The best books about Edward IV of England

1 authors have picked their favorite books about Edward IV of England and why they recommend each book.

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Edward IV (The English Monarchs Series)

By Charles Ross,

Book cover of Edward IV (The English Monarchs Series)

Like Gillingham’s book, it was published decades ago yet it is still the best overall work on Edward IV. Ross manages to give the reader a clear picture of this king and the tumultuous events in which he played a pivotal role. It is a balanced, thoughtful account which is ideal for a newcomer to the subject.


Who am I?

I write historical fiction some of which is set during the Wars of the Roses - a period that has always fascinated me. My two series, Rebels and Brothers & the Craft of Kings span the whole topic. But underlying the fiction there is a wealth of knowledge because I have studied or taught about this period for the best part of fifty years. I have also produced in recent years over forty podcasts on the subject which have been very well received by listeners – including students currently wrestling with the sometimes labyrinthine complexities of the topic. 


I wrote...

Feud

By Derek Birks,

Book cover of Feud

What is my book about?

As the Wars of the Roses begin, the rule of law breaks down... In 1459 open war breaks out between the Houses of York and Lancaster and a desperate struggle for the crown of England begins. Yet, while the fire of civil war burns, an old local score is being settled in the heart of Yorkshire.

Young and untried knight, Ned Elder, finds himself at the centre of a bitter feud when his father is executed, his brother butchered and his sisters abducted. Ned barely escapes with his life and is pursued across the land with only a few loyal companions. Determined to find his sisters, recover his lands and put an end to the feud, Ned is forced to take sides in the civil war. He soon gains a formidable reputation in the Yorkist army of young Edward, Earl of March, but the path he must follow is brutal for his enemies are relentless and will show no mercy.

The Secret Queen

By John Ashdown-Hill,

Book cover of The Secret Queen: Eleanor Talbot, the Woman Who Put Richard III on the Throne

Following Edward IV’s death in 1483, his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was found to be bigamous and their children declared illegitimate. The crown then passed to Edward’s younger brother, Richard III, who was elected king. For centuries the story of Edward IV’s bigamy was believed to be a concoction. In this seminal work, John Ashdown-Hill brings to light the story of Eleanor Talbot, Edward IV’s legal wife. 


Who am I?

I am a British writer/producer with a 30-year interest in Richard III (1452-1485). A visit to Bosworth Field, the penultimate battle of the Wars of the Roses changed my life irrevocably. This haunting place captured my imagination and with it the story of the last Plantagenet monarch who died fighting in this small corner of Leicestershire for crown and country.


I wrote...

The Lost King: The Search for Richard III

By Philippa Langley, Michael Jones,

Book cover of The Lost King: The Search for Richard III

What is my book about?

Whilst researching Richard III for a biographical screenplay, in 2004 Philippa Langley visited the site of the Greyfriars precinct in Leicester. Here King Richard had been buried after Bosworth. Fifty years later, at the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the grave was lost and the king’s remains believed to have been thrown into a nearby river. 

Following an intuitive experience in a car park in the Greyfriars precinct, The Lost King tells the story of Langley’s years of research and belief that she would find the church and grave in this exact spot, as historian Michael Jones tells of Richard's 15th-century life and death. The Lost King is now a major motion picture starring Sally Hawkins and Steve Coogan. (Previously titled: The King’s Grave: The Search for Richard III)

Elizabeth Woodville

By David Baldwin,

Book cover of Elizabeth Woodville: Mother of the Princes in the Tower

My next pick takes us right up to the end of the medieval period, with David Baldwin’s highly readable biography of Elizabeth Woodville. While the legitimacy of Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth is still hotly debated, she was undoubtedly presented to the world as his queen. Through his highly detailed research, Baldwin is able to add fine detail to a woman whose life was filled with drama and tragedy. In this biography, the woman emerges from behind the queen.


Who am I?

I have been fascinated by England’s medieval queens since picking up a copy of Norah Lofts’ Queens of Britain as a child. I studied Archaeology at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, focussing on the Anglo-Saxons. While my PhD and later work primarily focuses on the Tudor period, I have remained passionate about medieval queenship, writing the first biography of Queen Elfrida, as well as a longer book, England’s Queens, containing mini-biographies of every woman who served as reigning queen, consort or king’s wife. It has been a pleasure to share my top picks (from amongst many other wonderful titles), which I feel really bring England’s medieval queens to life.


I wrote...

Elfrida: The First Crowned Queen of England

By Elizabeth Norton,

Book cover of Elfrida: The First Crowned Queen of England

What is my book about?

