Elizabeth of York
|Elizabeth of York|
|A portrait of Elizabeth is thought to be the basis for the queen's picture found in a deck of cards.|
|Tenure||18 January 1486 – 11 February 1503|
|Coronation||25 November 1487|
|Spouse||Henry VII of England|
|Arthur, Prince of Wales
Margaret, Queen of Scots
Henry VIII of England
Mary, Queen of France
Edmund, Duke of Somerset
|House||House of York (by birth)
House of Tudor (by marriage)
|Father||Edward IV of England|
11 February 1466|
|Died||11 February 1503
|Burial||Henry VII's Chapel, Westminster Abbey|
Elizabeth of York (11 February 1466 – 11 February 1503) was queen consort of England from 1486 until 1503. Throughout her lifetime, she was a daughter, sister, niece and wife of English monarchs - Edward IV, Edward V, Richard III and Henry VII. Queen Elizabeth is the most recent common ancestor of all English monarchs that reigned after her husband.
Daughter of the king
She was born at the Palace of Westminster, the eldest child of King Edward IV and his Queen consort, Elizabeth Woodville, the former Lady Grey. Her christening was celebrated at Westminster Abbey, her sponsors being her grandmothers Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, and Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Duchess of Bedford. Her third sponsor was her cousin, Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick.
In 1469, she was briefly betrothed to George Neville, son of John Neville, Earl of Northumberland, who initially supported Edward IV against his brother Warwick's rebellion. The Earl of Northumberland switched sides, however, and the betrothal was called off. In 1475, Louis XI agreed to let her marry his son, Charles, the Dauphin of France, but Louis reneged on the promise in 1482.
Sister of the king
Shortly after his brother's death, Richard began taking steps to isolate his nephews from their Woodville relations. He intercepted Edward V on his way from Ludlow (where he was living as Prince of Wales) to London to be crowned. Edward was placed in the royal residence of the Tower of London, ostensibly for his protection. Elizabeth Woodville fled with her younger son, Richard, and her daughters into sanctuary in Westminster Abbey. Gloucester requested Richard go to the Tower to keep his brother company and Elizabeth agreed.
Two months later, on 22 June 1483, Edward IV's marriage was declared invalid (Edward, it was claimed, had at the time of his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville already been betrothed to Lady Eleanor Butler); this made the children of the marriage bastards and ineligible for the succession. Parliament issued a bill, Titulus Regius ("The Title of the King"), in support of this position: it legally bastardised the children of Edward IV, and declared Richard the rightful king. Richard then ascended the throne as Richard III on 6 July 1483, and Edward V and his brother disappeared shortly afterwards. Soon rumours began to spread that they had been murdered.
Niece of the king
Elizabeth's mother, Elizabeth Woodville, made an alliance with Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor, who was the closest to Royalty the Lancastrian party possessed. Although Henry was descended from King Edward III, his claim to the throne was weak, due to the clause barring ascension to the throne by any heirs of the legitimized offspring of his great-great-grandparents, John of Gaunt (3rd son of King Edward III) and Katherine Swynford. Despite this, his mother and Elizabeth Woodville agreed Henry should move to claim the throne, and once he had taken it, he would marry Woodville's daughter, Elizabeth of York, uniting the two rival Houses. In December 1483, in the cathedral in Rennes, Henry swore an oath promising to marry her, and began planning an invasion.
In 1484, Elizabeth and her family left Westminster Abbey and returned to Richard's court. It was rumoured that Richard III intended to marry her: his wife, Anne Neville, was dying and they had no surviving children. Richard denied this and the Crowland Chronicle claims he was forced to do so by enemies of the Woodvilles, who dreaded the family's return to royal favour. There is no conclusive evidence of Richard's intention to marry Elizabeth (which would have been subject to the Pope granting dispensations for such marriages), although Sir George Buck later stated to have uncovered a now lost letter from Elizabeth which indicated she was involved and willing. In fact, very soon after Queen Anne's death, Richard opened negotiations with John II of Portugal for a double marriage alliance, by which he would have married the king's sister, Joanna, and Elizabeth their cousin, the future Manuel I.
