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Elizabeth of York
Cover of Elizabeth of York
Elizabeth of York
A Tudor Queen and Her World
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Bestselling historian Alison Weir tells the poignant, suspenseful and sometimes tragic story of Elizabeth, eldest daughter of the Yorkist King Edward IV and sister of...
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Bestselling historian Alison Weir tells the poignant, suspenseful and sometimes tragic story of Elizabeth, eldest daughter of the Yorkist King Edward IV and sister of...
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  • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Bestselling historian Alison Weir tells the poignant, suspenseful and sometimes tragic story of Elizabeth, eldest daughter of the Yorkist King Edward IV and sister of the Princes in the Tower, a woman whose life was inextricably caught up in the turmoil of the Wars of the Roses and the establishment of the usurping Tudor dynasty. She was the wife of Henry VII and mother of Henry VIII. 
    Many are familiar with the story of the much-married King Henry VIII of England and the celebrated reign of his daughter, Elizabeth I. But it is often forgotten that the life of the first Tudor queen, Elizabeth of York, Henry’s mother and Elizabeth’s grandmother, spanned one of England’s most dramatic and perilous periods. Now New York Times bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir presents the first modern biography of this extraordinary woman, whose very existence united the realm and ensured the survival of the Plantagenet bloodline.
     
    Her birth was greeted with as much pomp and ceremony as that of a male heir. The first child of King Edward IV, Elizabeth enjoyed all the glittering trappings of royalty. But after the death of her father; the disappearance and probable murder of her brothers—the Princes in the Tower; and the usurpation of the throne by her calculating uncle Richard III, Elizabeth found her world turned upside-down: She and her siblings were declared bastards.
     
    As Richard’s wife, Anne Neville, was dying, there were murmurs that the king sought to marry his niece Elizabeth, knowing that most people believed her to be England’s rightful queen. Weir addresses Elizabeth’s possible role in this and her covert support for Henry Tudor, the exiled pretender who defeated Richard at the Battle of Bosworth and was crowned Henry VII, first sovereign of the House of Tudor. Elizabeth’s subsequent marriage to Henry united the houses of York and Lancaster and signaled the end of the Wars of the Roses. For centuries historians have asserted that, as queen, she was kept under Henry’s firm grasp, but Weir shows that Elizabeth proved to be a model consort—pious and generous—who enjoyed the confidence of her husband, exerted a tangible and beneficial influence, and was revered by her son, the future King Henry VIII.
     
    Drawing from a rich trove of historical records, Weir gives a long overdue and much-deserved look at this unforgettable princess whose line descends to today’s British monarch—a woman who overcame tragedy and danger to become one of England’s most beloved consorts.
    Praise for Elizabeth of York
     
    “Weir tells Elizabeth’s story well. . . . She is a meticulous scholar. . . . Most important, Weir sincerely admires her subject, doing honor to an almost forgotten queen.”The New York Times Book Review
     
    “In [Alison] Weir’s skillful hands, Elizabeth of York returns to us, full-bodied and three-dimensional. This is a must-read for Tudor fans!”Historical Novels Review
     
    “This bracing biography reveals a woman of integrity, who . . . helped [her husband] lay strong groundwork for the success of the new Tudor dynasty. As always in a Weir book, the tenor of the times is drawn with great color and authenticity.”Booklist
     
    “Weir once again demonstrates that she is an outstanding portrayer of the Tudor era, giving us a fully realized biography of a remarkable woman.”Huntington...

Excerpts-

  • Chapter One 1

    “The Most Illustrious Maid of York”

    The royal palace of Westminster extended along the Thames shore, southwest of the City of London. A royal residence had stood on this site opposite Westminster Abbey since the sainted King Edward the Confessor had rebuilt both in the eleventh century, and the magnificent Westminster Hall had been completed by William II in 1099; in the late fourteenth century, Richard II increased the height of its walls and added the splendid oak hammer-beam roof. The sprawling palace in which the Queen was to be confined was the work of successive medieval kings, and the chief seat of royal government until much of it was destroyed by fire in 1512. Parliament often met within its walls, usually in the Painted Chamber, the White Hall, or St. Stephen’s Chapel. Westminster Hall was used for state occasions and ceremonies, and also for coronation banquets. Daily, it was a hive of industry, housing the busy law courts and stalls selling books and other goods.

    The rambling old palace was much in need of upgrading, and Edward IV had set about converting part of it into new royal lodgings, which Elizabeth of York would come to know very well. They included a privy kitchen for the preparation of royal meals, a wardrobe for the storage of royal possessions, and something very traditional in royal domestic arrangements: separate ranges of private apartments for the King and Queen.

    The creation of a new “Queen’s side” for Elizabeth Wyde­ville, which was begun in 1464, may have come about because the King’s mother, the disapproving Cecily Neville, was living at court and appropriate accommodation was needed for both ladies. The apartments built for Queen Elizabeth included a withdrawing chamber and wardrobe; a great chamber would be added in 1482.1 It was in these new lodgings that the Queen was to bear her child.

    For married women in those days, pregnancy was often an annual event, with all the risks it entailed. Contraception was rudimentary and would not have been practiced by royal couples, for whom a large family meant sons to secure the succession and daughters to forge political marriage alliances. It was a son, naturally, that the King wanted, and although, by medieval custom, male physicians did not attend pregnant women, Dr. Dominic de Sirego, Elizabeth Wyde­ville’s physician, was determined to “be the first that should bring tidings to the King of the birth of the prince,” for messengers conveying such glad news often received “great thanks and reward.” Only women were allowed into the birth chamber, so when the Queen went into labor, Dr. Sirego had perforce to wait in the “second chamber.” The baby was a girl: “this year [1466], the eleventh day of the month of February, was Elizabeth, first child of King Edward, born at Westminster.”2 She was the first princess born to an English monarch in over a century.

