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Elizabeth of York 1466-1503

Elizabeth of York 11 February 1466 – 11 February 1503. She was queen consort of England from 1486 until her death. As the wife of Henry VII, she was the first Tudor queen. She was the daughter of Edward IV and niece of Richard III, and she married the king following Henry’s victory at the Battle of Bosworth which started the last phase of the Wars of the Roses. She was the mother of King Henry VIII. Therefore, she was the daughter, sister, niece, wife, mother, and grandmother of successive kings and queens of England.

Elizabeth of York
Queen consort of England
11 February 1466 – 11 February 1503

11 February 1466
Westminster Palace,
London, England

11 February 1503 (aged 37)
Tower of London,
London, England

24 February 1503
Westminster Abbey,
London, England

Henry VII of England

.1 Arthur, Prince of Wales
.(20 September 1486 – 2 April 1502)
.Wife Catherine of Aragon
.No Children

.2 Margaret, Queen of Scotland
.(28 November 1489 – 18 October 1541)

.Husbands (3) ‘James IV of Scotland
‘Archibald Douglas ‘Henry Stewart

.6 Children
‘James Stewart ‘Arthur Stewart
‘James V of Scotland ‘Alexander Stewart
‘Margaret Douglas ‘Dorothea Stewart

.3 Henry VIII, King of England
.(28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547)

.Wives (6)
‘Catherine of Aragon ‘Anne Boleyn
‘Jane Seymour ‘Anne of Cleves
‘Catherine Howard ‘Catherine Parr

.4 Children lived past infancy
‘Henry FitzRoy ‘Queen Mary I
‘Queen Elizabeth I ‘King Edward VI

.5 Mary, Queen of France
(18 March 1496 – 25 June 1533)

. Husbands (2)
‘Louis XII of France ‘Charles Brandon

.4 Children
‘Henry Brandon ‘Frances Grey
‘Eleanor Clifford ‘Henry Brandon

Children who did not live past infancy

.4 Elizabeth Tudor (1492–1495)

.6 Edward Tudor (b. 1498 – d. 1499)

.7 Edmund, of Somerset (21 Feb 1499 – 19 June 1500)

.8 Katherine Tudor (2 Feb 1503 – 10 Feb 1503)
(no image available)




Edward IV of England

Elizabeth Woodville

In early 1464 The recently widowed Elizabeth Woodville went out with her sons and sat under an oak tree she knew the King would pass. When he came by, Elizabeth stopped him and pleaded to have her lands back.

The King became besotted with her. Edward tried to make her his mistress. When he tried to force himself on her Elizabeth pulled out a knife and said she was an honorable woman and would not be dishonored.


Edward and Elizabeth married in a secret ceremony, though the date is not known, it is traditionally said to have taken place at her family home in Northamptonshire on 1 May 1464. Only the bride’s mother and two ladies were in attendance.

It was only when Edward’s closest advisor, Lord Warwick, suggested a proposal he had made with a French Princess that it was revealed Edward was married. Elizabeth was crowned 26 May 1465 as Queen of England. Warwick was both embarrassed and offended, and his relationship with Edward IV never recovered.


Elizabeth of York was the first of 10 children born of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. she was born at the Palace of Westminster on 11 February 1466.


Her christening was celebrated at Westminster Abbey, sponsored by her grandmothers Jacquetta of Luxembourg Duchess of Bedford, and Cecily Neville, Duchess of York. Her third sponsor was her cousin Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick

At three, she was briefly betrothed to George Neville in 1469. His father John later supported George’s uncle, the Earl of Warwick, in rebellion against King Edward IV, and the betrothal was called off.


In 1475, Louis XI agreed to the marriage of 9-year-old Elizabeth of York and his son Charles, the Dauphin of France. In 1482, however, Louis XI reneged on his promise.


At age 11, she was named a Lady of the Garter in 1477, along with her mother and her paternal aunt Elizabeth of York Duchess of Suffolk


Her father’s health began to fail, and he became subject to an increasing number of ailments. He fell fatally ill at Easter 1483, but survived long enough to add some codicils to his will, the most important being to name his brother Richard as Protector after his death. He died on 9 April 1483 and was buried in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

Her mother, Elizabeth Woodville, tried to deny Gloucester his right to be Lord Protector and keep power within her family. Gloucester opted to take steps to isolate his nephews from their Woodville relations.

He intercepted Edward V while he was travelling from Ludlow, where he had been living as Prince of Wales, to London to be crowned king. Edward V was placed in the royal residence of the Tower of London, ostensibly for his protection. Elizabeth fled with her mother, younger brother and sisters into sanctuary in Westminster Abbey.


