The Red Queen

Unabridged Audiobook

Written By: Philippa Gregory

Narrated By: Emily Watson

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (UK)

Date: August 2010

Duration: 7 hours 30 minutes


This is the story of Margaret Beaufort who was married when she was a child to Edmund Tudor, the half brother of King Henry VI. Her husband and his brother fought for their weak-minded half-brother against Edward IV in the 'cousins war,' the War of the Roses. But Edmund Tudor dies of plague. Margaret herself nearly dies giving birth to her son, and despite all other requests, she insists on calling him 'Henry,' a royal name.

The baby is very far from being the heir of the Lancaster family, but after the constant battles kill other claimants - finally the King is murdered in the Tower of London by the triumphant Edward IV - the little four-year-old boy is the last male to bear the Lancaster claim to the throne. His devoted uncle and scheming mother get him out of the country to safe haven in Brittany, and Margaret works at presenting herself as a loyal servant to Edward IV and then - after the coup - to the new king Richard III.

All the time she is planning for the battle which will end the cousin's war with the triumph of Lancaster, and her son as King of England. She marries Thomas, Lord Stanley, who is a loyal supporter of Richard III and starts to undermine his loyalty and plot Richard's downfall.

Margaret is in contact with the dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville, still in sanctuary, and she has already been defeated by her in her attempt to kidnap the Princes from the Tower. But now the two women co-operate in a betrothal. Lady Margaret proposes her son Henry Tudor as husband to the princess Elizabeth. Her plan is that their marriage will resolve the cousins war since Henry Tudor for Lancaster will marry Elizabeth of York.

Cleverly, the deposed Queen Elizabeth agrees, and Lady Margaret continues to undermine King Richard III's influence in England, making a network of sympathisers who say they will support Henry Tudor if he can land with French army support.

Richard III's son and heir dies and there is no sign of another child to inherit his throne. Henry Tudor invades from France, and Richard meets him at Bosworth Field. At the height of the battle, in crisis, Richard sends for Lady Margaret's husband Stanley who has promised his support and who has held his men back in full armour, on a hill watching the fighting. In horror Richard sees his ally Stanley join the other side. Richard plunges into the fight and is killed.

Lady Margaret's son Henry picks up the crown from the mud of the Bosworth battlefield and puts it on his own head. He will be Henry VII. Lady Margaret has the place of honour at the coronation of her son and the girl she despises - the York princess Elizabeth. She lays down the rules for the running of the royal household. It is her triumph; she has founded the greatest dynasty that England will ever know: the Tudors.