As Amy Licence points out in the beginning of the book, Edward IV is not the king in English history that has gained the most attention, unless you have had a particular interest in the Wars of the Roses, that has come to fall on more notorious monarchs such as his younger brother Richard who would become Richard III and his own grandchild Henry VIII for example.
But Edward´s reign has many interesting stories to tell, and one of those is his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville. The reason for this is that Edward did something which – in latter half of the 15th century – was considered outrageous, at least for the upper classes of society and most certainly for a monarch: he married for love.
In her latest book, Elizabeth Woodville & Edward IV – A true romance, Amy Licence allow her readers not only to meet the two who defied politics and conventions, but she also takes us back to the very beginning, explaining blood relations and relationships between the families involved as well as conflicts during a turbulent century which saw the end of the Hundred Years War only to be thrown into the bloody conflict we have come to know as the Wars of the Roses which resulted in the House of York taking the throne from the House of Lancaster.
The book follows not only Elizabeth and Edward from childhood until their meeting, but offers a thorough introduction to their parents, and the paths that they took, either by choice or through decisions taken for them, not least was this the case for the women.
Even though it is a story of a man and a woman, Amy Licence highlights the situation of the women of the time, rarely masters of their own fate, and thereby follows through on her ambition in her previous work, to give, if not a voice to, so at least an increased understanding of how it was to live a life that didn´t quite belong to you.
When Edward and Elizabeth met in 1462, she was a widow and a mother of two boys, as well as five years older than Edward. She belonged to a family in the lower aristocracy and her parents themselves had caused quite a stir through their marriage, her mother being of Burgundian royal blood and the widow of the Duke of Bedford, uncle of Henry VI while the man she met – the future father of Elizabeth – was a mere knight.
By all accounts, the marriage between Elizabeth Woodville and Edward VI was a happy one, despite his many mistresses, and it certainly did result in a lot of children, two of whom would later tragically be known to history as “the Princes of the Tower”.
But it wasn´t without controversy, not at the beginning and not during its course, and in Amy Licence book you learn what happened. All in all, it´s a knowledgeable book, packed with facts and information that has something to offer both those who are entirely new to the era and the people involved as well as those who has studied the period before.