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

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  2,476 Ratings  ·  287 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 23, 2010 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
Brooklyn Tayla
What an utter delightful read - as a history buff, especially one so enthralled in The Cousins' War and Tudor England, this book really taught me more about the amazing women of strength that were Elizabeth Woodville, Jacquetta of Luxembourg and Margaret Beaufort. Each essay was written smoothly and didn't sugar coat anything, and everything was superbly researched.
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
Nancy Ellis
Sep 08, 2013 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
Sep 12, 2011 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.
Jun 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is a departure for author Philippa Gregory who is well known for her historical novels. This book has short biographies of 3 women whom Gregory has profiled in her fictional series "The Cousin's War". Gregory wrote one bio and invited noted scholars to do the other two. In a 37 page introduction Gregory tells more about how and why this book came to be.

The first subject, Jaquetta of Luxembourg, has the least trace in the historical record. Gregory makes the most of what she can find bu
Jul 21, 2015 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
Jul 02, 2013 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 18, 2011 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
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
Jun 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars
Sep 05, 2011 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
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
Ray Campbell
Jul 16, 2013 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
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
Bookdragon 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
Rio (Lynne)
Apr 21, 2013 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 rated it it was amazing
Non fiction - great account of the war of the roses or the cousin's war.
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was enjoyable to listen to, but when a book is supposed to be history, and the writer declares they’ve dispensed with the custom of footnotes, I’m skeptical about the veracity of the version of history they’re telling.
Oct 05, 2011 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
Susan Abernethy
Mar 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Link to my review of this book:
Dec 04, 2015 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
Jun 13, 2012 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
Apr 28, 2013 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
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
Oct 07, 2016 rated it really liked it

This was a wonderful biography. If you are a fan of Philippa Gregory you will enjoy this. This is written purely on a historical levels to help weed through so much missing information on these three women, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort. The each have their own fictional novel written by Philippa Gregory. As I read about each history of these women individually it help me understand the fictional side of their tempestuous live living in a time when woman were th
Aug 09, 2011 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.
Aug 31, 2012 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.
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Dec 02, 2015 09:56AM  
2017 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
  • Anne Neville: Queen to Richard III
  • 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
  • Blood & Roses: the Paston Family and the Wars of the Roses
  • Katherine Swynford: The Story of John of Gaunt and His Scandalous Duchess
  • Death And The Virgin: Elizabeth, Dudley and the Mysterious Fate of Amy Robsart
  • Tudor: The Family Story
  • Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England
  • Richard III: The Maligned King
  • The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily
  • Henry II
  • Royal Blood: Richard III and the Mystery of the Princes
  • The Hollow Crown: A History of Britain in the Late Middle Ages
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
More about Philippa Gregory
“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.” 2 likes
“Every scholarly history that was written before 1920 was written by a man who had been taught by a man, whose thesis would be examined by a man, and whose book would be published by a male publisher and reviewed by a male critic. This could not change until women were admitted to universities and colleges. When women could train as historians in the universities, they could for the first time research, write, and publish scholarly history.” 0 likes
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