The War of the Roses

Cousins, Conflicts, and the Crown

Henry Arthur Payne, Plucking the Red and White Roses in the Old Temple Gardens,c. 1908

The 15th century in England saw a series of battles among British noble families and royal relatives that ripped apart the fabric of English politics. As Henry VI was weak leader, two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet seized the opportunity for a bold and bloody familial power grab and, in doing so, reshaped the English monarchy. These tumultuous decades saw a rotating cast of kings, families divided, cousin against cousin, and fortunes made and lost.

Join Royal Oak as historian and educator Carol Ann Lloyd focuses on the key players in this tempestuous saga, including Henry VI, his wife Marguerite of Anjou, the father and son Duke of York team, the Kingmaker, Richard III, Margaret Beaufort and her relatives, and the first Tudor king. She also will explain how and why this time of civil war came to be known as the “Wars of the Roses.”

Two viewing options!

Live — Thursday, May 21st at 7:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Online via Zoom Webinar

$15 members; $20 non-members

Click here to register

After registering, you will receive an email with a link to the webinar.


‘Rent’ the recorded lecture to watch at your leisure between

Friday, May 22nd and Tuesday, May 26th

$15 members; $20 non-members

Click here to rent

The Zoom video link will be sent to you on May 22nd at 12:00 p.m. (eastern).

The video will be hosted on the Zoom website and will be available for streaming only and until Tuesday, May 26th at 11:59 p.m. (Eastern). It cannot be downloaded.

Content published courtesy of Royal Oak Foundation and Carol Ann Lloyd

The Age of Plunder

Book Review by Samantha Yorke

Henry VIII is one of the most famous monarchs to have ruled England.

Yet, what was life like for those that he ruled?

How were they impacted by the wars with France, his marital disasters and the religious Reformation that his chief ministers implemented?

The Age of Plunder does not dwell upon the lives of political and religious leaders such as Wolsey, Cromwell and Cranmer, but instead provides a vivid depiction of Tudor England from the perspective of those who tended the crops, sat at the looms and worked in the mines.

“The scholarship is as sound, the sympathy as warm and the judgments as pugnacious as ever.” New Statesman

“This is a provocative and stimulating book, packed with statistical information, but saved from indigestibility by well-chosen and unusual examples drawn from the author’s vast knowledge of local history.” The Agricultural History Review

In this book W. G. Hoskins reveals how inhabitants of early sixteenth century England were witnesses to the greatest act of plunder since the Norman Conquest, but this time by the native governing class.

The Age of Plunder by W.G. Hoskins is a look at the economic state of the Henrican world of Tudor England. Unlike most books written about this monarch, it focuses on the lives the people in his kingdom. The stories of how Henry’s decisions effected his realm will catch your attention. The divide between privilege and poverty was obscene. The book is somewhat long, dry and academic and is aimed for a scholarly reader. If you are looking for a book about his wives and his court, this is not for you. However, if you want a book centered upon day-to-day life in the world of Henry VIII, and how his economy set the stage for his daughter Elizabeth I, eventually Great Britain and the ascent of the British Empire – the sociology of the era – then this book is for you. It is a book that can be utilised for reference and scholastic purposes, and for that reasons I rate it four stars.


Special thanks to Net Galley and the publish for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.


Available for purchase on Amazon:



On The Tudor Trail

This just in from Natalie Grueninger and On The Tudor Trail…

Over two exciting months, Natalie Grueninger will host weekly discussions on her podcast, Talking Tudors, with a number of leading experts & Boleyn historians. The rich array of topics will cover everything from Boleyn supporters at Henry VIII’s court to Thomas Cromwell’s role in Anne Boleyn’s downfall. Listeners will gain a fresh perspective on one of the most prominent and misunderstood families of the Tudor era, and come face to face with the people behind the famous family name.

In addition to the weekly episodes, there will also be giveaways and guest
posts by some amazing historians/novelists: Tracy Borman, Adrienne
Dillard, Wendy J. Dunn, Andy Demsky and Tamsin Lewis. As well as the
podcasts and guest articles, illustrator Kathryn Holeman will present two
fun Tudor drawing tutorials. But wait, there’s more… The brilliant
Professor Suzannah Lipscomb, will answer your questions about Anne Boleyn!

