Post-classical history


Clockwise from top left: Henry V, ‘King of all the world’ and scourge of the French; Catherine de Valois, whose secret marriage to Owen Tudor unwittingly founded a great royal dynasty; Margaret of Anjou, idealised as the Virgin (the real woman was less saintly); and Henry VI – simple, pious and soft – whose reign was a disaster

Clockwise from top left: Richard duke of York, a great soldier, but a poor politician, still fathered two kings; Edward IV, who was charismatic, dashing and competent, but grew fat, louche and lecherous; Edward V, whose unlucky head never wore the crown of England; and Elizabeth Woodville, an unlikely queen, she was sexy, ambitious and hard-nosed

A modern image of Richard III, reconstructed from his skull.

Henry VII. Looks careworn and troubled in his death mask.

Perkin Warbeck, who impersonated Richard, son of Edward IV.

The indefatigable and brilliant Margaret Beaufort: a great survivor.

The battle of Barnet, 1471 (top), was actually fought in thick fog and Richard Neville, ‘Warwick the Kingmaker’, was killed in the fighting. Bottom, Edmund, duke of Somerset is beheaded following the battle of Tewkesbury. Edward IV watches on, impassive

‘Towton 25’ – a face smashed in half. The field of Towton was known as the Bloody Meadow owing to the 28,000 men who died during the battle.

A squire dresses his knight for combat.

The Bosworth Cross was paraded with Richard III’s ill-fated army in 1485.

Edward IV in his splendour – from a genealogy celebrating his royal blood. Three royal insignia are displayed on his charger, representing the Yorkists’ supposed claim to the crowns of England, France and Castile

Family history as propaganda: Bedford plastered occupied France with handbills illustrating Henry VI’s rightful claim to the French crown. This elaborate version was presented to Margaret of Anjou before her marriage in 1445

The Tudors were masters of propaganda – roses, genealogies and new histories sold the world ‘their’ fifteenth century, which was immortalised by Shakespeare

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