Elizabeth of York was the daughter and eldest child of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. It was the fate of aristocratic daughters to be used to make dynastic alliances to gain the economic, political and/or military support of their husband’s country and/or family. Various matches were proposed for Elizabeth. She was first betrothed to George Duke of Bedford, the nephew of Warwick the Kingmaker, to link with the powerful Neville family. Later to the French Dauphin, son of Louis XI, to cement the treaty of Picquigny but the French King had no intention of allowing this to proceed. It is suggested, that subsequent to his disappointment, her father offered Elizabeth’s hand to the young Earl of Richmond, afterwards Henry VII, but that the Earl suspected it was merely a bait to induce him to place himself in the King’s power.
In 1483, when Elizabeth of York’s father Edward IV died, her brother, now King Edward V, was still a child of 12 years of age. Their uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester became Lord Protector and securely installed the young king in the palace lodgings in the Tower of London. Her mother, Elizabeth Woodville, distrusting this move by the Lord Protector, took her remaining son Richard Duke of York and her five surviving daughters to Westminster Abbey. However, the Queen dowager Elizabeth was convinced by the eloquence of Cardinal Bourchier, to let the nine year old Richard Duke of York join his brother at the Tower, believing that the young king was lonely. It was at this time that the princes in the tower “disappeared”, and the Lord Protector, brother of the late Edward IV became King Richard III.
Richard III’s queen Anne Neville was very ill and in 1484 his only child, Edward Prince of Wales, died. Elizabeth of York was considered a possible wife, no doubt to secure the succession for their son(s) to be. However, negotiations were again in place for her marriage to Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond. The proposed marriage was communicated to the the mother of Henry Tudor, the Countess dowager of Richmond, by Sir Reginald Bray. She approved of the design, and sent her physician, Dr. Lewis, to Westminster, to discuss the subject with the former queen, Elizabeth Woodville. Elizabeth Woodville promised that if Henry would solemnly pledge to marry her daughter, she and her friends would support the attempt in his favor. Elizabeth is credited for obtaining the support of Lord Stanley for the cause of Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond.
After Richard III was defeated by Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, at the Battle of Bosworth Field in August 1485 Henry VII and Elizabeth of York were married five months later, in 1486. Their marriage brought an end to the “Wars of the Roses” and as a symbol of this the Tudor Rose was created – the joining of the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster.
Of Elizabeth and Henry VII’s seven children, four survived childhood: Arthur, Margaret, Henry and Mary . Their marriage appears to have been a happy one, something that was possibly unusual in the days of dynastic arranged marriages.
The Queen was delivered of her first child, Arthur Prince of Wales, at Winchester on the 20th of September, 1486 and on the Sunday following was baptized in Winchester Cathedral. Her coronation was held on 23th Nov 1487
Elizabeth died in 1503 on her 37th birthday shortly after the birth of another child. This was one of the consequences that faced aristocratic women in those days. Her eldest son, Arthur Prince of Wales had recently died leaving only one son, Henry VIII, to continue the dynasty. In order to strengthen the succession, to ensure peace and avoid a return to the days of the “Wars of the Roses” they needed to have further sons. Noboby thought at this time that the succession of a woman to the throne would be acceptable.
Although Henry VII had a reputation of thrift he gave her a magnificent funeral. She laid in state at the Tower of London and was interred at Westminster Abbey. She and her husband lie together in the chapel he had built at the Abbey.
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Link will appear as Hanson, Marilee. "Elizabeth of York" https://englishhistory.net/tudor/monarchs/elizabeth-of-york/, January 13, 2022