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"War of the Roses reading?" Topic


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Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2017 1:34 p.m. PST

What's a decent military history for the War of the Roses?

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2017 1:35 p.m. PST

What's a decent military history for the War of the Roses?

whiterose Inactive Member16 Mar 2017 1:50 p.m. PST

The military campaigns of the Wars of the roses by Philip A Haigh. Great book, covers all the battles,from events leading to them, onto the battles themselves and aftermath. Its not like a lot of other books on the period, where you get totally lost in the politics of the time, these are simply covered briefly to give you the picture of the events that lead up to the battles.

For a great central source of information on the War of Roses you cannot go far wrong with this book, had mine 17 years and is still gets re read, and of course if you really want to go into more depth on any particular battles there are plenty of books covering them!

Hope this helps

Colonel Bogey16 Mar 2017 2:08 p.m. PST

I have to second that recommendation – written by a wargamer for wargamers.

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP16 Mar 2017 2:15 p.m. PST

The book ( The Wars of the Roses) by Dan Jones is excellent. After reading his book, I was finally able to understand the whose who and the why's of each side.

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2017 2:33 p.m. PST

Haigh and Jones it is, fantastic :-)

MajorB16 Mar 2017 2:59 p.m. PST

The military campaigns of the Wars of the roses by Philip A Haigh.Great book

But the maps are terrible and in some cases completely wrong!

whiterose Inactive Member16 Mar 2017 3:45 p.m. PST

MajorB, its not totally perfect, and neither is any other book of the period, but its a great all round source covering the periods battles,and the author did a great job to condense all the battles into one book.Many books written for this period show many differences with there maps, and it is easy to see why with such scanty information, and there authors are simply trying to make there own judgements in some cases.
The bottom line is we should be grateful for there efforts and enjoy there books!

MajorB16 Mar 2017 3:56 p.m. PST

MajorB, its not totally perfect, and neither is any other book of the period, but its a great all round source covering the periods battles,and the author did a great job to condense all the battles into one book.

I agree that generally it's a reasonably good primer, but anyone who puts Harpenden in between Hatfield and Sandridge and moreover shows the road from Hatfield to St Albans going via Harpenden clearly needs a few lessons in map reading. The problem is that a glaring inaccuracy in one area of necessity calls into question accuracy elsewhere. "If he got that wrong, what else did he get wrong?"

And of course it is somewhat dated now, since we now know that Bosworth was fought a mile and a half away from Ambion Hill. Also the latest research on Northampton suggests that the batlefield was south of Delepre Abbey and not to the north where Haigh places it.

Personal logo Great War Ace Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2017 9:08 p.m. PST

Ain't change a bitch? Just because they find a cannon ball in a field, now Market Bosworth loses credibility. And you know what? Caldbec hill is where the "battle of Hastings" winds up. So what? None of the new stuff is conclusive. We can still retain our old, traditional battlefields if we want to.

coopman Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2017 5:10 a.m. PST

Maybe way back then some guy might have thought: "I'm going to take these cannon balls that I found at the battlefield site and take them up the road a ways and bury them in that field. When they finally do find them, perhaps hundreds of years from now, they'll be totally confused. He, He."

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2017 10:41 a.m. PST

I'll bear the details on maps in mind.
Appreciate the feedback though.

My interest is more in the fighting styles and broad "feel" in general than in specific battles.

Thomas Thomas Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2017 11:26 a.m. PST

Strongly recommend the recent Battle Royal.

First book to acknowledge the popular interest in the War of the Roses generated by George Martin's Song of Ice and Fire.

Great modern reconstructions of the battles and very good use of sources.

Bit heavy on the geneolgy though…but it is a family feud.

TomT

MajorB17 Mar 2017 12:04 p.m. PST

Just because they find a cannon ball in a field, now Market Bosworth loses credibility.

Well IMHO 22 cannon balls and a boar badge are pretty conclusive. YMMV.

