BIOGRAPHY

Uncrowned Queen: The Life of Margaret Beaufort, Mother of the Tudors

Basic. Jul. 2020. 416p. ISBN 9781541617872. $32. BIOG
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In 1457, at the height of the Wars of the Roses, 13-year-old Margaret Beaufort was already a widow and mother to the infant Henry Tudor. That both survived the upheavals of the next three decades was a feat in itself; that they emerged the victors, with Henry Tudor crowned as Henry VII and Margaret one of the most powerful women in England, speaks to an extraordinary determination on Margaret’s part, as Tallis (Crown of Blood) explores in this new biography. In addition to recounting how Margaret’s maneuvering ensured the survival and rise of herself and her son, Tallis dispels the image of Margaret as a dour woman devoted solely to piety by providing lavish detail on her love of books, clothing, and jewelry, her founding of two colleges at Cambridge, and the establishment of her own financial independence. However, Tallis’s fascination for her subject is also a weak point, as it results in the glossing over of examples of Margaret’s shortcomings and unquestioned support of material that vilifies her opponents.
VERDICT A highly sympathetic, spirited portrait of a major figure of the late Plantagenet and early Tudor reigns. Interested readers might also seek out Michael Jones and Malcolm Underwood’s The King’s Mother.

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