The tumultuous reign of Henry VI and its climax in the carnage of Towton - the bloodiest battle fought on English soil.
The battle of Towton in 1461 was unique in its ferocity and brutality, as the armies of two kings of England engaged with murderous weaponry and in appalling conditions to conclude the first War of the Roses.
Variously described as the largest, longest, and bloodiest battle on English soil, Towton was fought with little chance of escape and none of surrender. Yet, as if too ghastly to contemplate, the battle itself and the turbulent reign of Henry VI were neglected for centuries.
Combining medieval sources and modern scholarship, George Goodwin colorfully recreates the atmosphere of 15th-century England. From the death of the great Henry V and his baby son's inheritance first of England and then of France, Goodwin chronicles the vicious infighting at home in response to the vicissitudes of the Hundred Years' War abroad. He vividly describes the pivotal year of 1450 and a decade of breakdown for both king and kingdom as increasingly embittered factions struggle for a supremacy that could be secured only after the carnage of Towton.
Fatal Colours includes a cast of strong and compelling characters: a warrior queen, a ruthless king-making earl, even a papal legate who excommunicates an entire army. And at its center is the first full explanation for the crippling incapacity of the enduringly childlike Henry VI - founder of Eton and King's College, Cambridge.
With a substantive and sparkling introduction by David Starkey, Fatal Colours brings to life a vibrant and violent age.
©2012, 2011 George Goodwin (P)2015 Audible Studios
You will not find a better history book anywhere, you can almost feel yourself standing on the field while comprehending the larger strategic situation simaltaneously. I never listen to audio book more then once - I've just started Fatal Colours for the third time. It's that good
I'm mostly interested in non-fiction historical books, especially European history.
Being rather well versed in this period, I was pleased to find a quite complete synopsis of not just the Battle of Towton itself, but those events leading up to it. It puts forth a few ideas regarding the motivation of several key players, which I find extremely plausible. For example, it never made sense to me that Richard of York would leave the safety of his castle to either forage, or defend the foraging party, knowing there was a full army surrounding him. This book puts forth the idea that he went to greet what he thought were troops answering his call to arms, put forth in the Kings name, and which carried a penalty of treason if ignored. His ego in assuming those troops were for him, rather than in collusion with Somerset's army, was ultimately his downfall.
While Richard III and Henry Tudor are mere footnotes, what happened to Richard of York, and eventually Henry VI, no doubt shaped the executions that were to follow Boswoth, all but wiping out the Plantaganets.
This book gives an excellent description of not only Towton, but the weapons, armour, and all classes of soldiers fighting.
My only complaint was, as an audio book, there were SO many mispronunciations! Medieval, Papal Legate, and anything French grated on my nerves each time they were uttered. If you can overlook this, it's definitely worth listening to, or better yet, just read the book!
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