Several weeks ago, while my husband was kindly picking up a book for me from the ANU library, he ran his hand and eye over the shelves and, his phone in the other, his load increased from one book to seven. One of these, in particular, has proved invaluable to me and it has ensconced itself on my Must Have These! list.
This is A J Pollard’s North-Eastern England During the Wars of the Roses, or – as I like to call it – Nevill Heaven.
The book is divided into two parts. The first deals with matters social, political and economic, the second with the important powerbrokers of the region – the Nevills, the Percies, Richard duke of Gloucester and, finally, Henry VII.
But it isn’t just the Big Names that make this book so important, all the medium sized and little names are there as well. With, for example, a comprehensive look at the careers of various members of the Fitzhugh family, the sound of my head banging against a wall no longer rings through our little village with quite the same monotonous regularity as it once did. I have a far better understanding of the northern economy and the various uses the Big Names put their land to. Abandoned villages became deer parks became cow paddocks, for instance. And the villages were abandoned in the first place due to the collapse of the textiles industry in the north. See? I learned stuff!
The earl of Warwick’s connections across the north are nicely laid out, though complex and complicated. There were some pages I needed to read more than once, and I think I’m going to need a really BIG whteboard (bigger than the one I have) to lay out the spiderweb of networks. Which is why, even though I have the book till October, I need to have a copy of my very own.
I haven’t looked at the last three chapters in any great detail as yet (Richard of Gloucester, Richard III, Henry VII), as I’m really trying to focus on 1453-71 at the moment, but I can’t see them being any less useful than the ones I have read closely.
So, I must thank Margaret of Anjou via Helen Maurer (my husband’s Original Quest), my husband and whoever it was decided that this book needed to be in the shelves. Oh, and Pollard. This is a seriously useful and important book.