|Elizabeth of York|
After her father's death, Elizabeth went into sanctuary with her mother. Her brothers disappeared and her uncle, Richard III was crowned King of England. Elizabeth was declared illegitimate by Richard. However, this didn't stop him from inviting her to court, as well as the rumors that he intended to marry her upon his sick wife's death. Some even speculated that he was poisoning his wife to marry Elizabeth, who, like her mother, was said to be charming and beautiful.
However, when Richard's wife finally died there were no wedding bells. Rather, the trumpet of war was sounded as Henry Tudor invaded England. He defeated Richard at the Battle of Bosworth and was crowned King of England. Rather, it was he that married Elizabeth of York, the closest living person to the throne.
The only real evidence of Richard planning a wedding for Elizabeth comes not from England, but from Portugal. The royal records there suggest negotiations for Richard to marry a Portuguese Princess, and Elizabeth to marry a Portuguese Prince. Richard also had Elizabeth (along with her missing brothers) declared illegitimate.
When Henry VII gained power, he had the ruling reversed, then married her. Elizabeth was much closer to the throne than Henry. Because of this, Henry stated he was ruling not by birthright, but by the fact that he conquered England. Thus, he didn't have to share power with his royal wife as joint rulers.
But what about Elizabeth's feelings in the whole matter? Many novels portray her as being in love with her uncle, and terrified of Henry VII. Sadly, no authentic records of her feelings survive. She did join Richard in court and seemed to be happy. Her mother, however, was not. She and Richard had never gotten along. He, like many in England, did not see her rank as befitting that of a Queen (she was a lowly Lord's daughter who, like Anne Boleyn years later, said "no" to a king's sexual advances...which resulted in marriage). Many saw her as a cunning witch, including Richard.
|Young Henry VII|
Now that the few sparse facts have been provided, what do you think? Was Elizabeth of York, like so many women of her time, a political pawn? Or, in true Tudor Tart fashion, the young lover of Richard and the unwilling bride of Henry VII?