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Blood and Roses: One Family's Struggle and…
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Blood and Roses: One Family's Struggle and Triumph During the Tumultuous… (2004)

by Helen Castor

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Read for an assignment with a deadline, so skimmed/skipped a fair amount but read quite a bit.

Generally a good work on about the lives and struggles of the Self-made Paston family who rose from the ranks of peasantry during turbulent era of the Wars of the Roses.
'The Paston letters' from which most of what we know about the Pastons surviving are the largest collection of surviving personal letters from the later Middle Ages.

The political realities and upheavals of the age are here, along with the great, royal and powerful, and political events in which the family members might be involved or directly effected by.
There is also however, the personal, birth, death marriage, love, lawsuits and service.

I liked the author before reading this from seeing her two television series. Definitely would like to go back and read 'properly' at some point, and read the author's other book.
Definitely a worthwhile read if interested in 15th century England, or socio-political history. ( )
  Medievalgirl | Oct 4, 2016 |
Very very good but I'd not the heart to read it all. Life was as it was then as it is now. ( )
  adrianburke | Aug 12, 2016 |
Interesting book on the lives of several generations of the Paston family from Norwich, set against the backdrop of the Wars of the Roses and the family's ups and downs. Amid the general political history of the period, excerpts from family correspondence give glimpses into the lives of an ordinary family and how the wars progress and affect them. Most of the letters discuss their real estate and an inheritance, which the family finally wins after many years. The family rose from villeinage [tenant farmer status subject to a lord] to gentleman and even peer status then centuries later the wheel of fortune turned again.

"To the fifteenth century Pastons, it had seemed that last remembrance would depend on" [their properties and monuments]. Little remains of them. What did endure was a cache of family letters discovered fortuitously in the 18th century, edited lovingly and published. Thus the family occupy a unique place in English history of the late Middle Ages. ( )
  janerawoof | May 22, 2016 |
I found this a nice, relatively easy, but informative read about the Paston family, taking as source material that treasure trove from the Middle ages, the Paston letters. Being of Norfolk stock with a mother who's keen on history, I've known of the Paston letters for some time, but I've never realised how extensive they are. The Paston family were prodigious correspondents in the middle ages, and seem to have been inveterate filers of this correspondence. Their descendents, though, seem to have not tidied up for a couple of hundred years, because the letters then turn up in the mid 1700s, and are catalogued for the first time. I had in my head there'd be a couple of letters. Turns out that there are surviving over 1000 from about a 100 years. And they wrote about everything. The important events of the day, land squabbles, money worries, clothes, cloth, life, death, betrayal - everything. All of life is in these. And the great thing about them is that if you took away the archaic phrasing and language, they and their emotions, hopes, fears are so recognisable.
In this book, you're taken through the events of the family and the wider country as they rise from peasant farmers to the nobility. It's not a smooth ride, and they get involved in disputes about land and wills, they make bad decisions about patrons and who to appeal to for help, they are pig headed, they go to war, they survive battles and all the while their letters contain their thoughts, wishes, petty squabbles and disappointments. They are fascinating for the window they provide on the past, and that they are such characters in their own right. ( )
2 vote Helenliz | Jun 5, 2014 |
A dense but readable history of the Paston family during the Wars of the Roses, made possible thanks to the survival of the family's large archive of correspondence. Castor uses the Pastons as a focal point for the broader history of the period in English history, mostly successfully. It all gets to be a little bit too much after a while, though. ( )
  JBD1 | Mar 9, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0007148089, Hardcover)

The Wars of the Roses turned England upside down. Between 1455 and 1485 four kings lost their thrones, more than forty noblemen lost their lives on the battlefield or their heads on the block, and thousands of the men who followed them met violent deaths. Yet almost nothing is known about the thoughts and feelings of the people who lived through this bloody conflict, whether kind of noble, landowner or peasant. Almost nothing, but not quite. As they made their way in a disintegrating world, a Norfolk family called the Pastons were writing letters - about politics, about business, about shopping, about love and about each other. Using these letters, the oldest surviving family correspondence in English, Helen Castor traces the extraordinary history of the Paston family across three generations. Blood & Roses tells the dramatic, moving and intensely human story of how one family survived one of the most tempestuous periods in English history.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:31 -0400)

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"In a span of thirty years, four kings lost their thrones, countless men lost their lives on the battlefield or their heads on the block, and others found themselves suddenly flush with gold. The Wars of the Roses tore England asunder, yet until now, almost nothing has been known about the ordinary people who lived through this extraordinary time." "Drawing on a rare trove of letters discovered in a tumbledown stately home, historian Helen Castor reconstructs the lives of the Paston family, who singlemindedly worked their way up from farmers to landed gentry. As they went about their business in a disintegrating society, the Pastons corresponded on topics ranging from politics to love, from shopping to family gossip. A wife writes her husband that she'd rather have him home than have a new gown, "even if it were scarlet." A brother reports that the handless servant, Thomas Stumps, has demanded a crossbow so that he can defend them in a siege. Five hundred years later, these voices still have the immediacy of a conversation overheard on a street corner." "Blood and Roses is an intimate biography of a family, which traces three generations of births, marriages, and deaths. Castor unravels the story of the family's turbulent affairs against the backdrop of civil war, bringing to vibrant life a remote and hazy era."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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