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Elizabeth of York

Elizabeth of York (February 11, 1466 - February 11, 1503), queen consort of Henry VII of England 1486-1503, was born at Westminster, the eldest child of King Edward IV of England and his queen (who both had children from earlier relationships). Following her father's death and the accession to the throne of his brother Richard III of England, scurrilous rumours circulated that Richard intended to marry her as soon as his wife, the ailing Anne Neville, was dead. There is no surviving evidence for such a plan, although Sir George Buck later claimed to have uncovered a letter from Elizabeth (now lost) which showed she was party to it. It has been suggested that the rumours were started by Elizabeth's mother Elizabeth Woodville as part of her campaign to put her daughter on the throne; if Richard had been able to obtain a dispensation from the church to marry his niece, it would have prevented her marrying the chief threat to his throne, Henry Tudor.

Elizabeth Woodville arranged to marry her daughter to Tudor if he could overthrow King Richard, which he did at the Battle of Bosworth Field on August 22, 1485, becoming King Henry VII. But he was in no hurry to marry Elizabeth of York, although he had publicly taken a sacred oath to do so before he had left France to invade England. On October 30, Henry was crowned, but still delayed his wedding. Finally Parliament itself, on behalf of the people, petitioned him to carry out his promise, and on January 18, 1486, the marriage took place. It was not until November 25, 1487, more than a year after their first child, Arthur Tudor, was born on September 20, 1486, that Elizabeth was crowned queen.

It was a relatively successful marriage, all things considered. They had seven (or possibly eight, but only seven are shown in the commemorative picture painted in about 1509) children, but Elizabeth, Edmund, and Catherine died at or shortly after birth. The eldest son and heir to the throne, Arthur, Prince of Wales, died in 1502 (after marrying Catherine of Aragon a daughter of the king of Spain), and this seems to have been the motive for Elizabeth to become pregnant the last time, in order to strengthen the succession. Elizabeth died, on her 37th birthday, a few days after giving birth to her last child, a daughter, who also died. Her second son Henry followed his father as king, Margaret married the king of Scotland, and Mary married the king of France.