MajorB17 Mar 2017 12:07 p.m. PST

My interest is more in the fighting styles and broad "feel" in general than in specific battles.

You'll probably be all right with Haigh then as a starter. I recommend reading around the subject though. For example, "The Battles of St Albans" (Burley, Elliott and Watson) and "The Battle of Northampton 1460" (Ingram) are both very good explorations of specific battles from the period and of course (if you can afford it) the book on Bosworth by Curry and Foard

whiterose Inactive Member17 Mar 2017 12:26 p.m. PST

You could also add Richard Sadlers book TOWTON to that list, gives a much more graphic view of fighting in the wars of Roses, than any other book i have read.
MajorB, indeed, cannon balls,coins of the period, a scattering of medieval artifacts, and a silver gilt boar badge. Case closed!!!

Repiqueone17 Mar 2017 7:01 p.m. PST

Shakespeare's histories offer the best sense of the period and the best quotes to hurl at your opponents. If you're in to gaming that period, read the letter of history, but don't fail to read the spirit of the age by the best dramaturge and propagandist in the English language. Especially Heny V, Henry VI I,II, III, and Richard III. Marginal history, but this is the narrative England believed in its heart for the last several centuries.

Personal logo Great War Ace Supporting Member of TMP18 Mar 2017 9:20 a.m. PST

So why did the "original" battlefield get traction to begin with? Did someone just guess? Finding scattered medieval artifacts in a field a couple of miles away doesn't mean the battle was fought there. An actual battlefield could be picked clean rather quickly. Whereas an obscure field would not attract attention and could accumulate the casual droppings of passing persons over several decades and attract no attention at all. In what state were the cannon balls found? I ask, because their placement could indicate other reasons than having been shot for being in the field.

MajorB18 Mar 2017 12:46 p.m. PST

So why did the "original" battlefield get traction to begin with? Did someone just guess? Finding scattered medieval artifacts in a field a couple of miles away doesn't mean the battle was fought there.

Sigh. Read Curry and Foard's book. It's all in there. I believe the critical factor in relocating the battlefield relates to finding the marsh mentioned in some of the primary sources.

Whereas an obscure field would not attract attention and could accumulate the casual droppings of passing persons over several decades

Do you REALLY believe that people casually dropped 22 cannon balls?

whiterose Inactive Member18 Mar 2017 12:57 p.m. PST

A marsh with a silver gilt boar badge,plus coins, and all those cannon balls and other medieval items, come on it all speaks for its self. As for the location getting lost with passage of time, remember the actual participants would have struggled to remember it!

Personal logo Great War Ace Supporting Member of TMP19 Mar 2017 7:28 a.m. PST

22 cannon balls isn't that many. Were they found more or less together? Scattered about? I don't have any reading material on this. Other than the initial Medía "discovery", I haven't heard anything more on it.

A boar badge would be just the thing that a hoaxer would put there.

Coins, ditto that.

What about weapons or pieces thereof? Any horse tackle?

What about disappearing or appearing marshes? The "marshes" at the site for the battle of Hastings, for instance, are long gone, as is the original coastline. And no battlefield detritus has been found to ID "Battle Hill" either.

Much changes over the centuries. I am not convinced, yet, that this new field for Dickon's demise is any better than "the old one"…………..

Warspite119 Mar 2017 8:53 a.m. PST

To clarify this matter for non-UK readers, several British battlefields have either been totally lost or else radically misplaced over the years. This is partly because (unlike in the US) we previously did not regard battlefields highly and partly because some battles go back so far that no-one remembers where they were.

Missing battles include: the destruction of Boudicca's army AD 60/61 Mons Graupius AD83/84 and several of the Saxon/Viking encounters.

One of the things which has bedevilled British history is that so many Victorian and Edwardian 'historians' jumped to conclusions about subjects including battlefield sites and these have been copied and re-copied. Bosworth is a case in point. The original site was chosen for its proximity to Richard's Well and it was assumed (always a bad word) that the battle was close to the well. The problem is that nothing has ever turned up on site.

