Did Elizabeth of York Love Henry Tudor? (Guest Article)

Did Elizabeth of York Love Henry Tudor?

Guest Article By: Samantha Wilcoxson

Historians and enthusiasts of the Tudor era have debated the thoughts and emotions of Elizabeth of York through the tumultuous events that placed her on the throne as the mother of the Tudor dynasty. This young woman had clearly learned her lessons as a princess well, keeping her thoughts private and her public face serene. She has left us few clues as to her inner thoughts when her father died, brothers disappeared, uncle usurped the throne, and mother betrothed her to Henry Tudor. Each of these events has been rich historical novel material, including for my own Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen.

If you have read it, you know that I promote a vision of Elizabeth who is a strong, yet quiet, force behind her husband’s throne. Her devout faith led her to see her marriage as God’s will, and she therefore devoted herself to him and a peaceful future for their kingdom. Reviewers have stated happy surprise that Henry Tudor and his marriage to the beautiful Elizabeth is favorably portrayed.

I believe that the objective of the historical novelist is to bring events and people to life as accurately as possible, so when I made the decision to demonstrate love between this royal couple it is because I believe it truly existed. While some decisions in my storytelling are made for their dramatic impact where the truth is not known, this one is backed up by research that reveals a strong bond between Henry and Elizabeth.

When Elizabeth met Henry Tudor, it was shortly after his defeat of her uncle, Richard III, on a field near Bosworth. Elizabeth’s feelings toward Richard are much more mysterious than those for Henry. Did she plot against him to aid Henry? Was she in love with Richard and devastated by his death? Maybe she had simply become resolved to accept his rule and make the best of it. Though it is the source of many debates and novels, I do not believe we can say with certainty how she felt toward Richard. Whatever she felt, there is no evidence of an inappropriate relationship between them.

Henry had pledged himself to Elizabeth in the cathedral at Rennes on Christmas day 1483. He made good on that promise on January 18, 1486. The ceremony was designed to convince those watching of Henry’s magnificence, and draw the kingdom together beneath the rule of the couple that united the York and Lancaster factions – what was left of them, anyway. The hope of peace that they shared was one of the key elements creating a bond between Henry and Elizabeth.

Elizabeth bore Henry seven children over the following seventeen years. Only three of them outlived both parents: the infamous Henry VIII and his sisters, Margaret and Mary. Margaret put her mark upon the intertwining family trees of European royalty with her marriage to James of Scotland. Mary briefly enjoyed the title Queen of France before she scandalously married Charles Brandon. However, these were events that Elizabeth would never see.

While children are not necessarily proof of a happy marriage, they are a piece of evidence. The way Henry and Elizabeth clung to each other when their children died is a further piece of evidence. The death of their heir, Arthur, in 1502 is particularly documented, as is his parents’ reaction. Both were crushed by the news, and they sought comfort in each other’s arms. Shortly after this, they conceived the child that would be their last, whose birth led to Elizabeth’s death.

We know that Henry and Elizabeth called upon God for comfort and grace when grieving for their children. Faith was an important element of their marriage, and one can only guess what their reaction would have been to their son’s Dissolution of the Monasteries. Henry prayed Psalm 43 when he landed in Wales to begin his conquest. “Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause.” Their devotion to each other is further evinced by the lack of royal mistresses and favorites.

Henry and Elizabeth spent a significant amount of time together for a busy royal couple. Even through uprisings that Henry had to deal with, he was never far from his wife. In an age when it would have been simple to avoid each other were that their desire, these two stayed together through thick and thin. They gave each other gifts and celebrated Christmases together with their children.

If you are still struggling to see the romantic side of Henry VII, consider his final tribute of love to his bride. When Elizabeth died after a complicated childbirth on her 37th birthday, Henry publicly demonstrated his love and grief in an elaborate and expensive funeral. Those who called him a penny pincher would not do so on this occasion. He further honored her by not remarrying, despite his status as a father of a new dynasty with only one son. Elizabeth’s tomb, which is shared with her husband who died six years later, is elaborately crafted in bronze with an inscription referring to her as “his sweet wife was very pretty, chaste and fruitful.”










About the Author:

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Samantha Wilcoxson is the author of the Plantagenet Embers Trilogy. An incurable bibliophile and sufferer of wanderlust, she lives in Michigan with her husband and three teenagers. She lives in Michigan with her husband and three children. You can connect with Samantha at SamanthaWilcoxson.BlogSpot.com or on Twitter @Carpe_Librum.

Purchase her newest book, Queen of Martyrs: The Story of Mary I (Plantagenet Embers Book 3) on Amazon.com

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Mary, Queen of Scots (Guest Article)

Mary, Queen of Scots  
by Susan Abernethy
The Freelance History Writer

Many know the story of Mary, Queen of Scots. While telling the story of Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland I was struck by the similarities between her and her granddaughter, Mary. They both had three husbands and had a child named James who became King of Scotland when they were just babies. Both women allowed their private lives to influence their public life contributing to a loss of political credibility. It’s time to revisit all the incredible and memorable adventures of Mary, Queen of Scots.

