Monday, 25 November 2013

The day the White Queen secured her legacy

On this day, in 1487, that most ambitious of medieval monarchs, Elizabeth Woodville secured her legacy.  Her eldest child, Elizabeth of York, was crowned queen consort of England.  And over 500 years later, it is Elizabeth Woodville who still grabs all the headlines.  Her daughter wasn't as pretty, as scheming or as determined as the first commoner queen.  And so while Elizabeth, Princess of York was the daughter, sister, wife and mother of kings of England, she remains eclipsed by her mother. 

Elizabeth of York, queen of England, is better known as the daughter and mother of monarchs than as a consort in her own right
Elizabeth of York had a better claim to the throne of England than the man who gave her a crown.  And that's perhaps why her husband, Henry Tudor, made her wait for a wedding ring and then for a coronation of her own.  Elizabeth's coronation, on November 25th 1487 at Westminster Abbey, came over two years after Henry had triumphed at the Battle of Bosworth.  The king himself had been crowned on October 30th 1485, again at Westminster, and made sure the crown was firmly on his own head before he wed his distant York cousin.  They had agreed to unite their two warring families as early as 1483 in a bid to end the Wars of the Roses but after Henry defeated Elizbeth's uncle, Richard III, he needed to secure his own claim to be king and the White Princess was left hanging around in regal uncertainty for a wedding.  And it was only after Elizabeth had given her husband a son and heir, Prince Arthur, that he gave her a coronation.
Henry VII, king of England, in later life.  He was the image of his mother and had the same tenacious spirit and determination to be recognized for his royal blood as Margaret Beaufort
Elizabeth of York is, in many ways, the forgotten woman of English history.  Her husband was determined to relegate her to a backstage role and she never enjoyed the high profile or high influence her mother had done at the court of Edward IV.  Perhaps it can be argued that the younger Elizabeth never wanted the same power, having seen what it did to her family during her father's lifetime and in the aftermath of his unexpected death in 1483.  Perhaps, had she lived longer, she would have flexed those royal muscles just a little bit more as her nursery of princes and princesses grew into kings and queen consorts in waiting.  Perhaps.  We will never know but we do know that on this day, in 1487, she was finally allowed the crown that was hers by right by a man determined to make his dynasty, the Tudors, the most powerful in the land.  Elizabeth helped him do that and then some.  And thanks to that, the White Queen got her legacy.

No comments:

Post a Comment