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Literature: The Cousins War Series
The Cousins' War series is a highly successful series of Historical Fiction novels by British author Philippa Gregory (famous mostly for her novels about the Tudors, especially The Other Boleyn Girl) set during the Wars of the Roses under the dynasty preceding the Tudors, the Plantagenets. Like most of Gregory's Tudor novels, each of them is centered around and told from the perspective of a prominent woman of the period. There are currently five books in the series with a sixth to be published.

  • The White Queen (2009) - follows Elizabeth Woodville, wife of the York King Edward IV and the first commoner to marry an English monarch.
  • The Red Queen (2010) - follows Margaret Beaufort, mother of the Lancaster claimant Henry Tudor, later King Henry VII
  • The Lady of the Rivers (2011) - follows Jacquetta of Luxembourg, mother of Elizabeth Woodville and an influential figure first at the court of the Lancaster King Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou, and later at Edward and Elizabeth's
  • The Kingmaker's Daughter (2012) - follows sisters Anne and Isabel Neville, daughters of Kingmaker the Earl of Warwick and pawns in his bid for revenge against King Edward.
  • The White Princess (2013) - follows Elizabeth and Edward's eldest daughter, also named Elizabeth, whose marriage to Henry VII would eventually unite the houses of York and Lancaster.
  • The King's Curse (2014) - the last book of the series follows Margaret Pole, daughter of George, Duke of Clarence and Isabelle Neville and one of the last surviving members of the Plantagenet dynasty.

In 2013 a ten-part TV adaptation of the series, called The White Queen but covering the events of The White Queen, The Red Queen and The Kingmaker's Daughter, aired on BBC One. It wasn't very well received critically, but got a decent audience and brought a lot more publicity to the books. Reception was far more positive in the US, where it aired on Starz, which is considering a followup based on The White Princess.


Tropes found in the series include:

  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: Margaret Beaufort, who gives birth to son Henry at the age of 13. Truth in Television.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Three novels and almost two decades of events fit into a 10 episode TV show.
  • Adaptation Name Change: The TV adaptation renamed Elizabeth Shore to Jane Shore, possibly to avoid confusion with the two main characters already named Elizabeth (and because "Jane" is the name she used in Real Life and is better known by as a historical figure.)
  • Adipose Rex: see Fat Bastard below.
  • Age Lift: In the novels (and in Real Life), Anne, Isabel and Richard were children when Elizabeth Woodville became Queen. In the TV series, they're teenagers when Elizabeth marries Edward.
  • Altar the Speed: Anne and Richard get married before receiving a papal dispensation, which they need because they're distantly related.
  • Anachronic Order: Between rather than within books. Individual books follow a straight chronology, but the publication order is anachronic. The Red Queen covers much of the same time period as The White Queen, but begins earlier, while The Lady of the Rivers begins much earlier than either of them and goes right up to the beginning of The White Queen (thus also having some overlap with The Red Queen). Certain events that involved more than one character (e.g. Margaret's first meeting with Margaret of Anjou, at which Jacquetta was present) are covered in more than one book.
  • Arranged Marriage: Most of them are, given the time period, but Margaret's is particularly notable: she is forcibly married to Edmund Tudor at the age of twelve (and has their first and only child a year later). Both Jacquetta and Elizabeth are very notable in going totally against society's norms by marrying for love, and it's one of the most important contrasts drawn between them and Margaret.
  • As You Know: Justified. Thanks to the sheer amount of characters who each have the same name, the characters constantly refer to each other in strangely specific ways ("my brother Edward" or "your son Richard") simply to help the reader/audience keep track of who exactly they're talking about.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Elizabeth Woodville's coronation. Richard and Anne also have a joint coronation.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: George and Isabel marry each other for power, but when Isabel dies, George grieves for her in a way that suggests he did love her. Maybe. There are a couple of hints that suggest he may have poisoned her.
    • Not so much in the books, but the mini-series implies that Stanley sided with Tudor (thereby securing his victory) out of love — or at least affection and pity — for his wife Margaret.
