Elizabeth of York Biography

Elizabeth of York was the Queen Consort of England and the wife of Henry VII and the first Tudor queen. Check out this biography to know about her life history and interesting facts about her.

Quick Facts

Birthday: February 11, 1466

Nationality: British

Famous: Empresses & Queens British Women

Died At Age: 37

Sun Sign: Aquarius

Born in: Westminster Palace, London, England

Famous as: Queen Consort of England


Spouse/Ex-: Henry VII of England (m. 1486)

father: Edward IV of England

mother: Elizabeth Woodville

children: Arthur, Henry VIII, King of England Mary, Prince of Wales Margaret, Queen of France, Queen of Scots

Died on: February 11, 1503

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Elizabeth of York was the wife of Henry VII and the first Tudor queen. Daughter of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, Elizabeth of York was born amidst the ultimate chaos in medieval England in the year 1466. She was a kind woman and led a happy and peaceful life, right until the death of her father, which triggered the ultimate struggle for the throne and culminated with her uncle Richard III taking the throne, of which Elizabeth’s brother Edward was the rightful heir. The struggle for the throne was far from over and Richard’s reign didn’t last very long as he was defeated by Henry Tudor of House Lancaster. By then, almost all the members of the York house were either dead or had disappeared and Elizabeth remained the last child, and as a way of establishing peace between the two houses, she was married to Henry Tudor, better known in history as King Henry VII. The war ended and somehow, peace found its way into the kingdom and Elizabeth gave birth to eight of Henry’s children, of which only survived past childbirth. Elizabeth was known as a beautiful and kind woman and the subjects loved her; a difficult feat for a royalty in those chaotic times.

