Book Review: “The Woodvilles: The Wars of the Roses and England’s Most Infamous Family” by Susan Higginbotham



Research into the life of Elizabeth Woodville, Queen of England as the wife of King Edward IV led me to this interesting little book. After reading a couple of biographies of her, it was clear she came from a large and diverse family. Her mother Jacquetta was a noblewoman from Luxembourg and had been married to the Duke of Bedford, brother of King Henry V. Bedford died not long after the wedding and Jacquetta was left a young widow with a lucrative inheritance. Permission for another marriage was required of King Henry VI. Jacquetta married Sir Richard Woodville without permission. After confessing, the couple paid an enormous fine to the king. Sir Richard was beneath Jacquetta in social standing but the marriage was successful.

The couple would have at least fourteen children, the majority of whom lived into adulthood. Once King Edward married Elizabeth Woodville, many of her siblings had a meteorite rise in social standing through marriages and through appointments to offices in the king’s government. This book is the story of these many siblings and what we know from the historical records. Higginbotham goes through each person and tells us what is known of their story. She covers who they married, what positions they were appointed to, how effective they were in office, how loyal they were to the king and what battles they fought in.

It is interesting to note that none of the men had surviving male children. There were a few daughters and some of Elizabeth’s sisters had children. At first, the family supported the House of Lancaster but after Elizabeth’s marriage, they became loyal to the House of York. Higginbotham addresses all the arguments that have been made for and against this family. She makes some very valid points in all cases. I found this book to be fair and even-handed in addressing issues with the family and would recommend it for anyone interested in the Wars of the Roses era.

30 thoughts on “Book Review: “The Woodvilles: The Wars of the Roses and England’s Most Infamous Family” by Susan Higginbotham

  1. The War of the Roses has been extensively, if not exhaustively, written about so it’s always refreshing to see a new take on one of the most pivotal wars in English history. I would love a chance to read this book.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have always been a British history LOVER, and recently have begun to explore the Wars of the Roses, specifically Elizabeth Woodville and her family. I would be honored to receive a copy from you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m not that familiar with Elizabeth Woodville and her family. I would love to read more about them. A free copy would be wonderful, however I’ll probably buy it if I don’t win. I’m hooked now.


  4. A great review as always. I have several of Susan Higgenbotham’s books and enjoy her writing. After watching the White Queen miniseries I would like to delve further into this family. Jacquetta deserves her own book too!


  5. Am currently in process on a novel of the life of Elizabeth of York. I would love anything about the Woodvilles. I am a descendant of Elizabeth Woodville (heck of a thing to learn as a 62 year old American!) Would love to have a copy!


  6. I would definitely like to read this book. I’m a avid British history book reader, concentrating mainly on the Tudor and Stuart dynasties. Previously I have read various books on the war of the roses, or rather the cousins war, but found they concentrated mainly on the various kings who ruled and as such Elizabeth tends to get lumped in with either her second marriage or the story of her disappearing sons. Having read these books it’s about time someone researched and wrote a book purely on Elizabeth as her story is fascinating and does sum up both the dynamics within the royal court as well as the issues surrounding being a consort.
    Obviously Elizabeth and her family have had bad press in the past, with many writers labelling them as a upstart family, crazy for both power and money and as a result Elizabeth being seen as a opportunistic and manipulating queen consort. But these views forget her mothers heritage and the difficult circumstances that Elizabeth had to contend with, namely the death of two husbands, the loss of her sons, which she may of felt responsible for to some degree. Also, essentially her promotion of her families interests at court and providing them with titles and positions is what every parent at the time would be keen to do and invest quite some time and effort into.
    I would really be interested to learn more about the woodvilles and ,aubergine with this book there would be no reason why they couldn’t be as well known as say the bolyens or even the Tudors


  7. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy of your book. I love anything Tudor but I am especially fascinated by Elizabeth Woodville and her family. your book would be my obvious choice for a follow up to what I’m reading at the moment, Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville,A True Romance which gives a real insight into the life and times of Edward and Elizabeth.


  8. What a fascinating family the Woodville were! I love reading about Elizabeth and this book would be an ideal follow up to the book I’m currently reading, Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, A True Romance by Amy Licence which gives a really good insight into the lives of Edward and Elizabeth. I’m really looking forward to reading this book, it’s an ideal follow up.


  9. I’ve found some of Susan Higginbotham’s blog posts on the Woodville family very thought-provoking, and this book has been on my Amazon wish list for a long, long time! Also, John of Bedford is my favorite historical character, so I’ve always had a particular interest in Jacquetta and her family. 🙂


  10. Sounds like there is much of interest to be discovered between the covers of this book! I love this fascinating period of the Wars of the Roses.


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