The Women of the Cousins' War

Part of History



A non-fiction companion to The White QueenThe Red Queen, and The Lady of the RiversPhilippa Gregory and two historians, leading experts in their field, tell the extraordinary 'true' stories of the lives of these women who until now have been largely forgotten by history, their background and times, highlighting questions which are raised in the fiction and illuminating the novels.

With a foreword by Philippa Gregory – in which Philippa writes revealingly about the differences between history and fiction and examines the gaps in the historical record – and beautifully illustrated with rare portraits, The Women of the Cousins' War is an exciting new addition to the Philippa Gregory bookshelf. 

Foreword – By Philippa Gregory:  What is the difference between writing history and historical fiction? How much of a role does speculation play in each? How much fiction should there be in a historical novel? How are female historians changing our view of women in this period? 

Jacquetta – By Philippa Gregory:  Jacquetta of Luxembourg was a royal duchess who married beneath her for love and became mother of a queen. In this unique presentation Philippa Gregory uses original documents, site visits and even archaeology to create the first biography ever written of the young duchess who survived two reigns and two wars to be the first lady at two rival courts. For Philippa's novel about her life, read The Lady of the Rivers

Elizabeth – By David Baldwin: Elizabeth Woodville was a widowed mother when she married the young King Edward IV. Her two sons are infamous as ‘the Princes in the Tower’, but little is known of her own life. David Baldwin, established author on the Wars of the Roses, tells her story, that of the first commoner to marry a King of England for love. For Philippa's novel about her life, read The White Queen

Margaret – By Michael Jones:  Michael Jones, fellow of the Royal Historical Society, writes about Margaret Beaufort, whose official story is powerfully bland. Yet she committed treason against an ordained King of England and her son, Henry VII, became the first Tudor to take the throne. For Philippa's novel about her life, read The Red Queen.

This book has been published both as 'The Women of the Cousins' War: The Duchess, The Queen and the King's Mother' and as 'The Women of the Cousins' War: The Real White Queen and Her Rivals'.

Behind the book

Released in 2011

My first published history book. It was extraordinary to use the material that I had researched for a novel and write it as a "straight" history. I also wrote the foreword to this collection of three historical essays about the women that have come to fascinate me: Jacquetta the Duchess of Bedford, Elizabeth Woodville, the Queen, and Margaret Beaufort, the King's Mother.

Book opens in 1416

When this book opens in 1416, with the birth of Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Henry V is on the throne and England is at war with France in a series of conflicts that would later become known as The Hundred Years' War. Henry VI takes the throne in 1422 and begins his long reign of England through some of its most turbulent times including Joan of Arc's mission and beginning of The Wars of the Roses - though at the time it was known as The Cousins' War as the feuding families of York and Lancaster fought for power and position.

Related Characters


Publishers Weekly

"An engrossing introduction to three courageous matriarchs who shaped English history. "

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The Post and Courier (Charleston)

"An engaging and interesting read... Fans of Gregory’s novels should enjoy this glimpse into both her creative process and... essays on the three women who served as inspiration for her ‘Wars of the Roses’ novels."

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Los Angeles Times

"The publication of two books this season by Philippa Gregory gives us not only two more fascinating portraits of the English Wars of the Roses, it also opens a window onto the way the bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl plies her craft."

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Historical Novel Society

"This collection of essays is a gift to those who love historical fiction. It not only functions as a history book for readers of novels set in the 15th century, it also contains valuable discussions of the relationship between history and fiction... highly recommended."

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Desmond Seward, History Extra

"Lavishly illustrated and beautifully written, this is an enjoyable book. "

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Lovereading (September 2011 Non-Fiction Book of the Month)

"If you love Philippa Gregory’s historical fiction you should not miss this fascinating companion volume "

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