It should be fairly obvious that interesting, believable characters make or break a story. A one dimensional villain whose only motivation is to be evil for the sake of being evil tends to make for a boring story. It therefore is interesting to recognize a number of cases in fiction and non-fiction where the characters involved have unusual depth that greatly contributes to the stories being told.
The best cases of this in recent fiction that I've seen are in the Harry Potter books and in the recent Avengers vs. X-Men crossover series. In the former, the characters are truly three-dimensional. Most of the characters have a certain style of acting (a certain set of personality characteristics that generally govern how they act), but are not bound by them. They're human at their core. They lash out at one another. They feel pain, deal with it in unique ways that deepen their character, and generally learn from their mistakes. Voldemort is perhaps the best example of this. He spends his entire life fearing death and trying to avoid it, an incredibly human sentiment. He viciously denies his half-blood heritage and takes his rage out on any of those who are not pure-blood wizards (intentionally ironic).
The Avengers vs. X-Men crossover series (still being released) is deep and complex, but in a different way. Harry Potter makes it unambiguous that there is a hero and a villain, and who is who, but AvX is a "heroes versus heroes" story, so there is no obvious labelling of heroes and villains here. This is more of a "everyone is trying to save the world, whatever that means" type of story. But the true gem in this story is that even individual characters have their own loyalties. The Avengers are divided on how to deal with the problem of the Phoenix coming to Earth - as agents of the United States government, do they try to negotiate, or just run in guns blazing? The X-Men are divided on whether the Phoenix comes to help mutantkind or destroy humanity (or both), and as storylines develop, it's hard to say "this side is right" - it's a lot of cases of "it's complicated".
The conclusion of "it's complicated" nicely brings us to the best work of non-fiction that I've read in a long time, Enemies: A History of the FBI. Enemies tells the history of the FBI in three parts: the J. Edgar Hoover days, the last 20 years of the Cold War, and the war on terror. This story is a riveting tale of how the United States can survive with liberty and security. It details the long list of constitutional abuses carried out against American citizens in the name of national security and what it accomplished. There's a ton of cases where it gained the FBI invaluable information, and number of cases where it either didn't help at all (because the targets were innocent) or caused great embarrassment to the FBI. Its main characters are real, complicated people. Hoover is particularly interesting - he's complex and intriguing, and does what he thinks he needs to do to protect the nation from perceived threats to the United States. The increasing conformity to the rule of law is also interesting, and hinted about the CIA just enough to make me immediately pick up that book after I had finished this one.
Enemies is also interesting in this discussion because the fiction stories above made it clear exactly who the players are in the game. Enemies tells us the story from the point of view of the FBI, where they need to find out who their enemies are, how to find the evidence to put them away, and actually enact a plan of attack. They have what we in the cloud computing space would call the "big data problem", where they're trying to find a needle in a haystack as fast as possible (for national security) and through legal purposes (to obey the rule of law). And it's a world where one person actually can make a difference in government - the book is a huge collection of "one person decided that X needed to get done" and did it. Hoover keeps control over the FBI for forty years and avoids any leaks coming out of it through a combination of respect and fear. Spies creep into all of the government agencies, and even a single spy can leak a tremendous amount of information. Mueller is able to stand up to Bush and tell him that he won't continue to tolerate illegal spying on Americans through the NSA's Stellar Wind program. And all throughout, everyone is a three-dimensional. Nobody is patently good or evil. To quote Magneto from the recent Not a Hero series: "There's no such thing as good or evil. There's just what I need to do and what I'm willing to do to get it."
This last Saturday I was off at PuppetCamp LA with Harold and Andrew from Eucalyptus, learning about the latest and greatest developments in the world of Puppet. Puppet aims to simplify tedious sysadmin work and do so in a way that works cross-platform - that is, you don’t have to worry about talking to yum and apt to install packages, but instead just make Puppet take care of it. Here’s a quick breakdown of my thoughts on how it all went:
What went well:
- I got to see some use cases of what Puppet does really well - replacing monolithic bash scripts with something that’s much more readable and writable, and (critically) the ability to push out updates to machines connected to Puppet as needed.
- The keynote and SpaceX talks in particular were well done. The keynote talked about PuppetLabs’ vision for how a “real open source company” operates, features in the newest release, and planned features for the next release. The SpaceX talk was about how they use Puppet, and everybody always loves a talk about space stuff.
- There was some discussion about fpm, which looks like a way simpler way to make deb and rpm packages than what we’re doing for AppScale, so I’ll definitely be checking that out for our own internal stuff.
- The food was great :)
What could have used improvement:
- The talks were definitely way too technical for my level of expertise with Puppet. I’ve really only seen Puppet once or twice with Harold, so all of the talks that said “this feature needs to be used this way” or “you know that this was a problem so we fixed it with this” just went right over my head.
- I really wanted to be able to just download Puppet and hack around with it to see why it was so cool, but even the “getting started” talk turned into talking about really specific problems that 90% of the user community would never run into (which they also admitted).
- Couldn’t get the wifi there to work for me. It seemed to work fine for other people, but as it didn’t work for me, that made it hard for me to learn Puppet and Google what everyone was talking about.
Overall, we had a great time, and looking forward to checking it out next time and learning more about Puppet!
I find myself in a unique situation here. I’m probably in the extreme minority of people who’ve seen all the Harry Potter movies before reading any of the books, so as they finally became available on the Kindle, I decided to remedy that. As expected, they were amazing (you likely didn’t need me to tell you that), immersive, and so on. But as I’ve been doing lots of long writeups lately, let’s instead go a different route today and talk about one thing that the Harry Potter series gets really right - magic.
I’ve long been against how magic is used in literature (mostly comic books) because of how often it’s used as a deus ex machina, at the expense of all rhyme or reason. For example, Superman’s powers are that he can do pretty much anything (fire, cold, flight, super-strength, immunity to almost all damage, and so on). This makes it hard to find a wide array of villains he can fight, and crucial in defining his character. Lex Luthor is a creative choice, because he’s Superman’s foil - he has no powers at all, and only Superman’s morality prevents him from killing Luthor on every occasion. But since every Superman villain can’t just be Luthor, they have to find somebody else as strong as Superman. So other people from Krypton show up (e.g., Zod), who also can do anything (more or less), and finally, magic is used to cripple Superman’s powers. Why does magic do this? Just because! And yet you’d think that because magic is so ridiculously effective against Superman that everybody in the DC Universe would be taking magic lessons (and especially Lex Luthor).
The point of this aside is that magic has this very incredulous quality in a lot of works - it’s just too unbelievable. This is coming from an avid comic reader who is willing to suspend my own sense of disbelief pretty far, but it makes it too obvious that the story is “Superman can do anything except when we decide he can do nothing”. It’s not the fault of magic itself - kryptonite has the same problem for Superman, and thanks to Arthur C. Clarke, we know that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”, so super-science also is troublesome. So it’s the writer’s fault - magic is inherently non-rational, and thus using it in literature is really hard to pull off. Furthermore, messing it up can completely destroy the story.
Yet J.K. Rowling pulls it off - seven times. And she does this by making magic rational and secondary to the plot. Superman can do anything except when he can’t. Harry Potter is surprisingly limited in what he can do, and while magic is involved in the plot, it isn’t the driver of the plot. In many ways it comes off like the Force in Star Wars - there’s a lot it can do and quite a bit it can’t do. It can be used for good or for evil, and is generally an amoral force in the Potterverse. We said earlier that in the DC Universe, everyone should learn magic because there’s really no reason not to (except that everyone is a moron or contrived plot excuses). Yet in the Potterverse, anyone with any magical talents are automatically found and sent to school to learn magic and keep it all under control. It’s all presented in a way that makes sense, minimizes the number of contradictions that can sneak into the story (especially hard when magic is involved), and most importantly, stays out of the way of the characters themselves. Like the Force in Star Wars, we’re really reading these stories because we care about the characters - the magic is just the icing on the cake. And when we forget this (or just get irresponsible), we just want to put the icing everywhere and forget the cake in the first place, and then we end up with something like the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy, which has amazing special effects but the character development, common sense, and immersion is near-zero.
P.S. Extra points go for how she handles the Time-Turner in book three, as time travel makes the whole thing an order of magnitude more complicated to pull off (and yet she pulls it off to great effect!)
I've always loved chess, and have long loved reading about history. So a natural choice for a book for me to read would be a book on the history of chess. After looking through a number of them online, I decided on The Birth of the Chess Queen (by Marilyn Yalom), which looks at the evolution of the chess queen in parallel to the progression of women's rights within society since the rise of Christianity. It's an interesting read but since there's so much time to cover in so little space (~300 pages), it has to hop around from topic to topic somewhat abruptly. I think it would make a great read for a seminar-style class where a single chapter is covered and discussed a week, and provides lots of trivia and information about famous women throughout the last 1500 years. What follows are my notes on the book, for my own future reference (which you may also find interesting).
The author is shown an ivory figure of a Madonna and Child and is told it was a chess queen, and spends five years investigating this claim. She is interested in learning how the queen became the most powerful piece on the chessboard when women are always in positions of secondary power. She also tells us about the “paradox of chess”, namely how the king is the most crucial figure, yet the queen is the most powerful.
The queen originally appeared in Western Europe in the eighth century, after the Arabs invaded Spain and brought it with them. She replaced the vizier, the king’s chief counselor, who was the second-in-command to the shah, and was a logical choice since she was the vizier’s western equivalent. A queen on a chessboard didn’t make sense in the East because Islam allows for polygamy, so she couldn’t be the second-in-command, and in India, chess was seen as a war game that had no place for women, so a queen couldn’t be on the board.
In the east, the chessboard had the vizier, the horse, the chariot, and an elephant, which were replaced in the west with the queen, the knight, the rook, and the bishop (respectively). Chess pieces were originally realistic in design, but the rise of Islam meant that realistic figures could not be portrayed, so they were replaced with abstract figures.
Another part of the puzzle is the evolution of the pieces. Originally the vizier and queen are the weakest pieces on the board, only moving one diagonal space at a time, but by the end of the fifteenth century, they become the strongest pieces on the board. This is believed to be driven by the emergence of Christian queenship, which started during the beginning of the Middle Ages. The queen’s most important role was to produce children since this was the only way the king’s dynasty could continue.
At the same time, there is a rise in popularity in the cult of the Virgin Mary, and the cult of romantic love. The latter focuses around the adoration of a beautiful lady (stressing its non-sexual nature) - Ginevra de’ Benci is the main example that comes to mind. So both of these trends glorify women, and in parallel, chess is used as a cover for men and women to interact and progress their relationship.
Part 1 - The Mystery of the chess queen’s birth
Chapter 1 - Chess before the chess queen
Chess has its origins in India no later than the sixth century, and quickly spreads to Persia, where they rename the figures to fit their own culture. The view of chess in Islam varies over time: some shahs see it as permissible as long as it was not played for money, while others saw it as unnecessary, destructive, or unclean. Caliph Harun al-Rashid is credited with popularizing chess while he reigned in Baghdad, from 786 to 809. Queen Toda of Navarre (northern Spain) becomes a powerful, competent ruler after her husband dies, and sets the standard for how a queen can effectively rule a kingdom.
Chapter 2 - Enter the queen
The Einsiedeln Monastery has a Latin manuscript, the “Verses of Chess” (990 CE), that contains the first European description of chess (and includes the queen in it, as opposed to the vizier). It also specified chessboards as having black and white squares, to make the board easier to see (in contrast with Eastern boards that only had a single color). The original movement roles for the pieces were much weaker than their modern day equivalents (except for the rook, who was unchanged). The emergence of the queen was not controversial, and was just another adaptation of the pieces (like the elephant to bishop). Promoting a pawn to a queen was a controversial issue in the West (because of Christian monogamy), but naturally was a non-issue in the East.