Gloucester asked Archbishop Bourchier to take Richard with him, so the boy could reside in the Tower and keep his brother Edward company. Elizabeth Woodville, under duress, eventually agreed.

The princes, who were still lodged in the royal residence of the Tower of London at the time of Richard’s coronation, disappeared from sight after the summer of 1483.

On 22 June 1483, Edward IV’s marriage was declared invalid. It was claimed that Edward IV had at the time of his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville already had been betrothed to Lady Eleanor Butler. Parliament issued a bill, (“The Title of the King”). This measure legally bastardised the children of Edward IV, made them ineligible for the succession, and declared Richard the rightful king.


Elizabeth’s mother made an alliance with Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor, later King Henry VII, who had the closest claim to the throne of those in the Lancastrian party. Although Henry Tudor was descended from King Edward III, his claim to the throne was weak. Henry swore an oath promising to marry her and began planning an invasion.

In 1484, Elizabeth of York and her sisters left Westminster Abbey and returned to court when Elizabeth Woodville was apparently reconciled with Richard III, which may or may not suggest that Elizabeth Woodville believed Richard III to be innocent of any possible role in the murder of her two sons (although this is unlikely owing to her involvement in Henry Tudor’s failed invasion of October 1483).


It was rumoured that Richard III intended to marry Elizabeth of York because his wife, Anne Neville, was dying and they had no surviving children. The Crowland Chronicle claimed that Richard was forced to deny this rumour.

Soon after Anne Neville’s death, Richard sent Elizabeth away from court to the castle of Sheriff Hutton and opened negotiations with King John II of Portugal to marry his sister, Joan, Princess of Portugal, and to have Elizabeth marry their cousin, the future King Manuel I of Portugal, but this came to nothing.


Henry sailed with a small French and Scottish force, landing in Mill Bay, Pembrokeshire close to his birthplace. He marched towards England accompanied by his uncle Jasper and the Earl of Oxford. Wales was traditionally a Lancastrian stronghold, and Henry owed the support he gathered to his Welsh birth and ancestry, being directly descended, through his father, from Rhys ap Gruffydd. He amassed an army of around 5,000 soldiers


Richard only needed to avoid being killed to keep his throne. Though outnumbered, Henry’s Lancastrian forces decisively defeated Richard’s Yorkist army at the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22 August 1485. Several of Richard’s key allies, such as the Earl of Northumberland and William and Thomas Stanley, crucially switched sides or left the battlefield. Richard III’s death at Bosworth Field effectively ended the Wars of the Roses.


As the eldest daughter of Edward IV with no surviving brothers, Elizabeth of York had a strong claim to the throne in her own right, but she did not assume the throne as queen regnant. Such a precedent would not truly come to England for another 67 years, when her granddaughter Mary I acceded to the throne.

Though initially slow to keep his promise Henry acknowledged the necessity of marrying Elizabeth of York to ensure the stability of his rule and weaken the claims of other surviving members of the House of York but he ruled in his own right and claimed the throne by right of conquest and not by his marriage to the heir of the House of York. He had no intention of sharing power. He consequently chose to be crowned on 30 October 1485 before his marriage.


It is belived the reason for the marriage delay is because Henry wanted to see if Elizabeth was fertile. It is almost certain the couple were bedded before being wedded.

Henry VII had the Act of Titulus Regius repealed, thereby legitimising anew the children of Edward IV and acknowledging Edward V as his predecessor – though Richard III was regarded as a usurper, his reign was not ignored.

After procuring papal dispensation, Cardinal Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, officiated at the wedding of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York on 18 January 1486 in Westminster Abbey.


The marriage is symbolised by the heraldic emblem of the Tudor rose, a combination of the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster. The National Flower Of the United Kingdom. The Tudor rose

Elizabeth of York and Henry VII’s Marriage Bed. Worth estimate is around 20 million. The carved headboard is arranged as a triptych. The left panel shows the arms of France, to which English Monarchs held a residual claim, the right panel shows the arms of England, and the central panel depicts the King and Queen as Adam and Eve in Paradise, making a pledge to one another.

8 Months after the wedding Elizabeth gave birth to a boy. Henry had royal genealogists trace his lineage back to the ancient British rulers and decided on naming his firstborn son after the legendary King Arthur. Camelot was identified as present-day Winchester, Elizabeth was sent to Saint Swithun’s Priory (Winchester Cathedral Priory) in order to give birth there. Prince Arthur born on 20 September 1486 at about 1 am.

Elizabeth of York was crowned queen
on 25 November 1487.