There are a few things to keep in mind when recounting the story of Mary. The first is Mary started at a young age to consider herself the Queen of England and even had the symbol of England quartered on her coat of arms. Queen Elizabeth I would never forgive her for this affront. Mary felt Henry VIII had made a mistake in naming the heirs of his sister Mary Tudor ahead of those of her grandmother. Elizabeth I of England didn’t want to name her successor until she was on her deathbed. These things drive the story of these two Queens.

Mary was born at Linlithgow on December 8, 1542, the daughter of King James V of Scotland and Marie of Guise. Her father had been ailing for some time, possibly of a complete physical and mental breakdown and finally died six days after Mary was born. Mary was crowned Queen on September 9, 1543 at Stirling Castle. Mary’s great uncle, King Henry VIII of England made it clear he wanted her to marry his young son Edward and come to England to be brought up. The Scots wouldn’t let her out of the country but did sign the Treaty of Greenwich confirming the marriage.

After Edward became King of England, his uncle Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset was his Protector and ran his government. His regime was to harass the Scots unmercifully with the object of capturing the Queen. The government of Scotland decided the young Queen must be spirited out of the country and negotiated a treaty for her to marry the Dauphin of France breaking the Treaty of Greenwich. She left Scotland for France where she grew up with the French royal children in the Catholic Faith. She and the Dauphin Francis were married in April of 1558. Henry II, King of France died from a grisly jousting accident and Francis and Mary became King and Queen of France on July 10, 1559.

Francis suffered acutely from an abscess in his inner ear and he was to die on December 5, 1560. Mary had been Queen of France for less than two years. It was decided her best option was to return to Scotland and take over her government. Before leaving she asked permission from Elizabeth to have safe passage through England if she was blown off course. Elizabeth was to refuse permission. In response, Mary was to say that if Elizabeth would have in her hands to do her will of her and if she was so hard hearted as to desire her end, she might then do her pleasure and make sacrifice of her. “In this matter, God’s will be done”. Little did she know she was predicting her own denouement.

Without going to England, Mary made it to Scotland where she arrived in August of 1561. At first the teenaged Mary made a good impression. She had learned statecraft at the side of her uncles, Henry, Duke of Guise and Charles Guise, Cardinal of Lorraine while in France. She was capable of acting with poise and discretion and could also turn on considerable, almost siren like charm. When needed, she could act bravely in the face of adversity. She needed all this and more to deal with the many factions among the Scottish Lairds. A momentous meeting was being negotiated with Elizabeth in the summer of 1562 but somehow it just never materialized. However, Elizabeth was adamant she was the one to negotiate a new marriage for the Queen of Scots.

Mary had considered marrying a Catholic but there were few choices. She rejected Archduke Charles Hapsburg. Don Carlos, the son of King Phillip of Spain, was misshapen and mentally deranged. Elizabeth put forth as her candidate, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, her own dearest, most esteemed beloved. This was an insult to the Scottish Queen. No one really knows why Elizabeth did this but it did serve to make Henry, Lord Darnley more attractive when he showed up on the scene. Darnley was Mary’s cousin, the son of Lady Margaret Douglas, who was the daughter of Margaret Tudor by her second husband, the Earl of Angus. Darnley was tall and lanky and extremely good looking, making a huge impression on Mary right away. It is believed Elizabeth knew he was difficult and a drinker and sent him to Mary, knowing she would fall for him.

Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley

Mary and Darnley began spending much time together and she fell in love. They were married in July 1565. Even before the marriage things had turned sour. Darnley was a drunk. He insisted on being King and Mary gave in. Mary made the best of the union in hopes of having a child. The worse Darnley’s behavior, the more Mary came to rely on her secretary, the Italian David Riccio for help in governing and for companionship. There was probably nothing untoward about the relationship but Darnley and other lairds were resentful of Riccio’s influence on Mary.

On March 9, 1566 the Queen who was six months pregnant was with a few friends and Riccio in her cabinet at Holyrood Palace when the King and some lairds burst into the room. They dragged off Riccio and stabbed him to death within earshot of the Queen while, Mary insisted, a gun was held to her belly. Mary’s response was courageous and resolute. She took Darnley aside and convinced him the lairds would come after them as soon as their child was born and a few days later they escaped to Dunbar Castle.

A week later, at the head of a small army led by James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, Mary returned to Edinburgh and was back in charge. Mary’s son James was born in Edinburgh Castle on June 19, 1566. By the fall of 1566, Bothwell had control of the Queen and almost all the lairds were united in their desire to get rid of Darnley. A conspiracy was born. On February 10, 1567, a huge explosion of gunpowder erupted at Kirk o’Field in Edinburgh where Darnley was recovering from an attack of syphilis. His body was discovered in the garden so he didn’t die in the explosion. While we will never know the truth of what happened, the circumstantial evidence is very strong against Mary and Bothwell.