    • Not exactly love - nor do we see the trial in the books - but Jacquetta knows that Margaret of Anjou has enough affection for her (and vice versa) that she would chop off Warwick's head if anything befell Jacquetta. She uses this to her advantage.
      • And, lo and behold, Margaret of Anjou - in her very next scene in that episode - mentions the "wheel of fortune", which Jacquetta taught her. Yeah, Jacquetta is right to make Warwick wary of Margaret of Anjou.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Do you want to be Queen of England?
  • Beta Couple: Anne and Richard in the TV series.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: In episode 6 of the TV series, Elizabeth Woodville gives birth to a son while her mother Jacquetta lay dying. Later, when both her son and her mother have passed away, Richard and Anne are making love and conceiving their own son.
  • Black Sheep: George, a traitor and nuisance to both Edward and Richard.
  • Blame Game: Who's responsible for the death/disappearance of the Princes in the Tower?
  • Break the Cutie: Anne Neville, from beginning to end.
  • British Teeth: Averted. The show is criticized for having characters with pretty teeth, which is completely unrealistic for the Medieval period.
  • Broken Pedestal: Edward IV to Richard, for accepting King Louis's bargain instead of fighting an honorable war. Later it becomes worse when Edward has George executed.
  • Cain and Abel and Seth: George is Cain, Edward is Abel, and Richard is Seth.
  • California Doubling: The whole TV series was shot in Belgium.
  • The Casanova: Edward IV. Truth in Television.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: At least you can say this for the York brothers, particularly Richard.
  • Cat Fight: Anne and Isabel in episode 6 of the TV series.
  • Cinderella Circumstances: applies to Elizabeth Woodville, Anne Neville, and Elizabeth of York
  • Coitus Interruptus: in the TV adaption Episode 6, Elizabeth walked in on Edward and his mistress Jane Shore.
  • Coming of Age Story: Anne Neville
  • Comforting the Widow: Richard winning Anne over after Edward of Lancaster was slain in battle - although, to be fair, Anne was pretty happy Edward was killed. The courtship of Edward IV and Elizabeth applies as well.
  • Conflict Ball: In the show, when Anne returns to court after her father's death and the collapse of the Lancastrian cause, Isabel is a complete jerk to her, despite the sisters' longstanding loyalty to each other, mainly to emphasize how lost and alone Anne feels at that point.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Happens to many characters. Elizabeth Woodville's family was originally loyal to the Lancastrians, but she marries a Yorkist king and they switch sides accordingly. Isabel was a daughter of Warwick, sister-in-law to Edward of Lancaster, and wife of George of Clarence. Richard himself was torn between his loyalty to Edward IV and distrust towards the Woodvilles.
  • Costume Porn: The TV series. Many critics mocked the show for portraying the 15th century as impossibly pretty and shiny.
  • Courtly Love: Anne and Richard don't consummate their relationship until they're married. Before that, they just meet and share meals.
  • Cradle of Loneliness: Elizabeth Woodville held on to Edward IV's doublet and reminisced their love and passion.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Edward, Richard, Elizabeth, Anne, Margaret...
    • In The Kingmaker's Daughter, Elizabeth remarks, "Now we each have a Edward."
  • Deadpan Snarker: Margaret's third husband Lord Thomas Stanley has a rather callous sense of humor, and likes to taunt his wife verbally and in writing.
    • Princess Elizabeth of York has her moments.
    • Why, hello Jacquetta "Queen of the Snark" Woodville. Don't believe me?
      Jacquetta: You are very welcome to Grafton Manor, Your Grace.
      Richard Neville: Jacquetta Woodville! Is the pageboy at home as well?
      Jacquetta: Baron River is away, unfortunately...
      Richard Neville: Baron Rivers... A hastily made up title to cover red faces when a high born Lancastrian lady bedded a grubby commoner, as I recall.
      Jacquetta: He was a squire and always twice the man you were, Lord Warwick.
    • Amazingly - apart from a near miss, in which she uses prior influences to get out of - Jacquetta escapes unscathed. When she dies, it's just implied to be old age or a broken heart.
