Elizabeth of York

Her Early Life

Imagine being born the daughter of the king. One would think it would be so exciting, even back in the 1400's, to be the daughter of the ruler. But for Elizabeth of York, all the fun of being a royal was squelched at a pretty young age. Elizabeth was about sixteen years old when her father, King Edward IV, died and her little (?) brother was named king. (Plowden 10) The thirteen year old Prince of Wales never got the chance to rule. He and his younger brother, the Duke of York, were seized by their uncle Richard and thrown into the Tower of London, never to be seen again. Richard declared Edward IV's marriage to Elizabeth's mother invalid, and therefore the children from the marriage illegitimate. Richard had himself crowned as ruler of all England just months after his brother's death. (Plowden 10)
For Elizabeth and her mother, it was a difficult time. The marriage of Elizabeth's parents was a rarity for the times, because they had married for love, not for political gain. But this marriage caused a lot of grumblings in the England, because Elizabeth's mother (who was also named Elizabeth) was considered too low socially to marry so high. After her father's death, her mother's dower rights were taken away from her, and she and her children were forced to live in poverty at Westminster for two long years.

A Royal Wedding

Everything changed for Elizabeth of York when she married Henry Tudor in January of 1486. She was not quite twenty, an unusually advanced age for a princess to still be unmarried by that day's standards. The marriage of Elizabeth and Henry was planned in order to bring more legitiamacy to Henry's claim to the throne, although by all measures Elizabeth's claim was -- as the eldest surviving heir of Edward IV -- much stonger than her husbands. (Plowden 15) While there was nothing in English law to keep a woman from ruling England, the instabilty of the monarchy at that time probably wouldn't have been able to handle a woman as it's ruler. It was a hard time for any ruler to maintain the throne -- think of the poor Prince of Wales -- and the thought of a woman ruling was ridiculous to the people of the time. (Plowden 15)

Life and Death of A Queen

In September 1486, Elizabeth and Henry's first child was born. Named Arthur, his birth was celebrated throughout England. (Plowden 17) In November 1501, Arthur was married to the Spanish Princess Catherine. He died just six months later (Plowden 23). Elizabeth herself died in February of 1503 shortly after the birth of her eighth child, a girl named Katherine, who died just days after her mother. (Plowden 24)

Links

King and Queens of England, Scotland and Wales.
There's not a lot of info on Elizabeth of York on the Internet, but this is a good place to start.

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