Contrary to popular belief, Anglo-Saxon England had queens, with the tenth-century Elfrida being the most powerful and notorious of them all. She was the first woman to be crowned Queen of England, sharing her husband King Edgar’s imperial coronation at Bath in 973. The couple made a love match, with claims that they plotted the death of her first husband to ensure that she was free. 

Edgar divorced his second wife after conducting an adulterous affair with Elfrida. Elfrida was implicated in the murder of her stepson, King Edward the Martyr, who died on a visit to her at Corfe Castle. She then ruled England on behalf of her young son for six years before he expelled her from court. The life of Queen Elfrida was filled with drama as she rose to become the most powerful woman in Anglo-Saxon England.

The Sunne in Splendour

By Sharon Kay Penman,

Book cover of The Sunne in Splendour

Much like Tey’s book, the author raises questions about Richard Plantagenet and whether he was the much-maligned monster of Shakespearean imagining. I love SKP’s books as they draw you into the narrative and keep you entertained for hundreds of pages. 

I started reading every novel of Penman’s I could get my hands on when I was in my PhD. Reading had become a chore – something I did for my research. I had forgotten how to read for fun. My roommate in grad school had been a librarian and reminded me that books weren’t just something you “mine” for information. I am grateful she introduced me to Sharon Kay Penman’s works. 

Both Tey and Penman’s books were published decades before the discovery of Richard III’s body under a Leicester car park in 2012. A detailed autopsy did answer some of our questions about whether he had a misshapen body portrayed…


Who am I?

I'm a History professor at a Canadian university. My research focuses on long-dead English sailors. I’m interested in how they “navigated” the challenges of their lives ashore and afloat. I’ve written a number of books and articles. My first book, Tides in the Affairs of Men: The Social History of Elizabethan Seamen, 1580-1603, examines the lives of seafarers during a period of intense maritime activity. If you want to “meet” those in the maritime community, this is the book for you. Since its publication, I’ve followed many of those sailors from the Elizabethan period into the early seventeenth century. I’m writing a book on diet, disease and disorder in the East India Company.


I wrote...

Tides in the Affairs of Men: The Social History of Elizabethan Seamen, 1580-1603

By Cheryl Fury,

Book cover of Tides in the Affairs of Men: The Social History of Elizabethan Seamen, 1580-1603

What is my book about?

The age of maritime expansion and the Anglo-Spanish War have been analyzed by generations of historians, but nearly all studies have emphasized events and participants at the top. This book examines the lives and experiences of the men of the Elizabethan maritime community during a particularly volatile period of maritime history. The seafaring community had to contend with simultaneous pressures from many different directions. Shipowners and merchants, motivated by profit, hired seamen to sail voyages of ever-increasing distances, which taxed the health and capabilities of 16th-century crews and vessels. International tensions in the last two decades of Elizabeth's reign magnified the risks to all seamen, whether in civilian employment or on warships.

The Brothers York

By Thomas Penn,

Book cover of The Brothers York: A Royal Tragedy

I first heard about The Brothers York on a history podcast and immediately knew I had to get my hands on it. Before reading this brick of a book, my understanding of the Wars of the Roses was sketchy, even rather confused. After having read it, however, I had the idea and the outline for my own novel set during that time, which I ended up publishing shortly thereafter. Of course, my writing process required more research than what The Brothers York could help with, but this book nonetheless laid the foundation of my own knowledge of late 15th-century England. I would recommend it to anyone who finds the Wars of the Roses even remotely interesting; despite being non-fiction I was never once bored while reading it.


Who am I?

I am the author of several historical novels covering a wide range of topics, but my main interest remains 12th- to 16th-century Britain. I grew up in Sweden and have been an avid reader of classic literature and historical fiction since I was a child, and am currently studying History at the University of Oxford. When someone asks me what it is that I love about history, I tend to reply that it is all the stories. It sounds obvious, perhaps, but history is made up of countless stories that can be told in countless ways, and there is at least one story for everyone to fall in love with. 


I wrote...

Princess of Thorns

By Saga Hillbom,

Book cover of Princess of Thorns

What is my book about?

1483, Westminster. The bells toll for the dead king, Edward IV, while his rivalling nobles grasp for power. His daughter Cecily can only watch as England is plunged into chaos, torn between her loyalties to her headstrong mother, Elizabeth Woodville, and her favourite uncle, Richard of Gloucester. When Elizabeth schemes to secure her own son on the throne that Richard lays claim to, Cecily and her siblings become pawns in a perilous game.

The Yorkist dynasty that Cecily holds so dear soon faces another threat: the last Lancastrian claimant, Henry Tudor. Meanwhile, Cecily battles with envy toward her older sister, who is betrothed to Tudor. The White Rose of York has turned its thorns inwards, and royal blood proves fatal...

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