  • Death by Childbirth: Isabel, or at least to the viewers. Anne is convinced that Elizabeth Woodville poisoned her.
  • Deus Angst Machina: Everything goes wrong for Anne and Richard after their coronation.
    • Happens to pretty much every female character after she got closer to the crown:
      • Elizabeth Woodville married Edward IV: Warwick rebelled, husband in exile, forced into sanctuary
      • Isabel married George: had a Screaming Birth on ship, son died, left in a precarious position between York and Nevilles
      • Elizabeth of York married Henry Tudor: being raped by her husband and was queen in name only
  • Determined Widow: After the death of her first husband, Sir John Grey, Elizabeth Woodville is willing to directly confront the new king to get back her sons' inheritance, even though he's from her family's enemy house. And after her second husband Edward dies, she becomes determined to recover her family's power in England and put her daughter Elizabeth on the throne as the queen of Henry VII.
  • Dramatic Irony: Duchess Cecily and Anne Neville spend most of episode seven throwing around accusations that Elizabeth Woodville desires to rule England first through her husband, then through her son. Both seem entirely oblivious to the fact that that's exactly what they're trying to do with Richard.
  • Due to the Dead: Warwick betrayed Edward IV and lost but still received a decent burial with service. Not Truth in Television. Averted with Richard III and it is Truth in Television.
  • Dying Alone: Happens to many characters. Even if they weren't physically alone, they certainly felt alone.
  • Empty Shell: Henry VI spends long periods of time as this, at one point spending over a year in a coma while his kingdom collapses around him. It doesn't help that, even when fully awake and functional, he isn't exactly the most effective of monarchs.
  • Enemy Mine: Warwick was the one who helped disposed Lancastrian King Henry VI and yet later teamed up with Margaret of Anjou to help Henry VI to regain his crown after he fell out with Edward IV. Applies to George of Clarence as well since he betrayed Edward IV to make himself King but later rejoined his brother's camp after it is clear that Warwick is not going to make him King of England.
  • Ermine Cape Effect: Elizabeth Woodville during her coronation. Anne Neville plays with it in early episodes and later wears it for real when she and Richard have a joint coronation.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: In such a Deadly Decadent Court, there's no one you can trust. Who hasn't been betrayed by a loved one?
  • Evil Matriarch: Margaret of Anjou is this to Anne Neville
  • Exact Eavesdropping: TV series. In Episode 7, Richard overheard everything that Countess of Warwick told Anne.
  • The Exile: applies to multiple characters. The York brothers were exiles after Duke Richard of York was defeated and killed in battle. The Nevilles fled England after they fell out with the Yorks. Henry Tudor was an exile for most part of the series.
  • Explosive Breeder: Elizabeth Woodville, in the TV series. Although each episode covers a long period of time, from the viewer's point of view she seems to be going into labor every five minutes.
  • Fake Brit: Rebecca Fergurson (Elizabeth Woodville) is Swedish.
  • Fat Bastard: This trope applies as Edward really piles on weight in his later years - seriously, he gets HUGE by episode 8 and The Kingmakers Daughter states his weight gain too - and, according to his mother and George, he is a bastard.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Anyone who's read the books or knows much about the Wars of the Roses (or Shakespeare's plays) knows what's going to happen; after all, Henry Tudor and his successors are some of Britain's best-known monarchs, so even people who hardly know any history at all would be well aware that he wins in the end.
  • Friendly Enemy: Only to a certain extent. Elizabeth Woodville and the Neville sisters are polite to one another in court even though the bad blood between them remains. Margaret Beaufort served Elizabeth and Anne Neville even though she was enemy to both. Averted with George of Clarence who insulted Elizabeth openly—with fatal consequences.
  • Genre Savvy: Isabel is rather horrified at the possibility of being the next Queen of England, after witnessing the fate of Margaret of Anjou and Elizabeth Woodville.
    • Jacquetta of Luxembourg - Elizabeth Woodville's mother - was friends with Margaret of Anjou (who would jump for the chance to execute Warwick) and uses her name to escape, scot free, from a trial by making Warwick and the others afraid that Margaret of Anjou would "spike [their] heads on the city walls" if anything happened to her.
