There are three main problems for any historian trying to tell the story of the Wars of the Roses. Firstly, where to start in the complex set of social and political circumstances that led to the conflict. Secondly, how to separate the web of myths, half-truths and legends from the historical facts and thirdly there are the significantly differing historical accounts to be reconciled. Alison Weir has produced a very readable narrative that deals comfortably with all these problems.
I can’t remember the last time I read a book then immediately started all over again at page one, this time more slowly, just in case I’d missed something. As well as covering the whole story from the roots of the families of Lancaster and York (with two hundred pages of background and ‘scene setting’ there are plenty of fascinating footnotes to history. Somehow it had escaped my notice that Henry V’s effigy in Westminster Abbey had its silver head stolen in the time of Henry VIII – and it was only replaced in 1971! (See this clipping) Another thing I missed was that Richard of York was the first and only one of the Plantagenets to actually use the name. Even for non-historians, this book is a real page turner that proves that, of course, truth really is stranger than fiction.