Review: False, Fleeting, Perjur’d Clarence: George, Duke Of Clarence, 1449-78

False, Fleeting, Perjur'd Clarence: George, Duke Of Clarence, 1449 78False, Fleeting, Perjur’d Clarence: George, Duke Of Clarence, 1449 78 by Michael Hicks

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an amazing book that is unfortunately very hard to find. (Try university libraries.) Yes, it is an academic book. Yes, it is based on Michael Hick’s thesis. However, it is the only book I know of about Clarence – a central and under-discussed figure in the Wars of the Roses.

This book provides:
1. A discussion of Clarence’s childhood, Clarence’s early career in politics, and Clarence’s interaction with Warwick.

2. Insight into the extent Edward IV spoiled (for lack of a better word) Clarence when he was heir to the throne. This includes dollar amounts from expenditures on lavish goods for Clarence, the near-kingly estate in which Clarence lived, and the numerous titles endowed upon him. While Hicks describes these acts, he doesn’t speculate excessively on their emotional or psychological impact.

3. The Readeption. I found Hicks’ treatment of the Readeption a bit challenging, but I may not have a sufficient grounding in it. (I think it assumes you know a lot about the Readeption already.)

4. The feud with Richard III over the Warwick lands. Hicks is one of the few historians – even today – who correctly puts this dispute into an accurate legal context. In my opinion, Hicks implies that Richard III may have been in the wrong since he had no legal standing. Hicks’ discussion is well worth reading and rereading.

5. The confusing events that led to Clarence’s death. Hicks does not make any grand “Ah, I’ve solved it” type statements about this great mystery.

This book, as well as Christine Carpenter’s (1986) journal article about Clarence, are the finest works on the subject I’ve seen to date. (J.R. Lander’s articles are a close second.)

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