Elizabeth of York

Elizabeth was born on 11 February 1466 at the Palace of Westminster, the eldest child of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville.

She was born at an unstable time, during the ‘Wars of the Roses’, family fighting family.

At the age of three, Elizabeth was betrothed to George Neville, but this was called off a short time later, and at age nine a marriage was agreed between Elizabeth and the son of Louis XI of France, but Louis reneged on the promise.

Elizabeth’s father Edward IV died suddenly in 1483 and everything changed. Her younger brother Edward now came to the throne as Edward V, however due to his age, his uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester was appointed Lord Protector; Richard, though wanted the throne for himself.

Edward V was now moved to the Tower of London, and it was agreed for his brother to move there with him to keep him company.

Richard had Edward IV’s marriage declared invalid stating that Edward had already been betrothed to another. This now made his children ineligible for the throne.

Richard was now declared the rightful king on 6 July 1483. The young Edward V and his brother Richard ‘The Princes in the Tower’, disappeared shortly after in mysterious circumstances.

Elizabeth’s mother, Elizabeth Woodville made an alliance with Lancastrian Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor, who had a weak but legitimate claim for the throne. An agreement was made that Henry Tudor should move to take the throne from Richard, and once taken would marry Elizabeth of York, uniting the rival houses of York and Lancaster. In December 1483 Henry Tudor swore an oath promising to marry Elizabeth of York.

Richard III and Henry Tudor fought at the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22 August 1485 resulting in Richard’s death. Henry now became King Henry VII and was crowned on 30 October 1485.

Henry VII and Elizabeth married on 18 January 1486 at Westminster Abbey, their first child Arthur was born on 20 September 1486. Elizabeth was later crowned Queen Consort on 25 November 1487.

Elizabeth and Henry had married for political reasons, but seem to have had a successful marriage. Elizabeth gave birth to a further six children, but only four of her children survived infancy.

It was after the birth of her final child, a daughter Katherine, that Elizabeth suffered an infection and died in the Tower of London on 11 February 1503, her thirty seventh birthday. She is buried in Henry VII’s chapel at Westminster Abbey.

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