      • In her defence, she is probably right.
  • The Good King: Edward IV, compared to Henry VI
  • Good People Have Good Sex: The contrast between Anne's first time having sex with Edward and her first time with Richard.
  • Hands-On Approach: In The Kingmaker's Daughter, Richard kneels before Anne Neville and helps her changing boots as he proposes, sliding her foot in and tying the strings one at a time.
  • Happily Married: Jacquetta and Richard. They have their fair share of troubles, but their actual marriage is rock solid and they're still passionately in love with each other after thirty years and fourteen children. Elizabeth and Edward also have a very loving marriage, although with rather more strife and rather less fidelity.
    • Margaret and her second husband Henry Stafford were happy with each other until their clashing attitudes towards the war tore them apart.
      • Seriously, if you think this is not a happy marriage, then there is something wrong with you. Margaret's expression as Henry lays dying; OUCH!. She's utterly broken - it may have been arranged... but it was happy and she went back on never forgiving him; she forgave him for what he did and cried when he died.
    • Margaret and Stanley; there's a bit more strife and bitchness, but these two should be the epitome of happily married Deadpan Snarkers!
    • Richard of Gloucester and Anne Neville were happy together as well, before Richard became King. Like Margaret and Henry Stafford, they were eventually driven apart by the continual political conflict.
  • Heart Is Where the Home Is: Anne follows her family to exile in France where she marries Edouard of Lancaster, who is technically an English Prince, but raised in France. After the Yorkist faction win their cause, Edouard of Lancaster is killed and Anne marries Richard, Duke of Gloucester. They later settle their home at Warwick Castle, Anne's childhood home.
  • Heir Club for Men: Justified for the time period. No son means no line; the more sons the better. At times the Law of Inverse Fertility seems to be operating: Henry IV, Richard III, George Duke of Clarence and Margaret Beaufort, all of whom desperately need to produce heirs, all only have one son; Edward IV only has two sons out of ten children.
    • Three, historically - they cut out Prince George.
  • Heroic BSOD: Richard after the disappearance of the Princes.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Edward IV's favorite mistress, Jane Shore, is a redhead.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: The Tudors' brothers Jasper and Edmund are this before Edmund dies of the plague. Jasper then becomes a lifelong companion and father figure to Edmund's son Henry.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Thomas Cromwell is meddling business with King of England again - and loses his life again. And is that Juan Borgia being the troublesome middle child - who dies - again? Not to mention BBC Sherlock's Lestrade marrying Margaret Beaufort and Craster being Queen Elizabeth's dad. And Rory somehow ended up in the middle of everything and died - again.
  • The High Queen: Elizabeth Woodville works hard to fulfill this role.
  • Historical Beauty Update: applies to all characters in the TV series except for Margaret Beaufort, and even in her case YMMV.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Edward of Westminster, Henry VI's only son and heir, is portrayed by a guy who looks like the Scorpio Killer and is a Royal Brat rapist. The actual Edward was a cipher, seeing as he died a teenager, but he was also an able warrior and the House of Lancaster's last great hope of reclaiming the crown.
  • Hollywood Costuming: In TV adaption, all characters dressed up pretty and shiny, even sexy. It does give the show a sense of Magical Realism, but it's definitely not Medieval England.
  • Hollywood History: The TV show is based on historical fiction, which is based on the Wars of Roses.
  • Hollywood Kiss: Anne and Richard, after Anne accepts Richard's marriage proposal.
  • Hollywood Old: Elizabeth and Edward in the TV show; averted with Anne and Richard who looked their age in Episode 10.
  • Hot Consort: Elizabeth Woodville, Anne Neville, and Elizabeth of York. Margaret of Anjou is quite attractive as well.
  • Hypocrite: The Lancasters are down on Edward of York for deposing the rightful king. However, the first Lancastrian king (Mad King Henry's grandfather) became king by - deposing the rightful king.
  • Ill Girl: Anne and Isabel.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Anne. Truth in Television.
  • Idealized Sex: the TV series. The critics said that the sex scenes are so vanilla that they enjoyed ice cream afterwards.
