The Stolen Crown

Written by Susan Higginbotham
Review by Ilysa Magnus

The story of Elizabeth Woodville and Edward IV has been told hundreds of times, but never quite the way that Higginbotham tells it here – through the words of Bess’s youngest sister, Kate, and Kate’s husband, Harry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham. Married in early childhood, the Duke and Duchess learn the ways of Edward’s court, the pitfalls and the benefits of being tied inextricably to the Woodvilles, while they grow into a stable, loving couple, acquiring lands and children. But the seeds of the destruction of the Staffords as a couple and as a family are planted in Harry’s blood brotherhood with Edward’s brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester.

From our introduction to Kate at age six to her survival as the only remaining Woodville, she is an engaging character – clever, opinionated, sassy, sexy. Harry grows from a self-important youngster, worshipful of his friend, Richard, to a profoundly determined and powerful man, and ultimately to a soul of deep conviction who accepts moral responsibility for his actions and choices. We come to have great respect for Buckingham by the time he is put to death by Richard.

Richard, though, is another story. Higginbotham adopts the hard-line anti-Ricardian position that Richard was not merely instrumental in, but ordered the deaths of his nephews, the young Edward V and his brother Richard. And through Buckingham, we are led to question whether Gloucester ever intended to act as regent for his brother’s son in his kinghood.

The rebellion conspiracies of Hastings, Rivers and Vaughan, the precontract of marriage between Edward IV and Eleanor Butler – they are all creations of Richard’s demonic machinations to usurp Edward V’s throne.
Certainly a worthy contribution to the debate, told from an interesting and novel point of view.