Henry Tudor and Richard’s eldest niece….

model of London Bridge

Last night on the Yesterday channel, I again watched the TV documentary Henry VII: Winter King, present by Thomas Penn.  It’s still good, although, dealing as it does with Henry’s character, it necessarily skirted around some of the other folk.

For instance, I was again left with the impression that Penn believes Elizabeth of York planned all along for a marriage to Henry Tudor. This I cannot imagine. She was Edward IV’s eldest daughter, a princess who had hopes of a grand foreign match under Richard. Would she really settle for a lowish Lancastrian chap of Beaufort stock, who was no longer even Earl of Richmond, and who had a price on his rather unlovely head to boot?

Thinking woman-to-woman here, for her to do that she would surely need to have at least clapped eyes on him and fallen passionately in love. But, unless he came over secretly for a tryst right under Richard’s nose, I cannot see how they could ever have met until after Bosworth. So we’re left with her choosing to throw in her lot with Henry at a complete distance, and without any real incentive. Let’s face it, he was not a likely prospect.

And if they did fall in love, it was surely a gradual thing, not a wild matter of the heart and hormones that made her wildly enthusiastic about leaping into his arms and bed from the moment the match was whispered.

I don’t doubt that others have different views about Elizabeth’s reasons for marrying Henry, and will be interested in hearing them.

I will add that she wasn’t forced to marry him. she could have said no, and there was not much he or anyone else could have done about it, except bundle her off to a nunnery and throw away the key. Or marry her to a stable boy for spite.

Plus, by giving Elizabeth into Margaret Beaufort’s charge before the marriage, he was (technically) guilty of abduction – yet another excuse for her to wriggle out of the match if she wanted to. But she didn’t. She went through with it. Why? Might she simply have been ambitious to be Queen of England – which she could never be while Richard was on the throne?


  1. I think she was up against a very wily mother and an even wilier and conniving mother in law! I think she stood no chance once they had made their minds up.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You could see it as saving what she could for her family from the shipwreck. I doubt she had many romantic illusions, given her background and upbringing.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I agree with sighthound6. Having been raised as the eldest princess of the family, it must have been a huge shock to be branded illegitimate and watch her glorious destiny being stripped away. I don’t think it was a question of naked ‘ambition’ as much as re-establishing her status and that of her younger sisters and mother. She would have been raised in the expectation of a great marriage and the possibility of ruling a great nation like France or Portugal in the future. She could have been Dauphine after all. Personally I feel that marrying Henry Tudor must have been a bit of a come-down for her but she would have been prepared for a dynastic match so ‘feelings’ were of secondary importance.

    Liked by 1 person

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