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January 18, 1486 – Henry VII Marries Elizabeth of York

Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, by Sarah Malden, Countess of Essex (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

This is the anniversary of the marriage of Henry VII with Elizabeth of York – the union of the red rose of Lancaster with the white rose of York to create the Tudor Rose and finally end the Wars of the Roses.

Interestingly, the marriage occurred five months after Henry VII acceded to the throne – and after the man’s coronation. Henry VII needed to make a very important point to the world – that he ruled by his own right, not through his wife’s claim. After all, his claim – beyond the fact that he won the Battle of Bosworth – was somewhat tenuous (through illegitimate heirs etc.). By forcing people to fully recognize his legitimacy before his marriage, the union was transformed into a magnanimous gesture rather than a desperate grab. It was actually the right way to manipulate the optics of the situation.

Agnes Strickland describes the event as follows:

Their wedding day was, in the words of Bernard Andreas, ‘celebrated with all religious and glorious magnificence at court, and by their people with bonfires, dancing, songs and banquets, throughout all London.’ Cardinal Bourchier, who was at the same time a descendant of the royal house of Plantagenet and a prince of the church, was the officiating prelate at the marriage. ‘His hand,’ according to the quaint phraseology of Fuller, who records the circumstance, ‘held that sweet posie, wherein the white and red roses were first tied together.'”

It was said the marriage was a happy one – enough that Henry VII had a reputation for fidelity – a rare attribute for a king. She got pregnant right away, giving birth to Arthur Tudor on September 20, 1486. At that point her husband was thrilled to have her crowned: on November 25, 1487 she was anointed Queen of England. Everything was golden at that point, and it would remain that way for quite some time….

Still, I always wonder how Elizabeth felt about marrying Henry. I mean, she was raised as a princess, so she would have expected a marriage based on politics. But how did she really feel about her overbearing mother-in-law? And there were several instances of men claiming to be her long-lost brothers…did she ever question -even for a moment – whether they were? What must that have feel like? I need to go lose myself in some good books…feel free to suggest your favorites!


If you like my posts, you’ll love my books! My Seymour Saga trilogy tells the gripping story of the short-lived dynasty that shaped the Tudor Era. Jane the Quene skews romantic, The Path to Somerset is pure Game of Thrones (without the dragons), and The Boy King is a noir coming-of-age. Get them now through AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo, and Apple, or even your local independent bookstore!

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January 18, 1486 - Henry VII Marries Elizabeth of York
Published inOn This Day


  1. fivecats fivecats

    Margaret Beaufort must have been a formidable mother in law.Despite her pride in her Beaufort Lineage, she had less claim to the throne than the Yorkists. Henry had to marry Elizabeth of York. England has no Salic law, she had a better claim to the throne than he. Katherine of Aragon had a better claim to the throne than Henry VII. Her descent came from the legitimate Lancaster line of John of Gaunt and Constanza.

      • fivecats fivecats

        He claimed it by right of conquest. Do you think their marriage was happy? She certainly did her duty as a wife. She bore the right amount of children and never put a foot wrong. Too many sons makes as many problems as no sons at all. Witness Edward III.

  2. fivecats fivecats

    I liked your book on Jane Seymour. She is an intriguing woman. I do think she had a mind of her own.

    • Thank you for saying that about Jane the Quene! And I do believe that Henry’s marriage to Elizabeth of York was a happy one – he didn’t cheat on her, he really did seem to respect and love her (and was devastated when she died). And she was wonderful – how could he not?

      • fivecats fivecats

        But did she love him? She had to put up with My Lady Margaret R, the King’s Mother, Henry’s suspicious ways, and for a bright woman, no opinion. She certainly was a survivor.

    • She lived a quieter life than many consorts – Margaret Beaufort dominated at court, and Elizabeth spent a lot of time with her children at Eltham, enough that Henry (son) idealized those days later in life (there was a great video a while back that drew the parallels with Henry’s script and her one known signature – showing how influential she was on his education…). Henry (husband) would visit them all frequently. It seems like a happy life. Or maybe she was just making the best of it! As I said, I want to go read up! And then maybe even write once I get done with my three planned trilogies… 😉

      • fivecats fivecats

        How did you get interested in Jane Seymour? I became an Anne Bolen fan after reading Barnes Brief Gaudy Hour at the age of 12. It was Anya Seton’s Katherine that turned me on to medieval/renaissance history.

  3. I came to the Tudors when I was eight – my parents let me stay up late to watch The Six Wives of Henry VIII on Channel 13…I came to Jane much later than that. For that story, I will point you to a blog post I wrote early on – If that doesn’t work, you can find it in a Category search (Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – scroll until the last one.

  4. Jenni Jenni

    Alison Weir wrote an excellent book about Elizabeth of York. She addresses Elizabeth’s relationship with Margaret Beaufort, speculates on Elizabeth’s feelings concerning the various pretenders, and even touches on the rumors that Henry VII’s miserly ways kept his wife in humiliating poverty. I loved every page and would read it again.

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