  • Incest Is Relative: Justified for the time period with Kissing Cousins. But when Richard tends to manipulate the scenes to convince people that he'd marry his niece Elizabeth of York to gain advantage over Henry Tudor, it's more of Villainous Incest.
    • In the Starz version of the TV adaptation's series finale, Richard goes so far as to actually have sex with Elizabeth, something that's alluded to in The White Princess and cut out of the British version of the show.
  • Insatiable Newlyweds: Anne and Richard. In The Kingmaker's Daughter, Richard allowed no one to come into the chamber unless he called; his ambition was to cover Anne with 500 kisses!
  • Instant Birth, Just Add Water: Elizabeth Woodville gives birth to Prince Edward while hiding in sanctuary with no access to even the rudimentary medical assistance of the time. The TV series, however, portrays the birth as short and trouble-free, and she stands up the whole time.
  • The Kingmaker: Another name for Warwick, who is the power behind Edward's rise to the throne and subsequently changes his mind several times about which king he's going to support.
  • King on His Deathbed: Edward IV. Dying at age 40, he leaves his young son as new king at age 10 and names Richard as Lord Protector. Things do not work out well.
  • Kissing Cousins: Everyone is related to one another to a certain degree, which is why papal dispensations existed.
  • Knight In Shining Armour: Anthony Woodville is a genuinely good person, a loyal son and brother, a chivalrous knight, a faithful Christian, and an intelligent scholar. Elizabeth, who adores her brother, expresses some regret that her marriage and the ensuing conflicts have dragged him away from the contented, idyllic life he could have led.
  • Knight Templar: Margaret has shades of this; her (even by the standards of the time) exceptionally strong religious conviction is gradually warped into an unwavering belief that God wants her son to be king and she is divinely mandated to ruthlessly strike down anyone who gets in the way of that.
  • Lady Macbeth: Anne Neville becomes one in episode seven, rather at odds with her prior characterization as a woman happy to be away from court. This is ironic as she's spent most of the previous episodes accusing Elizabeth Woodville of being a Lady Macbeth.
  • Lady of War: Margaret of Anjou.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Richard and Anne only manage to have one son, who subsequently dies, leaving him without an heir. Gregory implies that Henry VI is uninterested in sex, or maybe impotent, and suggests that Prince Edward of Lancaster was actually the son of Margaret's lover, the Duke of Somerset.
  • Lie Back and Think of England: Played straight with Anne Neville on her wedding night with Edward of Lancaster.
  • Lonely at the Top: Everyone who sat on the throne, particularly the queens.
  • Long Hair Is Feminine: All female characters have long hair. Elizabeth Woodville has her beautiful hair down for her coronation.
  • Love Confession: Richard confesses his love to Anne during his marriage proposal.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Enemies of Elizabeth Woodville believe Edward IV's bad decisions are made because of her influence.
  • Magical Realism: Much of the series actually borders on this. Jacquetta and Elizabeth both firmly believe in a kind of witchcraft based on the legend of their ancestor being the water goddess Melusina (Elizabeth's brother Anthony calls it 'part Bible and part fairy tale and all nonsense') and, while Gregory has made it clear that she is in no way contending that they were actually witches, in-story it's left ambiguous. Certainly most of their spells do get the desired effects, but they're all things that could equally well have happened by coincidence.
  • Mama's Boy: Edouard of Lancaster and Henry VII.
  • Man Behind the Man: Or women, which is the whole point of the series.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Richard. In the TV series, he was a Chaste Hero before marrying Anne. In the novels, it does acknowledge the bastards he sired before marriage.
  • Marital Rape License: Also unsurprising given the time period. Edmund Tudor repeatedly rapes his twelve-year-old wife Margaret in The Red Queen. His son Henry VII continues this pattern years later with Elizabeth of York in The White Princess. In The Kingmaker's Daughter, Edward of Lancaster rapes Anne Neville on their wedding night.