Modern historians began to question Victorian/Edwardian assumptions and that has led to a re-appraisal plus the use of metal detectors. Perhaps the killer proof for the new battlefield site is that it is close to Crown Hill – Richard's Crown is said to have been lost at the battle – and the discovery of battlefield debris including damaged lead covered shot. The damage indicates it was fired and is therefore in situ.

Lack of other material is similar to Towton where the site IS known and yet not a fantastic amount has been found. Both sites have turned up a few arrow heads and very small metal debris which may have come from harness of some sort.

None of this is sinister as the battlefield would have been gleaned afterwards for useable materials and both Towton and Bosworth have been ploughed and farmed for hundreds of years afterwards. Indeed it is a wonder that anything has survived.

Discoveries at Barnet last year were supposed to 'shift' that battlefield a few hundred yards away from its supposed position but the undamaged shot and part of a metal purse suggest that this is a looted 'camp' area or else where the rout passed through. Historians are beginning to realise that the 'rout' area behind the battlefield may resemble the debris field of a shipwreck and may cover a larger area than previously supposed.

At present there is no cause to doubt the new position of the Bosworth battlefield and no suggestion that anyone has 'planted' evidence. Everyone wants the truth and the distribution and type of recovered material supports the conclusion that Victorian 'educated guesswork' was wrong and someone should have been looking at a parish map where folk memories like 'Crown Hill' had always been recorded and were available to the Victorians if they had bothered to look.

The other killer argument is that – at the old site – there was little or no evidence of a marsh. At the new site there is clear evidence that a marsh existed.

Barry – a member of the Lance and Longbow Society.

(and my first post!)

whiterose Inactive Member19 Mar 2017 9:30 a.m. PST

Thankyou very much Barry, a very fine input into the subject.

Warspite119 Mar 2017 9:32 a.m. PST

And for my second post on TMP…

For Wars of the Roses books I would personally recommend:

The Hollow Crown by Dan Jones
The Wars of the Roses by Trevor Royle
A Brief History of Medieval Warfare by Peter Reid.

All the above are paperback and can also be found cut-price and cheap, often at branches of the UK retailer, The Works. They do a good line in remaindered books. I have picked up some good Richard III books at the same source.

In hardback I can recommend:
The Medieval Soldier In The Wars of the Roses by Andrew Boardman
The Battle of Towton, also by Boardman
The Military Campaigns of the Wars of the Roses by Philip Haigh.

Finally… a very generous Father Christmas bought me Blood Red Roses which is the large format paperback report on the archaeology of the mass grave found at Towton a few years ago. Pricey but it delivers! :)

A brief summary of their discoveries was that most of the dead had substantial head, facial and limb injuries. Surprisingly… there were no bodily injuries between the neck and the hips which indicates that they were all protected in some way, probably by padded jacks. In fact, a comparison with civilian graves elsewhere showed that civilians often had damaged ribs, etc, perhaps caused by domestic violence or accidents but the Towton dead had none. This may imply that padded jacks were worn in peacetime or as a standard item.

Now… these bodies were clearly found in the rout zone behind the battlefield where they would probably have been running with their helmets off. I have tried to run while wearing a sallet helmet myself, it is near impossible. So bodies from the centre of the battlefield MIGHT show more bodily injury and fewer head injuries. However a new Barnet book which I am just reading now quotes a German (Hanse) merchant writing home saying he had seen the wounded come back from Barnet and their injuries were leg, head and facial. He even writes of some people having their noses hacked off. Given the level of facial injury some of the Towton dead suffered I am not surprised. Either the Barnet wounded were wearing open-faced helmets or else the sallet was being worn without its lower bevor plate and when they fell back the face was exposed.

Now the head and leg injuries here and also noted at Wisby/Visby in the mid 14th century suggest that – in combat – the principal tactic was the cut someone's legs out from under them and then smash their face in while they were on their back, on the ground. It might also explain the rise of pole arms – such as the bill and poleaxe – which featured 'thumbs' or spikes behind the blade which could be used to hook behind the knee and trip an opponent.