If the chess queen was based on a real person, it was likely to have been Empress Adelaide or Empress Theophano, two powerful women who lived as chess was being translated from the East to the West. Alternatively, right before the verses were written, there were an abnormally large number of regent queens, which may have greatly influenced the decision to include one on the chessboard. The church shows opposition to chess early on because dice were frequently used to determine which piece moves next, making it a game of chance (and thus distasteful to the church).
Chapter 3 - The chess queen shows her face
Two chess queens have survived from the eleventh century, carved in Southern Italy. Believed to be owned by Charlemagne, and are thus called the “Charlemagne chessmen”, even though they now have been dated to roughly 1100 C.E.. Their large, unwieldy size implies that they were display pieces, and not actually played with.
The Norman conqueror Robert Guiscard captures Salerno, Italy in 1076, and solidifies his position by marrying Princess Sikelgaita. She faithfully serves him, and after his death, serves their son, Roger, over his son from his first marriage. She gains a lot of power from marriage and motherhood, but little from her actual position. At the same time, Matilda of Tuscany comes to power as a queen regent and negotiates between Emperor Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII, who are at war with one another.
In the late 1100s, Constance of Hauteville (the Sicilian princess) marries the German king Henry of Hohenstaufen, and eventually return to conquer Southern Italy (including Sicily). Their son, Frederick, follows in his father’s footsteps, becoming Holy Roman Emperor, and finds a strong love for chess. He encourages and Italy becomes one of two countries producing strong chess players (the other being Spain).
Part 2 - Spain, Italy, and Germany
Chapter Four - Chess and Queenship in Christian Spain
As chess was transmitted to the West through Spain, chess has been played there the longest of all the European countries. Queen Toda of Navarre and her nephew, Caliph Abd al-Rahman III of Cordoba, are credited with religious tolerance for Muslims, Christians, and Jews, which contributes to culture and commerce in the region.
In Spain, wealthy nobles begin donating their chess sets to the church after their death, with Countess Ermessenda being the most notable donor. She is another one of these successful queen regents, ruling for 41 years alongside her son and grandson. At the same time period, the most well known chess set is the Ager chessmen, which show that even though the queen was well established throughout Europe, she was still not present in Spain, due to the strong Moorish influence.
Dona Urraca comes to power as queen of Burgundy, but doesn’t gain much power until her husband dies (becoming the ruler of Galicia) and her father dies (becoming the ruler of Leon-Castile). Urraca gets dragged into a second marriage to Alfonso I of Aragon, but after he consistently mistreats her, she is able to get out of the marriage by claiming that they are within the forbidden degrees of kinship. They eventually go to war with one another, and Urraca is eventually victorious. Urraca then has to deal with the Portugese, who rise up to seize Spanish land while Urraca and Alfonso are distracted with one another. She successfully defeats them as well, and is able to raise her son as queen regent without further problems.
While not fully established by the 12th century, there is sufficient evidence to show that the chess queen had seen some use within Spain. An excellent quote from the author sums up the thesis of the book, based on an ivory queen from Spain that now belongs to the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore:
“[The queen] represents the constricted power of queenship, an ultimate female status, but one that is played out in chess as in life on a predominantly masculine playing field. The chess queen, like other ladies of her rank, does well to keep a constant eye on her enemies and, depending on their moves, to be ready to retreat to a protected space.”
A game book created by Alfonso X, now stored in the Escorial Monastery Library in Madrid, discusses chess and its relation to gender roles. It depicts women as playing the game, and Alfonso playing the game with a woman. It also discusses the “confusion” about the gender of the figure standing next to the king (the vizier or queen), as in the West, it was firmly decided that it was a female queen, and in the East (which extended to Moorish Spain), it was a male vizier.
Alfonso’s wife, Violante of Aragon, starts off with little power because she does not conceive a child for nearly three years. However, she eventually does produce ten children and secures her safety. Yet she still has to fight her husband to pass the succession to the younger children instead of her (deceased) eldest son’s child, as in that case, that son’s mother (French-born and Violante’s daughter-in-law) would rule instead of her. Alfonso and Violante do not persecute Jews, but instead use them to mass produce texts thought to be lost to the West, preserved in the East.
Chapter 5 - Chess Moralities in Italy and Germany
A Dominican friar, Jacobus de Cessolis, writes his “Book of Chess”, describing chess as a model of the social order. This comes at a time when the church softens its stance towards chess, and it is no longer seen as a war game in the West. The Italians take the elephant, an animal they had never seen, and recast it as a standard-bearer, eventually to become the bishop. Cessolis’ success as a writer and preacher come from his focus on the common people, telling them of their importance and representation in the noble game of chess as pawns (and in essence, validating their status in society). The pawns were not identical, and each of them represented different professions (e.g., merchants, physicians).
The rules described in the Book of Chess were also slightly different from other styles of chess, and most pieces could vault over others on their first move. The book was evidently so popular that, after the Bible, it was the most printed book upon the advent of the printing press, and over two hundred copies have survived to date.
In Germany, chess becomes popular at all levels of society, and songs written to the tempo of Carmina Burana describing chess are written, which positively reflect on the importance of the queen.
Part 3 - France and England
Chapter 6 - Chess Goes to France and England
There are no medieval French or English queens that we know have survived, and instead have to rely on literature of the time and the stories of two notable queens: Eleanor of Aquitaine and Blanche of Castile. Chess comes to France via the Spanish at the turn of the millenium, and shows up in myths involving Charlemagne and King Arthur. Northern France begins to glorify war, while Southern France begins to glorify the domna (beloved woman).
Eleanor of Aquitaine was sought after by Louis VII of France and Henry II of England because of of the territories Aquitaine controlled (larger and richer than the king of France possessed), Eleanor was believed to be able to reproduce for the crown, and Eleanor was believed to be exceptionally good-looking. By the end of her lifetime, the queen replaced the vizier throughout Europe (except for in Spain). She married Louis VII when she was 16 but did not produce any children for 8 years, and eventually journeys with Louis to Constantinople during the Second Crusade. Eleanor eventually delivers two daughters and Louis agrees to an annulment for their marriage (since he desperately needs a male heir). Eleanor quickly remarries Henry, duke of Normandy, who within two years becomes Henry II, king of England.
Eleanor’s daughter, Marie de Champagne, was the patron of the writer Chretien de Troyes. He writes of the chess queen favorably, but a different writer, Gautier d’Arras, depicts her negatively, worrying that she could be a liability for the king, since the real-life queen could endanger the throne by being promiscuous, manipulative, and so on. Yet both of these opinions appear to have been typical for the time.
Eleanor’s children rebel against Henry II, and after the rebellion is put down, Eleanor is put in the Tower and imprisoned until Henry dies. After his death, she is freed and becomes a major influence upon her son, Richard the Lionhearted.
Eleanor’s granddaughter, Blanche of Castile, marries Louis VIII, and after he dies, she gains control over the state. Blanche finds a match for her son (Marguerite), and keeps a strong influence over the throne.
Chapter 7 - Chess and the Cult of the Virgin Mary
A short poem in the Bodleian Library in Oxford equates a game of chess to a battle between God (the white pieces) and Lucifer (the black pieces), which gives the author the information she needed to begin connecting the chess queen she originally saw with the Virgin Mary. The king is described as Jesus and the queen as the Virgin Mary. Gautier de Coinci’s Miracles of Our Lady takes a more serious, focused approach to this topic, likely influenced by Blanche of Castile. It takes on a common motif of Mary as a “New Eve”, who will redeem mankind from original sin.
The curiousness comes in when we consider that the queen is elevated to such power, even though she’s the weakest piece on the board at this time. The explanation is that this isn’t that curious - since she’s associated with the Virgin Mary, she would naturally be associated with power and majesty. This is more so at this particular time due to the rise of the cult of the Virgin Mary. The Church allows people to give Mary the title of “God bearer”, and her virgin status is important because Jesus is conceived/borne without the taint of original sin.
Mary originally gets attention in 431 when she gets this title, gets more fame in 500-600 C.E. (likely modelled after the Empress Theodora), but finally gets elevated to cult status in the twelfth century. Mary is presented in a coronation style alongside Jesus (imitating kings and queens), and from this, she gains the title of the Bride of Christ. This mimics the model seen where the queen regent rules in tandem with her son, but is still referred to as a queen. This idea eventually comes full circle, and female sovereigns use the idea of having Mary as the Queen in Heaven as proof that women can be queen on Earth.
Chapter 8 - Chess and the Cult of Love
The cult of love becomes a cultural craze during the turn of the twelfth century, touted by troubadours in Southern France. This idea represents a role reversal in gender relations, in which a (often married) woman is courted by a man for largely romantic (non-sexual) reasons. This vision tended to be largely mythical - women still had little power compared to their husband, but the myth of it (and limited manifestations) provided women with an outlet from an otherwise dismal life.
The chess queen emerges on the chessboard around this same time, and legitimizes the presence of women on a previously all-male game. The game of chess could then be played between women and men as a cover for a romantic relationship, or between two men, competing for a woman. This was the case in both the West and the East, although in the East, it’s not limited to the upper class.
Apparently the literature suggests that there were dangers for women to play chess, because of the sexual implications. The dangers came both from women playing with random men as well as playing with other family members (especially fathers), hinting at the sexual abuse that could be involved.
Part 4 - Scandinavia and Russia
Chapter 9 - Nordic Queens, On and Off the Board
The Lewis chessmen are a collection of roughly one hundred chess pieces found in Scotland, and were likely created in Norway around 1200. Chess likely came to the Nordic regions via England and France in the eleventh century, being referenced by Harald Haardraad of Norway (from Hastings fame?). Old Norse sagas are full of tales of fights breaking out during chess games, with often lethal results.
The most well-known Swedish queen is seen riding a horse, instead of the Western European queens, who rest on thrones. Two other Danish queens also follow the same style as the Swedish queen. Most of these queens were carved from walrus tusk, but one was also done in wood, which has shrunk over time due to oxygen exposure.
Women in Scandinavia have little power or authority until the thirteenth century, when the development of feudal society solidifies their position (especially the queen’s). Women at this time are now regularly given dowries, and queens are publicly crowned with their king.
Ingeborg of Norway marries the Duke of Sweden in the 1300s, and after his death, she gains political control (implicitly, as usual) over Norway and Sweden, while her son is still in his minority. She eventually clashes with the nobles in 1321 and takes control over the state by force, and at the age of 20, becomes a young and effective ruler. The nobles in Norway and Sweden eventually unite against Ingeborg, removing her from power, and while she still has influence of her son, the nobles eventually turn against each other and the king, breaking up the union between Norway and Sweden.
Margaret of Denmark follows a similar pattern, eventually uniting Denmark, Norway, and Sweden under her son’s rule, and maintaining power even after he marries. Margaret avoids Ingeborg’s fate by reducing the power of the nobles, taking lands from them and the church to back up the royal coffers, and keeps her son out of trouble. This is eventually undone by her successor, whose failures led to the union dissolving.
Chapter 10 - Chess and Women in Old Russia
The chess queen in Russia only emerged in the eighteenth century, having been strongly influenced by the male vizier from the Middle East / Near East. The pieces typically were of an abstract nature, due to the strong Muslim minority in Russia, and in lieu of a rook, there was originally a boat (believed to be due to Russia’s strong seafaring traditions).
Culturally, chess was fiercely attacked by the Orthodox Church as sinful, but after the eighteenth century, the church eases up on this stance. Yet stories and myths still evolve where chess is used to push a romantic relationship between a couple or is involved with “saving the day” (e.g., a woman frees her husband from jail by defeating the prince in a game of chess).
Women appear to have a similar experience in Russia as they do in Western Europe - generally mistreated by their husbands and expected to be submissive (and that any punishment was justified to make this work out). Upper class women seemed to get a better quality of life and enjoyed much more influence over their husbands, and widowed women/mothers tended to fare the best in this system (inheriting their husband’s lands and keeping their own).
Russia becomes Orthodox Christian after Princess Olga converts them in the tenth century. While Russian princes originally find brides outside of Russia (for political purposes), they eventually stick with brides internal to Russia, losing the ability to transmit cultural ideas in a crucial fashion. Catherine II (Catherine the Great), a German-born, French-educated empress in Russia, makes sweeping reforms in the eighteenth century, influenced by the ideas of Voltaire and other Enlightenment Age thinkers.
