Elizabeth of York – A Tudor Queen and Her World by Alison Weir

elizabeth of york alison weir

This is a biography of the wife of Henry VII, if it was not for her we would not have had everyone’s favourite medieval psychopath Henry VIII, or of course, the Church of England, or Elizabeth I. Actually, all of the British monarchs since Henry VIII until the present day are descended from Elizabeth of York, so this list could get very long and boring.

So, the bloodline of Elizabeth of York is very important, if you think the British monarchy is important. Even if you do not, then this is an interesting read. If you are completely new to this period in history then this book might be confusing, and you should probably go and read something by Philippa Gregory or do a little light Googling on the Plantagenets and the Tudors.

Elizabeth of York lived in interesting times indeed, she was a young girl during the usurpation of the throne by everyone’s favourite medieval hunchbacked child-murderer, Richard III. Nb: was he a child murderer? Spoiler: nobody knew for sure back then so it is highly unlikely that anyone ever will. He did do some nasty stuff to get where he was, though. Weir points out that Richard III probably suffered from scoliosis, which would explain why he was a thoroughly unpleasant person, so at least he has an excuse.

She listened while a lot of lies were slung around, and everyone’s lineage was questioned. Then she watched from the very near sidelines as Mrs Tudor worked hard to get her lad on the throne. Elizabeth had a better claim to the throne than Henry but of course there was no way that a woman could sit on the throne of England (not until her granddaughter very successfully disproved that one, at least).

Elizabeth possibly spent her life treading very carefully in a marriage that was probably pretty good for royal medieval standards (since her son had not yet destroyed all security for Queens just yet) but she was still married to a man who must have been checking over his shoulder all the time, on account of his claim to the throne being on very shaky ground.

Poor Elizabeth was pregnant an awful lot of the time, like many women of her period, but she seems to have got about England a bit, and influenced her husband rather a lot. I could not tell if she influenced her son too much, I do not think so, since he lived away from her for most of his life and she died was he was young.

Because of the period through which Elizabeth lived then this is a great book to give an introduction to the end of one dynasty and the beginning of another. If you are already quite curious about the whole War of the Roses fiasco and how the Welsh family of the Tudors managed to get themselves the English throne then this is a brilliant book. I am a fan, though, so I would not have expected any less from Weir.

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