Review: The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes

The Tudor Rose
by Margaret Campbell Barnes

Rating:  4 / 5

Summary:  Elizabeth of York, the mother of the Tudor Dynasty, is the subject of Margaret Campbell Barnes' The Tudor Rose.  She has the singular honor of being the mother, sister, wife, niece and daughter of Kings and as a Queen, she was much loved by the people.

After the death of her father, King Edward IV, Elizabeth along with her siblings were ushered into sanctuary by her mother, Elizabeth Woodville for fear of their safety.  A fear that many scoffed at, but soon her silly trepidations would be proven true and thus the Princes of the Tower controversary was born and still goes on to this day.  After promises that they will be safe and taken care of, Elizabeth and her family finally leave sanctuary and Elizabeth moves in with Richard and Anne, where her and the Queen develop an affinity for one another.  However, Richard and Elizabeth's relationship is as strained as you would think given that most of the country, including her, thinks he had her brothers murdered. 

As I was reading this novel I kept thinking back to another novel I read about Elizabeth and how both books contrast.  In Sandra Worth's novel, The King's Daughter, the relationship between Richard III and Elizabeth differs greatly.  In Worth's novel, Elizabeth and Richard become close over the death of Richard's wife, Queen Anne and there is a bit of romance - hell, even the Queen proposed that Elizabeth marry Richard after her death.  However, in The Tudor Rose Elizabeth is revolted when Richards proposes to her after Anne dies - she is still not convinced that he had nothing to do with the death of her brothers in the tower and anyways, he is her uncle and no dispensation from the Pope can take away the fact that it is still incest.  She then seeks out some low-lying supporters of the York cause and the scheming to depose King Richard III begins.  Henry Tudor defeats Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Field and with that the Tudor Dynasty is born! 

Elizabeth & Henry VII

Henry didn't quite measure up to the knight in shining armor that Elizabeth had dreamed about.  He delayed marrying her for months and her coronation didn't take place until after the birth of their son, Arthur Tudor, when she had proven she was fertile and could bear him the necessary "heir and spare" in the future.  Henry's personality is a complete contrast to his new Queen - a cold and indifferent man Henry is more business than anything.  This is really a shame, because Elizabeth is such a sweet person and so full of love and affection for those dearest to her.  They would eventually go on to have seven children, including the infamous Henry VIII.  Elizabeth passed on 6 years before Henry and he never remarried.

My thoughts:  While this is not my favorite Margaret Campbell Barnes read, it was still enjoyable.  No exciting schemes or battle scenes, but a nice story of a girl-turned-woman-turned-Queen.  Elizabeth is an interesting woman and her story is definitely a unique one!

Aquired by:  Sourcebooks Publishing (thank you Danielle!)

To read more Elizabeth of York in HF:  The King's Daughter by Sandra Worth (my review here), To Hold the Crown by Jean Plaidy

Now, I'd like to put a question out there to all my readers:  Do you have an opinion on the Richard III / Princes in the Tower controversary?  I'd love to know what you think!!



  1. So out of curiosity, what is your favorite Margaret Campbell Barnes book?

  2. I think one of the reasons these people are so often the subjects of HF novels is because there are so many possible interpretations as to their motives. There's just no way of knowing, probably, how Elizabeth felt about her Uncle.

    I do enjoy reading all interpretations,'s fun!

  3. Bookshelf: Well, my favorite read (so far) would have to be My Lady of Cleves, which is about Henry VIII's 4th wife. Compared with his other wives she sometimes fades into the background but she's a fascinating woman and it was great to learn about her!

    Michele: hello love! I agree - we all have to take that particular author's portrayal with a grain of salt. The truth lies in the middle I am sure!!!

  4. I'm waiting for the novel that portrays Lizzie as a raging slut who was trying to trick Richard into marrying her. Hey wait....maybe I'm on to something here (digging out the ol' typewriter). HA.

  5. As far as the controversy of the princes in the tower, I do not think either of them survived. I haven't read Baldwin's book The Lost Prince or Anne Wroe's The Perfect Prince which are based on some form of survival.

    I think that Richard had his henchmen smother the boys.
    Despite some historians claims of the norma being the parading of dead bodies around town, I don't think that he would have WANTED to parade around dead bodies of his nephews in order to prove they were dead. He would not want his reign complicated with the boys, or the murder charge on his head.