Part 5 - Power to the Queen
Chapter 11 - New Chess and Isabella of Castile
The rise of the power of the chess queen coincides with the reign of Isabella of Castile, a strong, fierce ruler for Spain. Lucerna’s Art of Chess describes the “new rules” that took hold in Spain by the end of the fifteenth century, which we would be familiar with as the standard chess rules of today (almost). Specifically, queens and bishops could now move as many squares as they like in a diagonal fashion (and horizontal for the queen). It also codified the ability for pawns to optionally move two squares on their first move. The only difference from modern chess is that in “new chess”, the king could move up to three squares on his first move (if not in check), which eventually gets replaced by castling.
Isabella of Castile remains a controversial figure to date. She is given positive credit for uniting spain with her husband (Ferdinand), but is negatively credited with instituting the Spanish Inquisition and various anti-Jewish/anti-Moorish policies. Isabella was last in line to succeed the Castilian crown, but after her brother Alfonso dies, she readies herself for succession. Her brother Enrique wants her to marry the king of Portugal, but she instead marries her cousin, the prince of Aragon.
Enrique dies within five years of Isabella’s marriage, and Isabella becomes queen of Castile and Leon. Isabella and Ferdinand defend their new nation against attacks from the king of Portugal and Enrique’s illegitimate daughter, Juana. Isabella negotiated loans from the Church, and instituted reforms that undermined the rights of non-Christians (Jews and Moors specifically). She also produces numerous children: a daughter (Isabella), a son (Juan), and a daughter (Juana).
In 1482, Isabella begins reconquering the southern Spanish kingdom of Granada, previously held by the Moors. She is able to reclaim Granada at great cost, and gives birth to her daughter Catalina during the reconquest. Throughout this time, she persecutes the Jews and Moors, and this culminates in 1492, when Isabella and Ferdinand sign an expulsion decree, ordering Jews who refuse to convert to leave the country. The justification for this was that it was “well known” that the Jews had damaged Christians (likely by “distracting” them from their chosen path).
Chess may also have played an important role in Christopher Columbus’ ability to discover the New World. Ferdinand and Isabella both loved chess, and a nineteenth century source (which discusses a primary source from 1492) may provide evidence that Ferdinand only okayed Columbus’ journey based on being in a positive disposition from a chess game he was playing while making the decision. Isabella dies in 1504, and was compared to both the Virgin Mary and the Virgin of Battles, in a similar fashion to Joan of Arc prior to her. The hypothesis that the book puts forward is that the chess queen was strengthened not explicitly because of Isabella, but implicitly due to her.
Chapter 12 - The Rise of “Queen’s Chess”
“Queen’s chess” spread from Spain and was met with both praise and hostility throughout Europe. It became accepted that the queen could move just as the rook and bishop could, but people rejected giving the queen the same powers as the knight, “on account of their frailty”. By the seventeenth century, “queen’s chess” spreads throughout Europe (seeing resistance in Germany), and players begin to announce whenever the king or queen is in check. The quick spread of queen’s chess was likely due to the widespread use of the printing press, allowing manuals like Lucerna’s to be easily propogated throughout Europe.
Italian sources indicate that they may have been familiar with queen’s chess before Lucerna’s publication, but they agree that they were unsure about what to make of the queen’s enhanced powers. A backlash arose in response to the queen’s new powers, with those who were offended calling the game “mad queen’s chess”.
Chapter 13 - The Decline of Women Players
By the turn of the seventeenth century, it was no longer fashionable for upper-class women to play chess. Art depicting mixed-gender matches became rare. One hypothesis about why this was is that the increased power given to queens and bishops turned chess from a multi-day game in which men and women could flirt and learn about one another into a multi-hour game in which men and women had to pay strict attention on the game (else be mated in minutes). The ability to love or learn about the other player was lost, as now it became truly about the game itself.
Chess became less social, and professional players emerged on the scene, such as Ruy Lopez in Spain and Paulo Boi in Italy. This caused chess to become more public, and the rise of chess clubs, which were dominated by men. The twentieth century saw a dramatic increase in the number of professional female players, but despite this, only 5% of chess players are women. The author hypothesizes that as chess becomes more socially acceptable for women to specialize in, we will see more professional female chess players.
The queen’s increased power is evidence that the king cannot survive without the queen by his side. Yet while the vizier is still dominant in the Middle East and Near East, he has the increased power that the queen has.
Last summer I got the first four books of the A Song of Fire and Ice series, and four months ago, I reviewed the first two. I went back to reading history books and comics for a while, but after seeing the first season of the TV series, I got excited about reading the third book and just finished that today. So with that in mind, let's see how the third book, A Storm of Swords, stacks up with the first two.
WARNING: Extremely vague discussions that may spoil things will follow.
Let's start off as blunt as possible: A Storm of Swords is my favorite book in the Song of Fire and Ice series so far. And that's saying a lot, saying how lackluster I felt the previous book was (A Clash of Kings). In many ways, A Storm of Swords is the very opposite of A Clash of Kings, despite the similar sounding titles and presentation. But let's break it down like it's a game of chess, which I think is a decent enough metaphor. In A Game of Thrones, you're just learning what all the different chess pieces are and what they do. It's the first time you're seeing them, and boy does it seem like there are a ton of pieces that all do similar-ish things but are quite different on the particulars. There's a lot of potential depth and you get a taste of it when a single main character dies at the end of the book.
Next up is A Clash of Kings. Continuing with our metaphor, the opening moves of the game are being played and there really aren't that many pieces being captured - and pieces that do get captured are pawns that we have no emotional attachment to anyways. It seems like there is still potential but since there are two expert players in this game, the maneuvering could go on for a while.
After finishing A Clash of Kings I was a bit troubled. I knew that if I was really into fantasy novels, I would be excited to see more and more maneuvering, and more depth, but I had two big concerns:
1. I was liking how the backstory (everything chronologically before the first book) was being established, but was afraid of recons showing up.
2. I thought that there was a lot of faffing about going on in the second book, and was afraid that the rest of the books would basically be the same thing.
Talking to friends on the internet (and Ikai Lan in particular) alleviated concern number one for me, but I was still troubled by concern number two. Let me stop to justify that concern a bit more first. Throughout the whole second book, all the characters are engaging in non-stop political maneuvering, and while it is interesting, it doesn't seem to have any real consequences for anyone. No major characters die, they just get promoted or demoted or move to a different location. This made it hard for me to keep caring about the characters, as it makes it look like they're not in any real danger - they're just dicking around, and while all the chess pieces are in different spots at the end of the book than the beginning, the big picture looks pretty much the same.
Yet after reading the extremely dense The Wars of the Roses, I needed something to read that required a lot less brainpower on my part. So I picked up A Storm of Swords hoping that we'd finally get to some action. This was ultimately ironic, since A Storm of Swords has a lot more action but a lot less action / battle scenes. What I mean by this is that A Storm of Swords was exactly what I wanted A Clash of Kings to be - political maneuvering that actually has a heavy price for those who lose, and sometimes a heavy price for those who win. Now I care a lot more about the characters involved because they actually are in danger, instead of just the false sense of danger that comes up in A Clash of Kings.
It also changes the characters it focuses on dramatically. In A Clash of Kings, it basically seemed to focus on a ton of second-tier characters that I couldn't care less about (like Theon, who looks like he had potential but then didn't seem to go anywhere interesting) and one or two first-tier characters that I did like (Tyrion and Jon Snow). The problem, again, was that even for the characters I did like, they're just moving around on the chessboard, not actually doing anything that exciting. A Storm of Swords seems to reverse this formula, to great success. Here, it's almost all first-tier characters and really only one or two second-tier characters, and a lot of serious shit is going down with the first-tier characters unfortunately, not too much for Sansa and Arya Stark. Also, while we still don't get a first-person view of Littlefinger or Varys, they are still holding their ground as top-tier characters who are not to be trifled with.
Also, much thanks to Ikai on my first concern about this book - the backstory gets a substantial amount of info filled in, and does so in a non-retcon way that still leaves me hanging, and at every point where somebody reminisces about the past, I actually do want to know more about it.
So I've already pre-emptively bought the fifth book in the series, A Dance with Dragons, and will start the fourth book, A Feast for Crows, relatively soon (but probably not immediately). Now the bar has been set high - don't let me down!
As an exceedingly amateur history buff, I've read up on the rule of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, via the excellent books put out by Alison Weir. So when I was picking my next book to read, I decided to pick up what is essentially 'the prequel' to those stories, the Wars of the Roses. In an attempt to help myself remember this long, deep story down the road, I took fairly copious notes as I read. Hopefully you'll find it interesting - a lot of the details are missing, so definitely pick up the book for the full, more interesting-than-this story!
tl;dr: Alison Weir's Wars of the Roses is an excellent look at English history, starting with the fall of King Richard II (~1400 C.E.), and continuing through until the end of the Wars of the Roses in 1485. It's extremely thorough, and worth the time, especially if you're into English history. If you are, stop reading now and go buy the book instead of reading this!
----- Introduction -----
This chapter is pretty much an 'overview' chapter. It tells us about the two Wars of the Roses, the first being a conflict between the Lancasters and Yorks, from 1455 to 1471, and the second being a much shorter conflict between the Yorks and the Tudors (who claim to be descendants of the Lancasters), from 1483-1487. In addition to these three families being involved, it also introduces us to the Earl of Warwick, a powerful magnate, who will be an important character throughout this story. It talks about the Tudor view of the wars, namely that the seeds were planted for war when King Henry IV (Lancastrian) deposes Richard II, and as this is an important event, Weir wants to trace why Richard II was deposed, entailing a look at the founding of the York household via Edward III. The book starts with the history of the Lancasters and the Yorks, and goes through the end of the First War of the Roses (the Second is actually really short in comparison). The Wars have commonly been a confusing period in history, but lots of research has been done in the last century, and this research is applied in her work.
The main question the book wants to ask: How did the murder of King Richard II in 1400 lead to the murder of King Henry VI in 1471?
----- Chapter 1 -----
The Black Death of 1348-9 kills a large proportion of people, so survivors are able to negotiate more money in exchange for their labor skills. Large areas of land once lived on by people are returned to nature, and are grazed by sheep for the profitable wool industry. People were generally rich, or at least well off, but there was a scarcity of people. Roughly .75-3mil people in England, of which 90% worked on the land. Outsiders saw the English as xenophobic, attached to their culture, warlike, and obsessed with ritual. Northerners and southerners were seen as distinct groups of people: northerners as hard and barbarian-like (from the point of view of the southerners), and southerners as soft, sophisticated but feminine in nature (from the point of view of the northerners). Dialects differed enough that people could not understand others outside their own dialect. Western Europe is united under the Catholic Church, in a strict hierarchy. Order is seen as good and godly, while disorder (heresy, rebellion, 'too much ambition') is seen as the work of the devil (and thus, mortal sin). The Black Death engenders social revolution, and the papacy's authority is challenged by a lack of respect and increasing nationalism. The rise of materialism from trade gives birth to capitalism as we would recognize it. The princes of the Church begin to lose power to magnates (rich, influential nobles) as government becomes increasingly secular. Bishops had a luxurious life that the people see as being against the teachings of Jesus Christ. Men lived on average to the age of 50, women to 30 (due to the high mortality rates associated with childbirth), and half of children did not reach 20. Art shows a preoccupation with death, especially 'Doom paintings' (anything depicting the Last Judgment). Over time, kings delegated more and more to departments of state within the royal household.
