Heiress to the red rose of Lancaster, Margaret Beaufort fervently believes that her house is the true ruler of England. Ignored by her sainted cousin Henry VI, mocked by her mother, married at age twelve, and endangered by childbirth, she vows to put her son on the throne. Naming him Henry, she sends him into exile and pledges him in marriage to the daughter of her sworn enemy. 

Margaret charts her own way through loveless marriages, treacherous alliances, and secret plots. Finally, she gambles her life to mastermind one of the greatest rebellions of all time - all the while knowing that her grown son and his army await the opportunity to win the greatest prize.

Behind the book

Released in 2010

As soon as I had completed my research on The White Queen I realised that I wanted to write a companion novel about the other side, the Tudors and Margaret Beaufort the matriarch of their house.

Book opens in 1453

Now a grown man, Henry VI has maintained his hold on the English throne, despite decades of political and military challenges by the House of York. The Hundred Years' War comes to an end in France and England is defeated, losing all of her territory except for Calais. News of defeat drives King Henry into an unresponsive stupor. His wife, the despised Margaret of Anjou, cannot keep control and their great rival Richard Duke of York becomes Protector of the Realm. England is in limbo: a king crippled by insanity, a disliked and mistrusted queen, and two great families vying for control of the kingdom. Meanwhile a third potential line of succession is emerging from the agreed marriage of the newly ennobled Edmund Tudor Earl of Richmond to the child heiress Margaret Beaufort.

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Associated Press

"[Gregory] again brings insight to English history, re-creating the power struggle between two of the nation’s most notable women in a tale fresh for modern readers. There’s no question that she is the best at what she does."

Publishers Weekly

"Nobody does the Tudors better than Gregory, so it should come as no surprise that her confident, colorful, convincing, and full of conflict, betrayal, and political Margaret Beaufort, Gregory puts her many imitators to shame by dint of unequalled energy, focus, and unwavering execution."

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The Sunday Times Magazine

"Gregory's portrayal reveals a woman who is cunning and hard to like, but a great deal more adept and resourceful than many of the chaps in armour"

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Daily Express

"The Red Queen is a vivid and compelling evocation of a turbulent period"

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Marie Claire

"Fascinating... [a] compulsive tale of dynastic deviousness"

The Times

"This interweaving of the personal and the historical in a way that is fluid and entirely believable is, of course, why one reads Gregory in the first place. But the backbone of this book is the manipulation of her central character, the way in which Gregory successfully guides her from hero to antihero, keeping her compelling all along. Once that job is done, and Margaret has gone truly bad, the action breads into a proper gallop. There is more bitching, double-dealing and downright skulduggery than in an entire series of The Thick Of It, and a splendidly bloody climax to boot. Delightful escapism"


"Gregory’s skill as a storyteller makes the novel fast-paced, wearing its meticulous research lightly as it plunges the readers into a time when power struggles between rival factions resulted in a country at war with itself."

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Hot Stars, OK! Magazine

"This dramatic book follows the life of the courageous Margaret Beaufort. After marrying a much older man and becoming a teenage mum, she decides her son will one day be crowned King of England. This gripping novel tells a fictional story of the Tudor monarchy's earliest roots"

Sunday Express

"Philippa Gregory's books are always well-researched, informative and entertaining. This one is brilliant....we have enjoyed every page of a riveting novel"

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Wendy Holden, Daily Mail

"Gregory brings another historical white rabbit out of a hat to deliver an absorbing drama"

Princeton Book Review

"Once again, Philippa Gregory brings this era to life, creates wonderful characters and immerses the reader in vivid historical detail. "

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Lovereading (April 2011 Book of the Month)

"The second book in Philippa's stunning new trilogy....Page turning historical drama, written with intelligence."

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Library Journal

"Like Gregory’s other historicals, excellent characterization and a well-researched story will hold the interest of readers, especially for fans of the Tudor dynasty."


"Gregory’s vivid, confident storytelling makes this devout and ruthlessly determined woman a worthy heroine for her time."

Kirkus Reviews

"Gregory once again demonstrates her flair for dramatizing history."

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Historical Novels Review

"Gregory is a consummate historical author....A fascinating portrait."