  • Marry for Love: Played straight with multiple couples in the series, including Elizabeth Woodville and Edward IV; Lady Jacquetta and Richard Woodville; Anne Neville and Richard of Gloucester. Averted with Margaret Beaufort and her four husbands; and Elizabeth of York and Henry VII.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: The Woodvilles and the Yorks. Jacquetta had fourteen children and Elizabeth Woodville had two with her first husband and ten with Edward IV. Cecily Neville, mother of Edward IV, had ten children.
  • The Matchmaker: Earl of Warwick plays matchmaker for Anne and Isabel. Justified for that time period.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Jaquetta and Elizabeth's "magic".
  • Middle Child Syndrome: George
  • Mr. Fanservice: Mainly the Starz uncensored version. Special mention goes to Aneurin Barnard who played Richard.
  • My Beloved Smother: Margaret of Anjou; justified, as her son is everything to her: crown, power, and family. In The Kingmaker's Daughter, from Anne's perspective, she even apparently wants to stay and watch as Edward and Anne consummate their marriage.
  • Modest Royalty: Anne and Richard as Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, compared to Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville.
  • Mother Makes You King: Henry VII claimed the throne due to winning Battle of Bosworth and that he is a royal descendant through his mother, Margaret Beaufort. To be fair, he wins the Battle of Bosworth thanks to Lord Stanley, who sided him also because of Margaret Beaufort.
  • The Mourning After: Edward IV is the The Lost Lenore for Elizabeth Woodville. Averted with Margaret Beaufort who remarries after losing a husband.
  • Na´ve Newcomer: applies to Anne Neville and Elizabeth of York when they were hurled into the arena of politics and wars. It's not easy to be queen.
  • Never Found the Body: The Princes in the Tower. Technically they are never seen again, but this trope is brought up several times by those who fear their survival.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Richard and Anne try to humiliate Jane Shore by having her walk through the streets denounced as a whore. The crowds end up feeling sorry for her, and they end up looking like jerks.
  • No Sympathy: Once you are denounced as a traitor, you are to be executed and properties attained regardless of your reasons or circumstances. Justified for time period.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Cecily Neville is one to Elizabeth Woodville; Margaret of Anjou and George of Clarence are this to Anne Neville; Countess of Warwick is one to Richard of Gloucester and vice versa; Margaret of Beaufort is one to Elizabeth of York; the tension between Elizabeth Woodville and the Neville sisters also applies
  • Off with His Head!: Episode 8 with Anthony Woodville and William Hastings.
  • Official Couple Ordeal Syndrome: Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. They married for love, but the marriage is not approved by the court. After the Lancastrians lost their cause, the couple was plagued by other issues like stillbirth, death in family, and marital infidelity. However, they remained together in a loving relationship till the end.
  • Parental Abandonment: Anne's mother abandons her to go into sanctuary after Edward of Lancaster is defeated and she is left a widow accused of treason. Henry VI is also a totally absent father to Edward, spending most of his time asleep or in the Tower.
  • Please Spare Him, My Liege!: Duchess Cecily of York begged Edward IV to spare George, which she failed.
  • Prince Charmless: George of Clarence. He may be charming, but he's a chronic backstabber and a jerk.
  • Promotion to Parent: Edward IV to Richard, after their father Richard of York was killed by the Lancastrians.
  • Rags to Royalty: There are elements of this in Elizabeth's story; while the Woodvilles are far from poor, by the standards of the court and aristocracy they are nobodies and Elizabeth's rise to Queen of England is dramatic and shocking.
    • Anne Neville applies as well; her story has even more ups and downs than Elizabeth Woodville's. She starts out as the daughter of one of England's foremost noblemen, then marries Edward of Lancaster, becoming Princess of Wales. However, when the Lancastrians lose she became merely Lady Anne Neville, the penniless and powerless ward of the Duke of Clarence. Then she marries the Duke of Gloucester, becomes a royal duchess, and ends as Queen of England.
  • Rape as Backstory: Margaret Beaufort, Anne Neville, and Elizabeth of York. See Marital Rape License
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Richard, a stark contrast to his brothers.
  • Requisite Royal Regalia: Required for the coronation. In the TV show, there were three.
