English queens dowager

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For British queens dowager since the Union of England and Scotland, see British queens dowager.
Elizabeth Woodville was queen dowager until her death in 1492.
Styles of
Queen mother
Reference style Her Majesty
Spoken style Your Majesty
Alternative style Ma'am

Queen mother is defined as "a queen dowager who is the mother of the reigning sovereign".[1][2] The term has been used in England since at least 1577[1] and Samuel Pepys refers to Charles II's mother Henrietta Maria as the "Queene Mother".[1] 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.[3]

It is not clear whether earlier English queen mothers were ever referred to by that term, or only as "dowager queen". Elizabeth Woodville was sometimes called "queen dowager".[4]

Definition[edit]

Further information: queen mother

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.

A queen mother retains the style of Her Majesty that she enjoyed as queen, but there is no further coronation ceremony to reflect her changed status.

List of queen mothers[edit]

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.

History[edit]

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.

11th century[edit]

12th century[edit]

13th century[edit]

14th century[edit]

  • 1327–1358 Isabella of France, wife of Edward II and mother of Edward III of England.
  • 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[edit]

There was one queen mother during the period of the House of Lancaster.

House of York[edit]

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.

Tudor dynasty[edit]

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[edit]

There was only one queen mother in this period.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "queen mother, n.". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.) "The widow of a king who is also the mother of the reigning monarch."
  2. ^ Webster's Third New International Dictionary.
  3. ^ "Variations in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer". The Society of Archbishop Justus Computer Service. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  4. ^ Chambers Biographical Dictionary

Further reading[edit]