The Wars of the Roses, by Trevor Royle
Just stop it. If you are a serious medievalist and judging my choice of histories, just stop it. I needed a readable, concise overview of what the hell happened in England from the death of Edward III to the coronation of Henry Tudor (aka Henry VII). I did not need deep nuance or subtlety, just the basic who killed who and vaguely why and Royle fit the bill. Moreover, I thought he did a great job expressing the gist of a series of conflicts that are rather obtuse to the modern mind. Even the names are hard. One must carefully keep track of when a person goes from being a man to a place. The various members of the Percy family can be ‘Percy’ or ‘Northumberland,’ same with York, Lancaster, etc. Royle’s helpful index at the back is useful and he does a good job making clear just who is who. Really, the picture one takes away is of a drastically small circle. Everyone marries everyone, and really this is a family squabble that consumes a nation. It’s funny, though, who we remember. Poor old John of Gaunt. I think he’d have been a splendid king. Anyhow, for anyone who wants to brush up on this period, or just read a decent historical narrative, Royle’s Wars of the Roses fits the bill nicely.