English queens dowager
|Reference style||Her Majesty|
|Spoken style||Your Majesty|
Queen mother is defined as "a queen dowager who is the mother of the reigning sovereign". The term has been used in England since at least 1577 and Samuel Pepys refers to Charles II's mother Henrietta Maria as the "Queene Mother". Further, she was described as the Queen Mother in early editions of the Book of Common Prayer and subsequent queen mothers were also so described in later editions.
A queen mother is therefore a person satisfying the following criteria:
- She is the mother of the current monarch.
- She has been queen consort.
- The monarch, if a male, is married; if he is not, his mother retains her title of queen. (This is analogous to the mother of a peer, who is called a dowager if the peer is married but not otherwise.)
Contrary to myth, queen mother does not mean mother of the Queen and applies irrespective of whether the monarch is male or female.
List of queen mothers
Following is a list of women who, on the above definition, were entitled to be known as queen mother at some point in their lives.
Following is a list of wives and mothers of English and British monarchs, with an explanation of why each was or was not a queen mother.
- 1035–1052 Emma of Normandy was the wife of Ethelred the Unready and Canute the Great, and thus queen mother 1040–1042 during the reign of Harthacanute, her son by Canute, and 1042–1052, during the reign of Edward the Confessor, her son by Ethelred.
- Herleva was mother of William I of England but was never a queen. She died c. 1050. William did not become King until 1066.
- Matilda of Flanders was wife of William I and mother to both William II of England and Henry I of England, but predeceased her husband in 1083.
- Edith of Scotland was the first queen consort of Henry I and mother of Empress Matilda. But predeceased her husband in 1118.
- Adeliza of Louvain was the second queen consort of Henry I but never had children from this marriage. She survived her husband and died in 1151.
- Adela of Normandy, daughter to William I and mother of Stephen of England. She is known to have survived enough to see her son become King, being presumed to have died in 1137; however, she was never the widow of a king of England.
- Matilda of Boulogne was queen consort of Stephen of England but her children never succeeded to the throne. She predeceased her husband in 1152.
- Empress Matilda, mother of Henry II of England. Although the mother of the King, she was never the widow of a king of England.
- Margaret of France was consort to co-ruler Henry the Young King but their only son predeceased them. She survived her husband and died in 1197.
- Berengaria of Navarre was queen consort of Richard I but never had children. She survived her husband and died in 1230.
- Eleanor of Castile was the first queen consort of Edward I and mother of Edward II of England, but predeceased her husband in 1290.
- Margaret of France was the second queen consort of Edward I and stepmother of Edward II. She survived her husband and died in 1317. Her sons Thomas of Brotherton, 1st Earl of Norfolk and Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent were younger half-brothers to a king but never kings themselves.
- Philippa of Hainault was the queen consort of Edward III and mother of thirteen children but predeceased her husband in 1369. None of her children rose to the throne but through them Philippa is an ancestor of all English monarchs since 1377.
- Anne of Bohemia was the first queen consort of Richard II of England but was childless. She predeceased her husband in 1394.
- Isabella of Valois was the second queen consort of Richard II but there were no children from this marriage. She survived her husband and died in 1410.
House of Lancaster
There was one queen mother during the period of the House of Lancaster.
- Blanche of Lancaster, daughter of Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster, first wife of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster and mother of Henry IV of England died long before her son ascended the throne and was never queen.
- Mary de Bohun was first wife of Henry IV and mother of Henry V of England but died before her husband Henry IV succeeded, so she was never queen.
- Joanna of Navarre was second wife of Henry IV. She outlived her husband, dying in 1437, but they had no children by their marriage.
- Catherine of Valois, wife of Henry V and mother of Henry VI of England was queen mother from his accession in 1422 until her death in 1437.
- Margaret of Anjou was queen consort of Henry VI but their only son Edward of Westminster predeceased his parents in 1471. She survived her husband and died in 1482.
House of York
There was one queen mother (for just two months) during the period of the House of York.
- Cecily Neville was mother of both Edward IV of England and Richard III of England but was never queen.
- Lady Eleanor Talbot was said to have secretly married Edward IV c. 1461. This marriage was never publicly announced and Eleanor died childless in 1468, without becoming either queen consort or queen mother. Edward IV married Elizabeth Woodville in 1464, while Eleanor was still alive. Consequently all children of Edward and Elizabeth were declared illegitimate in 1483.
- Elizabeth Woodville was wife to Edward IV and mother to Edward V of England who was king only during April to June 1483. She was queen mother during this time. She was dowager queen mother until her death in 1492. Her daughter Elizabeth of York married Henry VII of England in 1485.
- Anne Neville was queen consort of Richard III but their only son Edward of Middleham, Prince of Wales predeceased his parents in 1484. Anne died in 1485 and Richard followed her in death months later.
There were no queen mothers during the Tudor period.
- Margaret Beaufort was alive throughout the reign of her son Henry VII of England and actually outlived him by two months. But she was never queen consort and hence could not be queen mother. She was instead styled My Lady The King's Mother.
- Elizabeth of York was mother to Henry VIII of England but died in 1503. Henry did not become king until 1509.
- Catherine of Aragon was first wife to Henry VIII and mother to Mary I of England but died in 1536. Mary did not become queen regnant until 1553.
- Anne Boleyn was second wife to Henry VIII and mother to Elizabeth I of England but died in 1536. Elizabeth did not become queen regnant until 1558.
- Jane Seymour was third wife to Henry VIII and mother to Edward VI of England but died in 1537. Edward did not become King until 1547.
- Anne of Cleves was fourth wife to Henry VIII but their marriage was never consummated. She was stepmother to Mary I, Elizabeth I and Edward VI but not their natural mother. She died in 1557, having outlived both Henry and Edward.
- Catherine Howard was fifth wife to Henry VIII and stepmother to Mary I, Elizabeth I and Edward VI. But she was not their natural mother. She died in 1542 before any of her stepchildren rose to the throne.
- Catherine Parr was sixth wife to Henry VIII and stepmother to Mary I, Elizabeth I and Edward VI. But she was not their natural mother. As a widow, Catherine ceased being considered a Queen after remarrying to Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley in 1547. She died in 1548.
- Lady Frances Brandon was mother to Lady Jane Grey and alive during her short and questionable reign (6 July/10 July–19 July 1553), but she was never queen. She outlived her daughter and died in 1559.
House of Stuart
There was only one queen mother in this period.
- Mary, Queen of Scots, was mother to James I of England. She claimed the throne of England from 1558 to her death in 1587, but she was never queen regnant of England and James did not become king until 1603.
- Anne of Denmark was mother to Charles I of England but died in 1619. Charles did not become king until 1625.
- Henrietta Maria of France was mother to Charles II of England and became queen mother when Charles became king. Some would argue that this was in 1649, when Charles I was executed; most would say that it was in 1660, at the English Restoration. She died in 1669, before the accession of her younger son James II of England, so there was no queen mother in that reign.
- Catherine of Braganza was queen consort of Charles II but was childless. She survived her husband and died in 1705.
- Anne Hyde was first wife of James II and mother to both Mary II of England and Anne, Queen of Great Britain, but died in 1671. James did not become king until 1685.
- Mary of Modena was the second wife and queen consort of James II. Her son James Francis Edward Stuart never acceeded to the throne but was the Jacobite Pretender since 1701. She died in 1718 while her son still claimed the throne.
- Mary, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange was daughter of Charles I and mother of William III of England. But she was never queen of England and died in 1660. William did not become king until 1689.
- Oxford English Dictionary
- Webster's Third New International Dictionary.
- Chambers Biographical Dictionary