    So.. what do you think?

  6. Michele...girl, you are too funny! That sounds like a Jerry Springer type HF - I'd totally read it!

    Marie...I agree with you, Richard was too, um, practical to let the boys live. It was hard for me to relate to Richard in this novel - he's so hard to read and sans any emotion whatsoever, like a robot!

    What really bothers me is that we'll never know - it's up there with the Kennedy assassination!

  7. I don't believe that Richard III had the princes killed. I think one of his men may have signed off on it in the hopes of getting on Richard's good side. However, I think Richard probably knew who the really villain was.

  8. Rachel: good point! It happened with Henry II when he said that fateful comment about somebody ridding him of a turbulent priest known as Thomas Becket.

  9. I think Richard ordered the deaths of the boys. (Ducks & runs from rabid Ricardians.)

  10. No matter how much stuff I read...I'm still not convinced Richard killed them...I don't know what it's gonna take. I need an-all-around convincing argument.

    Amy, I know that after reading the Plaidy version, that's often hard to beat. Thanks for the review!

  11. Felicia J...HA! Those Ricardians are loyal and you have right to fear =)

    Lucy...are you talking about The Reluctant Queen?

  12. I'm a died in the wool Ricardian, so I'm going to point the finger at Henry VII. Richard had declared the boys illegitmate, he had no need to kill them, meanwhile Henry VII systematically executed all the remaining Plantagenets after he took the throne.

    Interesting that both Sandra Worth and Phillipa Gregory both take the stance that Elizabeth wanted to marry Richard, as does Joanna Denny in her biography of Anne Boleyn.

    Now that I've read your review and Marie Burton's I might just pick this up at some point.

  13. I don't really think R3 ordered their murders but it certainly is possible someone did it hoping to get into his good graces.

  14. Hm...great question!! I haven't read any hist-fic (or non-fic) covering this controversial subject yet, so I don't know really where my vote weighs in. Based on what I've heard from author lectures and from some convos I've had with authors via e-mail...I'd have to guess and say that while Richard III probably did not do it with his own hands, the most likely possibility is that he hired someone to do it. I wouldn't put it past him - he'd already had many other members of the family "offed" before the Princes, and for lesser offenses than being next in line to the throne. Great discussion topic, Amy!

  15. I think both Richard and Henry had motive and means...which doesn't mean either of them was responsible, just that they're not eliminated by motive or means.

    However, I do think Henry is eliminated by opportunity. In order for Henry to have been responsible for their deaths, the princes would have had to have been held, unknown and unseen, for two years, and I find that too unlikely to believe without any proof. (If proof comes to light -- which it could, truth being stranger than fiction -- then I'll have to re-think this.)

    And there's a part of me that can't exactly blame anyone for not wanting yet another boy king -- the previous two had been such major disasters (Richard II and Henry VI), espeically given the mess that Henry VI's reign degenerated into. (I don't know enough about the early days of Henry III's reign to comment on that.)

    I don't necessarily believe it was Richard, either. I'm inclined toward the knucklehead-trying-to-do-him-a-favor theory.

  16. I've really been enjoying War of the Roses hist.fic. because it seems like there is a lot more difference of interpretation than in Tudor hist.fic. What did Elizabeth think about Richard/where did the marriage rumors start, what happened to the princes, etc.

  17. This book touches on subjects that I haven't read much about, but that I find interesting. I liked your review, it was very insightful and interesting. I am glad you liked the book, and hope I feel the same when I read it.

  18. I've heard good things about this novel and would definitely like to read it. Thanks for the review.

  19. Regarding the princes in the tower: I guess I fail to see why it necessarily casts Richard as evil if he had them killed. It was not at all unusual to get rid of rivals and potential claimants--blood kin or not, illegitimate or not. King John likely had his young nephew Prince Arthur killed. Henry VII had more than one Yorkist "done in", and, to satisfy her Spanish husband, Queen Mary finally signed the death warrant for Lady Jane. A necessary evil of kingship.

  20. Have you ever read "The Queen's Lady" by Gladys Malvern? I read in 8th grade, just before discovering Margaret Campbell Barnes, whom I promptly devoured. It's another take on the Elizabeth/Richard III relationship.


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