibliography but no footnotes, this very much falls into the category of popular history. Gillingham has a relatively new take on the Wars of the Roses - that they are a series of three largely unrelated conflicts - and interprets evidence in this light.

Not being a serious scholar of the period, I couldn't venture an opinion on whether he is correct, but his narrative is strong and the argument convincing enough.

While generally very readable, it's not the most accessible of work
Chris Steeden
'England in the fifteenth century was the most peaceful country in Europe'

'...wars were extremely rare'

Gillingham goes on to say: The Wars of the Roses were not fought with standing armies but between forces raised just for the occasion. If you were born in 1450 and survived to be 40 you would have lived through 3 civil wars known collectively as the Wars of the Roses. On at least 5 occasions you would have seen kings pushed off the throne by force. Henry VI twice in 1461 and 1471, Edward IV (fi
Aug 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, shakespeare, war
The author says there were three wars. The first was the downfall of Henry VI and the triumph of the York Party headed by Edward IV. The second is the revolt of Warwick and Edward IV's comeback and triumph over Warwick. The third is the usurpation of the throne by Richard III and his eventual downfall to Henry Tudor who becomes Henry VII. The author's focus is the battles. Although documents are scarce the author does a yeoman like job in recreating the battles. I was especially interested in th ...more
Mary Dawson
Jun 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Comprehensive and detailed, the book delivered what I was looking for, a chronological overview of what actually happened in the Wars of the Roses. Chapters 4 to 14 were very readable with a balance of anecdotes about people, geography and social / cultural context. It's a wide topic and at times some of the events blurred into each other but given the lack of historical information to distinguish individual battles this is probably inevitable.
Apr 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent modern analysis of the war and politics of later 15th century England. Overturns many myths about the "Wars of the Roses" and sets the record straight about what really happened. Not for those who aren't into Medieval English History.
Chaplain Stanleigh Chapin
An excellent primer of military strategies and Royalty

At first it seemed like I was back in a school history class and then I kept reading. Viola it was written in a manner that grabbed your interest as well and was informative.
Endeavour Press
This book is published by Endeavour Press.
Tom Winkelspecht Jr
Solid, clearly written primer. Wish there had been more depth to some sections.
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May 30, 2017
John Morrison
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Aug 30, 2015
Mike Rogers
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May 08, 2016
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Caryn Welby-Solomon
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Mar 22, 2014
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Aug 27, 2015
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Feb 25, 2016
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  • The Wars of the Roses: Through the Lives of Five Men and Women of the Fifteenth Century
  • The Wars of the Roses
  • Fatal Colours
  • Edward IV
  • Bosworth 1485: The Battle that Transformed England
  • Richard III and the Murder in the Tower
  • Warwick the Kingmaker
  • Richard III and the Princes in the Tower
  • Richard and John: Kings at War
  • The Wars of the Roses: England's First Civil War
  • The Life and Times of Richard III (Kings and Queens of England)
  • Richard III: The Maligned King
  • The Last Days of Richard III
  • The Rise of the Tudors: The Family That Changed English History
  • Edward IV and the Wars of the Roses
  • The Hollow Crown: A History of Britain in the Late Middle Ages
  • Edward II
  • Henry VIII
John Gillingham is emeritus professor of medieval history at the London School of Economics and Political Science. On the 19th July 2007 he was elected into the Fellowship of the British Academy

He is renowned as an expert on the Angevin empire.
More about John Gillingham...