Despite being a political arrangement
at first, the marriage proved successful
and both partners appear to have grown
to love each other.


Elizabeth of York did not exercise much political influence as queen due to her strong-minded mother-in-law Lady Margaret Beaufort, but she was reported to be gentle, kind, and generous to her relations, servants, and benefactors.

Margaret Tudor was born 28 November 1489. She was baptised in St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster and was named after Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby, her paternal grandmother.

When not at official gatherings, she lived a quiet life largely away from politics with her children (except Arthur) at Eltham Palace. Elizabeth of York enjoyed music and dancing as well as dicing. She also kept greyhounds.


Henry was born 28 June 1491 at the Palace of Placentia in Greenwich, Kent. He was baptised at a church of the Observant Franciscans close to the palace.

Her mother died at Bermondsey Abbey on 8 June 1492. With the exception of the queen, who was awaiting the birth of her fourth child, and Cecily of York, her daughters attended the funeral at Windsor Castle. Elizabeth’s will specified a simple ceremony. The accounts of her funeral suggest that at least one source “clearly felt that a queen’s funeral should have been more splendid” and may have objected that “Henry VII had not seen fit to arrange a more queenly funeral for his mother-in-law”


Elizabeth Tudor was born on 2 July 1492 at Sheen Palace. She spent much of her short life at the royal nursery of Eltham Palace, Kent, with her older siblings Margaret and Henry. Her oldest brother, Arthur, was heir to the English throne and so lived separately in his own household. Just before Elizabeth’s death, her father proposed a marriage alliance between Elizabeth and the French prince Francis, who later became king of France.


Elizabeth was often short of money. Part of the problem was her generosity, she gave away thousands of pounds in gifts, huge tips to her servants and cash gifts to the poor who brought her small gifts of food. many poor folk came to the palace gates with humble offerings, such as butter, chickens, wardens (pears), pippins, puddings, apples, cakes, cherries in season, a conserve of cherries (several gifts of cherries are recorded, a they were Elizabeth’s favorite food), pork ect… None went away without a handsome reward, usually more than Elizabeth could afford.


Mary Tudor wa born 18 March 1496 at Sheen Palace. At age six, she was given her own household, complete with “a staff of gentlewomen assigned to wait upon her,”

On 7 September 1497 Perkin Warbeck who claimed to be Elizabeth’s brother Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York, was captured at Beaulieu Abbey in Hampshire was imprisoned, at Taunton, then at the Tower of London. He was initially treated well. As soon as he confessed to being an impostor, he was given accommodation at court and even allowed at royal banquets. He was, however, kept under guard and was not allowed to see his wife, who was under protection of the queen. After 18 months he tried to escape. He was recaptured and beheaded on 28 November 1499.


Elizabeth loved good clothing, music,
books and wine, she had her own pair
of minstrels that travelled with her.


Edward was born in 1498 he died age
1 in 1499. Edmund was born 21 February
1499 and died age 1 19 June 1500.


On 14 November 1501 Elizabeth of York’s 15 year old son Arthur married Catherine of Aragon at Saint Paul’s Cathedral both Arthur and Catherine wore white satin. Following the ceremony, Arthur and Catherine left the Cathedral and headed for Baynard’s Castle, where they were entertained by “the best voiced children of the King’s chapel, who sang right sweetly with quaint harmony”. The pair were sent to Ludlow Castle, the traditional residence of the Prince of Wales.

On 24 January 1502, Scotland and England concluded the Treaty of Perpetual Peace, the first peace agreement between the two realms in over 170 years. A marriage treaty was drawn up between Elizabeth’s daughter Margaret and James IV of Scotland the same day.

Arthur and Catherine headed for the marches in Wales, where they established their household at Ludlow Castle. Arthur had been growing weaker since his wedding, Catherine was reluctant to follow him, she was ordered by Henry VII to join her husband. In March 1502, Arthur and Catherine were afflicted by an unknown illness, “a malign vapour which proceeded from the air.” While Catherine recovered, Arthur died on 2 April 1502 at Ludlow, six months short of his sixteenth birthday.


News of Arthur’s death reached the court late on 4 April. “Grief-stricken and emotional,” Henry had his wife brought into his chambers, so that they might “take the painful news together” Elizabeth reminded Henry that God had helped him become king and “had ever preserved him,” adding that they had been left with “yet a fair Prince and two fair princesses and that God is where he was, and they were both young enough.”


Soon after leaving Henry’s bedchamber, Elizabeth collapsed and began to cry, while the ladies sent for the King, who hurriedly came and “relieved her.”