The king still retains responsibility for foreign policy, patronage, and controlling the nobility. The king has to appear to be a competent warrior, and acting peaceful looks weak. There isn't the notion of a standing army - the King gets troops from the nobility, who raise them in their respective regions. Succession rules were ill-defined. Usually it was primogeniture (first son takes over), but the ruler-to-be needed respect from the nobles, so ability becomes more important than direct lineage. The failures of Matilda (1100s) poisons the English against having a queen as a ruler, but there was no law against it, and it wasn't really tested until the 1400s. In the 1400s, too many powerful magnates had a claim to the throne, and believed in might makes right (enhanced by lack of firm succession rules). Magnates blocked legal attempts to reform succession rules, saying common law could not resolve a godly issue. Thus, the Wars of the Roses are largely wars between the great magnates.
The Black Death kills a lot of the nobility class, so power becomes concentrated between a few, much stronger set of magnates. In the 1450s, feudalism gives way to 'bastard feudalism', in which people became indebted (for life) to magnates in exchange for the money they needed to keep up their lavish lifestyle. they wear their magnate's uniform and badge and act as their knight, and the magnate protects them from enemies, pays their pension, and gives them gifts (land, lucrative offices) - this leads to the formation of large private armies. The private armies extort the countryside and peasants lose faith in the judicial system, as it appears that justice is only available to the rich. By the 1400s, aristocrats lack a sense of duty to the crown, are often corrupt, and try to gain political or economic power from other aristocrats or the King. Henry VI fails to curb this corruption, and issues thousands of pardons to friends. The Council governs the realm, but Parliament's power rises in the 1400s (made up of the Lords spiritual and temporal, and the Commons). The royal household generates a lot of political influence due to physical proximity to the King.
----- Chapter 2 -----
King Edward III has many children. His first son produces no children, and starts off good but gets a bad reputation as the 'Black Knight'. He dies before Edward III. Edward's second son, Lionel, has a child, Richard II, who the Yorks will latch onto to establish their legitimacy for the throne. After Lionel dies, Richard II becomes king, with John of Gaunt (Edward III's third son) as Regent. John of Gaunt marries into the Lancaster family (for his first marriage), then Constance of Castile (for his second marriage), then Katherine (for his third marriage). He is accused of being power-hungry and ambitious with respect to the English crown, but really wants Castile (a Spanish kingdom). John of Gaunt's heir is John, his son from his first marriage. Edward III's fourth son, Edmund, founds the House of York. Edward III's fifth son, Thomas, does not apparently do very much.
Richard II prefers peace with France, which makes him unpopular with his people. Richard was attached to making monarchy into a ceremony, and invents the handkerchief. Richard relies on two advisors when in power, making him unpopular with the nobles as a whole. He had a rumored homosexual relationship with one of them, Robert de Vere. Gaunt's son, Henry of Bolingbroke, forms an alliance opposing de Vere, and eventually has him banished. Richard seeks revenge for this, and takes government responsibility on personally. Richard's wife's death causes him to become more despotic. Richard sues for peace with France, and marries Isabella, an unpopular but pragmatic move. He wins Gaunt to his side by making his 3rd marriage legitimate and her family noble (previously common). From 1397 onwards, Richard becomes paranoid and grabs absolute power, stuffing Parliament with his supporters to get what he wants, and banishes enemies immediately. Richard moves against his uncle, Thomas of Woodstock, in retaliation for what happened to de Vere, and tries to have him murdered. He ends up banishing Bolingbroke, who escapes to Paris, and another enemy (Mowbray), who escapes to Jerusalem and dies of the Black Death. Richard fails to produce heirs and it looks like his nephew Roger Mortimer will take over after Richard's death, until Mortimer is killed by the Irish. Mortimer leaves a son behind (Edmund), possibly the new heir.
Gaunt becomes depressed after his son (Bolingbroke) is exiled, and dies (apparently) from depression. Gaunt is a great supporter of Richard - Gaunt's death causes Bolingbroke to return to England and deal with Richard, who suddenly repossesses Bolingbroke's lands. Richard leaves north to deal with the Irish just as Bolingbroke returns to reclaim his lands and title as Duke of Lancaster. Bolingbroke executes some of Richard's hated advisers and gathers a large army, as he is apparently quite popular in the south. Bad weather delays news of Bolingbroke's return, and Richard returns immediately to deal with him. Richard is unable to summon an army, surrenders at Conway castle, and is taken to London (the Tower). Bolingbroke initially insists that he is not trying to depose the King, but asks the magnates who they prefer to be king. Some side with him, while others side with Richard. Eventually they decide to go with Bolingbroke. Richard is coerced to abdicate, and charges are presented against him in Parliament - this deposal starts a long period of dynastic and political instability, as Henry is not next in line to the throne, Edmund, son of Mortimer, is. Bolingbroke succeeds Richard, becoming King Henry IV.
----- Chapter 3 -----
Henry is seen as right for the throne because of his record, not his birth, and he tries to justify his birth through reorganizing the family tree to make himself next in line to the throne - this apparently fools no one, but nobody really cares since he's (by merit) the best person for the job. Nobody wants March (Edmund, Richard's nephew) as king since he's a child, and that didn't work out great with Richard. March (bound to the House of York) will become a dangerous rival. Henry puts down conspiracies against him, and loses popularity as the people realize he cannot solve their problems overnight. Henry constantly has to ask Parliament for money to fund him putting down rebels, and other plans, and it is believed that this economic instability did much against the stability of his throne.
France refuses to recognize Henry as king, and England redeclares war, continuing the Hundred Years War (although not much military action takes place during his reign). Richard is banished from prison to a cozy estate, and is eventually moved to the home of a prominent Lancastrian - Richard gains many supporters in high places who want him to be king once more, and they wear his white badge. Four Dukes attempt to murder Henry, but it fails and Henry realizes he is not safe while Richard lives. Henry has him starved to death, and his body paraded around London. A cult around Richard emerges, of those who believe he is alive and they continuously try to rebel to put him back on the throne, or at least assassinate Henry. Henry has March watched by his female cousin, whose husband he had murdered for conspiracy. The Welsh rise up, led by Glendower, who gains the support of Edmund (Edward's son).
----- Chapter 4 -----
In 1413, Henry V accends to the throne, after his father dies. Before ascension, he is largely a hedonistic man, but after accension, he straightens up and was well praised. Henry v was deeply pious, and was severe with heretics (especially the Lollards). He was chivalrous and impartial with respect to justice. Unlike Henry IV, Henry V is careful with his money, and stamps out corruption. He makes good allies out of the magnates, releases March from house arrest and makes him a Knight of the Bath. March is not politically ambitious, and is fearful of those around him. Henry V seeks to finish the war with France, and pulls off a miraculous victory at Agincourt. French heavily armored soldiers get stuck in mud, and Henry easily defeats them with archers. Henry spends a long time in France conquering, and takes Katherine as his wife, producing a single son. He never returns to England, dying in France of what appears to be dysentary.
The French sue for peace, but a rival French faction arises to continue the war. The English are once again poor from the war, and the French are far from defeated. The magnates argue about whether or not the war should be continued - this will split the magnates into different factions during the Wars of the Roses.
----- Chapter 5 -----
Henry VI is too young to rule, so the Council places Glouchester as Regent. Glouchester is really just a figurehead, and in reality, the Council is in charge. Katherine, now Queen dowager, does not yet seek to remarry. Glouchester favors continuing the war with France, while Beaufort (Henry V's brother) does not want to. Aristocrats and the Council seek to grab power while Henry VI is young. March wants peace, and Glouchester sends him to Ireland. Henry's minority is unexpectedly peaceful. March dies of plague in Ireland, childless. His nephew, Richard, should have inherited his properties, and technically was next in line to the throne, but gets neither. He does get married to Cecily, and becomes Duke of York. Katherine secretly marries Owen Tudor and has had many children with him, who strongly support the Lancasters.
Glouchester and Beaufort continue to fight, and when Joan of Arc appears in France, the tide of battle turns against the English. She is eventually captured and executed, but this does not help the English much. Henry takes the crown at the age of 8, but still doesn't exercise sovereign power, as he still has much to learn. Richard becomes the richest magnate from March's inheiritance and landownings.
1433 marks two events that start the decline of the Lancastrians. First, Bedford's wife, Anne of Burgundy, dies, and Bedford remarries Jacquetta of Luxembourg. This shatters the English alliance with Burgundy (as he also does not like Luxembourg). Second, William de la Pole (Suffolk) rises as the dominant influence in the royal household. Burgundy pulls out of the war with France, and makes a separate peace. Bedford dies shortly after, who acted as a check on the Glouchester/Beaufort rivalry. Glouchester carries out a scorched earth policy in France, which further turns the French against the English. Richard (York) takes control of the French invasion after bedford dies, and gains military experience from it (although the Glouchester/Beaufort rivalry and Parliament deny him proper funding).
Katherine dies of cancer, and her kids go into the care of Suffolk's sister. Owen Tudor is arrested by Glouchester. York has to fund the war against France personally, and despite military victories there, is not reimbursed financially, so he refuses a second term in the job there and returns to England. Henry VI declares himself of age to take power, and dispatches Warwick, his governor (his ward), to be Lieutenant in France in place of York. Henry VI wants peace but is not smart enough to deal with Glouchester, and is not interested in military glory.
----- Chapter 6 -----
Henry VI is competent but gullible. He wastes lots of money being suckered by the magnates, and is more interested in religion than the real world. He wears homely clothing, which is seen as unkingly by the magnates and the common people. Owen Tudor escapes from prison, is recaptured, and eventually becomes friends with Henry, getting a regular salary and eventually having a bastard son (David Owen). Owen's grandson is Henry VII (Henry Tudor). Henry VI takes care of his two half brothers, Edmund and Jasper Tudor.
Henry VI supports Beaufort, leading to Glouchester becoming marginalized. Glouchester tries to regain power and discredit the peace talks with France, leading to Cardinal Beaufort trying to discredit him. Glouchester's wife is arrested on (apparently true) charges of witchcraft, as she practices horoscopes and burns wax images of the King. She is banished and her husband's status is substantially diminished after this point. He still criticizes the King, but now he is fully discredited.
----- Chapter 7 -----
Ranking system: Duke > Marquess (or Marquis) > Earl
Henry VI gets betrothed to Margaret, daughter of the Duke of Anjou, cousin to the King of France. Suffolk's power greatly increases after Beaufort's death (much later). York was stuck fighting the French again, with all promised monies going to Somerset, who is favored by the King, despite having little military experience. Somerset wastes the money and loses many battles and men. Part of the peace treaty with France is a secret provision that cedes control of Anjou and Maine. This is secret because it is known that this will not be popular at home. York and Margaret will one day be bitter enemies. It is worried that Margaret is too poor, looks too homely, and so on.
----- Chapter 8 -----
Henry VI marries Margaret, but does not produce an heir for 8 years. His confessor is thought to blame for this, as he warns Henry against self-indulgence / lust / etc. Margaret's natural aggressiveness allows her to take up the slack that Henry VI leaves, and she naturally gains much power, using it effectively. She does not take up aggressiveness sexually though, and this is (nowadays) is seen as a failure on both of their parts - not providing for the succession, a crucial duty. Back then this is seen as the Queen's failing. The marriage was never popular with the English people, as Margaret is seen as the symbol of the disgraceful peace with France.
Margaret goes on Beaufort's side, making her an enemy of Glouchester and York. She ventures into politics and favors her friends, and while faction politics is ok in France and Italy, it was resented in England. Margaret's opponents initially do not fear the massive power she has, as she is childless and won't have any power if Henry VI dies without an heir. The Duke of York is recalled (through the Queen's influence) in favor of Somerset being Lieutenant in France - this is a huge insult to York, who is still in massive debt over financing his troops with his money. York is accused of financial malpractice in Normandy, and as York suspects Suffolk is behind it, their relations sour.
Charles reminds Henry to cede Maine and Anjou so that peace negotiations can begin, and eventually Henry does, and much anger comes from his people at the decision - most of it is aimed at Suffolk, who negotiated it. Henry doesn't push it too much, and its actual execution lingers. To keep peace on the table, Margaret proposes a marriage between York's heir, the Earl of March, and Charles VII's daughter, Madeline - nothing much comes of it, but it acknowledges York's importance. York's armorer is alleged to have said that York deserved the crown, leading to his death (for treason) and poisons the Queen against York.