  • Rescue Romance: Anne and Richard. Maybe Truth in Television.
  • Revenge: another important theme of the plot. Yorks, Lancasters, and Nevilles - each family has its own plan of vengeance against one another.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Elizabeth Woodville refused to make peace with George because he and Warwick killed her father and brother despite the fact reconciliation with George can avoid another civil war.
  • Royal Blood: Crucial for the Beauforts and the Tudors to claim the crown. The York brothers are legitimate royal princes, while the Beauforts are originally illegitimate descendants of John of Gaunt but later legitimized.
  • Royal Mess: Averted. The correct titles are often emphasized to remind the character of their current rank/status.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: the York brothers are skilled warriors and diplomats. Averted with Henry VI, the Sleeping King.
  • Rule of Three: the three York brothers; three female protagonists; three Queens of England; three coronations
  • Rule of Seven: Richard of Gloucester is youngest of seven children.
  • Ruling Couple: Anne and Richard.
  • Samus Is a Girl: In the first teaser trailer for the show, three armoured knights meet in a corridor, only for them to shed their coverings and reveal that it's Elizabeth, Margaret and Anne.
  • Sanity Slippage: After becoming King, the previously calm and sensible Richard becomes paranoid and withdrawn, due to the strains of war, the loss of his only son and heir and the accusations that he killed the missing princes.
    • George after Isabel's death.
  • Screaming Birth: Margaret's labor with Henry is horrific: at the time, she is a small, delicate thirteen-year-old. It's suggested that something going wrong while she gave birth was the reason for her subsequent infertility. Isabel Neville's is also nightmarish, as she goes into labor on a ship in the middle of a storm, and her sister Anne is forced to manually deliver the baby.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Knowing that talking to George and Isabel brings no avail, Anne runs away with Richard instead.
  • Sexless Marriage: Jacquetta's first marriage to the Duke of Bedford. He marries her because he believes he needs a young virgin (with Jacquetta's possibly-magical ancestry) to help him produce a philosopher's stone.
    • Margaret and Thomas Stanley marry for convenience and agree to leave their marriage unconsummated. Truth in Television.
  • Shown Their Work: Philippa Gregory's two-episodes documentary The White Queen and Her Rivalries shown her research and understanding of the historical characters in her work.
  • Shoulders-Up Nudity: BBC version. The Starz version shows a lot more than that...
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: At the end of The Red Queen Margaret smugly tells Elizabeth of York that whatever the outcome of the Battle of Bosworth, Elizabeth will be publicly humiliated: she will either marry Henry Tudor (and have no name or title of her own, since she was declared illegitimate) or King Richard (whose affair with her is public knowledge.) Elizabeth replies that, either way, she'll be Queen of England and will never have to answer to Margaret again.
    • Unfortunately, it's only a brief victory for Elizabeth, as Margaret eventually takes over the English royal court, leaving Elizabeth as queen only in name.
    • It's only through Elizabeth that Henry VII is able to keep his throne - after her death he is loathed beyond reason, so Elizabeth of York wins in the end.
    • In The Kingmaker's Daughter, Margaret of Anjou tries to convince Richard to join her side and offered him Anne Neville's hand. In the novel, Richard replies that he is the King's loyal brother, no matter what. In the TV series, Anne went up to her and told her that she is not hers to give. Needless to say, Margaret broke down completely afterwards.
    • The Countess of Warwick tried to convince Anne to leave Richard and stand with her to regain her estates and fortune. And Anne's response? She had her mother locked up and forbade her to contact anyone.
  • Sibling Rivalry: George has issues with both brothers, despite being the one blatantly favored by their mother. Applies to Anne and Isabel as well, but they later reconcile.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Anne accepted Richard's proposal partially because of this. Edward of Lancaster was a sadistic monster and George of Clarence is a constant backstabber and a traitor. Compared to these two, Richard is fairly nice and decent to be with.
  • Snow Means Love: Richard confessed his love to Anne and proposed. Anne accepts and followed by a Hollywood Kiss. It was snowing.
  • Sour Prude: Margaret Beaufort grows into one.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Edward IV married Elizabeth Woodville for love. Their marriage was met with disapproval because he was a York King and she was a Lancastrian widow.
