Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the War of the Roses by Sarah Gristwood is an interesting look at the female historical figures of a fairly famous period in British history.
Historically known as the War of the Roses between the York and Plantagenet lines who vied for the throne of England, the term wasn't used during the period in question. Blood Sisters focuses on Margaret Beauford, Elizabeth Woodville, Elizabeth York, Anne Neville, and Margaret of Burgundy - mothers, wives, and sisters of the men vying for the throne and who are the more usual focus of historians.
Blood Sisters is an interesting book, not only because it focuses on people who were instrumental but have since largely been ignored, but also because Gristwood is very frank about speculating and informing readers there are simply things we can never know for sure as documentation does not exist any longer, if it ever did.
Historians often portray the royal women as powerless or corrupt but Gristwood simply shows that they were real people with real lives who made the most of their station in life while not being allowed to rule in their own right - even those who were queens - but who were by no means powerless.
Blood Sisters is a well written account of the lives of women that haven't been fully explored in such an even handed way previously and one that any fan of the pre-Tudor and Tudor eras should definitely read.
From best-selling historian, Sarah Gristwood comes the true story behind Philippa Gregory’s recent novels – the women who gave birth to the Tudor dynasty. It is a fiery history of Queens, the perils of power and of how the Wars of the Roses were ended – not by knights in battle, but the sinewy political skills of women.
The events of the Wars of the Roses are usually described in terms of the men involved; Richard, Duke of York, Henry VI, Edward IV and Henry VII. The reality though, argues Sarah Gristwood, was quite different. These years were also packed with women's drama and – in the tales of conflicted maternity and monstrous births – alive with female energy.
In this completely original book, acclaimed author Sarah Gristwood sheds light on a neglected dimension of English history: the impact of Tudor women on the Wars of the Roses. She examines Cecily Neville, the wife of Richard Duke of York, who was deprived of being queen when her husband died at the Battle of Wakefield; Elizabeth Woodville, a widow with several children who married Edward IV in secret and was crowned queen consort; Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, whose ambitions centred on her son and whose persuasions are likely to have lead her husband Lord Stanley, previously allied with the Yorkists, to play his part in Henry's victory.
Until now, the lives of these women have remained little known to the general public. Sarah Gristwood tells their stories in detail for the first time. Captivating and original, this is historical writing of the most important kind.