The Queen, Suffolk, Beaufort, and Somerset convince Henry VI that Glouchester is plotting a coup so that Henry will get rid of Glouchester, who keeps causing trouble about the cession - Henry has Glouchester arrested and sent to Parliament. Glouchester is accused of treason and put on house arrest, dying 12 days later. Rumors are abound that he was murdered by Suffolk, but as Glouchester was an old man, the stress from his sudden knowledge of the conspiracy against him may have done the job. Regardless, Glouchester was remembered for his honesty and patriotism against France, and the negative stuff was forgotten - the people remembered who set him up, and thought of them as enemies of the state.
----- Chapter 9 -----
Glouchester was the heir presumptive, so his death (and w/o an heir) means that York is now heir presumptive - a good choice since he has 13 kids, a pious wife, military experience, etc. but his arrogance and being on the wrong faction are strong marks against him. York eventually inheirits Glouchester's estate, which becomes the main York stronghold in the Wars of the Roses. Beaufort dies shortly after, and Somerset becomes head of the Beaufort family, and rumors are abound that Somerset will become heir presumptive (since he is of closer Lancastrian blood to the King than York).
The French bring up the Maine / Anjou thing again, and this time the people turn against Suffolk, for that and for causing in-fighting in the Council (which he was responsible for). The Queen is able to get around export restrictions on wool, which causes resentment from the merchant class, who to this point firmly supported the crown. The magnates not in the ruling faction rally around York, and those in the ruling faction want York out of the way, so they make him Lieutenant of Ireland for 10 years (which practically banishes him). York is able to delay it for 2 years. The French are tired of waiting for Maine / Anjou to be returned, and invade to take back the land. They claim it successfully, and Suffolk is blamed for the failures there. The King sends him on a 5 year exile, and promises to repay those who lost land there (which he never does). Much anger is felt at Suffolk, who is felt to have gotten off lightly - on the way to his exile in France, unknown ships abduct him, hold their own trial for him, find him guilty, and murder him. The Queen now knows that her faction is not invulnerable.
----- Chapter 10 -----
Henry VI is now in financial troubles - the Italian merchants won't lend him more money, and since he gave away most of his lands to his faction, he isn't generating the income from them. Parliament wants to return the lands to Henry, but Henry doesn't want to anger his faction and refuses it. The people are angry at the government, which they see as ineffectual and controlled by the corrupt magnates - all the people want is a stable, functioning government, and this includes the upper class. The rich merchants see the corruption and begin to side with York's faction.
Men at the city of Kent organize out of fear about the corruption in government, anger at the sad state of those returning from France, and fear of (what they saw as) the Queen's retribution to come for Suffolk's death. It was led by Jack Cade, so it was called Cade's Rebellion. Cade presents a list of grievances and solutions for them (pretty much everything above), and calls himself John Mortimer to present a bond with the Duke of York. Cade gathers an army and marches towards London - he's not interested in rebellion but just fixing the problems in government.
Henry gathers a large force to fight him, but at the last minute splits his army in two and only sends one half to fight Cade. This small army is defeated by Cade, causing the other half of Henry's army to mutiny, and in response, Henry flees London and imprisons some minor nobles that the mob wants brought to justice. Cade marches on London, whose guards are sympathetic to him and let him in. Initially this goes well, but Cade eventually forgets his moral code and loots the town. This causes many to lose faith in him and, shortly thereafter, he is kicked out of London.
Henry promises to pardon all those involved as long as they stand down - Cade agrees as long as his grievances are heard and his recommendations put in place, which is agreed to. However, the King never follows through on it, leading to many people becoming more frustrated with the government.
----- Chapter 11 -----
Somerset loses all of France to the French except for Calais and Aquitaine, prompting York to ask Henry for Somerset's arrest. Henry, on his wife's wishes, instead rewards Somerset. This, and the people's anger at it, prompts York to return from Ireland, and raises a small army on the way. York gives his list of grievances and solutions (which match well with Cade's), and is in favor with the common people (but not the upper classes who have gained from Henry's rule). York does not ask to be ruler, but wants to be named heir presumptive, since he is afraid it will go to Somerset. he also wants the remaining 30000 pounds he is owed. Henry puts York on the Council to appease him, but he still has little influence there.
York has power in Parliament since the House of Commons is on his side, and York has Somerset impeached and put in the Tower (he is quickly released on the Queen's orders). York's supporters are mad at Somerset's release, and loot his house and his friends' houses. The House of Commons calls for the removal from court of the magnates, and Henry obliges by removing all the non-important ones. York loses power after Henry dissolves Parliament. In 1451, the French invade Bordeaux, the capital of Aquitaine, which worries the merchant community, who rely on that area for the wine trade.
York now realizes that the only way to affect change is by force, and forms an army (allegedly 20k people) to force the King to get rid of Somerset. Henry VI brings an army slightly larger than that. Neither side wants to offer battle, and York offers to stand down if Henry gets rid of Somerset. The nobles distract the Queen while this news is delievered, and Henry agrees to it. York disbands his army, and as he is on the way to show his list of grievances and redresses about Somerset, the Queen learns of the plan and convinces Henry not to arrest Somerset. Many consider this to be the beginning conflict in the Wars of the Roses, even though no actual fighting occurs.
York arrives at Henry's camp to arrest Somerset, learns what has happened, and is promptly detained by Henry. York swears allegiance to the King and he (and his army) are pardoned. The king is able to send a small force to Bordeaux and (led by Talbot) recaptures it (he has the troops but not the money, which he gets from Philip of Burgundy) - this lightens some of the tension in England.
Henry elevates his half-brothers, Edmund and Jasper Tudor, to Earls, and they now become close to the King, and join his court. They both get lands - Jasper gets part of Wales, and both become fiercely loyal to the Lancasters and the King. Parliament comes back into session, and York's supporters are kicked out and replaced by the Tudors. An Act of Resumption is passed that reclaims the lands that York's supporters own and gives it back to Henry VI. Parliament raises money to train 20k archers, in case York strikes up another rebellion.
Margaret Beauford moves in with the Tudors, presumably to marry Edmund Tudor at some point. Talbot asks Parliament for more money to defend himself in France and invade more land, but Parliament dithers. Charles VII takes advantage of this and sends a well-armed force, who kill Talbot in battle. The queen becomes pregnant and thinks it's a boy. Talbot's death causes Parliament to finally put up the money to send troops to France, but corruption and local inefficiency cause no troops to be enlisted. Charles VII then has the time he needs to conquer Aquitaine, and expel the English (who only control Calais now). This ends the Hundred Years War.
Parliament does not offer any pay or reparations for defeated soldiers - this creates a lot of anger with the common people, and the end of the Hundred Years War in many ways causes the Wars of the Roses.
----- Chapter 12 -----
In 1453, Henry falls ill. it was referred to as 'madness' back then, but nowadays was believed to be some type of complete mental breakdown (either catatonic schizophrenia or depressive stupor). This has an extremely negative effect on politics, as it removes the only balancing force between the factions, removes the head of state, etc. Queen Margaret has her child, a boy - Edward, named after Henry's favorite, Edward the Confessor. Henry is needed to confirm that the child is his, but in his catatonic state, he cannot, and as the people do not know that he is sick, they start having doubts about whether he is the father.
The Percies and Nevilles, two rival families, finally break out into war with one another, and as the Nevilles have had properties taken from them and given to Somerset, they go to York for help (led by the Duke of Warwick). The Queen feels safe now that the succession is guaranteed, so she tries to become sole regent over Edward. Many of the magnates don't trust an unpopular French woman to have total power (officially), so they side with York.
Cardinal Kempe dies, and as his successor can only be chosen by the King, this causes more problems with respect to who will be Regent. The Lords in Parliament visit the King one more time to see if he has improved, and has he didn't, they have to decide between Somerset and York - they choose York, who becomes Regent and Protector of the Realm, to expire when the King comes of age (apparently 14). York immediately jails Somerset and removes all of his land, and sends the Queen to Windsor to keep an eye on the King, telling her not to return until he has recovered. York, Warwick, and Salisbury (Warwick's father) become a triumvirate that rules the country effectively and apparently is light on revenge against their enemies. York reforms the government, eliminates many of the ways that the Queen used to give gifts to her favored people, and reduces many household's sizes to save lots of money. York also solves the Percy / Neville problem in the north and problems with the Welsh in the north and west, as well as pirate problems in the English Channel.
After 16 months of comatose-ness, the King suddenly awakens on Christmas 1454, recovered, but would spend the rest of his life having short recurrences of it (believed to be genetic, from his grandfather on his mom's side, who was violently insane). Henry becomes more introverted and controllable by his wife and the magnates.
----- Part 2, the Wars of the Roses -----
----- Chapter 13 -----
Now that Henry is recovered, he frees Somerset, returns all his lands to him, and fires Salisbury from his position as Archbishop. York is relieved of duty and is on the defensive again from Somerset. Somerset convinces Henry that York is trying to usurp him, so Henry summons York, Warwick, and Salisbury (which they dodge out on, as they sense it is a trap, like what happened to Glouchester). York forms an army with Warwick and Salisbury and heads south, and the King forms his own army to intercept him. York tries to tell Henry that he only wants Somerset, but Somerset intercepts the messages and destroys them.
The battle commences at St. Albans, and while the battle begins off evenly matched, Warwick's forces come out from hiding on Henry's flank and rout them, leaving Henry and his court party, who are wounded or killed. Somerset approaches 'The Castle Inn', and after being warned by a soothsayer to be wary of castles, falters, and in this moment of confusion, is killed by (possibly) Warwick. York finds the King and tells him that he does not wish to be a usurper, and killed Somerset only to save the nation. Peace is held but now a dangerous precedent has been set - both sides will have to work hard to maintain peace.
York becomes virtual ruler of England by putting his supporters in important positions and banning the Queen from being in London. A new Act of Resumption is passed, returning most lands to the King (except for the Tudors, who are needed to have a moderating influence on Parliament). Henry VI may be showing signs of mental illness again. In October 1455, Edmund Tudor (Earl of Richmond) marries Margaret Beaufort - their child will be a future king of England (Henry Tudor, later Henry VII). In November, York is given complete control, as the Queen leaves to take care of the King. While away, the Queen gathers support for her cause against York. Those in the house of commons are suspicious of York's motives, and want to protect the prince.
----- Chapter 14 -----
The King returns and takes back power, although the Queen leaves London (the Londoners hate her and vice-versa) and York has influence over the King. The King nevertheless undoes most of the Acts of Resumption to protect his friends. The Queen leaves to gather support against the Yorkists, at a higher priority than fixing the country.
York convinces Henry to make Warwick the captain of Calais, effectively putting Calais under his control. it's unclear why Henry would do this since it's an incredibly valuable position, and later the Yorkists will use Calais as a major foreign base. Tensions rise in London as the new Duke of Somerset (son of the last one) starts trouble for York, who is being groomed by the Queen. York and Warwick take care of invaders from Scotland, and meanwhile, the Queen dismisses York's friends from office and replaces them with her own.
The Duke of Richmond (Edmund Tudor) dies at 26, leaving behind his wife and (soon-to-be) child. His brother Jasper inherits all of his lands and takes care of his wife and child - the child will apparently be the founder of the Tudor dynasty, and is named Henry Tudor. Jasper realizes that he can't be on both teams, so he starts moving over to the Lancaster team. Margaret (Edmund's wife) will remarry to Buckingham's son, Henry Stafford, to ally their families and provide protection for Margaret. The Queen tries to make peace with the French so that she can use them to fight the Yorkists, but before she can, the French destroy the town of Sandwich, provoking anger at the Queen.
