FIFTEENTH-CENTURY ENGLAND, 1399-1509: STUDIES IN POLITICS AND SOCIETY. Edited by S. B. Chrimes, C. D. Ross and R. A. Griffiths. Manchester University Press, 1972. Pp. 192. £ 2.76. This volume brings together seven papers given at a colloquium on the fifteenth century held at University College, Cardiff, in September 1970. Each of the speakers has already made his own distinctive con- tribution to the growing pool of our knowledge of the fifteenth century and the publication in one volume of a number of separate studies of specific problems will be welcomed and appreciated. The volume is described as 'studies in politics and society': this is somewhat misleading, since the essays are above all concerned with kings and government. The studies divide themselves naturally into two groups. To the first belong the first four essays, taking as their theme the reigns of four of the kings who ruled fifteenth-century England; the second group consists of two regional studies, one of the north of England by Dr. Storey, and one of Wales and the march by Dr. Griffiths, while Mr. Pugh contributes a third survey taking as his theme the magnates, knights and gentry, the extent of their fortunes and involvement in the power struggles of the mid-fifteenth century. Each of the essays, however, raises the basic problem of power and influence in government and it is this which forms the cohesive theme of the whole volume. For centuries, English historians concerned themselves with the personalities of England's kings in the fifteenth century, and the three studies by Dr. Wolffe of Henry VI, Dr. Ross of Edward IV and Professor Chrimes of Henry VII emphasize the basic point that the quality of the king dominated his government and administration. In spite of the fact that this is a traditional approach, each has a new contribution to make. Thus, under Dr. Wolffe's scrutiny Henry VI is transmuted from an ineffectual, saintly cypher into an untrustworthy, cunning but incompetent ruler. Similarly, Dr. Ross provides a salutary reversal of the adulation of Edward IV as a Mark I version of Henry VII and argues convincingly that Edward was 'impulsive, inconsistent, irresolute and overconfident'. In fact, it is Henry VII who emerges with his reputation largely intact, though as Professor Chrimes points out, the direction of scholarship must be towards cutting Henry down 'to more natural. and more human proportions'. But though the personalities of the kings undeniably provide a crucially important insight into the crises of monarchy in the fifteenth century, each of the contributors to this volume emphasizes that power in govern- ment in the end must depend upon the exercise of patronage and influence of the right sort. Thus, the two studies by Dr. Brown and by Mr. Pugh examine the use and disposition of power and influence, and underscore the rarely fulfilled need for a wider body of supporters than any of the monarchs could command. It might well be argued that fifteenth-century England set her kings an impossible task to which none of them proved equal. Finally, the two papers by Dr. Storey and Dr. Griffiths can in no way be regarded only as regional studies, for each in its own way reveals