The Wars of the Roses, Irish Radio, Sunday 7 April 2013

On Sunday evening Professor Michael Hicks featured in the debate  on the hour-long Talking History programme chaired by Dr Patrick Geoghegan. Apart from Hicks, author among books of The Wars of the Roses (Yale, 2010), the experts were Dr David Grummitt (Kent University), author of A Short History of the Wars of the Roses (2013), the early modernist Dr Glenn Richardson (St Mary’s University Twickenham), the American Dr Helen Maurer, author of Margaret of Anjou, and Emeritus Professor Seymour Phillips (Dublin), author of Edward II. Hicks, Grummitt, and Maurer were on the telephone, Phillips was in the studio, Richardson was pre-recorded, and Maurer made one contribution only, so the discussion was slightly stilted. Contributors were invited and could not interject. After stressing the complexity of the topic, the presenter presumed rather traditionally that the Wars of the Roses lasted from 1455-85, were the fault of Henry VI, and were dynastic struggles for the crown. It was quite difficult to insert that the battle of Bosworth in 1485 was not the end of the Wars. There was no opportunity at all to contest Henry VII’s role as hero and winner – two  claims that were very much the creation of his own propagandists – or to  mention  the final phases down to 1525. There was some discussion where the names Wars of the Roses and Warwick the Kingmaker came from. Warwick was revealed as a figure of extraordinary energy, a strategist and logistics man but not a tactician, undoubtedly ambitious and self-interested, but also able to claim that he alone stood consistently for reform, a claim that was believed at the time. There was general agreement that Queen Margaret of Anjou was not the evil genius of the 1450s – that was Yorkist propaganda – and that Richard Duke of Gloucester’s usurpation in 1483 was both unnecessary and indefensible. Probably Richard did kill the Princes in the Tower. The Wars were intermittent –  in 1461 and 1471 they seemed to have been settled – and they were not particularly violent or destructive. Many casualties must have simply disappeared, their fate never reported home. In the end, perhaps, the English were war weary and failed to turn out for Bosworth, which ended as a very personal attack by Richard III on Henry VII. Strangely little was made of the Irish aspect, although Jack Cade may have been Irish and Richard Duke of York twice invaded Wales from across the Irish Sea  Hicks did  insert that both Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck started out from Ireland, where indeed the former was crowned King Edward VI in  Dublon’[s Christ Church Cathedral. Richardson stressed (and perhaps overstressed) the international dimension, Grummitt the cast of remarkable characters developed by Shakespeare, and Phillips the unpopularity of Richard III as indicated by the desecration of his body.  Hicks brought out the dire economic contexts, that there was no controversy when Shakespeare was writing, and the contribution in the twentieth century  of the Richard III Society in rejecting Shakespeare’s image and making Richard III genuinely popular.  If asked to speak, it emerged, the correct tactic was to keep talking in order to get one’s point across! However  far Irish audiences are familiar with the history, with Shakespeare’s Richard III, and the rediscovery of his bones, one hopes their curiosity was aroused and that some of the areas both of agreement and debate were assimilated. A flood of text-messages was reported as the programme closed.–the-real-Game-of-Thrones

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1 Response to The Wars of the Roses, Irish Radio, Sunday 7 April 2013

  1. Planta Genista says:

    Thanks for the review, but I suggest to check the link 😉 – it’s broken – one “-” is missing.

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