A Short History of the Wars of the Roses

By Barton, Marcella Biro | The Historian, Fall 2014 | Go to article overview

A Short History of the Wars of the Roses


Barton, Marcella Biro, The Historian


A Short History of the Wars of the Roses. By David Grummitt. (London, England: I. B. Tauris, 2013. Pp. xii, 212. $82.00.)

This book comprehensively covers the interaction of English society and government during the Wars of the Roses. Moreover, it puts the conflicts into perspective on the wars of France as well as the changing scene in not only England but also Wales and Scotland. As the former director of the Prince Madog Center for Welsh Studies at the University of Rio Grande in Ohio, this reviewer would point out that David Grummitt grasps the importance Wales and the Welsh played in the wars in France (Hundred Years' War) as well as in the Wars of the Roses. Indeed, the political problems with which English monarchs struggled had much to do with the wars in France.

The monarchs were an important part of the Wars of the Roses. Grummitt aptly shows that being a king during the Wars of the Roses was difficult at times, but the wars ultimately brought out the best and the worst of some of the monarchs. In addition, the power of the Church, especially bishops, was evident throughout the wars. As members of the upper class, these churchmen had an important position in the war.

The constant power struggles were tied to the question of legitimacy and the Magna Carta. The role of Parliament became an important part of the power struggles that ensued. For example, Henry IV had to work with Parliament as well as his trusted servants. He could not rely on the powerful nobility who were a narrow base for support that had to be rewarded with grants of land and money. …

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