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Soldier, Rebel, Traitor (Hardback)

John, Lord Wenlock and the Wars of the Roses

Colour Books Military > Biographies Military > Pre-WWI > Wars of the Roses P&S History > British History P&S History > Medieval World > Medieval History Photographic Books

By Dr Alexander Brondarbit
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 20 colour illustrations
ISBN: 9781399003476
Published: 1st April 2022



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John Wenlock, first Lord Wenlock, was a leading diplomat, courtier and soldier during the Wars of the Roses whose remarkable career offers us a fascinating insight into one of the most turbulent periods in English medieval history. And yet he has hitherto been overshadowed by his more illustrious contemporaries. Alexander Brondarbit’s meticulously researched and perceptive biography is overdue. It establishes Wenlock as a major figure in his own right and records in vivid detail how this shrewd nobleman found his way through the brutal conflicts of his times.

Wenlock served in Henry V’s military campaigns in France in the 1420s before moving on to a career in the royal households of Henry VI, Margaret of Anjou and Edward IV. As a diplomat, he led multiple embassies to Burgundy and France and, in addition to the kings he served, he was closely connected with other notable figures of the age such as Richard Neville, earl of Warwick. But Wenlock’s speciality was on the battlefield – he took part in many raids, skirmishes and sieges and in three major battles including the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471 where he lost his life.

Using primary sources as well as contemporary assessments in chronicles and letters, Alexander Brondarbit gives a nuanced description of the main episodes in Wenlock’s long career and throws new light on the motivation of a man who has been labelled a ‘Prince of Turncoats’ because of his frequent changes of allegiance.

"This book provides a unique insight into the Wars of the Roses up until 1471... The general background of high-level developments in the period is also well-presented, and the overall product is very readable."

Battlefield - The Magazine of the Battlefields Trust and the Scottish Battlefields Trust - Volume 28, Issue 1, Autumn 2023

Review as featured in

Highlight: 'A fine work of scholarship, this is also a valuable introduction to the complexities of the period.'

The Ricardian Bulletin

Drawn from a wide variety, and probably all of those available, sources both modern and primary - there are eight and a half pages in the bibliography, and I don’t believe any of them are ‘padding’ - Brondarbit has produced a highly readable account of Wenlock’s life and times. ...

As I have said this is a highly readable book and very well written but within that it is still full of fascinating detail and is an interesting viewpoint to see the first part of the Wars of the Roses from.

A Highly Recommended book and it should be a must for anyone with an interest in the period.

The Pike and Shot Society

I am a lover of history, but more importantly a lover of unknown/unpopular history. Going into this I knew a lot of the more reported on figures of the War of the Roses, but the mixed career of John Wedlock, moving from the military to running a royal household was interesting.

Being able to learn about him through his own correspondence and a plethora of primary sources gave a unique insight into the time and the mindset of those around him. It didn't feel like we were walking n his shoes, but it was like being able to observe his life as a time traveler - and the contemporary insights are what we take with us on our time traveling journey.

NetGalley, Deanne Medina

An inherently fascinating and impressively informative historical biography that is especially recommended for community and academic library British History and Military Biography collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists, "Soldier, Rebel, Traitor: John, Lord Wenlock and the Wars of the Roses" is further for students and academia with the inclusion of maps, a list of abbreviations, a glossary, twenty-two pages of notes, a ten page bibliography, and an eight page Index.

Read the full review here

Midwest Book Review

This well-written biography provides a window into the complex world of the Wars of the Roses. Alexander Brondarbit clearly has a grasp of the period, and he fits Wenlock into it despite a lack of straightforward sources; that is quite an achievement. This is also a relatively slim volume, yet Brondarbit packs it with context and detail without losing sight of his subject. Even if you are not a student of the Wars of the Roses, you should still enjoy this biography; Wenlock was a complicated man living in turbulent times. For Wars of the Roses students, the bibliography alone is worth your investment, and the book is well worth reading for its insight into the politics of 15th Century England.

Read the full review here

Beating Tsundoku

Very much a many of many talents or wearer of many hats John Wenlock war is primarily known as very much a military man at heart. Fighting in a number of battles and skirmishes during the Wars of the Roses he would eventually be killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury 1471. It would turn out that Wenlock was very much a major player during Henry V’s reign, but would also serve other kings and major players of the time.

The author Dr Alexander Brondarbit has done a really good job in writing this book a very clear, descriptive and informative text. As someone who is relatively new to this period of history, the author wrote the book very well and was very easy to read and whereas in some other books the people can be various this was very easy to understand and clear. In fact, it just makes me want to read more about this period of history. I would certainly recommend this book to others as it was a really good read, and I would have thought those that are more into this period than me would enjoy the book too.

Read the full review here

The History Fella

In all, a very good read for anyone interested in one of the periods important figures.

Read the full review here

Medieval Sword School

I am always on the look out for books putting the spotlight onto some of the lesser know, though oft times more interesting, historical personages; so was rather keen to have a read of this book on John Wenlock.

Brondarbit says of Wenlock that his "... career was long, complex and colourful as he engaged in military venture and political intrigue ..." Brondarbit's book is "... meant to reassess one of the more maligned aristocrats ... and present a more nuanced picture of his life .. to understand rather than to rehabilitate ...".

In "Soldier, Rebel, Traitor: John, Lord Wenlock and the Wars of the Roses", Brondarbit does his due diligence in bringing to the fore, the life of a man so remarkable, and yet unremarked. So unremarked he was that I could not find another single tome on the man - well, maybe one - "The Mystery of Lord Wenlock and His Glastonbury Treasure" by Adrian Fray (which I have not read). But no real biography with any substance. Brondarbit's book amply and ably fills that vacuum, and is one I would gladly find space for on my "Wars of the Roses" shelves of my personal library.

NetGalley, Melisende d'Outremer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book was very insightful and enlightening considering which I really enjoyed reading.
I'd definitely recommend this book to the historians or lover of history wanting to know more about the War of Roses.

NetGalley, Dee A.

About Dr Alexander Brondarbit

Dr Alexander Brondarbit is a medieval historian and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society whose research is focused on late medieval English politics and the Wars of the Roses. In addition to a number of academic papers and magazine articles on these subjects, he is the author of Power-Brokers and the Yorkist State, 1461-1485. His previous appointments include lecturing on medieval history at Oregon State University and the University of Winchester. He is currently an Academic Planning Analyst at UC Santa Cruz.

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