Childhood & Early Life
Lady Margaret was the daughter and only successor of John Beaufort, the Duke of Somerset. She was born at Bletsoe Castle, Bedfordshire on 31 May, but the year is uncertain. Most probably she was born in 1443 because in May 1443 his father was going to France on a military expedition and had negotiated with the king about the wardship of his unborn child in case he died on campaign.
It was decided that in case of John Beaufort’s death, Margaret’s wardship would be granted only to her mother.
After his return from France, John Beaufort fell out with the king and was banished from the court. He died soon afterwards.
When Margaret was one year old, the king breached the agreement, he had made with John Beaufort and granted the wardship of Margaret’s properties to William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk. But. Margaret’s custody remained with her mother.
Margaret's mother was expecting her second child when John Beaufort died, but the child did not live. Margaret was her father's only heir, but she had three half-sisters and two half-brothers from her mother's side.
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Margaret was married to John de la Pole, the son of William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk. There are conflicting reports regarding the date of the marriage but most probably they were married in January 1450.
William de la Pole married his son to Margaret because he had been arrested and he wanted to secure his son’s future through the marriage.
Margaret never accepted this marriage and three years later the marriage was dissolved. Thereafter, King Henry VI granted Margaret’s custody to his own half-brothers, Jasper and Edmund Tudor.
King Henry VI chose Margaret as bride for his half-brother, Edmund Tudor and they got married on November 1, 1455. At that time Margaret was 12 and Edmund’s age was 24.
The War of Roses had broken out just before their marriage and less than a year after their marriage, Edmund, a Lancastrian was taken prisoner by Yorkist forces. marriage,
Edmund Tudor died of plague in captivity on 3 November 1456. At the time of his death, Margaret was seven months pregnant with their child.
After Edmund's death, Jasper took her in, and Mararet gave birth to her only son, Henry Tudor, on 28 January 1457. Childbirth was difficult for her as she was very young and small in size. She never had any children after Henry.
Margaret and Henry lived in the Pembroke Castle till it was given to Lord Herbert of Raglan.
Henry was sent to live in Wales from the age of two. He then lived in exile in France from the age of fourteen. During this time, mother and son wrote letters and visited occasionally.
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She married Sir Henry Stafford, the son of 1st Duke of Buckingham, Humphrey Stafford on 3 January 1458. She had an amicable marriage with him and received a somewhat dilapidated Woking Palace, which she also restored.
In 1471, Henry Stafford died of injuries suffered at the Battle of Barnet, while fighting for the Yorkists. Margaret was only 28 years old at the time.
In June 1472, she married Thomas Stanley, the Lord High Constable and King of Mann. The marriage enabled her return to the court of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. Queen Elizabeth also chose her to be the godmother to one of her daughters.
After Edward's death, the throne was taken by Richard III, and she was soon serving Anne Neville, the new queen. However, Richard III passed an act and seized all her properties, then transferred it to her husband.
She was plotting against Richard III, and colluding with dowager queen Elizabeth Woodville. It is believed that she played a part in Buckingham's rebellion.
As Queen Elizabeth's sons were presumed murdered it was decided that Margaret’s son, Henry, would be engaged to Elizabeth of York, the eldest daughter of Elizabeth, and Edward IV; thus creating a marriage alliance that both the Yorkists and Lancastrians would favour.
Her husband Stanley did not participate in the Battle of Bosworth Field even though he was summoned, while Richard held his son George Stanley as a prisoner.
After the war, Stanley crowned his stepson, Henry VII. His mother, Margaret, was designated as 'Countess of Richmond and Derby.' She was also ordained as 'Lady Companion, Order of the Garter’ in 1488. Henry VII also dubbed Stanley as the 'Earl of Derby.'
After Henry VII was crowned, Margaret was called "My Lady the King's Mother.”" As predetermined, Henry was married to Elizabeth of York.
Lady Margaert exercised social and legal freedom, which other married women could not. She had properties that only belonged to her. She was also allowed to exercise justice over the northern part of England. But, she was not happy about the fact that she had lower status than the dowager queen Elizabeth or even her daughter-in-law, the queen consort.
As believed by many historians, the retirement of the widowed queen Elizabeth Woodville in 1487 was mostly on the bidding of Lady Margaret.
Lady Margaret was a devout woman and encouraged education. It is also said that her son listened to her and often took her advice on various matters.
King Henry died on 21 April 1509 and deemed his mother the sole executor of his will. She was in charge of her son's funeral and also her grandson's coronation. She took priority over all the other royal women at the funeral proceedings.