York is in Dublin, and Warwick is in Calais, so to prepare to fight them, the Queen starts the draft (conscription), apparently never done before in England. The Queen attempts to put Warwick on trial for piracy against German ships, but riots break out by Warwick's supporters and the Queen backs down. Warwick is almost accidentally killed by a royal kitchen servant, and another conflict breaks out - the Queen summons him to Parliament again and almost kills him via the retainers of Somerset and Wiltshire. Warwick begins to flee the country, and the Queen gets an army together to try to stop him.
----- Chapter 15 -----
In response to the King and Queen gathering an army, York, Warwick, and Salisbury raise armies, and although others support York, they do not want to be seen as treasonous. Warwick is unable to join his forces with Salisbury, so he heads towards York - the Queen sends Lord Audley and ~6-12k men to take care of Salisbury, who has ~3-4k men. Salisbury, knowing he is outnumbered, prepares numerous defenses, protecting his left with a hill, his right with a wall made of his provisions, and the center by having his troops be on a hill to provide higher ground. He wins the battle, killing Lord Audley at the Battle of Blore Heath.
Salisbury distracts the royal army by leaving his cannon to a friar, who fires it periodically, leading the royal army to believe that Salisbury is there, when in reality he leaves and successfully meets up with Warwick and York (although two of Salisbury's sons are captured by the Lancastrians). York, Warwick, and Salisbury do not want to fight an army led by the King, so they continuously attempt to flee from him. Their morale eventually drains and they abandon their troops, seen as a cowardly act. Henry pardons the Yorkist army, as he is only after their leaders. His troops, however, pillage and rape the townsfolk, and do the same to neighboring Yorkist towns.
York, Warwick, and Salisbury flee to Calais, and back in England, corruption once again continues, with lands being given to the Queen's favorites at the common person's expense. Parliament comes in session, and is packed with the Queen's supporters. York and crew are named to be treasonous, and his lands in England are reclaimed. Tudor troops are sent to Wales to prevent it being used as a way to re-enter England, and they try to do the same with Ireland, but as Ireland is fiercely pro-York, they fail (also, this is where York is hiding out).
The Council prevents trade with Calais, but then asks for money from the merchant class in London, who now doesn't have any money, so they become incensed at the Queen. The Queen attempts an attack on Calais through Lord Rivers, but Warwick attacks first, capturing him, his troops, and his family. Warwick meets up with York, and plan a two-pronged attack, in which York attacks from the north and Warwick attacks from the south. The Queen dispatches the Duke of Exeter with ample troops to defend the English Channel from Warwick, but Warwick delays his invasion, causing Exeter's troops to lose morale due to their low pay and poor living conditions. Exeter realizes he cannot trust most of his troops and disbands them, and without more money, he cannot acquire loyal troops, thus losing the Channel to Warwick.
Warwick invades England, and both York and Warwick disseminate their list of grievances and redresses to the people. The King, Queen, and the royal army are waiting at Coventry, as they suspect that York will invade from Wales - York is actually just biding his time.
----- Chapter 16 -----
Lord Fauconberg is able to establish a beachhead for Warwick at Sandwich, capturing forces that were going to invade Calais (but were waiting for the winds to improve). The Queen sends more troops to try to stop Warwick, who promptly defect. Warwick was received as a hero in the south-east, and moved towards London - apparently the Lancastrian government was pretty ill-equipped to handle the invasion that they knew was coming for quite some time. Archbishop Bourchier, previously a neutral mediator, becomes sick of the Queen's misrule and rallies large numbers of men to Warwick at Kent.
Warwick picks up the papal legate (Coppini), who was sent by the Pope to quell the factional infighting so that he can rally troops for a crusade against the Turks. The Lancastrians rebuff him (thinking he sympathesizes with the Yorks), causing him to sympathesize with the Yorks. The papal legate supports Warwick, so many English Bishops follow him. London sends a dispatch to Warwick, initially against him, but later telling him that he can enter if his troops behave themselves. Lancastrians in the city hide in the Tower. Warwick enters London, to the excitement of the Londoners.
Coppini gets a letter from the Pope that summarizes York's case, and the legate writes a letter to Henry begging him to accept York's terms. The royal army hangs at Coventry, afraid of York returning from Ireland and Wales, so they do not attempt to defend London. in the meanwhile, Warwick and march (York's older son) move towards the royal army (Salisbury and Fauconberg stay in London). Henry marches towards Northampton (southeast from Coventry), apparently towards Warwick, and leaves his wife and child behind. At Northampton, he builds defensive fortifications preventing access from London. Warwick meets Henry's forces near Northampton and sends Coppini and the bishop of Salisbury to listen to York's demands, which Henry refuses.
Henry's forces (led by Buckingham) are half in number of Warwick's forces (the main Yorkist army), and one of their commanders, Lord Grey, offers to turn coat to the Earl of March in exchange for his backing on a property dispute. March accepts and as the battle is underway, Lord Grey joins March. Although March suffers some casualties in the defensive fortifications (a marsh, archers, palisades), the battle ends quickly in Warwick's favor and the royal army retreats - but not before Buckingham was killed and the King was captured.
The Queen and prince leave to Wales, but are ambushed by a robber and almost killed, barely making it to Jasper Tudor at Harlech castle, and they eventually leave for his other castle (previously York's castle). Salisbury and friends begin besieging Lord Scales in the Tower of London, and after Warwick returns with the King, Scales surrenders.
The Queen leaves Wales and arrives in Scotland, receiving aid from the Scottish queen (Mary) and her son, the new king (after his father, James II, dies in a cannon explosion while attacking the Yorkists). Margaret receives loans to use against the Yorkists in exchange for the cession of Berwick to the scots. She casually agrees, and apparently this border town is very sensitive / prized to the English, so this will cause a lot of trouble later.
York now realizes that the only way he can save the government and stay in power is to be king, reviving the long-dormant Mortimer claim - the people take this seriously from years of misrule. York returns from Ireland but fails to ask his advisors if his right to rule would be taken seriously by the magnates. York enters London and proclaims himself to be king, to which the magnates and the King look confused and fail to understand. They've taken oaths of allegiance to Henry VI, and although they think he's incompetent, they still think he's the legitimate king. This seems to be because many magnates prospered under Henry VI, and thus think of him as legitimate, while in contrast, Richard II did not allow magnates to prosper, and thus they don't mind deposing him.
Even Warwick and Salisbury are angered that York did not consult them before doing this, but York pushes the issue. The magnates thus don't know what to do, and defer the issue to the King and the House of Lords. The Lords eventually agree that York has a better claim to the throne, but not that Henry should be deposed. They come to a compromise - that Prince Edward should be disinherited, and York becomes the heir after Henry's death. The problem is that York is ten years older than Henry, so York is not likely to outlive Henry. Henry sends word to the Queen to return the prince to London.
Now that the dynastic issue is raised, the Wars of the Roses changes course - no longer about York v. Queen's faction, but about the throne itself, and reform second. The Queen quickly raises a large army to march on London, and York raises a much smaller army to intercept her, making defensive fortifications at Sandal Castle, waiting for March to arrive with reinforcements. Somerset, leading the Queen's army, lacks siege equipment, and thus needs to find a way to lure York out of the castle before March arrives. York underestimates the royal army, fails to use his scouts to learn of his enemy's plans, and by constantly foraging for food, broadcasts to the enemy that he is low on food. Somerset reacts by forming a peace treaty with York and then harassing him, and dressing up 400 Lancaster men as Yorkists and having them infiltrate the Yorkist army. For some reason, York leaves the safety of the castle (likely not enough food), and his troops are drawn out far enough that they get flanked on both sides, and York is killed.
York's son is also killed in combat, and Salisbury is captured the following night and killed by commoners who dislike him, leaving Warwick the richest magnate in England by far. One of the enemy commanders (Clifford), decapitates York and his younger son Rutland, and places a paper crown on York's head, and parades him around town. The people swear vengeance on Clifford for this. The magnates did not mourn York's death, as his arrogance offended them, but the common people grieved for him. March succeeds his father, and becomes the new Duke of York. This battle is referred to as the Battle of Wakefield, and marks a turning point in that now the battles become a lot more violent, as before this point confrontation had been avoided.
The new York believes that he should be king (since his father should have been king), and since Salisbury supported York, Warwick supports the new York.
----- Chapter 17 -----
Queen Margaret heads south from Scotland to eliminate Warwick and March, but as Mary fails to give her the loans she promised, Margaret allows her troops to pillage the land they come across. Warwick uses this knowledge to spread propaganda against the Queen, and raise more money and troops for battle. Pembroke, Wiltshire, and Owen Tudor led an army to meet up with the Queen, but were intercepted by a slightly larger and much more experienced army led by Edward of York (son of the now deceased Duke of York). Edward sees a parhelion, the illusion of multiple suns, and this is used as an omen for Yorkist victory, leading to the Battle of Mortimer's Cross. Edward sets up a strong defensive position, with a river to his rear (that he also guards with archers), and while Wiltshire makes progress against Edward's right flank, the center (led by Edward) holds strong and pushes into the Lancastrian line, causing strong losses for the Lancasters. Pembroke retreats, but Tudor is later executed.
The Queen organizes a marriage between her son and the princess of Scotland (Mary's daughter), and hopes that she can leverage the Scottish and French as military assistance against the English. Warwick gathers an army and meets the royal army near St. Albans, preparing defensive fortifications as needed. The Queen catches Warwick off guard before he is able to finish preparations, and chases his army out of the city. the battle comes to a stalemate, but one of Warwick's commanders, Lovelace, defects and joins the Queen, causing her to win the battle (the most decisive Lancastrian victory of the war). The Queen finds the King at the battle and saves him. The Queen's troops pillage the surrounding area, feeding the propaganda that the northerners are barbarians who hate the south. This also furthers the notion that the war was a north v. south war (poor, barbarian north as Lancasters v. rich, sophisticated south as Yorks).
The Queen moves towards London, but as the Londoners refuse to prepare food for her rampaging army, she holds back on retaking the city (she doesn't want London to get pillaged and the people to hate her further) - this apparently loses a great opportunity for the Lancastrians to take the city. The mayor of London offers to let the King and Queen in if they can prevent the pillaging, but they can't prevent it, and the Londoners hear the news of the pillaging in St. Albans and decide against it. The Queen considers invading London, but realizes she does not have the resources to do so, and backs off, which allows Edward and his army to slip in, who are hailed as heroes.
Edward is now in a situation where he is attempting to remove the King and install himself as king, and the people now see the corruption not as of the Council, but as of the King himself. Edward is made king, and becomes King Edward IV, restoring the crown to Plantagenet rule. What apparently mattered was that he controlled the capital, had a military advantage over the Lancastrians, and had the support of most of the magnates (especially Warwick). Edward holds off on a formal coronation, wanting to do so only after Henry and Margaret are dead or captured.
----- Chapter 18 -----
Henry and Margaret's army heads north after they learn of Edward in London. Edward and Warwick head north to fight the royal army, while Somerset takes the royal army south to fight them. News of the widespread Lancastrian looting makes it easier for York to raise forces and gain support, especially in the south. The armies meet at the Pontefract river, and while Henry sues for peace, Edward refuses. The battle that ensues is bloody but goes in favor of the Yorks, and Lord Clifford dies near the end of the battle. The Yorks attempt to cross the bridge there to fight the Lancastrians, who promptly burn the bridge, causing the Yorks to build a raft to cross it, which the Lancastrians promptly steal, causing the Yorks just to cross the river the old fashioned way.
The Lancastrians retreat to towton, where a much larger battle takes place (the Battle of Towton) - one of the most important battles, on Palm Sunday, in the middle of a blizzard. The snow was blowing against the Lancastrians, so whenever they would fire arrows, they wouldn't go far enough, and the Yorkists would just run and pick up the arrows and fire them back at the Lancastrians. Once the Lancastrians realize this is going on, they drop their bows and charge the Yorkists, who do the same. The battle goes on for 11 hours, and due to the heavy snow, neither side can see who is winning (and both sides keep replenishing their armies with reserve forces). Eventually it is clear that the Yorkists have won, and the Lancastrians retreat, suffering more fatalities as their only escape route is a freezing cold river. The only bridge there collapses from the weight of those on it, and some try to escape on the dead bodies of their compatriots. Towton was apparently the bloodiest battle fought on English soil - ~20-30k casualties, maybe up to 40k if we include those killed during the rout.
