15 August 2015 – Margaret Pole: The Countess in the Tower by Susan Higginbotham
‘Of the many executions ordered by Henry VIII, surely the most horrifying was that of sixty-seven-year-old Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, hacked to pieces on the scaffold by a blundering headsman. From the start, Margaret’s life had been marred by tragedy and violence: her father, George, Duke of Clarence, had been executed at the order of his own brother, Edward IV, and her naive young brother, Edward, Earl of Warwick, had spent most of his life in the Tower before being executed on the orders of Henry VII. Yet Margaret, friend to Catherine of Aragon and the beloved governess of her daughter Mary, had seemed destined for a happier fate, until religious upheaval and rebellion caused Margaret and her family to fall from grace. From Margaret’s birth as the daughter of a royal duke to her beatification centuries after her death, Margaret Pole: The Countess in the Tower tells the story of one of the fortress’s most unlikely prisoners.’
11 February 2016 – Richard III: Brother, Protector, King by Chris Skidmore
‘The last Plantagenet king remains one of England’s most famous and controversial monarchs. There are few parallels in English history that can match the drama of Richard III’s reign, witnessed in its full bloody intensity.
A dedicated brother and loyal stalwart to the Yorkist dynasty for most of his early life, Richard’s personality was forged in the tribulation of exile and the brutality of combat. An ambitious nobleman and successful general with a loyal following, Richard was a man who could claim to have achieved every ambition in life, except one.
Within months of his brother Edward IV’s early death, Richard stunned the nation when he seized the throne for himself and disinherited his nephews. Having put to death his rivals, Richard’s two-year reign would become one of the most tumultuous in English history, ending in treachery and with his death on the battlefield at Bosworth.
Chris Skidmore’s biography strips back the legends that surround Richard’s life and reign, and by returning to original manuscript evidence, he rediscovers the man as contemporaries saw him. Rather than vindicate or condemn, Skidmore’s compelling study presents every facet of Richard’s personality as it deserves to be seen: as one of the most important figures in medieval history, whose actions and behaviour underline the true nature of power in an age of great drama, upheaval and instability.’