Book Review: The Castle in the Wars of The Roses

This post contains some affiliate links. This means that if you decide to click on a post and make a purchase, I may, at no extra cost to you, receive a small commission that helps me keep the blog going. Thank you for your support! A preview copy of The Castle in the Wars of the Roses was sent to me for the purposes of this review, however, all opinions are my own. 

OK, so you might know all about the Battle of Bosworth and how Henry VII ended the Wars of the Roses after marrying Elizabeth of York and squishing a couple of rebellions. You might even know about Henry VI. Or Edward IV and how he rose to power. Or how his brother Richard declared his nephews illegitimate and took control of the kingdom for himself. 

You might think you know all about the Wars of the Roses. 

Corfe Castle: Photo by Bill Eccles on Unsplash

But do you know about the sieges at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland? Or what happened at Corfe? Or what a siege even is? How about the role of the Tower of London in the Wars? And how castles were garrisoned in the first place? 

A whole chunk of the bricks and mortar of the history of the Wars of the Roses has been generally left out, in favour of thirty-odd years of political scheming and throne-swapping. Until now. 

A new book, The Castle in the Wars of the Roses by Dr Dan Spencer, aims to enlighten us on this vast and fascinating subject. It'll probably make you realise how little you actually do know about the Wars and what really happened, taking the topic from a reel of names and dates in a book to actual real locations and crumbling ruins. It somehow makes it feel much more real.

Having read it, the book has given me a much greater appreciation of the role of castles during this battle for power. They were garrisoned, although to do this long-term was expensive. They were besieged, blocking off the enemy's access to food, water and military supplies. And they were gifted as rewards to loyal followers of the victors as well as held for strategic reasons. Castles were certainly the centre of power and even often served as bases for those in power to send communications and make key decisions.

I loved the flow of the book, and it was easy to understand as well as being well written and really well researched. I also loved the biographies at the back, so you could refresh yourself on who everyone was and all the main players. There are illustrations and photos of the castles in the back of the book too, which is really useful for visualising the events described in the book.

If you're interested in the Wars of the Roses, (and how could you not be) I'd very much recommend this book. You might even discover a key Wars of the Roses event happened not far from where you live, that you could go and visit. I expect you'll suddenly start making a list of castles to visit, like I have. It'll also help you place the political events you know about already and put them in 'real life', making it all much more interactive. 

It's like we had all the characters, the lines and the stage directions. But we were missing the backdrop. And now, with this book, we have it. 

You can order The Castle in the Wars of the Roses on Pen and Sword's website, look out for it in bookshops or on Amazon

Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below. 

I explore many women involved in the Wars of the Roses conflict who defended castles and homes from sieges. It's all in my book Forgotten Women of the Wars of the Roses, published by Pen and Sword. Some of the women I talk about include defenders Elizabeth Blount, Margaret Paston and Alice Knyvet.  Order your copy here. 

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