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Review for The Castle in the Wars of the Roses

Author/Director : Dan Spencer

Format : Book

Forget for a moment the focus on castles and here we have a good overview of the whole of the thirty years Wars of the Roses. Now add in the focus on castles, an oft neglected element in the strife, and you have a very good book. Of course there is a great deal about the military aspects of castle control but ,as this book explains, there was so much more to ‘The Castle’. Not least was the prestige of owning or being in charge of a castle as this was most probably given by royal patronage. Naturally, given a change of king, new people were given the spoils which included the castle and all that went with it. The post Conquest notion of regional power base continued to hold sway both as military and civil realms and area control meant income. Disputes occurred often hiding personal enmities within the context of a civil war even to the extent of fuelling the conflict.
One thing which has always intrigued me which is reinforced by the information in this book is the tiny size of the garrison in many very large castles. For example huge Caernarfon had about twenty men, Carisbrooke had ten men-at-arms and ten archers, and Harlech about twenty four men for most of the period.
In addition to the general text there is a set of rather good photographs and four maps but, unfortunately do not have a scale on any of them. Only a selection of the castles mentioned in the text are on the maps and it would have been interesting to have a map showing every castle almost as a density and distribution diagram. The concluding chapter and the three appendices, people, sieges, and garrisons are superb. An extensive bibliography rounds off the book.
In summary thoroughly researched and well written. We highly recommend this well-known story brought to life in a most readable form with a new twist.

Published by : Pen & Sword Military, 2020
ISBN : 978 1 52671 869 3

Review last updated : 2021-01-28 14:05:32

See also : other "Late Medieval and Renaissance" reviews