For more information visit:

On The Tudor Trail

*Do you love Talking Tudors?

You can now help support

and grow the podcast.*


Join On the Tudor Trail here & follow at these social media sites!

Katheryn Howard, The Scandalous Queen


Katheryn Howard, The Scandalous Queen: Review by Samantha Yorke

From the publisher: Bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir tells the tragic story of Henry VIII’s fifth wife, a nineteen-year-old beauty with a hidden past, in this fifth novel in the sweeping Six Tudor Queens series.

In the spring of 1540, Henry VIII, desperate to be rid of his queen, Anna of Kleve, first sets eyes on the enchanting Katheryn Howard. Although the king is now an ailing forty-nine-year-old measuring fifty-four inches around his waist, his amorous gaze lights upon the pretty teenager. Seated near him intentionally by her ambitious Catholic family, Katheryn readily succumbs to the courtship.

Henry is besotted with his bride. He tells the world she is a rose without a thorn, and extols her beauty and her virtue. Katherine delights in the pleasures of being queen and the power she has to do good to others. She comes to love the ailing, obese king and tolerate his nightly attentions. If she can bear him a son, her triumph will be complete. But Katheryn has a past of which Henry knows nothing, and which comes back increasingly to haunt her–even as she courts danger yet again.


There can be little doubt that Alison Weir has made an indelible mark on the public’s fascination with Tudor History. I was hesitant to take this ARC copy at first because I generally find the author’s fiction to be difficult to read. However, there are many good points to be taken from this fictional story of Katheryn Howard.

The book begins are the death of Katheryn Howard’s mother. From there we are taken on the journey of her short, tragic life. Ms. Weir shows us a young girl who is overlooked and passed first from relative to relative, then from man to man, all the while she merely yearns for a home and a place to be loved and belong.

She catches the eye of King Henry VIII. The reader will feel the anxiety that the young queen experiences, afraid that her past lovers will come to light. We share her joy as the King spoils her and she finally appears to delight in being cherished and adored.

Then, just as quickly as she ascended, Katheryn Howard is doomed by the shadows and whispers of her past. Weir vividly paints a sympathetic, doomed young girl trapped and caged in the trappings that she has grown to love as she finally felt secure in the world the King created for her.

Weaving a novel length story about a life that we know so little takes a great amount of skill and talent.

This book is not as long as most of Ms. Weir’s fiction, which will be a bonus for some readers who may find her rambling, extensive stories tedious. The book opens with brief family trees of the Tudors, Howards, Culpepers, and Derehams-which is impressive. Her devoted following will love this book, and I believe she will garner new appreciation for the sheer volume of research she did on the life and story of this poor pawn in the machinations of a tyrannical king. This is also an ideal book to get lost in for a few days. Due to these factors, I’m giving the book four stars.


Special thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for an ARC of this book in exchange for a fair review. Release date is May 12, 2020.

You may purchase the book here.


Elizabeth I: The Making of a Queen ~ Interview with the Author

Interview with Laura Brennan, author of Elizabeth I: The Making of a Queen

L Brennan Photo (1)

Initially I wanted to be a news Journalist and report on wars and big historic world events, however after 2 years at University I discovered that maybe I was not the right fit and changed to a history course and the rest is well history! My grades improved and I spent 3 very happy years studying the past. 

I am currently residing in Berkshire very close to Windsor Castle however I am in the process of hopefully relocating soon with my small white cat Ophelia and far too many pairs of shoes. 

My passion lies with travel (primarily within Europe particularly France and Italy) Shakespeare and renaissances art.   

What got you into writing? 

English and History were my favourite subjects at high school and although I loved history I did initially I wanted to be a journalist working for a broadsheet paper and radio however the university the course I enrolled on focused on tabloid journalism and TV and it really was not a fit with who I am and my principles. I changed direction, course and university and undertook a BA Hons in history and discovered I enjoyed retelling and explaining history in an approachable manner. I played with the idea of teaching after graduation and worked as a Teaching Assistant for a year but again decided that was not the right fit. It was while I was working an admin job, I undertook a part time MA in history and started writing on various subjects privately as an outlet of frustration. I wrote a now extinct blog for several years and it was through that typo plagued blog that I was found and asked on twitter, if I had any book ideas and indeed I did!