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Childhood & Early Life
  • On February 11, 1466, Elizabeth of York was born into the royal family to King Edward IV of England and Queen Elizabeth Woodville in the royal palace of Westminster. She was given lessons in dancing, singing, embroidery, manners and at the age of 3, she was promised to be married to George Neville, but the betrothal was called off sometime later due to George’s death. It was a political arrangement as George’s father, John Neville, was a strong lord who had declared against Edward during the uprising.
  • It was a period of utter chaos and civil war as the houses of York and Lancaster were at each other’s throats. This conflict for the throne of England is known in the history as ‘War of the Roses’. In September 1470, Edward IV had to flee England, due to a threat to his life by Earl of Warwick and Margaret of Anjou, who supported the throne for the house of Lancaster. Elizabeth Woodville took asylum in Westminster Abbey in order to safeguard her children. In those times, the criminals or the outlaws could seek asylum in the churches, where the law couldn’t touch them.
  • By then Elizabeth was the eldest child of King Edward and in his absence, she was named the Queen Regent by the loyal supporters of the House of York. But in the hiding, Elizabeth Woodville gave birth to a son. The birth of a son somehow infused King Edward with courage and he gathered a fleet to snatch his throne back and successfully did it, embarking the family into a happy reunion.
  • Elizabeth of York learned French, reading and writing in English. She was a kind young girl, who loved her parents and siblings and believed in god with utter devotion.
  • In 1475, the King of France eyed the throne of England and as a reflex action King Edward invaded the neighbouring country with all his might. King Louis XII of France decided to settle on the peace terms if Edward promised his daughter to the prince of France, Dauphin Charles. The arrangement later came to an end when French royals dishonoured the agreement and broke it. It was a huge blow to King Edward, which he somehow tolerated without reacting to it with armed action.
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Life After Edward's Death
  • In April 1483, when Elizabeth was 17, King Edward died under dubious circumstances, and it was an invitation to a ruthless storm for the royal York house of England. Her mother took the children to a safe sanctuary, leaving two of her eldest sons, Edward and Richard, in the tower upon asked by their uncle Richard, the Duke of Gloucester. He turned out to be a snake and claimed that all the children of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville were bastards and didn’t have claim to the throne whatsoever, and crowned himself the king.
  • Some time later after Richard III became the king, the brothers of Elizabeth disappeared from the tower where they were supposedly kept safe by their uncle. Elizabeth had no brothers left and the supporters of house York secretly accepted Elizabeth as the legitimate heir to the throne after her father, Edward IV. The act of treason by Richard III filled lady Woodville with hate towards her husband’s brother and she joined hands with the House of Lancaster’s Margaret Beaufort by betrothing Elizabeth to Henry Tudor, Beaufort’s son.
  • Henry Tudor attacked the troops of Richard III, and defeated him at the Battle of Bosworth and occupied the throne of England as King Henry VII. A noble man he was, he wiped off all the blames on Lady Woodville’s children and declared them the rightful children born of the royal communion between the great king Edward IV and Lady Elizabeth Woodville.
  • In June 1486, Henry VII married Elizabeth in a grand ceremony and officially brought an end to the ‘War of the Roses’.
As The Queen
  • Even though some records say that Henry VII didn’t really love Elizabeth by heart, he respected her for being a kind, generous, wonderful human being, who was popular among the locales for being kind to them. However, the politics for the throne could never have been halted; the union of Houses of York and Lancaster was a pleasant change, which established peace in the realm to a great degree.
  • Elizabeth kept herself away from the politics but supported her husband and remained behind the curtain, despite the fact she was still considered the rightful heir to the throne by some York loyalists.
  • Elizabeth spent quite a lot of time travelling, sometimes with her husband, most of the times alone to the faraway lands of her kingdoms. She became pregnant soon after her marriage and gave birth to a son, Arthur, in September 1486, who was later crowned as the prince. She eventually gave birth to seven more children but all the children were not healthy and many of them died soon after their birth. Their eldest son Arthur, the heir to the throne, died in 1502, inducing a wave of pain and shock in the royal couple’s life.
  • Henry loved his son more than anything in the world, and broke down after his death, with many accounts claiming that he got severely depressed, and that was when his wife Elizabeth comforted him, and their love grew deeper. She told him that they were young and could have many more children if they wanted and that rightly consoled the King. Soon, the queen became pregnant again and gave birth to a daughter named Katherine in 1502, but she had grown physically very weak by then with a deteriorating immune system and succumbed to a post partum infection in February 1503.
  • Elizabeth of York was a deeply respected woman and the family broke down when she died. Historians even claimed that King Henry Tudor went to a solitary place after her death and ordered everyone to leave him alone to mourn the death of his beloved wife. Henry became ill somehow, and couldn’t move on from the death of his wife. The members of his royal court saw him growing weak in his skills as a ruler and as a man, as he would enter fits of weeping every now and then He became a very silent man. The court members advised him to remarry and several proposals came his way, but he remained a widower and died in 1509; he was buried with Elizabeth in his chapel.
  • Elizabeth gave birth to eight of Henry’s children, of which 4 managed to reach childhood - Arthur, Margaret, Henry and Mary. The king never kept a mistress during the time he was with her and shared a close and affectionate bond with her. This didn’t set very well among the loyal advisors of the king as they said that a king shouldn’t be that emotional about a spouse, as it would hinder logical thinking pattern, which was unacceptable for a king, but Henry Tudor didn’t care and loved and cared for his wife until her very last day.
  • Elizabeth of York has been known as one of the most powerful women in the history of English royal lineage, where several different houses sat on the throne during different period of time. Overtime, she became a famous character for several plays, movies, novels and poems. William Shakespeare’s ‘The tragedy of Henry III’ mentions her several times, however, she doesn’t make an appearance in the play. In the 2013, BBC drama ‘The White Queen’, Elizabeth plays a key role. The character was portrayed beautifully by Freya Mayor.
  • She has been the main character in several novels such as ‘The Red Queen’ and ‘The White Princess’.

See the events in life of Elizabeth Of York in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Elizabeth of York Biography
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
- TheFamousPeople.com
Last Updated
- August 22, 2017
Elizabeth of York

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