To coincide with the publication of “Elizabeth of York; The Forgotten Tudor Queen,” later this month, I invited questions about my biography, my views and anything else relating to my work. Thank you for all the replies on the blog and facebook page; the responses show just how much interest and knowledge there already is out there about this fascinating lady. I think if I were to try and answer all of them in as much detail as they deserve, I would end up rewriting my book here on the blog. So, I’m not giving everything away but here is a taster of what to expect in the biography- I hope it whets your appetite. If you don’t see your question exactly as you wrote it, it’s because I’ve combined questions whenever I’ve had several that are similar.
Elizabeth, by Victorian Artist Edward Corbould
Margaret Beaufort, Elizabeth's devout and formidable mother-in-law
A copy of the 1538 Whitehall Mural, commissioned by Henry VIII,
featuring himself, Jane Seymour and his parents
The earliest surviving portrait of Richard III c1520,
a copy of a lost original
Henry Tudor, whom Elizabeth married in January 1486
Bust of Henry VIII as a child
Concern emerged again in 1500, when she was pregnant with Edmund, although the nature of this is unknown and may have related to her advancing age. The more children a woman bore, the greater the risk of experiencing some sort of complication and the more severe the toll on her body, which was not getting any younger. At least two of her babies were born close together, with Elizabeth conceived only 3 months after she had borne Henry in 1491, so her body can hardly have had much chance to recover before the process began all over again. While the demands of childbirth clearly left their mark, with one foreign ambassador remarking that by 1501 she had become a little stout, I would be inclined to place her experiences within the “normal” bracket for women of the time. It would be more unusual if she had seen through seven confirmed pregnancies through to term and not had some sort of difficulties.
Something clearly went wrong with her last birth, though. Her death in 1503, over a week after bearing Katherine, suggests a postpartum infection, but her labour started early, catching her by surprise while she was at the Tower, where she had not intended to deliver. When something went badly wrong, as it clearly did in 1503, the midwives did not have the skill or knowledge to save her.
The tomb of Henry VII and Elizabeth, in Westminster by Torrigiano