An Alternative History of Britain: The War of the Roses 1455 – 85

By Timothy Venning

The Wars of the Roses was one of the most turbulent times in England’s history. Over a period of thirty years England saw four different King’s sit upon the throne, a King deposed, become King again and then deposed and the last English King to be killed in the field of battle. Fierce wars raged killing thousands, political upheaval swept through the country and lines were drawn. We can look back now, over a span of over five hundred years, and learn about the events that formed England’s history, but what if things had been different?

Timothy Venning’s book examines the hundreds of possible ‘what ifs’ throughout this turbulent time in English history. What if Henry VI hadn’t had a breakdown and Richard, Duke of York became protector? What if Margaret of Anjou had given birth to a son years before she did? What if Warwick, the famous Kingmaker, had not turned upon Edward IV? What if the outcome of Towton or Tewkesbury had been different? What if Edward IV hadn’t married Elizabeth Woodville? What if Richard III did not become King but taken up the position as royal protector for Edward V? So many possibilities, events that unfolded all hinging upon a singular moment in time.

Venning’s book provides some possible outcomes to all the above questions and many, many more. He does a wonderful job of detailing the events that happened during the 15th century in England and then providing multiple possibilities of different outcomes. He discusses the possible reasons why decisions and choices were made by the key players in the Wars of the Roses.

I thoroughly enjoyed Venning’s book, it was an interesting and thoughtful look at the possibilities of what could have happened during this tumultuous time in England’s history.

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