Shortly after Arthur’s death, the idea of betrothing the widowed Catherine to the new heir apparent, Henry, had arisen Henry VII and Isabella I were keen on moving forward with the betrothal and the pope granted a dispensation towards that end


In 1502 Elizabeth of York became pregnant once more and spent her confinement period in the Tower of London.


On 2 February 1503, she gave birth to Katherine, but the child died a few days afterwards. Succumbing to a post partum infection, Elizabeth of York died on 11 February, her 37th birthday.


Elizabeth of York’s funeral effigy

Her husband and children appear to have mourned her death deeply. According to one account, Henry Tudor “privily departed to a solitary place and would no man should resort unto him.”


This is notable considering that, shortly after Elizabeth’s death, records show he became extremely ill himself and would not allow any except his mother Margaret Beaufort near him. For Henry Tudor to show his emotions let alone any sign of infirmity, was highly unusual and alarming to members of his court.


Henry VII entertained thoughts of remarriage to renew the alliance with Spain — Joanna, Dowager Queen of Naples, Joanna, Queen of Castile, Margaret, Dowager Duchess of Savoy, and catherine of aragon were all considered.


The Tower of London was abandoned as a royal residence, as evinced by the lack of records of its being used by the royal family after 1503. All future births in the reign of Elizabeth’s son, Henry VIII, took place in various palaces.


Henry VII’s reputation for miserliness became worse after the death of Elizabeth of York. It is possible his reputation for miserliness was enhanced by the diminution of the crown’s charity work after the queen’s death.


He was buried with Elizabeth of York under their effigies in his Westminster Abbey chapel. Her tomb was opened in the 19th century and the wood casing of her lead coffin was found to have been removed to create space for the interment of her great-great-grandson James VI and I.

According to folklore, the “queen … in the parlour” in the children’s nursery rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence” is Elizabeth of York, while her husband is the king counting his money.

Elizabeth of York was a renowned beauty, inheriting her parents’ fair hair and complexion. All other Tudor monarchs inherited her reddish gold hair and the trait became synonymous with the dynasty.

A poem by Elizabeth of York

Elizabeth of York’s surviving children.
Arthur, Prince of Wales,
Margaret, Queen of Scotland,
Henry VIII, King of England,
Mary, Queen of France

Playing cards how we know them
today were invented in Henry VII’s
reign and the portrait of his
Queen, Elizabeth of York
has appeared eight times
on every pack of cards
for 500 years.

Elizabeth’s signature

Badge and Motto

Elizabeth of York in popular culture
.Kate Steavenson-Payne in the 1995 film adaption Richard III
.Norma West in the 1972 BBC miniseries The Shadow of the Tower.
.Nadia Cameron Blakey in the 2005 TV drama Princes in the Tower

.Freya Mavor in the 2013 BBC drama, The White Queen.
.Jodie Comer in the 2017 Starz drama, The White Princess

.Elizabeth of York he First Tudor Queen Alison Weir
.Elizabeth of York The Forgotten Tudor Queen Paperback
by Amy Licence
.Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen: The Story of
Elizabeth of York by Samantha Wilcoxson

.In Bed with the Tudors The Sex Lives of a Dynasty
from Elizabeth of York to Elizabeth I by Amy Licence
.Lancaster And York The Wars of the Roses by Alison Weir
.The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets
and the Rise of the Tudors by Dan Jones

Elizabeth of York appears in four of
Philippa Gregory’s historical novels. The
White Princess. She is a leading character
in The White Queen, which features Elizabeth
of York from the time of her birth to the
age of 18. She appears as a supporting
character in The Red Queen and appears
briefly in The Constant Princess.

.The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes
.Elizabeth the Beloved by Maureen Peters
.The Dragon and the Rose by Roberta Gellis

.The King’s Daughter by Sandra Worth
.Uneasy Lies the Head by Jean Plaidy
.To Hold the Crown: The Story of Henry
VII and Elizabeth of York by Jean Plaidy

Elizabeth of York
Queen consort of England
11 February 1466 – 11 February 1503

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Amy-p

    So interesting, I dont think a detail has been missed out. I love your use of pics and paintings in your posts. A well done protect.

  2. Jasper McJasper

    You needn’t stop at “grandmother” of successive Monarchs of England. The next Monarch of England after Elizabeth 1st was James 6th of Scotland and 1st of England. Elizabeth of York was James 1st’s great-great grandmother, two different ways. In fact she and Henry VII are ancestors of every Monarch who came later than them (even though the Succession hopped nodes from Monarchs such as Bloody Mary who while being descended from Henry VII and his Queen Elizabeth of York were not ancestors of all Monarchs coming after themselves).

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