Henry and Margaret escape north, and York gains support of most of England (including the north after he spares many of the lords he captures at Towton). Edward rides to York, and upon seeing the heads of his father and Salisbury, has them taken down and replaced with new Lancastrian heads. Edward tries to prevent Henry and Margaret from reaching Scotland, but fails. they then form an alliance with the Queen Regent of Scotland (mary), and gain control of the border town of Berwick, using it as a beachhead to raid England with. Edward returns to London and raises a new army, and Warwick defends the north from the Queen's invasion forces. Edward then focuses upon Wales, another possible beachhead into England. Edward is formally crowned, and the people are ecstatic at his being king.
----- Chapter 19 -----
Edward was handsome and showed it off, eating and drinking accordingly - apparently looked very similar to his grandson, Henry VIII. Edward gets around, but none of his mistresses come up in politics. He was loved for his pursuit of justice, being fair on the throne and was tolerant of heresy. He also reforms England to cut back on wasteful spending, welcomes the educated, and sets new standards for manners and codes of conduct. Edward's first decade in power is marked by him establishing order and trying to reduce the influence of factions, and while he doesn't eliminate them (favoring the Nevilles - Warwick's family), he does limit their influence.
Edward uses Acts of Resumption to reclaim most of the lands that Henry VI gifted away, giving other gifts to those to keep them in favor. He is shrewd with business, and after a few years, creates a royal household that is solvent (generating money) - a rarity in the middle ages. Edward then promises to live off his own means only, and only raise taxes for national defense. He becomes prosperous off of the wool trade. Warwick has much power in the early years, but Edward limits his influence as well. Warwick also lacks an heir, and has several daughters that he can marry off as needed. His designs are on the international stage, and seeks power, although not the kingship itself.
Warwick's brother, Fortescue, aims to reform the Council - instead of being only aristocrats, it should instead be a meritocracy, half clerics, and half secularists, and this is largely implemented. The King always consults his magnates when discussing matters with the council, as he knows they are the ultimate enforcers of his laws, and he treats them favorably in exchange for their continued support. The King becomes popular in London for the increased prosperity, and he shows them some amount of favoritism.
----- Chapter 20 -----
Margaret loses favor with the Scots after she gives them Berwick (as now she doesn't have anything they want), so she focuses on appealing to Charles VII in France for help. Margaret receives a loan from France, and this infuriates the English further (as the French are England's traditional enemies) - this alters the dynamics of the Wars of the Roses, as now it's not a civil war, it's other countries using Margaret to subvert England. Charles VII dies before Somerset and friends can visit him, and is succeeded by his son, Louis XI, who hates the Anjou family. France wants to conquer Burgundy, who wants to trade with England (and vice versa), so he's willing to forgive Margaret for being an Anjou.
Edward IV is a young, eligible bachelor, so he wants to use that to negotiate with France and Burgundy. Seeing that civil war in England is best for France, Louis supports Margaret - the news of which sparks Edward IV to have Warwick capture more northern lands, and most of Wales. Warwick begins feuding with Herbert over who should have influence in Wales. Parliament comes into session once more, and Edward encourages all subjects to bring criminals to justice - a record number of people are brought to court, and justice is seen as being done.
Edward uses Acts of Attainder to formally reclaim Lancastrian lands, and bans communication with Henry and Margaret. Henry Tudor is also stripped of his title as Earl of Richmond. The Duke of Oxford secretly communicates with Henry, and is convicted / executed for treason upon the discovery of his letters with Margaret. Margaret and Prince Edward leave to France to meet Louis in person, meanwhile, Warwick makes an incursion into Scotland, so put pressure on Mary to drop her support of Margaret.
Louis offers Margaret 20k crowns and assistance in exchange for Calais - Margaret eventually agrees, making her even more unpopular in England. Margaret returns to England, with a very small army and capturing (but not conquering) multiple castles in the north. Edward and Warwick respond by raising a large army and heading north, recapturing most of the castles and winning over Somerset to their side. Edward and Louis come to a truce agreeing not to harbor rebels from each other's countries, so Margaret falls back on the Scots for help (which they do not give much of), and Burgundy. The Queen is robbed again, and is captured in a boat at some point - she escapes both times, and eventually meets with Philip of Burgundy, who offers her a minimal amount of money (as he wants to be on Edward's good side). Margaret eventually returns to France and stays with her father and family in Anjou.
Somerset turns tail and betrays Edward IV for Margaret, fleeing into Europe. Somerset's betrayal prompts Edward to sue for permanent peace with Scotland, dispatching Montague north, who is nearly ambushed by Somerset and friends. Montague wins the ensuing battle, killing Ralph Percy, a rallier of Lancastrian support in the north. A 15-year truce is agreed on between the Scots and English.
----- Chapter 21 -----
Edward falls in love with Elizabeth Wydville, daughter of the Earl of Rivers. She was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Margaret, making her from the Lancastrian camp and thus automatically unpopular. The people are becoming worried that Edward has no wife and that he is sleeping around with random ladies. Edward marries Elizabeth in secret, knowing that the marriage is not advantageous and that this wastes his opportunities to make advantageous marriages.
Somerset gathers a new army and meets up against Montague at Hexham, fortifying himself on three sides by a river and hillsides - this prevents him from escaping as Montague rushes him, and Somerset's forces are easily routed - Somerset was captured. Somerset is executed, and leaves behind no legitimate heirs (just a bastard son).
Henry VI escapes capture, leaving behind his crown, sword, and valuables, and goes into hiding in various safe houses.
Warwick arrives with an army at Bamburgh, demanding the surrender of the traitor Sir Ralph Grey and friends - pardons are offered to all except Grey, who refuses to surrender the castle. One of Warwick's cannons shoots Grey's room, knocking him unconscious and causing the others to surrender the castle (Grey is beheaded soon after by Tiptoft). The fall of Bamburgh means there are no more Lancastrian power bases except for Harlech Castle in Wales. Herbert is dispatched to conquer Harlech Castle, and despite ample funding, the castle is too well defended for him to capture.
Warwick pushes Edward to marry a French princess (bona of savoy), causing Edward to eventually reveal that he is already married, horrifying everyone - the magnates are angered that they were not consulted, the nobles are mad that the new queen is so far below him in rank, and Yorkists are mad that he would marry a Lancastrian servant. Louis wants Warwick to start a rebellion against Edward, and Warwick is already frustrated that Edward is suppressing his ambition and did not confide in him about the marriage. Edward supports Burgundy, and Warwick supports Louis, and as Edward's new wife's family (the Wydvilles) will support Burgundy, Warwick will hate them. For the moment, Warwick pretends all is well with Edward and the Wydvilles, who are now rising in power due to the royal marriage. The Wydvilles also rise by intermarrying with the noble class, who are honor bound not to refuse, but still hate the Wydvilles for it - especially Warwick, who now loses lots of matches for his daughters.
Margaret asks the King of Portugal (John of Gaunt's descendent) for assistance - he offers assistance but doesn't come through. Margaret begs Louis for help, and receives none, and Louis takes away her military advisor, who dies in battle against Burgundy. In 1465, Elizabeth is crowned Queen. Henry, in hiding, is eventually discovered and captured. He is sent to Warwick at London, and kept in the tower - this is a fatal blow to Margaret's confidence, as she cannot act while Henry is a hostage (apparently Henry is not mistreated in the Tower).
Elizabeth has a daughter, also named Elizabeth - Warwick is the godfather. Edward moves towards a treaty with Burgundy, since the English hate the French (not forgiving them for the Hundred Years War), but Warwick still wants peace with France, even forging a letter from Edward saying that he desires peace with France. This becomes increasingly divisive, causing a fallout between Warwick and Edward, and even after Philip of Burgundy dies, a more advantageous agreement is reached with his son, Charles the Bold. Edward also kicks George Neville out of the Archbishop position and puts in his own candidate, to prevent George from marrying Warwick's daughter to Edward's sister.
----- Chapter 22 -----
In 1467 Elizabeth bears another daughter, Mary. Sir Thomas Cook, a former mayor, refuses to sell a tapestry he loves to the Queen's mother, who in return, accuses him of Lancastrian sympathies and has him fined 8000 pounds - he defects to the Lancastrians out of anger. Margaret of York (the King's sister) marries Charles the Bold. Louis sends military aid to the Lancastrians, who continue their efforts in Wales. Harlech castle in Wales finally falls to the Yorkists, after 4 years of sieging.
Continued bad blood between the Wydvilles and Warwick sets Warwick up for defection, and he finds an ally in Clarence, mad at the Wydvilles for similar reasons. The people become concerned that justice is not being fulfilled at home - that Edward is only concerned with foreign affairs (France/Burgundy) and crushing the Lancastrian resistance, and that they are being taxed too much to do so. The King was popular, but Warwick was much more so (hailed as a hero), and Warwick does little to quell the anger that is rising in the north (using it to his advantage). This is not helped by the Queen, who bears another daughter (Cecily).
Warwick is sent to Calais to check up on the area (as he has been captain of Calais for quite some time now), and sends letters instructing his people in the north to rise in revolt against Edward, which they do. Edward fails to do anything about the revolt, and eventually dispatches Warwick to put it down. Warwick gathers an army to do so, with the intent of having his new army join forces with those in the north. Edward suspects this will happen, forbidding assembles of armies without his permission. Edward tries to raise his own army, but finds it difficult, raising only a third of what Warwick can raise.
Clarence marries Isabel (Warwick's daughter) once they get the dispensation from the Pope (as they are within the forbidden affinities of marriage), which Edward denied to them. Warwick brings forth a familiar set of grievances and redresses forward, to try to remove those around the King that he sees as poisonous. Warwick returns to England from Calais, and gathers a large army in London (whose mayor believes that Warwick is taking them to the King to put down northern rebels).
Pembroke and Devon have a personal conflict and thus are in bad spirits when they are surprised by Neville's forces at the Battle of Edgecote. Pembroke initially takes a river for strategic reasons, but loses many men doing so, and Devon leaves the battle with his troops (thinking that Pembroke can handle it by himself). Warwick's advance guard appears and destroys Pembroke's forces, causing Neville to win the battle (Pembroke is also captured).
Herbert is executed, freeing up his territory in Wales - it is believed that Jasper Tudor will try to reclaim it, or Warwick will. This also leaves Henry Tudor without a protector, but he is taken in by the Countess of Pembroke. Devon is captured shortly after by the common people at Somerset, and decapitated. Once the King learns of the defeat at Edgecote, his magnates and armies abandon him, and Warwick / Clarence easily capture him, placing him under essentially house arrest. Warwick rules in his name, and has the Queen's father and brother murdered as retribution for their family taking power and plotting against him.
Keeping the King hostage allows the other magnates to take revenge against their enemies, and anarchy breaks out, which Warwick is able to resolve only by freeing Edward (which Warwick thinks is temporary, but when Edward surrounds himself with loyal lords, he is able to escape, returning to London). Edward reestablishes power, putting his brother Glouchester in charge of Wales, which he takes care of efficiently. Warwick's influence drops rapidly after this, and Louis publicly allies himself with the house of Lancaster, getting Margaret ready to lead an invasion force. Warwick and friends are pardoned, and return to the north where their territories are.
----- Chapter 23 -----
Warwick sees that his grievances are not being addressed, and once again spreads propaganda to gain support from the common people - he wants to depose the King and set himself in power (since Clarence is mentally unstable and can't be trusted, and Warwick does not trust Margaret). Before Warwick is able to raise an army, Lancastrian sympathizers raise their own army to reinstate Henry VI, as well as Yorkists in the north who want Edward to restore Percy to an earl (the former being influenced by Clarence). The King quickly raises an army and heads north to deal with the matter, while the rebels move to meet with Warwick, who has raised his own army. The King, with superior artillery and better trained troops (and better magnates as generals) surprises Warwick and Clarence's armies and easily defeats them at the Battle of Losecoat Field (interested readers should look up why it's called this).