How did you choose the subject of Elizabeth I?  


When I was doing my BA the subject of my dissertation looked at the relationship between Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I so I had a good knowledge of the subject, Mary is rather over romanticized  but I always felt that Elizabeth got a raw deal. Halfway through writing my first book I pitched the idea of Elizabeth I: The making of a Queen to my publisher and they agreed. 

What are the main things you love and hate about writing? 

I think you need to be a bit of a sadist to be an author for there is a lot of pain involved! As a nonfiction writer I love the research and the hours in the archives and libraries. I love the thought process and when the words and what you want to say follows and you get several thousand words down in a sitting. However, when the writer’s block hits when you can’t get a paragraph to flow when you can not find the reference for the perfect quote to back up your point these are hard and often more frequent that the pleasures. But it is worth the effort when you finally hold the book in your hand. Then you swear you will never do that again and a few weeks or Months later you are sat at the laptop starting a new project with hope and excitement. 

Who is the worse villain you have ever written about? 

On the whole I agree with Alan Rickman’s view on Villains –“I don’t play Villains. I play interesting people.”  The same can be said for may of history’s bad guys, they are just overly complicated characters with human faults – However in my first book on the Duke of Monmouth, the character of Titus Oates was truly an unsavoury character and he genuinely makes my skin crawl. He fabricated lies against Catholics to seek revenge after being caught doing unsavoury things as a teacher within a catholic school. The consequences of his lies ended in a 45 innocent Catholics losing their lives.

In this book, the more I read on Henry VIII the more I despised him, I had previously thought he was not exactly husband material but he was troubled, by the end of writing the first part of the book, I decided he was one of the worst characters of English history and needs to be remembered for his cruelty far more than his serial womanizing. 

Are you an avid reader?

Yes, I am, but I am not the fastest reader. For pleasure love to read historical fiction. I do love the Dr Matthew Bartholomew series as well as the Thomas Chaloner novels by Susanna Gregory, I also enjoyed the Brother Cadfael books by Ellis Peters. I am currently reading The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel and during lockdown I have been reading it aloud to the cat. I also enjoy crime fiction and really enjoy Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano mysteries and the adventures and stories of Donna Leon’s Inspector Guido Brunetti novels.

Is history your favorite genre?

To write, nonfiction history is where I am most comfortable – I am in owe of anyone who can write good fiction, especially historical fiction. 

To read as you saw above, I prefer to escape into historical fiction, with good characters and evidence of research and I prefer my protagonists to be fictional and the supporting characters to be historical fiction. Of course, all rules are made to be broken and I am greatly enjoying The mirror and the light, but Mantel’s attention to detail and excellent characterization means that those rules need not apply to this book. Also, as you can see, I also have a weakness for moral Italian police inspectors as well. 

Do you listen to music when you write? 

Depends on what part of the process I am at, how well the written session is going and how much caffeine I have consumed. Early in the optimistic stages of a project I like to have a little music on, I like to have the French radio station Chante France on in the background or film scores made up of instrumental/classical compositions can be lovely as I write. If I am having a bad writing day I need to work in quiet, but white notice like a washing machine, fan or tumble dryer in the background is fine but music especially music with vocals is a big no no. 

What would Elizabeth say about you? 

I would like to think that she approved of this independent fiery, well educated red head who has chosen to explain why she was a great queen. She would however probably say that my cleavage was inappropriate and that I should dance more often. 

What advice do you have for beginner authors?

The hardest part is starting. Write too much the book is properly formed in the editing stages. Don’t give up–we all have our doubts!

Follow the author here:



Purchase the book here:

Pen and Sword History Books


Elizabeth I: The Making of a Queen by Laura Brennan

Elizabeth I is arguably one of the greatest monarchs and women of English history. Against an uncertain political and religious backdrop of post-reformation Europe she ruled at the conception of social modernisation, living in the shadow of the infamy of her parents’ reputations and striving to prove herself an equal to the monarchs who had gone before her. This book seeks to explore some of the key events of her life both before and after she ascended to the English throne in late 1558.