Barry – a member of the Lance and Longbow Society.

MajorB19 Mar 2017 9:45 a.m. PST

22 cannon balls isn't that many. Were they found more or less together? Scattered about? I don't have any reading material on this. Other than the initial Medía "discovery", I haven't heard anything more on it.

A boar badge would be just the thing that a hoaxer would put there.

Coins, ditto that.

What about weapons or pieces thereof? Any horse tackle?

What about disappearing or appearing marshes? The "marshes" at the site for the battle of Hastings, for instance, are long gone, as is the original coastline. And no battlefield detritus has been found to ID "Battle Hill" either.

Look, just go and read Curry and Foard's book, OK? All your questions are answered in there.

Personal logo Great War Ace Supporting Member of TMP19 Mar 2017 11:31 a.m. PST

Barry is a LOT more fun to read than you, MajorB. And he's multiplied my knowledge of the Bosworth, and other battlefield controversies by times ten. That's what fora are about. Not telling someone to hive off and read on their own. We do that too already.

Warspite119 Mar 2017 11:58 a.m. PST

If I may quote from Dr Strangelove:

"Gentlemen you can't fight in here, this is the war room…"

Can we agree to disagree?

Barry

whiterose Inactive Member19 Mar 2017 1:40 p.m. PST

I think Barry makes a good point regarding the Victorians and Edwardian period historians being responsible for the inaccuracies of the war of Roses, and which over the last hundred or so years there conclusions became facts, but in all fairness to them, they were simply trying to shed light on a very misty period of history, long neglected with very little help of real evidence other than brief accounts of the battles, legends and a few place names.

I would also like to comment on Barry's comment on we English not regarding our battlefields highly, it is true that there seems little passion or care through out history, and it is shocking, with roads and housing developments simply ploughed through them in modern times. But in regards to the War of Roses sights it is easier to understand how they were quickly forgotten. These were battles involving mostly Englishmen killing Englishmen,if only Edward IV had won his battles against a foreign foe, he would surely have eclipsed Henry V.
Also i believe people back then had far bigger worries,survival its self, and that includes the Royal houses that followed,the Tudors and Stuarts, perhaps a case of who cares what happened in the civil strife of those days, thats all in the past, we got our own problems to think about!!!

Warspite119 Mar 2017 2:34 p.m. PST

Bless you whiterose!

Recent issues on British battlefields have included attempts to build houses on Tewkesbury and a by-pass road across Naseby (English Civil War). Edgehill (also ECW) benefits from largely being on a fenced-off British Army/MOD site.
At Edgehill metal detecting again came to the rescue in 2009 with the finding of more than 3000 items including 1000 shot. As a result this battlefield has also been re-orientated from its traditional layout. Significant discoveries included patterns of case-shot distribution.

link

Returning to the Wars of the Roses, while metal detecting has not taken place there (as far as I know) the Battle of Mortimer's Cross has now been re-evaluated academically. Traditional VIctorian thinking was an almost east-west confrontation but that would put Edward (future Edward IV) and his army with their backs to the river, no place to be if you have to retreat. Edward was regarded as savvy or at least very well advised. Andy Lamkowski of the Lance and Longbow Society has suggested that a more north-south alignment is far more logical. Andrew Boardman (see my books list above) concurs.

link

If this is true then the new site a mile south, at the significantly named 'Battle Acre Cottage', also meets the only contemporary description of a 'fair plain' NEAR to Mortimer's Cross. 'Near' is not at it. The above link covers this in more detail. The traditional site is a river valley and a bridge – certainly not a 'fair plain'.

Barry – L&LBS

whiterose Inactive Member20 Mar 2017 5:31 a.m. PST

Barry, thanks for the link to Mortimer's Cross, when you look at the ground, it really makes more sense with the latter North south confrontation. This is perhaps a clear indication of the Victorian/Edwardian way of thinking you alluded to earlier. The way they had Edwards army formed almost as a defensive blocking force, covering the road and bridge to block the Lancastrians way, certainly smacks of a more modern military way of thinking.
Oh and thanks to mentioning Andrew Boardman, i have read his Towton book many times, a real gem!

