A Crown, A Mother, And Rumors

Elizabeth of York

With the heir born, time had come for Elizabeth to be crowned Queen of England, Wales, and Ireland. However, the royal couple’s joy diminished during the Christmas season when rumors rang about Elizabeth’s cousin, the Earl of Warwick, the York heir to the English throne who was locked away in the Tower of London. The English whispered and roared that the young earl had escaped while others professed that he met the same fate as the young York Princes.

In January 1487, the first pretender to the throne appeared on the scene. Lambert Simnel was in Ireland, claiming to be the escaped Earl of Warwick. The next month, Henry displayed the twelve-year-old Earl in a procession through London to St. Paul’s Cathedral then brought Warwick to the Queen at Sheen Palace. Warwick was a threat to Henry but he had the mental capacity of a one-year-old yet Henry couldn’t kill the child.  

With that rumor squashed, other threats continued to haunt the royal couple. The Earl of Lincoln, nephew to Richard III and the Queen’s cousin, fled to Flanders where his aunt, Margaret of York, Duchess if Burgundy resided. She hated Henry since he killed her brother Richard at Bosworth and did all within her power to undermine Henry. Margaret acknowledged Simnel and the Yorkist sailed to Ireland where the Anglo-Irish lords crowned Simnel. Lincoln was the force behind this plot and was the leader of the Yorkists faction.

Henry VII

All came to a head when on May 5, 1487 when word of the invasion reached Henry. The king set up his headquarters at Kenilworth, “a strongly built, centrally located fortress.” He sent word to Elizabeth and along with Arthur they joined him on May 29. In June, the Earl of Lincoln landed in Lancashire. Henry marched to Conventry to protect England and his reign.

June 16th arrived and the two sides clashed. This was the Battle of Stoke. Henry was victorious. Lincoln was killed and Lambert Simnel was taken prisoner and put in Henry’s household from working in the kitchens, he advanced to become trainer of the King’s hawks and died in 1525. 

“The Battle of Stoke, which Andrè called ‘the second triumph of Henry VII,’ finally brought the Wars of the Roses to an end…” as Alison Weir states in her biography entitled Elizabeth of York. 

The Wars of the Roses came to an end but Elizabeth still hadn’t been crowned. She was the first uncrowned queen to birth an heir since William the Conqueror in 1066. That fact was one of the complaint of the rebels as well as the English people.

In September 1487 summonses were sent out to the nobility to the attend Elizabeth’s coronation in November. On the twenty-third day of the month, Elizabeth departed from Greenwich with her mother-in-law and attended by lords and ladies and rode the royal barge to the Tower of London. The next day, England’s princess made her state entry into London. 

On the 25th, which happened to be St. Katherine’s Day, Elizabeth journeyed to her coronation, decked out in gold, jewels, and ermine. Though, no tradition existed that prohibited kings from attending their wives’ coronation, Henry did not attend instead allowing the Elizabeth to enjoy the ceremony. Henry did watch the ceremony that dated to 1399, hidden behind a screen. 

Palace of Westminster
Palace of Westminster

On the 25th, which happened to be St. Katherine’s Day, Elizabeth journeyed to her coronation, decked out in gold, jewels, and ermine. Though, no tradition existed that prohibited kings from attending their wives’ coronation, Henry did not attend instead allowing the Elizabeth to enjoy the ceremony. Henry did watch the ceremony that dated to 1399, hidden behind a screen. 

With the crown on the queen’s head, it was time to celebrate. The banquet was in Westminster Hall. “Elizabeth, wearing her crown, sat alone at the high table at the top of a flight of steps.” Once again, the king did not attend. Much like most occasions, there was sumptuous food, dancing and verses composed to honor Elizabeth. The next day, Elizabeth traveled to Greenwich  and received her dower. With her own household and administrators, Elizabeth took up her role as Queen of England, Wales, and Ireland. 

For Elizabeth, family was her center. According to Weir’s Elizabeth of York, “She gave ‘unbounded love’ and support to her children, her sisters, and other relations, and always interested herself in their affairs. She kept her sisters with her at court before they wed, and sometimes after, and they were usually included in the royal celebrations of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsun.” 

That March, Henry reached an agreement that raised the Tudor dynasty to the top echelons of the continent’s monarchies—the agreement of marriage between Prince Arthur and Katherine of Aragon. Katherine was bringing an estimated 20 million pounds (today’s currency) to the isle nation. 

Margaret Tudor

That same month,  Elizabeth was pregnant with her second child. This was three years after the birth of Arthur. Henry was overjoyed and bestowed lavish gifts upon Elizabeth. On November 29, 1489, Elizabeth gave birth to her first daughter—Margaret Tudor. The next day—the feast day of St. Andrew, patron saint of Scotland, was baptized. Margaret Tudor would go on to marry James IV of Scotland and birth James V, father of Mary, Queen of Scots. 