By looking at the history of these selected events, as well as investigating the influence of various people in her life, this book sets out to explain Elizabeth’s decisions, both as a queen and as a woman. Amongst the events examined are the death of her mother, the role and fates of her subsequent step-mothers, the fate of Lady Jane Grey and the subsequent behaviour and reign of her half sister Mary Tudor, along with the death of Amy Dudley, the return of Mary Queen of Scots to Scotland, the Papal Bull and the Spanish Armada.

About the Author

Initially Laura Brennan wanted to be a news Journalist and report on wars and historic world events, however after 2 years at university, she discovered that maybe it was not the right fit and changed to a history course, and the rest is well history! Her grades improved and she spent three very happy years studying the past. 

She currently resides in Berkshire, very close to Windsor Castle however she is in the process of (hopefully) relocating soon with her small white cat- Ophelia-and far too many pairs of shoes. 

Her passion lies with travel (primarily within Europe, particularly France and Italy), Shakespeare, and Renaissance art.  

Follow her on Twitter!

ELIZABETH I: The Making of a Queen will be available April 30th. Pre-order here via the publisher for UK or international delivery!

Pen and Sword Books

ANNOUNCEMENT: Field of Cloth of Gold Summit

During a blustery 18 days in June 1520, an historic event took place in the Pale of Calais. Here King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I of France met in an ostentatious display of power, wealth and status. Masterminded by Thomas Wolsey, the aim was to join the two kingdoms in a pact of solidarity and friendship, notably against the insurgence of the Ottoman Empire, which was threatening Christian Europe at the time.

It was a spectacular event that became famous in its own lifetime. Now 500 years on, over the weekend of the 9-10 May 2020, The Tudor Travel Guide is celebrating this historic event by holding a FREE two-day virtual summit. You will hear from experts in their fields talking about a range of different aspects of the event: from the social, political and cultural context, to original research to locate Henry’s celebrated temporary palace, clothing & textiles, food and more…

Speaker line up:

Saturday 9 May:  

Many of the speakers have offered to give away a copy of one of their books as part of a book bundle giveaway to one lucky winner, who will be selected at random at the end of the event. The winner will be notified by email and The Tudor Travel Guide will post the winner’s name on FB and Twitter. Books included in the bundle are:

  1. The Field of Cloth of Gold, by Glenn Richardson
  2. In the Footsteps of the Six Wives of Henry VIII, by Sarah Morris and Natalie Grueninger.
  3. Henry VIII and the Men who made Him, by Tracy Borman
  4. A Banquet at the Old Hall: An Invitation to participate in Historic Cooking, by Brigitte Webster
  5. Tudor London, by Natalie Grueninger
  6. The Great Wardrobe Accounts of Henry VII and Henry VIII, by Maria Heyward (tbc)
  7. A colour paper by Julian Munby of his original research on finding he location of the temporary palace at the Field of Cloth of Gold will also be included.

Yale University Press have also kindly offered to make free sample chapters available from a range of their Tudor related books (details still to be finalised) for EVERY registrant to the summit.

How to sign up:

This online summit is FREE attend. You simply need to register you name and email address. Don’t worry if you can’t make the dates and times advertised or are in a different time zone. All the videos will remain available to view until the 24 June 2020 to coincide with the final day of the actual event, 500 years ago. However only those registering for the event will have access to the videos.

How to register:

Sign up will open on Thursday 9 April 2020 and will remain open until 48 hours before the event, i.e. Midnight on Wednesday 7 May 2020.

Follow this link to the sign-up page & join today! REGISTER


All images either Public Domain or shared courtesy of Dr Sarah Morris

Sir Francis Bryan

Sir Francis Bryan was Henry VIII’s most notorious ambassador and one of his closest companions. Bryan was a man of many talents; jouster, poet, rake and hell-raiser, gambler, soldier, sailor and diplomat. He served his king throughout his life and unlike many of the other men who served Henry VIII, Bryan kept his head and outlived his sovereign. This book tells the story of his life from coming to court at a young age through all his diplomatic duties to his final years in Ireland. 