The rebel leaders are executed, but Warwick and Clarence are still at large. Edward summons them to court, but they refuse, so Edward takes his army north to capture them. Warwick and Clarence evade him. Edward is worried that John Neville would desert him for Warwick, so Edward deprives him of his earldom, giving it to his rival Percy and attempting to make all well with Neville by making him a Marquess, his son the Duke of Bedford, and offering to marry his daughter, Elizabeth of York, to the new Duke of Bedford. Neville is now angry since he has no lands to generate the income that he needs to support his stature / rank.
Warwick escapes to Calais, but they refuse him harbor, so he leaves to France, where he is warmly received by Louis, who reconciles him with Margaret, knowing that they are needed together to invade England. Margaret eventually pardons Warwick and agrees to the marriage between prince Edward and Anne Neville, Warwick's daughter, and they are betrothed in France. As they are cousins, fourth removed, they have to get a dispensation from the pope, so Louis sends money the pope's way to speed the process up. Clarence sees that he has been removed from the plan and will not be getting the throne, so he plots to betray the others.
Jasper Tudor arrives in France, and it is agreed that he and Warwick will lead the invasion - Tudor from Wales, and Warwick from the south east. A spy arrives with a deal for Clarence, in which he can be pardoned by Edward and restored to glory (monetarily) if he betrays Warwick. Clarence keeps his options open and agrees to this (but it's not clear if he will actually go through with it at this point). Edward IV underestimates the invasion force, despite constant warnings and updates from the Duke of Burgundy. Warwick's brother-in-law stages a sham rebellion in Yorkshire, drawing Edward away from London with an army, leaving his pregnant wife behind in the Tower - in the meanwhile, Warwick easily invades England.
----- Chapter 24 -----
A storm destroys the forces that Edward leaves to defend the channel, and Warwick arrives, easily forming a new army and hailed by the people as a hero. Warwick makes it clear that there is no pillaging and no raping - unlike back in 1461 (St. Albans). The Marquess of Montague (the once earl that Edward strips of rank) forms an army in the north to seek revenge on Edward, heading south. Edward's forces desert him once again, and he flees the area, taking refuge on a Dutch ship heading home (to Burgundy). Calais turns sides and supports Warwick, but is fine supporting Burgundy if they support Henry VI.
Queen Elizabeth flees the tower to Westminster Abbey, and Warwick's forces enter London unopposed, freeing and taking control over Henry VI (who apparently has been captive in the Tower this whole time). Henry VI is reinstated as king (called 'the readeption'), although Warwick, as lieutenant, controls the scenes - Henry is also a shadow of his former self, presumably from the years of imprisonment. Tiptoft is found to be treasonous and is executed.
Jasper Tudor arrives in Wales, and brings Henry Tudor to London to be presented to Henry VI. Warwick realizes it will be hard to hold England together - the magnates distrust him, the middle class feels that he is allowing London to be vandalized, but the common people love him. The Lancastrians hate him b/c of his earlier involvement in deposing Henry VI, and it is not clear that Margaret will allow him to hold onto power when she arrives. Queen Elizabeth has a son in captivity, named Edward, prompting Margaret and Prince Edward to return from France to consolidate power.
Meanwhile, Parliament reverses the Acts of Attainder, giving lands back to Lancastrians. Clarence is put out by this (he loses land as a result), and does not believe that Warwick will come through on his promises to make Clarence rich and powerful. Louis invades Burgundy and asks England for help, and the move is unpopular in England, where new trade prosperity with Burgundy makes it a tough sell. Louis gets a dispensation from the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch in Jerusalem since the Pope won't give it to him, so prince Edward and Anne Neville are finally married, although it is hinted that the marriage is not consummated (so that Prince Edward can remarry if needed). Charles and Edward IV meet, but Charles is non-committal at this time.
Margaret tries to leave to England, but miscommunication prevents her from being in the same city as Warwick, so he returns to England without her. Clarence places spies in many of the important households, to learn of their true intentions. Meanwhile, Warwick is unable to get Parliament to raise money for troops to fight Burgundy, so Warwick has his troops at Calais attack Burgundy, infuriating the London merchants, who realize that they have been dragged into a war with their most profitable business partner. This aggression causes Charles to form an alliance with Edward IV, giving him 50k crowns, enough to form an invasion force. The people are mad at Warwick for allying with the French, and Edward forms a small army to invade England.
----- Chapter 25 -----
Edward returns to England, and while he cannot land at his preferred landing spot (blocked by Warwick's defensive forces), he is able to land at an alternative location, despite bad weather. He moves unopposed but does not gather supporters - his odds are not seen as very good, and he had alienated his magnates (which he was aware of). Warwick calls to the magnates to form armies to oppose Edward IV, but many do not respond to it. Edward IV returns to York, and once again, does not gather forces nor run into resistance. Once he gets firmly into Yorkist territory, he gathers many more troops.
Warwick saves his army at Coventry, waiting for more reinforcements, and believes that Edward's army is small. Edward IV arrives at Coventry and demands that Warwick surrender, which he does not. Edward IV leaves Coventry to intercept Warwick's reinforcements, and Clarence betrays Warwick for Edward IV. Edward IV waits for Clarence, who promptly apologizes and is pardoned. Both Edward IV and Warwick make a run for London, with Edward leaving for London first, and Warwick coming afterwards.
Edward sends scouts to London to see how favorably he will be received - in London, Henry VI is already sent on a horse to march around and raise support, but the troops look so pitiful that it has the adverse effect. Archbishop Neville promises Warwick that he will hold the city for him, but realizes that he cannot, so he promises to deliver Henry VI into Edward IV's hands to get back in good graces with him.
Louis XI realizes that Warwick will not be able to help him against Burgundy, so he signs a 3-month truce with Burgundy to see if Warwick will be able to restore control over England. Edward IV returns to London and is hailed by the people, as he now has a son (and thus an heir) and the money by which he can repay the nobles/merchants - Edward immediately recaptures Henry VI and frees all Yorkists held in the tower. Edward IV puts his army on defensive position, knowing that Warwick is on the way. A few days later, Edward IV puts his family in the tower where they will be safe, recruits more reinforcements, and leaves with Henry to face Warwick, at Barnet.
Their forces line up, but due to heavy mist they really can't see each other and thus line up extremely close to one another. Warwick has about twice as many men and begins by firing his cannon, but thinks Edward is further away (since he can't see him) and misses. Edward, in the center of his troops, leads the attack, and shortly after, both centers hold, but both left sides do not. Montague's men (from Warwick's side) attack men that he sees a star insignia on, believing them to be the King's 'Sun in Splendour' badge, but in reality it's Oxford's 'Blazing Star' badge, so it is friendly fire. Oxford's men are routed, screaming 'treason!', which infects Warwick's entire army, believing that everybody is turning on everybody else, turning the tide of battle against Warwick. Montague is killed in the ensuing battle, possibly by oxford's men.
Warwick tries to rally his men, but fails, and abandons the battle. the King orders that he should be spared, but his soldiers either ignore or do not hear the order, and kill him as he flees. News of Warwick's death causes his army to flee. Edward returns to London with Warwick's body to show that he has won, and to put down rumors that Warwick is alive. Edward forms another army to head west to fight off Margaret and Prince Edward.
----- Chapter 26 -----
Margaret raises a small army and moves up the western coast, to try to raise more reinforcements. Realizing this, Edward IV forms an army and attempts to intercept her. Edward tails Margaret for quite a while, but Margaret continuously gives him the slip, until he finally catches up with her at Tewkesbury, where her forces are in defensive position, with rivers on two sides and a town behind them. They are on a hill as well. Margaret's army has 5-6k people, while Edward IV has 3.5k-5k. Edward has more professional troops and more magnates (so better generals)
Edward IV strikes first, leading his troops up the hill, firing a volley of arrows, and retreating,to try to get Somerset to abandon his good defensive position (which he promptly does). As Somerset's forces advance, they are pinned on the left by Edward IV's forces, and Edward IV sends in spearmen on the right, stopping him on three sides. Wenlock prevents Prince Edward from falling into the trap, but this also prevents Somerset from getting reinforcements and his men are cut down - Somerset barely escapes, and once he realizes that Wenlock didn't help him, he kills Wenlock with his mace, leaving the inexperienced Prince Edward in charge of the center of the Lancastrian army.
Glouchester (Yorkist) leads the center charge, breaking Prince Edward's line and routing the Lancastrian army. The Yorkists follow the rout and kill a large number of Lancastrians, especially Prince Edward (who may have been killed by Glouchester personally at Edward IV's orders). Somerset is captured and beheaded, and as he was the last male Beaufort, the Beaufort line passes to Margaret Beaufort (Henry VII's mother).
Margaret flees again, but this apparently ends the wars between the Lancasters and the Yorks. Margaret is captured shortly thereafter, and is a sobbing mess - Edward does not execute her, as it is not seen as a knightly thing to do. Edward instead puts down some last rebellions in the north and starts returning to London. On the way, Fauconberg raises a rebellion in the south (near Kent) and starts besieging London itself, but when he hears of the King's impending arrival, his forces dissipate and he surrenders. As Fauconberg rises up in the name of Henry VI, Edward IV realizes that as long as Henry lives, more pointless rebellions will be started in his name, so he has Henry VI put to death - the method of death is not obvious, but it involved some kind of head trauma, and was definitely a murder involving Glouchester. Henry's body was put on public display for three days to dispel rumors that he was alive.
The Wars of the Roses eroded the gap between the King and the magnates and eroded royal authority, and the slaughter of so many lords and knights signaled an end to the age of chivalry. Lots of very short battles and campaigns - feeding large armies for long periods of time was too difficult. Battles took place in countrysides, and oftentimes did not impact towns / cities (except for St. Albans, sacking / pillaging was pretty rare). This era showed that people did not really care if the sovereign came from god, but just wanted effective rulership, and were thus easily manipulated by magnates and kings. Henry VI's reputation changed over time from an incompetent ruler to a holy man.
Margaret is eventually moved from the Tower to being under house arrest at Windsor. She is eventually ransomed by Louis XI and returns to France, living on a small stipend from him and dies in poverty. Clarence is executed for treason in 1478.
Disorder rises once more after Edward IV dies in 1483 - he had a second son, but a power struggle arises between Glouchester (the new protector of England), and the Wydvilles. Glouchester wins, imprisons the new king (Edward V), and crowns himself Richard III. This is so unpopular that within two years he and the house of York are overthrown by Henry Tudor (renaming himself King Henry VII), after the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.
THE END (thanks for making it all the way through!)
After finishing Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, I decided to continue reading what I have heard of as 'the classics' with Slaughterhouse Five. Like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Slaughterhouse Five is a short but sweet read, and I definitely recommend it to those looking for a quick read.
Slaugherhouse Five follows the life of Billy Pilgrim, who has become "unstuck in time." He experiences the events of his life out of order, which makes for a particularly interesting read. Kurt Vonnegut does an excellent job of making this readable, as what could become very confusing is instead posed carefully and to maximum effect. The satire and anti-war message are also done nicely - it's told through Vonnegut's own experiences witnessing the bombing of Dresden, and the times when Vonnegut breaks the fourth wall are done superbly. They do so in such a clear fashion that it temporarily broke my immersion, just to pull me in deeper, now that I know that this thing that I've just read really happened. It makes for a great blend of fiction and non-fiction.
The characters are developed nicely, as was the case with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Catch-22. No particular character overstays their welcome, and jumping pseudo-randomly through time makes it really easy to speed up situations that would otherwise run long and be boring or slow down situations that need the time. The religious satire is done very nicely as well - I loved the "alternate" interpretation of the Bible as "don't mess with people who are well connected" and the justification behind that.
The book is immersive and I got through it in a single day, so that's a great sign. If you haven't read it, I would definitely say it's a classic, so go check it out!