The best books about the Plantagenets

Mercedes Rochelle Author Of A King Under Siege: Book One of The Plantagenet Legacy
By Mercedes Rochelle

Who am I?

Thirty years as a medieval reenactor gave me the background I needed to step into the past. I learned much about everyday activities and I gained familiarity with physical objects such as weapons and armor. My first four books (including The Last Great Saxon Earls trilogy) took place in the eleventh century, and by then I was ready to jump forward three hundred years to the Plantagenet era. In college, I saw Shakespeare's Richard II play, and I was so enthralled with it that I carried Richard around with me for forty years before tackling this book. It ended up being much more complicated than I could ever imagine!


I wrote...

A King Under Siege: Book One of The Plantagenet Legacy

By Mercedes Rochelle,

Book cover of A King Under Siege: Book One of The Plantagenet Legacy

What is my book about?

Richard II found himself under siege not once, but twice in his minority. Crowned king at age ten, he was only fourteen when the Peasants' Revolt terrorized London. But he proved himself every bit the Plantagenet successor, facing Wat Tyler and the rebels when all seemed lost. Alas, his triumph was short-lived. Vengeful magnates strove to separate him from his friends and advisors, and even threatened to depose him if he refused to do their bidding. The Lords Appellant, as they came to be known, purged the royal household with the help of the Merciless Parliament. They murdered his closest allies, leaving the King alone and defenseless. Richard would never forget his humiliation, and he vowed that next time, retribution would be his.

The books I picked & why

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The Last Plantagenets

By Thomas B. Costain,

Book cover of The Last Plantagenets

Why this book?

An oldie but goodie! Any aspiring historian will benefit greatly from this four-book series written in the 1960s. This is a popular history and very easy to read. Although I discovered these books years before I started writing, I periodically revisit them purely for enjoyment. Costain covered a lot of information in a way that stayed with me for years. I would even go so far as to say he influenced me to continue my reading on the subject. This particular volume gives us a lot of insight into Richard II. 


Summer Of Blood Peasants Revolt Of 1381

By Dan Jones,

Book cover of Summer Of Blood Peasants Revolt Of 1381

Why this book?

The Peasants' Revolt was one of the most pivotal events of the fourteenth century, for it turned society upside-down and threatened the powers-that-be in a way they could never have imagined. Poor King Richard was only fourteen years old, and he discovered that he could rely on no one but himself to put a stop to the rampaging. Much of London went up in flames, and fatalities included the Archbishop of Canterbury! What caused this terrible uprising? This book gives us a thorough explanation as to what happened—and why. Dan Jones is at his usual best in making it interesting to the general reader. I was so taken with the whole scenario that it played a major part in the first third of my novel. 


Henry IV: The Righteous King

By Ian Mortimer,

Book cover of Henry IV: The Righteous King

Why this book?

Originally published as The Fears of Henry IV, this book gives us a fascinating look into the usurpation of Richard II and reign of the first Lancastrian king. Although they were first cousins, King Richard II and Henry Bolingbroke were perpetually at odds, and Henry's decision to seize the crown opened up a slew of problems that haunted him throughout his reign. He fought one rebellion after another, and once he put down his enemies, Henry was beset with terrible health problems that led to his early death. Because my series covers the reigns of Richard II through Henry VI (I'm currently writing about Henry IV), this book was critical to my understanding of why things went so wrong after his triumphant return from exile. 


John of Gaunt

By Sydney Armitage-Smith,

Book cover of John of Gaunt

Why this book?

No study about Richard II would be complete without an understanding of his uncle, the powerful and intimidating John of Gaunt. Before I read this book, I accepted the usual depiction that he was arrogant, unpleasant, and downright nasty. But really, this was a gross exaggeration. Although many contemporaries assumed he coveted the throne, in reality, it would have been against his honor to usurp the king, no matter how helpless, ungrateful, or deserving Richard may have seemed. Gaunt was the only person who stood between the king and his many enemies. Once Richard discovered this for himself, he treated his uncle with much more respect, and this biography certainly helped me put Gaunt into proper perspective. 


The White Company

By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,

Book cover of The White Company

Why this book?

Even though Arthur Conan Doyle was famous for Sherlock Holmes, he really considered himself a historical novelist and I heartily agree. This is one of my all-time favorite books! Although this novel doesn't directly impact Richard II, it does take place during his father, the Black Prince's ill-fated campaign to Spain. Doyle's evocative depiction of an army's fortunes and hardships during the hundred years' war made a lasting impression on me.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the House of Plantagenet, Richard II, and the Hundred Years' War?

5,809 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the House of Plantagenet, Richard II, and the Hundred Years' War.

The House Of Plantagenet Explore 11 books about the House of Plantagenet
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The Hundred Years' War Explore 11 books about the Hundred Years' War

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