However, on 7 August 1485, Henry and his army landed in Wales and began marching inland. On 22 August 1485, Henry and Richard fought the Battle of Bosworth Field. Richard, despite having the larger army, was betrayed by some of his most powerful retainers and died in battle. Henry took the crown by right of conquest as Henry VII.
Wife of the King
As the eldest daughter of Edward IV with no surviving brothers, Elizabeth had a strong claim to the throne in her own right - and may have been the rightful heir to the throne after the death of her uncle Richard III - but she did not rule as queen regnant.
Henry acknowledged the necessity of marrying Elizabeth to secure the stability of his rule and weaken the claims of other surviving members of the House of York, but he insisted on being king due to a tenuous claim of inheritance from John of Gaunt, ruling in his own right, and not by his marriage to the heir of the House of York, and had no intention of sharing power. Consequently, he chose to be crowned on 30 October 1485, before his marriage.
Henry had the Titulus Regius repealed, thereby relegitimising the children of Edward IV and acknowledged Edward V as his predecessor, since he did not want the legitimacy of his wife or her claim as heiress of Edward IV called into question. After a papal dispensation was procured, Henry and Elizabeth married on 18 January 1486. Their first son, Arthur, was born on 20 September 1486. Elizabeth was crowned queen on 25 November 1487.
The marriage proved successful and both partners appear to have cared for each other. As queen, Elizabeth did not exercise much political influence, due to her strong-minded mother-in-law Lady Margaret Beaufort, but she was reported to be gentle and kind, and generous to her relations, servants and benefactors. Elizabeth enjoyed music and dancing, as well as dicing. She kept greyhounds.
On 14 November 1501, Elizabeth's eldest son, Arthur (aged 15), married Catherine of Aragon, daughter of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, and the pair were sent to Ludlow Castle, traditional residence of the Prince of Wales. Five months later, Arthur died in April 1502. The news of Arthur's death caused Henry VII to break down in grief, as much in fear for his dynasty as mourning for his son; Elizabeth comforted him, telling him that he was the only child of his mother (to whom she refers as My Lady) but had survived to become King, that God had left him with a son and two daughters and that they were both young enough to have more children.
Elizabeth became pregnant once more, and in the last months of this, went for her confinement period to the Tower of London. On 2 February 1503, Elizabeth gave birth to a girl named Katherine, but the child died a few days afterwards. Succumbing to a post partum infection, Elizabeth died on 11 February, her 37th birthday. Her husband appeared to sincerely mourn her death; according to one account, he "privily departed to a solitary place and would no man should resort unto him". Despite his reputation for thrift, he gave her a splendid funeral; she lay in state in the Tower and was buried in Westminster Abbey, in the Lady Chapel Henry had built. He later entertained thoughts of remarriage to renew the alliance with Spain - Joan, Dowager Queen of Naples (niece of Ferdinand II of Aragon), Joanna, Queen of Castile (daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella), and Margaret, Dowager Duchess of Savoy (sister-in-law of Joanna of Castile) were all considered - but Henry died a widower in 1509. He was buried with Elizabeth; they can be found today, under their effigies in his chapel. Her tomb was opened in the 19th century. 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 I. 
Elizabeth was a renowned beauty, inheriting her parents' fair hair and complexion. Elizabeth and Henry VII had seven children:
- Arthur, Prince of Wales (20 September 1486 – 2 April 1502) - 15 years old
- Margaret, Queen consort of Scotland (28 November 1489 – 18 October 1541) - 52 years old
- Henry VIII of England (28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547) - 55 years old
- Elizabeth Tudor (2 July 1492 – 14 September 1495) - 3 years old
- Mary, Queen consort of France (18 March 1496 – 25 June 1533) - 37 years old
- Edmund, Duke of Somerset (21 February 1499 – 19 June 1500) - 1 year old
- Katherine Tudor (2 February 1503 – 10 February 1503) - 8 days old
|Ancestors of Elizabeth of York|
Elizabeth of York in popular culture
- Elizabeth of York by Arlene Naylor Okerlund. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
- Elizabeth of York: Tudor Queen by Nancy Lenz Harvey (out of print) .
