Although Henry Tudor’s victory over Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in October 1483 won him the Kingdom of England by right of conquest there were plenty of English nobles and Yorkist claimants to the throne who remained discontented by what they saw as his weak Lancastrian right to kingship. Henry Tudor needed a plan that would unite the Houses of Lancaster and York in a way that would secure his authority.
The strategy hatched by Henry Tudor, his mother Margaret Stanley (nee Beaufort) and the Queen Dowager, Elizabeth Woodville unified the Houses of Lancaster and York after over 30 years of periodic and bloody civil war known as the War of the Roses.
That solution was for Henry Tudor to marry King Edward IV’s eldest daughter Elizabeth of York. It was a marriage that gave England much needed respite from years of destructive war. It also brought both Elizabeth and in particular Henry the domestic security and stability which their respective childhood’s had lacked to varying degrees.
Henry Tudor was the only child of Edmund Tudor and Margaret Beaufort. His maternal great Grandfather was John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster and this lineage gave Henry Tudor a claim, all be it a tenuous one to sit on the throne of England. However, being a Lancastrian claimant to the throne of England during a Yorkist monarch’s reign was not a safe position and so for his protection Henry’s mother, with help from his Uncle, Jasper Tudor sent the young Henry into the exile in France.
Princess Elizabeth of York on the other hand, had a much stronger and well supported right to the crown of England. Born in 1466, she was the first child of King Edward IV. However Elizabeth’s childhood ideal was not to last. When she was 4 years old her father fled the country leaving his pregnant wife and 3 young daughters at the Tower of London. Still not convinced of her family’s safety within the Tower, Queen Elizabeth Woodville left in the dead of night on 1 October 1470 to claim sanctuary at Westminster Abbey. Edward IV managed to re-establish his sovereignty at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471 by which time his son and heir Prince Edward was born.
After her father’s sudden and unexpected death in 1483 and the proclamation of Edward V as his father’s successor, Edward IV’s younger brother Richard of Gloucester claimed the throne for himself on the grounds that his brother’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was invalid and therefore none Edward IV’s children could inherit the throne due to their illegitimacy.
Although Richard III was crowned King of England in July 1483 his period as Sovereign was tainted with tragedy, suspicion and closed with his own death on the battlefield. Richard’s much loved son and heir died aged 10 in 1484 and his wife Anne Neville followed their child to her own grave only months later in March 1485. His short reign was plagued with rumours and suspicions that his lust to be King was so great that he had ordered the murders of his nephews, Edward V and Richard of York while they were residing in the Tower of London. The two young boys vanished in June 1483 and the mystery of their disappearance continues to this day.
The marriage of Henry & Elizabeth was a masterstroke as the Lancastrians now had who they felt was their rightful king and the Yorkists had the comfort that the only known living heir of the popular Edward IV was now occupying her rightful station as Queen of England.
The final piece of the solution fell into place on 20 September 1486 at Winchester Priory Cathedral when Queen Elizabeth gave birth to a healthy prince, who was named Arthur. England now had a Prince of Wales who had the blood of both Lancaster and York running through his veins.
Together Henry and Elizabeth had ensured that anyone who wished to challenge Henry VII’s rule would have to take on the dangerous, unpredictable and expensive task of convincing people to support them on the grounds that they were one of the missing princes from the Tower.
Gayle Hulme was born and brought up in Glasgow, Scotland and after many years of soaking up island life in Jersey, Channel Islands she returned to Scotland via Warwickshire, England. Back in bonnie Scotland she now enjoys hanging out with husband Paul, son Jamie and two silly, but adorable dogs, Millie and Spot. When she’s not busy jumping around getting other women fit in her ‘proper job’ as a group fitness instructor you will find her poking her nose into all manner of historical, sporting or esoteric related subjects. Her passions and fascinations are hugely diverse. In the morning she could be reading and writing about her favourite royal heroine Queen Anne Boleyn and by the afternoon you might find her at Ibrox Stadium cheering on her beloved Glasgow Rangers FC (football/soccer team – her first and enduring love). Then maybe in the evening she will be away with the fairies or learning about ancient Hawaiian wisdom.
[Oh and just between us (ssshhh) – her guilty pleasure is spending way too much time on the phone or social media gossiping about historical subjects and blethering with her buddies.]
Find her at: