Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Review: The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes

Title: The Tudor Rose
Author: Margaret Campbell Barnes
Genre: Historical Fiction
First Published, 1953
Republished by Sourcebooks, 2009


Elizabeth of York was the eldest child of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. Following the death of her father his brother Richard became Regent and Protector of Elizabeth's brothers Edward and Richard. The boys were removed from their family and kept in the Tower of London , Richard declared his brothers marriage as invalid and the children illegitimate and thus ineligible for the throne, and declared himself King. An alliance between Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry of Lancaster, brought forward an agreement that if Henry would move to overthrow King Richard and succeed he would be married to Elizabeth of York.
In 1485 Richard III was defeated and died at the Battle of Bosworth Field.

On the 18th January, 1486 Elizabeth of York and Henry of Lancaster , now Henry VII, were married. The uniting of the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster gave birth to the Tudor rose and a new dynasty and an end to the many years of strife and civil war.

The book begins with the breaking off of Elizabeth's childhood engagement to the Dauphin of France and follows her life through the death of her father, the time spent in sanctuary filled with fear for her brothers and then her marriage.
The author gives a good account of the outside events happening at this pivotal time in England's history- the age old question of the fate of the Princes in the Tower, the rebellions and Pretenders to the throne during Henry's reign and a glimpse into ordinary life and customs. I like the way she presents some of the main supporting characters, particularly Richard . So many authors take a definite love or loathe stand but she paints a picture of a strange and complex person very hard to truly understand. Henry's mother , Margaret Beaufort, is another person we see a different side to than what is normally portrayed.

I do have one niggle............and it's a big one. The marriage of Elizabeth and Henry is the central theme to the story and Margaret Campbell Barnes chose to depict it as an unhappy one. A sad and discontented wife married to a neglectful, cold and unfeeling husband. I imagine that when I first read this book over thirty years ago as a young woman eager for knowledge I would have accepted that at face value.
Now,I don't....... and it is generally accepted that the marriage was a happy one. The impression I get of Elizabeth is of a quiet and loving person with much inner courage and strength who would have been fully aware from an early age that she would marry for political reasons and would surely have appreciated not having to leave her homeland and family. She and Henry shared a strong mutual purpose to begin with and later the joy of a family and I like to think their life was contented.

The book ends with a small shared happy moment between Elizabeth and her son...........a few months later she would die, from infection following the birth of her daughter, on her 37th birthday. An account of the time says of Henry " he privily departed to a solitary place and would no man should resort unto him".

If you like action and excitement you won't find it in this story as its pace is quite slow but for anyone wanting to understand this time in English history it will prove an interesting and informative read.

I read The Tudor Rose for the Tudor Book Challenge
hosted by Benedictionary, A Bookworm's Blog


  1. Thanks for the insightful review! I have been questioning weather to read it or not for some time.

  2. With so much great HF around I wouldn't be in any hurry to push it to the top of your list. :)

  3. Sounds nice, even if all details are not as they should