Friday, April 18, 2008

Question from Lilly - Elizabeth of York

I've got a question regarding Henry VIII's mother, Elizabeth of York. Does anyone know much about her? I know a little bit, but there's a lot in her past that I don't know. For example,

1. How old was she when she was married to Henry VII?
2. How old was Henry VIII when she died?
3. What did her seventh child die of? It was the birth of Katherine, Elizabeth and Henry's seventh child, that proved to be too strenuous on both mother and daughter. Katherine died within hours of her birth and Elizabeth died within a few days. Does anyone know specifics about this incident?



Lara said...

Howdy Lilly,

You can figure out the answers to your first two questions by looking at her dates on my (albeit short) bio page of her here:
But I'll save you the math. :)
She was just shy of 20 when she married Henry VII and Henry VIII was 11 when she died.

As for the last question, it looks like the final baby was premature, so that probably explains the baby's death. I didn't see anything specific about what caused Elizabeth's death in her Oxford Dictionary bio, but I'm guessing it is one of the common infections, such as puerperal fever, since she lived for 9 days after the child's birth.

I have a copy of Nancy Lenz Harvey's bio of her at home so I'll see if she has anything more, unless one of the other commenters beats me to it! :)

Anonymous said...

Greetings Lilly ~ Elizabeth Plantagenet, a/k/a Elizabeth of York, was born Feb. 11, 1466 and died at 37 years of age on her birthday (2/11/1503), nine days after her last child, Catherine, was born on February 2, 1503. Catherine (a/k/a Katherine) was according to some sources, her 8th child. Her children were:
1. Arthur TUDOR (P. of Wales)
2. Margaret TUDOR (Queen of Scotland)
3. HENRY VIII TUDOR (King of England)
4. Mary TUDOR (Queen of France/D. Suffolk)
5. Elizabeth TUDOR (b. 2 Jul 1492)
6. Edmund TUDOR (D. Somerset) (b. 21 Feb 1499)
7. Edward TUDOR
8. Catherine TUDOR (b. 2 Feb 1503)
Note: refer to for information on her first 4 children. This is an excellent site for further Tudor history facts and links.

Her third child, Henry VIII was just a few months shy of 12 years of age at her death. Hmm…a young man losing his mum so young makes you wonder about his difficulties in his relationships with women later in life.

Also refer to
for a detailed account of her life. Interestingly, this site refers to Catherine or Katherine as her 7th confinement. However, other data/sites corroborate 8 children, so this could be a good subject for discussion. This site gives an incredible account of her life. It is short of a miracle that either she or Henry survived this very treacherous period in time.

I’ve done some brief research, but can find no sure indication of the exact cause of her death or the child’s death; however, the usual cause of death of a newly delivered mother at that time was puerperal fever (the same condition that Jane Seymour died of after delivering Henry VIII’s only surviving legitimate son). I agree with the previous blogger, Lara, that this would be a fairly reasonable conjecture due to the fact that Elizabeth survived 9 days after giving birth. It was also noted that her death was unexpected, much the same as Jane Seymour, who had appeared fine for a while and then gradually lost ground. As you know, “childbed fever” is due to an infection caused at childbirth from unsanitary conditions and I can only imagine the sanitary conditions (or rather lack of) in giving birth some 500 years ago.

Elizabeth was married on January 18, 1486 at almost 20 years of age. Henry Tudor, having been born on January 28, 1457, was almost 29 years of age. When she died, Henry was 46 years of age. He never remarried.


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much! This has been VERY helpful.