That Christmas was a solemn affair as a measles epidemic spread through Elizabeth’s court and had taken the lives of some ladies. And Elizabeth hadn’t been churched and the hard recovery Elizabeth experience with Arthur caused the queen to flee to Greenwich. 

Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales

That Christmas was a solemn affair as a measles epidemic spread through Elizabeth’s court and had taken the lives of some ladies. And Elizabeth hadn’t been churched and the hard recovery Elizabeth experience with Arthur caused the queen to flee to Greenwich. 

The new year rang in with running of the realm and on 27 February 1490, Arthur was conveyed to Westminster where he was endowed with the titles of Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester. The boy prince had he had his own celebrations. 

Henry Tudor, Future King

The two Tudor children were joined by a third child on June 28, 1491. The child was named Henry. His household was established at Eltham Palace in Kent. “Although, Prince Arthur was brought up away from the court, Elizabeth’s younger children were largely reared in close proximity to their parents, at Eltham, or at Sheen (where she herself had spent part of her early childhood), Greenwich, or the Archbishop of Canterbury’s palace at Croydon, Surrey—all well away from the unhealthy air of London.” 

Even though, the Tudor family were happy, they were still dogged by the rumors that one of the princes survived. And in the autumn of 1491, those rumors centered around a “handsome stranger” who claimed to be Richard, Duke of York, the younger son, who would have been sixteen in August of 1491 and this boy was around that age. Margaret of Burgundy recognized him as her nephew. This boy was Perkin Warbeck.

First, the nation had to mourning. On June 8, 1492, Elizabeth Wydeville (mother to Elizabeth of York and Queen of England) died. Elizabeth couldn’t be with her mother at the time since she was once again pregnant and near to birth. 

Less than a month later, July 2 to be exact, Elizabeth birth her second daughter—Elizabeth—named for her mother and grandmother. 

By this time, Henry had tried to rid himself of this pretender who he called the “feigned lad” and made a protest to the rulers of Flanders but the diplomatic route failed and so did relations between England and Flanders. 

To dismiss the claims of the new pretender, Henry created his three-year-old Henry the Duke of York. Edward VI bestowed the title onto his second son, Richard, so until the eighteenth century the second sons would bear the title. 

Time passed and in October 1495, Elizabeth was pregnant again. The joyous occasion was marred by the death of her three-year daughter Elizabeth. 

Then the next month Perkin Warbeck was in Scotland where he was received at Stirling Castle. James IV liked him, clothing the boy in finery, granting him a pension and took him on a progress through Scotland. The Scottish king held a tournament for him and even married him to a distant relation—Katherine, daughter of George Gordon, Earl of Huntly. 

Mary Tudor

The time passed and Elizabeth birthed her third daughter—Mary Tudor on March 18, 1496 at Sheen Palace. Mary would marry the King of France who was an old man who then died and she went on to marry Duke of Suffolk, Charles Brandon.

Less than six months later, James IV invaded England with Warbeck who promised to return Berwick, a dispute area in the north of England that had once belong to Scotland. But the Scots looted so James had to retreat back to Scotland when Henry’s army appeared. 

Henry was dealing with rebels and trying to raise money to fight against Warbeck and the Scots and soon, 1497 arrived and was half way through when a new treaty was agreed with Spain. It stated for Katherine to come to England when she was fourteen, which she would reach in 1499. And a month later, Arthur and Katherine were formally betrothed. 

The joy of the agreement didn’t last long since Warbeck landed in Cornwall on September 7, 1497. About a fortnight later, Warbeck fled south to Southampton and took sanctuary in Beaulieu Abbey. Henry surrounded the abbey and promised “the pretender a pardon if he surrendered to the King and threw himself on his ‘grace and pity.’  Warbeck took up the offer. 

Warbeck was paraded through London then imprisoned in the Tower. That same year (1497), Henry brought the young pretender to court where he was followed by two guards and confined to the palace. It was reported that Henry treated them well but did not allow Katherine and Warbeck to sleep together. 

A year later on June 9, 1498 Perkin escaped from the Palace of Westminster. Henry didn’t execute him but he did put him in stocks and made him read aloud his confession then returned to the Tower. 

Henry and Elizabeth now focused on the wedding of Arthur and Katherine. And Henry was also negotiated a marriage between Margaret Tudor and James IV of Scotland so to bring peace to the nations and his put his bloodline on the Scottish throne. Elizabeth, though, demanded that her daughter not marry before September 1503 when Margaret would be fourteen. 

But the royal couple had another reason to celebrate. Elizabeth bore a third son and her sixth child on February 21, 1499 at Greenwich. The young prince was named Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond. It was a difficult pregnancy for the queen. 

For Henry and Elizabeth much was changing. Those changes would bring happiness and grief.  

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