The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

Margaret Beaufort was a cold, calculating, shrewd woman, ruthless in her ambitions for herself, her son, and the Lancaster cause, and I have little doubt that she was instrumental in what happened to the Little Princes.  She possessed an austere piety and an arrogant sense of her own consequence and righteousness.  This woman was a spider with endless patience and a vast spy network.  

As My Lady, the King’s Mother, Margaret Beaufort ruled the early Tudor court with an iron fist, devoting herself entirely to her son and the aggrandisement of the House of Tudor.  Most of the Court Ceremonial of the times, like the intricate confinement and churching ceremonies, were her creations. 

I have never been a fan of Lady Margaret Beaufort, but I am even less a fan of Philippa Gregory’s interpretation of her.  She made Margaret sound like an idiot.  Like a child having little comprehension of the intricate political landscape of her times.  Gregory’s Lady Margaret is forever whining about being England’s Joan of Arc. 

Also, Gregory’s Lady Margaret indulges in one of my pet peeves in historical fiction:  she is shocked by her own expendability.  Hello!  The sole purpose of women in the medieval era was to bear male heirs for their husband’s family.  She, personally, was unimportant.  That was the way it had been, and would continue to be, for hundreds of years.  Any woman with half a brain would have realized all of this without a dramatic revelation.

Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

Also, on a bit of a side note, the Lancaster line was descended from Edward III’s third son, and York from his fourth son, that much is true, as Margaret so vehemently argues.  However, Richard, duke of York’s mother was Anne Mortimer, a direct descendant of Edward III’s second son, Lionel of Antwerp.  In fact, her brother, Edmund, Earl of March, was Richard II’s acknowledged heir before the Lancastrians seized the throne.


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