Helen Castor: Blood and Roses

Blood and Roses (2007, Harper Perennial)

Blood and Roses (2007, Harper Perennial)

Blood and Roses: One Family’s Struggle and Triumph During the Tumultuous Wars of the Roses
Helen Castor
Harper Perennial, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-00-716222-2

The Wars of the Roses was a confusing and often terrifying time for people of all social classes in Medieval England. In a few short decades four kings had lost their thrones and the country was repeated thrown into civil conflict and uncertainty. To this backdrop, Castor takes us through the lives of four generations of the Paston family in Norfolk, from a ploughman working his own land to a high ranking judge, knight, and Sheriff.

What is so interesting about the Paston story is how socio-political advancement could be gained at a time when titles and the right to call oneself a gentleman was still very much the powerbase of society. The determination with which the family sought to improve their lot is staggering, but what is most interesting is that there exists generations of personal letters and official documents detailing many of the occurances of land buying, land wars, and other concerns of the family during their struggle. From these primary sources, as well as other scholarship, Castor creates a living history and understanding of this dark period in England’s past.

The book is well written with excellent attention to detail. A must read for anyone interested in the waning of England’s Middle Ages.


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