- Elizabeth of York, the Lost Tudor Queen by Amy Licence. Amberley 2013
- Elizabeth of York by Alison Weir. Jonathan Cape and Ballantine, 2013.
Theater, television and film:
- Elizabeth is frequently discussed in Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Richard III but never appears onstage. Many productions give her an onstage presence as a silent character, and she is played by Kate Steavenson-Payne in the 1995 film adaption Richard III, where she is given dialogue originally assigned to another character.
- Welsh actress Caroline Sheen made a cameo as Queen Elizabeth in the docudrama Henry VIII: The Mind of a Tyrant in the first episode covering the future monarch's early youth.
- Elizabeth is the subject of Hilda Brookman Stanier's novel Plantagenet Princess, pub. Robert Hale, 1981
- Elizabeth appears in three of Philippa Gregory's historical novels: briefly in The Constant Princess (2005), around the time of her son Arthur's marriage and death, but far more prominently in the account of her mother's life, The White Queen (2009), which features her from the time of her birth to the age of 18. She appears as a supporting character in The Red Queen, the sequel to The White Queen. In these novels, it is suggested that Elizabeth was indeed deeply in love with her uncle Richard and hoped to marry him rather than Henry Tudor. Gregory has since revealed that the fifth book in the Plantagenet series, The White Princess will be centered on Elizabeth's life.
- Elizabeth also appears in "The Tudor Rose" by Margaret Campbell Barnes (1953, reissued 2009), in "The Dragon and the Rose" by Roberta Gellis (1977) and "The King's Daughter" by Sandra Worth, "Uneasy Lies the Head" ("To Hold the Crown : The Story of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York) by Jean Plaidy and "The King's Grace" by Anne Easter Smith.
- Elizabeth appears in Sharon Penman's first novel, The Sunne in Splendour, where she is portrayed as having loved her uncle, King Richard III, and had false hopes of becoming his wife.
- Elizabeth appears in Anne Powers's novel "Queen's Ransom", in three of four sections. This book tells the point of view of each queen during the Wars of the Roses, so Elizabeth appears in her mother's (Elizabeth Woodville) and her aunt's (Anne of Warwick) sections, as well as her own.
- Maclagan, Michael; Louda, Jiří (1999). Line of Succession: Heraldry of the Royal Families of Europe. London: Little, Brown & Co. p. 22. ISBN 1-85605-469-1.
- Her husband’s arms (the royal arms of England) are impaled with her own paternal arms: Femme: quarterly, first: Royal arms of England (Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence), second and third: Or, a cross gules (de Burgh), fourth (Mortimer).The House of York. These arms were also borne by her half-brother Arthur Plantagenet, 1st Viscount Lisle, KG, and emphasised the descent of the House of York from Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence on which relationship its claim to the throne was founded.
- Genealogical Tables in Morgan, (1988), p.709
- Barrie Williams, "The Portuguese Connection and the Significance of the 'Holy Princess'", The Ricardian, Vol. 6, No. 90, March 1983.
- Blackstone, W. (1765). Commentaries on the Laws of England. Oxford: Clarendon Press
- Arlene Okerlund: Elizabeth of York (2009), pp. 99-118, 185/6, 203/4; Williams (1977), p. 143.
- Arlene Okerlund: Elizabeth of York, (2009), pp. 203-211; Agnes Strickland, Elizabeth Strickland: Lives of the Queens of England (1852)
- Stanley, Arthur (1886). Westminster Abbey. London: John Murray. p. 499.
- thePeerage.com - Person Page 10142
- Morgan, Kenneth O., (1988), The Oxford History of Britain, Oxford University Press. (ISBN 0-19-285202-7)
- Okerlund, Arlene Naylor, (2009), Elizabeth of York', Palgrave Macmillan. (ISBN 978-0-230-61827-5)
- Williams, Neville, (1977), 'Henry VII', in Fraser, Antonia (ed), The Lives of the Kings and Queens of England, Futura. (ISBN 0-8600-7449-8)
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Elizabeth of York
Cadet branch of the House of PlantagenetBorn: 11 February 1466 Died: 11 February 1503
Title last held byAnne Neville
|Queen consort of England
Lady of Ireland
18 January 1486 – 11 February 1503
Title next held byCatherine of Aragon