Queen of England

Born: 11 Feb 1466, Westminster Palace, London, England

Acceded: 18 Jan 1486, Westminster Abbey, London, England

Died: 11 Feb 1503, Tower of London, London, England

Buried: Henry 7 Chapel, Westminster Abbey, London, England

Father: EDWARD IV PLANTAGENET (King of England)

Mother: Elizabeth WOODVILLE (Queen of England)

Married: HENRY VII TUDOR (King of England) 18 Jan 1486, Westminster Abbey, London, England


1. Arthur TUDOR (P. of Wales)

2. Margaret TUDOR (Queen of Scotland)

3. HENRY VIII TUDOR (King of England)

4. Mary TUDOR (Queen of France/D. Suffolk)

5. Elizabeth TUDOR (b. 2 Jul 1492)

6. Edmund TUDOR (D. Somerset) (b. 21 Feb 1499)

7. Edward TUDOR

8. Catherine TUDOR (b. 2 Feb 1503)

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King Edward IV

Elizabeth of York was born at Westminster on 11 Feb 1465, and she died giving birth to a dau. on her birthday in 1503. She was the daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. Born into one of the houses caught in the struggle that would later so eloquently be called 'The Wars of the Roses', one would think that she had a difficult childhood. In fact, she was living a pleasantly secure life until the death of her father in 1483. When she was five years old she was to have married George Neville, eIdest son of John, Earl of Northumberland, later Marquis of Montagu, and Neville was created Duke of Bedford, but his father switched sides against the King, Bedford was deprived of all his titles and Elizabeth's bettrothal was cancelled. In 1475 Edward planned to marry her to Louis, the French Dauphin, but Edward soon discovered that Louis had no intention of keeping his obligations and therefore the engagement was broken off. Bernard André, the blind poet laureate and historian, hints that Edward offered Elizabeth to Henry of Richmond, but that Henry declined, suspecting that the offer was a trap to put him into the King's power.

Elizabeth Woodville

However, when Edward IV died, things took a decidedly bad turn. Elizabeth Woodville wanted her young son, now Edward V to go to London with a strong army, but her wishes were not honored. So, when he set out with just the usual attendants, it was easy for his uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester to intercept the caravan and take the young King to the palace lodgings in the Tower of London.

Elizabeth Woodville must have distrusted this move by Richard, since she took her remaining son Richard, the Duke of York, and her six daughters to Westminster Abbey. However, Elizabeth was convinced to let Richard join his brother at the Tower (on the premise that the young King was lonely) under the protection of Richard. It was at this time that the young princes (technically a King and a prince) disappeared, and the Lord Protector, brother of the late Edward IV became King Richard III.

Elizabeth's mother now made a plan, together with Margaret Beaufort, to marry their two children, Henry and Elizabeth. On Christmas Day, 1483, at the cathedral of Rennes in Brittany, where he was in exile, Henry Tudor swore to marry Elizabeth as soon as he had secured the throne.

Richard III, of course, was determined to stop such a scheme being put into operation. The Titulus Regius is simply the document in which Richard laid out his claim to the throne. Briefly, the case is this: that Richard's brother, Edward IV, had made a troth-plight with Lady Eleanor Butler, and then, while Lady Eleanor was still alive, had married Elizabeth Woodville, thus making hte children of the marriage illegitimate, thus invalidating their claim to the throne, thus making Richard the rightful King.

When Richard III's wife died in 1485 he proposed to marry Elizabeth himself. Luckily, his advisers persuaded him to drop this strange notion.

When Henry of Richmond landed at Milford Haven, Elizabeth was sent to safe keeping at Sheriff Hutton, near York, deep in the heart of Gloucester country. Henry's victory at Bosworth meant Elizabeth's release and her journey to London to meet the man she was to marry.

Henry delayed the wedding for a number of months, possibly because he wished to make it quite cIear that he was King of England in his own right and not because he was marrying the heiress of Edward IV, but probably also for simple practical reasons. Parlia ment was impatient of the delay and before Christmas 1485 the Commons urged him to honour his pledge. So, on 18 Jan 1486, having acquired the necessary papal dispensation, the marriage was solemnized. Thus the two royal houses - York and Lancaster - were finally united. Their marriage symbolically brought an end to the Wars of the Roses (although rebellions would spring up during Henry's reign) and was responsible for the creation of the Tudor Rose- the joining of the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster.

Elizabeth is one of the least important, though not the least attractive, of the Queens of England. Little is known about her. What evidence there is suggests that the relations between Henry VII and his Queen were happy. Of Elizabeth and Henry's seven children, four survived childhood: Arthur, Margaret, Henry and Mary. There is a pathetic account in Leland's Collectanea of how Henry VII broke the news of Prince Arthur's death to his wife and how Elizabeth 'with comfortable words' said to him that 'my Lady his mother had never had no more children but him only, and that God . . . had left him yet a fair prince, two fair princesses; and that God is where he was and we are both young enough'. She seems to nave been beautiful, gentle, kind, generous to her relations, her servants and benefactors. Her income never covered her expenses. She was fond of dancing, of music, dicing, hunting, she kept greyhounds, and she mar nave been fond of archery - at any cate she bought arrows and broadheads, perhaps for hunting. It is well known that Henry VII personally signed the account book of the Treasurer of his Chamber; what is less well known is that Elizabeth signed her own accounts toa. She is still commemorated as the model for the queen on our playing cards.

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The family of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York
All seven of their children are shown, including the three that died very young:
Edmund, Elizabeth and Catherine
Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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The Dynasty Portrait or The Whitehall Mural
The original by Hans Holbein was destroyed in the fire at Whitehall
This copy was made by Remigius van Leemput for Charles II in 1698
Left to right:
Henry VIII, Henry VII, Elizabeth of York and Jane Seymour
Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Elizabeth died in 1503 on her 37th birthday. When she died, the King was most upset; he 'privily departed to a solitary place, and then would no man should resort unto him' according to one account. He never married again, although he considered ir, largely because of the diplomatic power it gave him. Although Henry has had a reputation of thrift, for Elizabeth he opened the purse and gave her a splendid funeral. She laid in state at the Tower of London and was interred at Westminster Abbey.

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The funeral effigies of Henry and Elizabeth
in Westminster Abbey. Sculpted by Pietro Torrigiano
Dean and Chapter of Westminster

She and her husband lie together in the chapel he had built at the Abbey.

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