The Last Plantagenets

The Last Plantagenets

by Thomas B. Costain

Hardcover edition. It covers the period from 1377 to 1485 in England.This book covers the last of the Plantagenets from Richard II to Richard III including the War of the Roses.

  • Series: The Plantagenets
  • Language: English
  • Category: History
  • Rating: 4.08
  • Pages: 447
  • Publish Date: August 1st 1963 by Popular Library
  • Isbn10: 0445001038
  • Isbn13: 9780445001039

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With a novelists flair , Thomas Costain creates both a detailed history of England and its monarchs from the declining years of Edward III to the death of Richard III at the battle of Bosworth and the early early years of Henry VII. It touches on the last years of Edward III, his beguiling mistress Alice Perrers, the intrigues of his court, the interplay between his sons , indulging the popular and valiant, Edward the Black Prince, the proud and intriguing John of Gaunt and his magnificent palace The Savoy his mistress Katherine Swynford, and his ultimate failure. The section ends with the decline of Richard's power, the connivance of those around him, leading to him being deposes and murdered at Pontefract by conspirators centered on Henry of Bolingbroke , the son of John of Gaunt and to be Henry IV Henry IV was sickly and undistinguished in his reign and was succeeded by the mercurial and martial genius, Henry V, who crushed a Welsh revolt that had almost succeeded, and best known of course for his victory in France at Agincourt and his wooing and marriage of Katherine of Valois, younger sister to Isabella of France, the young queen who was married to Richard II and who the young Prince Hal was besotted with in his boyhood. His most well known mistress the lovely and light hearted promiscuous Jane Shore is mentioned here (and he describes both the penance she was forced to do by Richard III after he became king and his pardoning of her when petiotned to do so by solicitor and royal official Thomas Lynom after he fell in love with her (which was an act of compassion as pointed out by Costain) One of the great achievements of Edward IV's reign was the printing press of William Caxton whose life Costain devotes a several pages to., Bu the key part of the book is a passionate defense by the the author of the character of Richard III who he carefully and methodically defends against the charges of killing his royal nephews in the tower, as well as other crimes he was accused of by Tudor historians such as Sir Thomas More, including killing Henry VI with his own hand, accusing his mother , the proud Duchess Cicely of adultery and his brother Edward IV of therefore being illegitimate. I find just about anything written on Richard III most intriguing having read many historic novels centering on Richard III Published in 1962, the book is so well written, so exciting and examines everything with such skill that this book is not at all dated, and I recommend any aficionado of medieval English history to get themselves a copy of this magisterial work.

It's been years since I read the series but I really enjoyed it.

I am especially fond of his habit of giving credit to the work of commoners like John Ball and William Caxton, who get much less press than the warring royals.

While making no apologies, Costain does show that the evidence does not favor the Tudor's version of King Richard III.

This final volume of Costain's Plantagenet saga confirms what I started to suspect somewhere in the middle of 'The Three Edwards' - the undeniable darkness and tragedy that permeates the final chapters of Plantagenets' history seems to steadily sap the energy out of the author, so that in the end he's barely able to finish his grand story.

His first writing success came in 1902 when the Brantford Courier accepted a mystery story from him, and he became a reporter there (for five dollars a week). His success there brought him to the attention of The Saturday Evening Post in New York City where he was fiction editor for fourteen years. In 1940, he wrote four short novels but was enough of an editor not to send them out. In 1942, he realized his longtime dream when this first novel For My Great Folly was published, and it became a bestseller with over 132,000 copies sold.citation needed The New York Times reviewer stated at the end of the review "there will be no romantic-adventure lover left unsatisfied." In January 1946 he "retired" to spend the rest of his life writing, at a rate of about 3,000 words a day. He was white-haired by the time he began to write novels. Costain's work is a mixture of commercial history (such as The White and The Gold, a history of New France to around 1720) and fiction that relies heavily on historic events (one review stated it was hard to tell where history leaves off and apocrypha begins).