Purchase here:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Bio: Sarah-Beth Watkins’ life-long love of history and writing has seen her publish articles in magazines and online, and she is fast establishing herself as one of the world’s most eminent figures in the field of Tudor and Stuart biographical expertise with books such as Lady Katherine Knolly and The Tudor Brandons. Sarah-Beth also tutors creative writing and journalism. 

You can follow her at least sites:




The War of the Roses: Cousins, Conflicts and the Crown

All-Day Program

Saturday, February 29, 2020 – 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

“Plucking the Red and White Roses in the Old Temple Gardens”, ca. 1908, by Henry Payne

Can a family conflict change the history of England and Europe? When it’s the Plantagenet family, the answer is yes. Henry VI’s weakness as a medieval king led to a challenge for power, resulting in a series of battles and power grabs known as the Wars of the Roses. Tudor scholar Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger traces this tumultuous history from its earliest origins through its years of conflicts to its final result: the establishment of the most powerful family of the 16th century, the Tudors.

9:30­­–10:15 a.m.  King Edward III: My Five Sons

The conflicts of the mid-15th century had their start more than 100 years earlier when Plantagenet King Edward III died in 1327. He was succeeded by his grandson, Richard II, who was deposed by another grandson, Henry Bolingbroke. Half a century later, that shift in power would form the impetus as the next generation of Plantagenets split into the houses of York and Lancaster and engaged in a series of bloody battles for the throne.

11 a.m.–12:15 p.m.  Henry VI and Edward IV: Family Feud

Henry VI was the least effective Plantagenet king, and his strange illnesses and inability to rule led to a challenge by the Richard, Duke of York. Richard’s son Edward defeated Henry VI in battle, taking the throne as Edward IV. However, the wars were not over. Subsequent battles restored first Henry VI and then Edward IV to the throne. In all, battles rather than peaceful succession determined the king of England three times between 1455 and 1483 (and would again just two years later).

12:15–1:30 p.m.  Lunch (participants provide their own)

1:30–2:45 p.m.  Red and White Roses: The Women’s Stories

Although they typically exerted their power in more complicated and less visible ways, the women of the 15th century shaped the families, the men, and the nation around them. Mothers, sisters, and wives created and unraveled the webs of loyal and betrayal that energized the fighting. In a time of conflicts driven largely by personalities, the strong personalities of Marguerite of Anjou, Cecily of York, Queen Elizabeth (Wydville), Margaret Beaufort, and Elizabeth of York were key in the remaking of England’s monarchy.

3–4:15 p.m.  Battlefields to Bedchambers: Power Shifts in the Tudor Ascent

The death of Edward IV in 1483 was expected to be followed by the crowning of his son as Edward V. But Richard, Duke of Gloucester, had other plans. Richard claimed Edward’s marriage was invalid, his children illegitimate, and the throne was his. Richard’s disruption of the succession created an opportunity for the final Lancastrian heir, Henry Tudor, to return from France and claim the crown for himself. Henry overcame challenges, held onto the throne, and started the most famous (and infamous) dynasty of all—the Tudors.

Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger, the former manager of visitor education at the Folger Shakespeare Library, lectures nationally about Shakespeare and the Tudor period.


$90 Member $140 Non-Member

Information shared courtesy of Caroll Ann Lloyd-Stanger and Smithsonian Associates.

For more info, click here.

Once Upon Another World

Hunter S. Jones

Good morning! Time to pre-order the box set Once Upon Another World. Several other authors and I have joined forces to launch this 99c box set of twisted fairy tales. It’s magic! The early buzz is that this is destined to be a USA Today Bestseller, and I love that. Let’s wish upon a star and see if dreams really do come true!
Look for my featured novella Gypsy Moondust Daydream – the first original fiction I’ve published in over three years.


Not all fairy tales are as they appear.

Was it actually Red who hunted the wolf? What if the prince was the one in distress? Did the straw really get spun into gold? How well did those glass slippers truly fit?

Where princesses do their own rescuing, princes aren’t who they first appear to be, and beasts are friends, not foe—and maybe something more…

With stories…

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