The Secrets of the House of York

The falcon in a fetterlock emblem of Richard duke of York, St Laurence’s Church, Ludlow

The falcon and fetterlock emblem of Richard duke of York, St Laurence's Church, Ludlow

The Secrets of the House of York.
2015. Pp. xiii, 660. 149 illustrations. 16 genealogical tables.

Marylynn Salmon has been working on her revisionist study of the house of York for over fifteen years. She was inspired initially by her interest in queen Elizabeth I, whose promotion of exploration and religious tolerance she discussed in her courses on colonial American and women's history. In reading about Elizabeth, she became fascinated by the stories about the queen's grandmother Elizabeth of York, who married an enemy of her house to bring peace to England after decades of civil war, and her great-grandmother, gentry-born Elizabeth Woodville, whose marriage to a king provoked enmity that lasted until her death. Curiosity about these English queens led her to wonder if Edward IV were truly illegitimate as so many people claimed (he was), if Edward's marriage to Elizabeth were really invalid, making their children illegitimate (it was), and if Richard III actually ordered the murder of his nephews Edward V and Richard duke of York in the Tower of London following his usurpation of the throne (he did not). In seeking answers to these and other equally compelling questions about the period, she has pursued areas as disparate as changing attitudes toward sexuality and marriage, the use of assassination as a tool of war, and the debate over religious syncretism in the medieval church. By researching widely in areas traditionally seen as outside the purview of political history, Salmon has uncovered much that is new about the forces behind the Wars of the Roses, including most importantly why Elizabeth Woodville should not have married Edward IV, and what her decision to become his queen meant both for their family and the realm of England.

© 2017 Marylynn Salmon