Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Question from Em - Elizabeth of York and Richard III

In Philippa Gregory's novels, The Red Queen, and The White Queen, Elizabeth of York is portrayed as having been in love with her uncle, Richard III, and wishing to marry him rather than Henry VII.
Is this true?


Anonymous said...

I read another novel many years ago (unfortunately I don't remember the title or author)that suggested this. I don't know if this theory has any basis in fact; but it is an interesting question. I wonder if Phillipa Gregory read the same book I did or if there is some documentation somewhere that caused her to speculate on this. I do know that Elizabeth of York never accused Richard of the murder of her brothers.

Susan Higginbotham said...

There were rumors after the death of Richard III's wife that Richard planned to marry Elizabeth of York. Richard had to publicly deny the rumors.

The story that Elizabeth of York was in love with her uncle comes from George Buck, who claimed in 1619 to have seen a letter from Elizabeth of York to the Duke of Norfolk in which she asked Norfolk "to be a mediator for her in the cause of [the marriage] to the king who (as she wrote) was her only joy and her maker in the world, and that she was his hart, in thoughts, and in all, and then she intimated that the better half of Feb was past, and that she feared the queen would never [die]." The original letter itself doesn't survive, so we have no way of knowing how accurately Buck was recalling it. To make matters worse, Buck's damaged manuscript was corrupted by the editorial efforts of his great-nephew. The letter can be interpreted to mean that Elizabeth was asking Norfolk to help promote her marriage to the not-yet-widowed king, or it can be interpreted to mean that Elizabeth was asking that Norfolk help in her efforts to get Richard to arrange her marriage to someone else.

There is evidence that Richard was negotiating for Portuguese marriages for both himself and for Elizabeth after the death of Richard's wife.

Arlene Okerlund discusses the letter in her biography of Elizabeth of York.

Anonymous said...

Em, I don't know if you are open to a well researched novel, but I can't recommend Sharon Kay Penman's work The Sunne in Splendor highly enough. This is about Richard III and it paints a very different portrait of him than we are used to seeing. I was able to find this book online for less than $5.00 (used) with free shipping at Better World Books. For some reason my replies won't go through right now unless I check Anonymous, but I'm Mary.

Basil Hollington said...

could someone inform me of the likelihood/any evidence to support the theory that Henry V11's mother, lady Margaret Beaufort, ordered the death of the princes in the tower. good motive, do away with crucial rivals to the throne, and explains her pious devotion to young people in later years as penitence.