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Edward IV: for new A level Teachers

To begin with, I can heartily recommend Edward IV: The Summer King, Tony Pollard’s new book in the Penguin Monarchs series.

Like the other books in this series it’s about 100 pages long with concise, clear text – an ideal introduction to Edward for teachers new to the topic and definitely well-worth recommending to A level students so they can step up from books written specifically for A level. What especially makes this valuable for A level is that as Professor Pollard’s views on Edward are so clearly expressed and argued (lots of opportunities for analysing language and vocabulary to identify high-quality historical writing) and also provide a valuable contrast to those of Christine Carpenter – a contrast A level students can explore and then relate to the views of other historians. Also tucked away within the book is a clear and useful summary of the role of the commons in politics – I think it’s on pages 15-16 – and I’d also pick out other parts I particularly noted but I’ve already given my copy as a present and await a new copy in the post!

You can find the book on Amazon HERE …

There are more suggestions below and if you have other recommendations on Edward IV please send them to me by email.

AJ Pollard

For those new to teaching the Wars of the Roses at A level it’s well-worth having an ‘AJ Pollard’ section on your shelf – his books are both a great introduction and regular stand-by, both for information and ideas.

For starters there’s his textbook:

Late Medieval England 1399-1509 – which is my first port of call as a reference guide when I can’t remember people, dates, the sequence of events etc but also has a helpful introduction to the historiography and sources plus a 100 page middle section on society, religion, the nature of politics and government. Though out of print it’s available through the usual web outlets and not always at the ludicrously high prices that may first catch your eye (presumably gold-plated editions).

Even more valuable to the new teacher and to students is his excellent The Wars of the Roses in the Palgrave MacMillan British History in Perspectives series – but you have to get the third edition which is a substantial revision of earlier editions. Don’t confuse it with Pollard’s other book with the same title (where he's editor of a series of essays by other leading historians – valuable too but very different).

This is the link to the book I'm referring to HERE …

This is 130 pages of analysis with an outline of the Course of the wars on pages 23-31 and other chapters on the historiography, on causes, impact, the nature of the wars, its aftermath and the European context.

What else for the new teacher on Edward IV?

There are good biographies/histories by Hannes Kleineke (Routledge 2009) and by Michael Hicks (Arnold, 2004), the latter focussing on Edward’s changing reputation over time. I also particularly enjoy Anne Crawford’s series of essays The Yorkists: the history of a dynasty (Continuum, 2007). For sources and commentary Keith Dockray’s Edward IV: a source book (republished by Fonthill in 2015) is a godsend. All of these relate back to the near 500 pages of C D Ross’s Edward IV (1974, republished with a foreword by Ralph Griffiths in 1997. My 1974 hardback copy cost £9.50 – a lot of money and not immediately relevant in my PGCE year!)

And of course there’s that wonderful resource for A level teachers and students, the DNB – on-line access is available through local library cards if your local authority has taken out a subscription. To give you an idea the entry on Edward is by Rosemary Horrox and prints out at 17 pages, that on Warwick is by Tony Pollard and runs to 15 pages so these are substantial articles combining a core narrative of the life with interpretation. And anyone who was anyone is in there – all the individuals you need to know about for any British history topic. See

In terms of the broader picture and where Edward fits in there’s two versions of The Wars of the Roses which are always worth returning to for their ideas and arguments, those by Christine Carpenter (CUP 1997) and Michael Hicks (Yale, 2010).

There’s a lot more, of course, (two major books on Warwick by Professors Pollard and Hicks for example) but that will do for now. More anon on other 15C topics. There was even a sane book on Richard III published recently (by David Horspool) – something of a novelty these days!


Constructive feedback is always welcome, particularly anything that will help other teachers.

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Summer King

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