On April 12, Bothwell was acquitted of Darnley’s murder. On April 21, Mary went to Stirling to visit her son and four days later was riding back to Edinburgh when Bothwell and four hundred horsemen “kidnapped” Mary and took her to Dunbar where he supposedly “raped” her. On the 15th of May, at Holyrood, Mary was married to Bothwell, a divorced man, in accordance with the Protestant rite. Mary’s bad judgment was the consternation of all Christendom. There was so much feuding, conflict and tension by now that Mary may have felt the only one who could help her was Bothwell, recently named the Duke of Orkney. The lairds banded together to seek revenge for the King’s murder and to separate Mary from Bothwell.

Mary and Bothwell moved to Borthwick Castle to try to raise an army. They were unable to get much support. After a confrontation with the lairds on June 15 at Carberry Hill, Mary surrendered and Bothwell escaped. Mary was taken back to Edinburgh where the crowd yelled at her “Burn the whore!”, “Kill her!”, “Drown her!”, “She is not worthy to live!”. The next day Mary was taken to prison at Lochleven and forced to abdicate in favor of her son James who was crowned King on July 29th at Stirling. Mary had a miscarriage of twins, supposedly Bothwell’s children. Bothwell escaped to Norway and then Denmark where he lived out the rest of his life, mostly in prison.

On Sunday, May 2, 1567, Mary escaped Lochleven. She raised some supporters but was unsuccessful in making any headway at the Battle of Langside on May 13th and she slipped away and crossed the border into England on May 16th. Historians are not sure why she chose to go to England. The fight was not really over and she could have gone to France where she had many supporters. Once again her bad judgment had overtaken her.

From 1568 to 1587, Mary was to be held prisoner by Elizabeth under the watchful eye of George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, moving from castle to castle. Mary insisted on a face to face meeting with Elizabeth for the rest of her life and Elizabeth always refused. Her name was brought up many times by Catholics in England and abroad in plots to bring down Elizabeth, put her on the throne of England and to restore Catholicism. Elizabeth’s Principal Secretary of State, Sir Francis Walsinghamcultivated a network of spies to intercept Mary’s letters and finally caught her plotting to kill Elizabeth. She was put on trial and found guilty on October 25, 1586. After much hand wringing and agonizing deliberation by Elizabeth, she finally signed Mary’s death warrant on February 1, 1587. Elizabeth was having second thoughts. Her privy council met two days later and decided to carry out the warrant without telling the Queen.

On February 8, 1587, Mary was executed at Fotheringay Castle. She was willing to die as a martyr to her Catholic faith. It took three whacks of the axe to sever her head from her neck. The executioner picked up the head and the skull fell to the floor, leaving a wig in his hand. As her executioners were disrobing the corpse, Mary’s Skye terrier was found hidden in the folds of her skirt. Mary was eventually buried at Peterborough Cathedral near Catherine of Aragon’s grave. Shortly before Elizabeth I was to die in 1603, literally on her deathbed, she named Mary’s son James as her successor. James arranged to have his mother re- buried in Westminster Abbey.

Some historians have examined the evidence of Mary’s medical history. She exhibited some of the symptoms of “the Royal disease”, porphyria, which is the same disease that afflicted George III of England. This is a metabolic hormonal disorder that causes many physical as well as mental disturbances and could explain why Mary exhibited colossal misjudgment. Also, in July of 1588, King Phillip II of Spain sent the Spanish Armada to England, in part to avenge the death of the Catholic Queen Mary. The Spanish suffered a spectacular loss.

Further reading: “The True Life of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots” by John Guy, “Mary, Queen of Scots” by Lady Antonia Fraser, “Two Queens in One Isle” by Alison Plowden

About the Author:

purple-susan“Susan Abernethy here. It seems I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love history. At the age of fourteen, I watched “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” on TV and was enthralled. Truth seemed much more strange than fiction. I started reading about Henry VIII and then branched out into many types of history. This even led me to study history in college. Even though I never did anything with the history degree, it’s always been a hobby of mine. I started this blog to write about my thoughts on all kinds of history from Ancient times to mid-20th Century.”

READ MORE ARTICLES BY SUSAN AT: TheFreelanceHistoryWriter.com



The Last Days of Mary, Queen of Scots

649px-MaryQueenofScotsMourningI believe a lot of us are fascinated by Mary, Queen of Scots because her life, and death, seemed so tragic. Those of you in the UK have most likely already seen this….but, you should really watch it again. 😉

Mary’s choice in men was horrendous, with the exception of Francis ll. I guess you could say his early demise set off a chain reaction that would ultimately cost her her head. It’s all so sad…it’s like watching a train wreck. You want it to turn out ok. You want everyone to survive.  Too many died during Mary’s quest for happiness and power.