name

Elizabeth of York by an unknown artist
More images

Born: 11 February 1466
Westminster Palace

Married to Henry VII: 18 Janurary 1486
Westminster Abbey

Coronation as Queen Consort: 25 November 1487
Westminster Abbey

Died: 11 February 1503
Tower of London

Buried: 23 February 1503
Lady Chapel, Westminster Abbey

Elizabeth of York was the daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. Born into one of the houses caught in the struggle that would later so eloquently be called 'The Wars of the Roses', one would think that she had a difficult childhood. In fact, she was living a pleasantly secure life until the death of her father in 1483. However, when Edward IV died, things took a decidedly bad turn. Edward IV's heir, Edward V, was residing at Ludlow and set out to London. On the way, his uncle Richard Duke of Gloucester intercepted the caravan and took the young king to the palace lodgings in the Tower of London.

Elizabeth Woodville must have distrusted this move by Richard, since she took her remaining son Richard, the Duke of York, and her five daughters to Westminster Abbey. However, Elizabeth was convinced to let Richard join his brother at the Tower (on the premise that the young king was lonely) under the protection of Richard. It was at this time that the young princes (technically a king and a prince) disappeared, and the Lord Protector, brother of the late Edward IV, became king Richard III.

How Elizabeth of York reacted to the disappearance of her young brothers was never recorded by history. However, two years after taking the throne, Richard III was defeated by Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth Field in August 1485.

Elizabeth was one of the few remaining Yorkists that hadn't been taken care of in one way or another, so the new king, Henry VII, took the fair lady to be his Queen. They were married in 1486. Their marriage symbolically brought an end to the Wars of the Roses (although rebellions would spring up during Henry's reign) and was responsible for the creation of the Tudor Rose- the joining of the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster.

Of Elizabeth and Henry's seven children, four survived childhood: Arthur, Margaret, Henry and Mary. Their marriage appears to have been a happy one, something that was a bit unusual in the days of political and arranged marriages.

Elizabeth died in 1503 on her 37th birthday. Although Henry has had a reputation of thrift, for Elizabeth he opened the purse and gave her a splendid funeral. She lay in state at the Tower of London and was interred at Westminster Abbey.

She and her husband lie together in the chapel he had built at the Abbey. Nearby are buried Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots, Henry and Elizabeth's granddaughter and great-granddaughter respectively.