  • Succession Crisis: The central conflict of the series is this. Either the legitimate heir is rumored to be a bastard, or the heir is too young to rule, or the heir died young. As result, each claimant - all related to one another through Royal Blood - fought one another until a new king is crowned. Hence the title Cousins War.
  • The Chessmaster: Margaret Beaufort thinks she is one of these. Her third husband, Lord Stanley, knows he is.
  • The Lost Lenore: Anne and Isabel to Richard and George.
  • The Mistress: Jane Shore
  • The Usurper: Henry Tudor
  • Three-Month-Old Newborn: In Episode 7, Anne was holding her newborn son Edward, saying that he's small. The baby in her arms was certainly not small, at least from viewer's perspective.
  • Title Drop: Played with Anne Neville, who claimed herself as "The Kingmaker's Daughter" more than a couple of times in the TV series.
  • Unexpected Successor: Richard, the youngest child of his parents. He has two older brothers and both have son(s), but, wouldn't you know it...
  • Unequal Pairing: Edward IV is the King, but Elizabeth Woodville is only a penniless Lancastrian widow. Edward of Lancaster is the Prince of Wales (at least to the Lancastrians) but Anne Neville is the youngest daughter of English noble.
  • The Unsolved Mystery: The Princes in the Tower, naturally.
  • Villain Protagonist: Elizabeth Woodville is often portrayed as scheming and greedy in War of Roses historical fictions. In the novel The White Queen and the TV show, she's the main protagonist.
    • Margaret Beaufort in the novel The Red Queen applies as well.
  • Virgin Power: Bedford marries Jacquetta because he believes he needs this to help him with his alchemical experiments.
  • Undying Loyalty: Richard's loyalty towards his brother Edward IV stands out since everyone is sort of corrupted to a certain degree.
  • Unwanted Spouse: Anne fears becoming this after the death of her son.
  • Wars of the Roses: The basis of the entire series.
  • Wealthy Ever After: Anne and Richard. They got married, had a son, and inherited the Beauchamp estate.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Earl of Warwick and the York Brothers. Margaret of Anjou and Cecily Neville.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Given the nature of the miniseries, many characters just disappear as soon as their role is complete, including Margaret of Anjou, Duchess Cecily and the Countess of Warwick. A quick Google search will shed light on their eventual fate.
  • Wicked Witch: Elizabeth Woodville is this to the Neville sisters.
  • Woman Scorned: Played with in an interesting twist. Lady Margaret Beaufort offered a marriage proposal to Richard of Gloucester, which was rejected. Guess who played an instrumental role in his eventual downfall and death? Applied to Anne Neville in an interesting way too since dishonoring her in favor of his niece had Richard lost the support from North. Averted with Elizabeth Woodville, who is hurt by Edward's affair with Jane Shore, but remained his loving wife till the end.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Margaret of Anjou. Because her husband Henry VI is too feeble-minded and sickly to rule, she assumes the responsibility. And after the Yorks take the throne, she is constantly plotting and campaigning to return it to the Lancasters and particularly for her son Edward. Elizabeth Woodville and Anne Neville have shades of this as well.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Lord Stanley only makes plans that he knows he can switch in an instant. Make all sides think he is in their camp.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Anne is relieved that she is far away from the court with her husband and son. It did not last long.
  • Youngest Child Wins: Both Richard and Anne are the youngest children in their family. Both fare better than their older siblings, George and Isabel...though they ultimately fail in the long run.
  • You Killed My Father: Richard of Gloucester's instant reaction when he saw Henry V after he was captured by Warwick; also applies to Elizabeth Woodville, whose main reason to bring George down was because he had her father killed.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Edward IV and Elizabeth have a loving relationship, but he still has numerous affairs, most notably with Elizabeth Shore (renamed Jane Shore in the TV series).


The Count of Monte CristoHistorical Fiction LiteratureLa Dame de Monsoreau
The Course of EmpireLiterature of the 2000sCoyote

alternative title(s): The Cousins War Series
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