Elizabeth of York

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Elizabeth of York (11 February 1466 – 11 February 1503) was Queen consort of England as spouse of King Henry VII from 1486 until 1503, and mother of King Henry VIII of England.

Elizabeth of York is the only English queen to have been a daughter, sister, niece and wife of English monarchs during her lifetime.


Daughter of the king

She was born at Westminster, the eldest child of King Edward IV and his Queen consort, the former Elizabeth Woodville, Lady Grey.

Her christening was celebrated at Westminster Abbey, her sponsors being her grandmothers Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, and Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Duchess of Bedford. Her third sponsor was Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, known as the Kingmaker for his role in Elizabeth's father's accession to the throne of England, and then later for turning against her father.

She was named a Lady of the Garter in 1477, along with her mother and her paternal aunt Elizabeth of York, Duchess of Suffolk.

At the age of 5, she was briefly betrothed to George Neville, son of John Neville, Earl of Northumberland, a supporter of Edward IV. Northumberland switched sides, however, and the betrothal was called off. In 1475, she was offered as the bride of Charles, the Dauphin of France. That plan was scrapped when Charles's father, Louis XI, decided against her.

Sister of the king

In 1483, Edward IV died and Elizabeth's younger brother, Edward V, became King. Her uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was appointed regent and protector of his nephews.

Shortly after his brother's death, Richard began taking steps to isolate his nephews from their Woodville relations. He intercepted Edward V on his way from Ludlow (where he was living as Prince of Wales) to London to be crowned. Edward was placed in the royal residence of the Tower of London, ostensibly for his protection. Elizabeth Woodville fled with her younger son, Richard, and her daughters into sanctuary in Westminster Abbey. Gloucester requested Richard go to the Tower to keep his brother company and Elizabeth agreed.

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