The life and death of Elizabeth of York…

ca. 1825 — This illustration was published in . — Image by © Stapleton Collection/Corbis

Here is a ‘potted’ history of this enigmatic lady. I say enigmatic because she and Henry VII were thought to have married and then fallen in love, but no one really knows. He was certainly devastated when she died in childbirth, but was it the devastation of heartbreak? We will never find out, I suspect, although it does seem likely that it was. Would she have been devastated if he had been the one to die? We’ll never know that either.

If love it was, she did not once express an opinion about the past…especially of her uncle, Richard III. I write this without recourse to the letter that Buck claimed to have seen, because that is yet another thing that will most likely never be proved. And the letter could be read in more than one way. Even so, the story has arisen that she was in love with Richard. If she was, it might indeed explain why she held her tongue about him.

There was nothing Henry would have appreciated more than for her to condemn Richard and his actions. But she didn’t. Nor did her siblings, or even her mother. That I know of, anyway. So, why didn’t she make her feelings known? Especially if she and Henry had fallen in love? We will never know, but I have always found it a curious point. Perhaps Buck’s letter should be taken at face value after all…?

Anyway, here is a link to the article that made me think again about the enigma of Elizabeth of York


  1. Maybe Henry was devastated out of a sense of shock: “This wasn’t supposed to happen. Why did it happen?”
    On the other hand, Henry did like to have beautiful things and beautiful people around him, so he may have valued Elizabeth as arm candy. And he seems to have had respect for her abilities, ordering his new palace of Richmond to be built and landscaped according to her plan. We will just never know for sure.
    Come to think of it, maybe Richard felt somewhat the same way. Elizabeth was pleasant to look at – and restful – and she had a strong resemblance to her father. Cover her chin, which is round and feminine, and you can see it clearly.
    We haven’t the least clue as to what she thought or felt. Did she have a ‘crush’ on Richard. or was it something more serious and mature – or was she simply indifferent?
    It’s unlikely she was indifferent to Henry – it’s hard to maintain that over a period of 16 years – but did she ‘fall in love’ with him? Or gradually come to love him? (It could happen in arranged marriages.) Did she just tolerate him? Did she learn to manipulate him, or vice versa?
    All things we will never know – which makes the novelist’s task so much easier!

    Liked by 1 person

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