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Elizabeth of York
(1502-1536)

Born: 11th February 1466 at Westminster Palace, Westminster, Middlesex
Queen of England
Died: 11th February 1503 at the Tower of London, London

Elizabeth of York, Queen of Henry VII, the eldest child of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, was born at Westminster. The first marriage that was arranged for her was with George Neville, but, when the Neville family deserted Edward's cause, this was broken off and, in 1475, she was solemnly promised to the Dauphin of France. The thought of this splendid alliance was no doubt one of the reasons which induced Edward to conclude the somewhat shabby peace of Picquigny; and, when it became obvious that the French King had no intention of allowing it to be carried out, pure displeasure is said to have hastened his death.

At this time (April 1483), the Princess was with her mother, her younger brother and sisters in the Sanctuary at Westminster; and she remained there till March 1484. King Richard III, who had probably murdered her brothers, Edward V and Richard of York, and usurped the throne, then induced the ladies to trust themselves to him. He is even said to have suggested that, when his own Queen died, he would marry Elizabeth. But the obvious marriage for her was that with the exiled heir of the House of Lancaster, Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, and all peace-lovers, especially Bishop Morton of Ely, were constantly scheming for that end. There is some evidence that the Princess herself, who was in Yorkshire at the date of Henry's landing, was working secretly in his favour. It might almost be said to be a part of Henry's 'contract with the English people' that he should marry Elizabeth and so unite the rival Houses of York and Lancaster; but he was particularly anxious not to appear to owe his crown to his wife and, therefore, did not marry her until January 1486. From that time they remained a devoted and loving couple until Elizabeth's death.

Elizabeth bore to Henry seven children, four of whom lived to adulthood. She died at the Tower, in 1503, and was buried in 'Henry VIl's Chapel' in Westminster Abbey.

Edited from Emery Walker's "Historical Portraits" (1909).

 

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