Warspite120 Mar 2017 6:33 a.m. PST

Boardman's Medieval Soldier book is a masterpiece in its own right. I recommend it to anyone coming to this period and looking for information.

On Mortimer's Cross I defer to Andy Lamkowski for his analysis which I think is quite plausible.

My friend Graham and I recently war-gamed Mortimer's Cross and we went for the more modern interpretation and closer to 'Battle Acre Cottage'. Graham's Edward Earl of March (future Edward IV) had his flank on the river and his other flank on the steep hills. It was a comfortable and natural position and blocked Tudor movement both north towards Wigmore and NNE towards Ludlow. Both were personal York castles and Ludlow had been looted only a couple of years before. Edward may have been acting to protect his tenants and supporters, not just himself.

Had Edward formed up in front of the bridge, the path to Ludlow would have been blocked but Wigmore would be left unprotected. Wigmore had been inherited from the Mortimer's via his mother and his title of Earl of March also stemmed from there.

My Jasper/Owen Tudor army faced Edward with roughly equal numbers and we diced to see if the perihelion effect occurred. If successful then Edward's unit added one to morale and melee until it suffered a push-back. My Lancastrian army was a motley crew of two Tudor retinues, native Irish, native Welsh, French mercenary and Ormond/Wiltshire's Anglo-Irish. Ormond was highly unreliable and liable to bolt from a melee push-back. Predictably, he did!

The outcome was interesting with a firefight and then seven melees along the front. I won three and routed my opponents, he won three and routed mine including Ormond. The seventh decider was Edward versus my dismounted French mercenaries who piled in and eventually routed Edward's unit but he personally survived and we speculated he would have fallen back to his three surviving dependable units and reversed back into the narrow valley by the bridge and dug-in. The Tudors lacked the strength to shift him and would have fallen back to Wales.

Barry

MajorB20 Mar 2017 12:23 p.m. PST

Oh and thanks to mentioning Andrew Boardman, i have read his Towton book many times, a real gem!

I hope it's better than his book on the First Battle of St Albans …

whiterose Inactive Member20 Mar 2017 1:42 p.m. PST

MajorB, no offence but you seem a real expert, perhaps write a book yourself!

MajorB20 Mar 2017 3:20 p.m. PST

MajorB, no offence but you seem a real expert, perhaps write a book yourself!

Funny you should say that …

whiterose Inactive Member21 Mar 2017 5:30 a.m. PST

Ha ha, well if you do please let us all know, can never have enough books on this subject!

Thomas Thomas Supporting Member of TMP21 Mar 2017 8:23 a.m. PST

Curry's work on relocating Bosworth is about as persusive as it can be given the passage of time – great detective work and now the essential volume on the battle.

Most interesting revelation was that on some early maps the battlefield was correctly placed – but when copies were made the name text was moved such that the placement of the battle moved to the end of the text rather than the start. Moving it to the "modern" incorrect location – now moved back by Curry.

Will check the stuff on the "Cross", an interesting and critical battle but with all most no original source material. Real guess work (the whole War of the Roses has sources issues most are brief and biased).

Still great material for wargames (and novels see Song of Ice and Fire). Recommend Battle Royal for modern scholorship on at least the first half of the Wars (up through Towton).

TomT

DukeWacoan Supporting Member of TMP Fezian06 Apr 2017 11:28 a.m. PST

While not non-fiction, and at the risk of igniting the White and Red fight, I would recommend Sunne in Splendour. I found that the core history was very good. There is a clear effort to interpret that history in a pro-Yorkist manner, which I actually found plausible, or at least not directly in conflict with things. Many many will argue with the interpretations, but I thought it an outstanding read. Battle narratives very good.

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