    The waiting physician, hearing the child cry, “knocked or called secretly at the chamber door” and asked “what the Queen had,” whereupon her attendants, much amused, called back, “Whatsoever the Queen’s Grace hath here within, sure it is that a fool standeth there without!” Whereupon Dr. Sirego hastily “departed without seeing the King that time.”3

    That same month, “my Lady Princess” was baptized “with most solemnity” in a new font set up in St. Stephen’s Chapel in Westminster Palace by her kinsman, George Neville, Archbishop of York,4 just as if she had been the desired prince. She was given her mother’s name; it...

About the Author-

  • Alison Weir is the New York Times bestselling author of several historical biographies, including Mary Boleyn, The Lady in the Tower, Mistress of the Monarchy, Henry VIII, Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Life of Elizabeth I, and The Six Wives of Henry VIII, and the novels A Dangerous Inheritance, Captive Queen, The Lady Elizabeth, and Innocent Traitor. She lives in Surrey, England, with her husband.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 21, 2013
    Best known as the mother of Henry VIII, Elizabeth of York (1466–1503) is also the ancestor of the English, Scots, and British monarchies that commenced in 1509, 1513, and 1603, respectively. Weir (Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings) conveys how, as a royal princess, Elizabeth was a pawn in the dynastic ambitions of England’s rulers: her father, Edward IV; her uncle, Richard III; her mother-in-law, Margaret Beaufort; and her husband, Henry VII, whose claim to the English throne was inferior to her own. Betrothed to the Dauphin of France at age 11, Elizabeth was—after the death of her father in 1483—even rumored to be a possible match for Richard III, usurper of Edward V’s throne and responsible for the murder of Elizabeth’s two younger brothers. Weir, an authority on 15th- and 16th-century English history, revises some of her previous thinking regarding the fate of the princes in the Tower of London, but the major focus is Elizabeth’s life, portrayed in great detail, from marriage ceremonies and royal itineraries to the food, books, gifts, and clothing of her day. Weir argues her positions clearly and, in balancing the scholarly with emphases on Elizabeth’s emotional and psychological life, she should reach a wider audience than traditional histories. Illus. Agent: Julian Alexander, Lucas Alexander Whitley (U.K.).

  • Kirkus

    October 1, 2013
    Prolific, best-selling author Weir (Mary Boleyn: Mistress of Kings, 2011, etc.), who specializes in female royalty, presents another popular biography, a serious work definitely not aimed at a bodice-ripper audience. This Tudor Elizabeth (1466-1503) lived a century before her much better-known granddaughter, but she was important: the daughter, wife and mother of kings, including Henry VIII. England's bloody War of the Roses seemed to end in 1461 when Edward of York defeated his Lancastrian enemies and took the throne as Edward IV. This proved illusory when he offended powerful allies by marrying an obscure subject, Elizabeth Woodville, and promoting her family. When he died in 1483, no law prevented Edward's 12-year-old firstborn, Elizabeth of York, from inheriting the throne, but no one considered women fit to govern if men with reasonable claims could be found. There were plenty at the time--and none a century later when Henry VIII's son died, allowing his sisters, Mary and Elizabeth I, to rule. There followed two chaotic years during which her uncle, the Duke of York, murdered Edward's two sons, threatened his widow and daughters, seized power as Richard III, and fended off rivals until killed in battle in 1485 by Henry Tudor, who married Elizabeth, uniting two families whose factions had fought bitterly for 50 years and launching the modern British monarchy as Henry VII. "Elizabeth of York's role in history was crucial," writes the author, "although in a less chauvinistic age it would, by right, have been more so." Admitting that she was not a dynamic figure, Weir portrays Elizabeth as a passive observer or victim and often ignores her entirely as she delivers an intensely researched, opinionated, almost blow-by-blow political history of Britain during the turbulent last half of the 15th century.

    COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    November 1, 2013
    The subject of the popular British historian's latest plunge into the fertile Tudor ground she has so successfully tilled in many previous books is the wife of the first Tudor monarch, Henry VII, who dethroned the last Yorkist king, Richard III, in a pitched battle and assumed the crown himself. The marriage of Elizabeth of York, the last surviving Yorkist heir, to the new Tudor king had the intended effect of settling any controversy as to who rightfully sat on the throne. Despite some bothersome initial bumps in the narrative roadnamely, Weir's tendency early on, in the face of scant documentary evidence specifically about Elizabeth, to say, She would have done this, she would have seen that this bracing biography reveals a woman of integrity, who, while honoring her Yorkist heritage, grew to love her husband, became a kind and generous queen consort, and helped him lay strong groundwork for the success of the new Tudor dynasty. As always in a Weir book, the tenor of the times is drawn with great color and authenticity. High-Demand Backstory: Given Weir's universal appeal as a popular historian, especially of the very popular Tudor era, her publisher has an extensive ad campagin planned for the release of her new book.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2013, American Library Association.)

  • Library Journal

    June 15, 2013

    We know all about Henry VIII's famous wives and daughters. But what about his mother, who legitimized the new Tudor dynasty as the only living descendant of Yorkist King Edward IV? The popular Weir, who has tackled many of England's great royal women in biography and fiction, here takes on Elizabeth of York in what appears to be the only biography currently available for lay readers.

    Copyright 2013 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • The New York Times Book Review Praise for Elizabeth of York "Weir tells Elizabeth's story well. . . . She is a meticulous scholar. . . . Most important, Weir sincerely admires her subject, doing honor to an almost forgotten queen."
  • Huntington News "In [Alison] Weir's skillful hands, Elizabeth of York returns to us, full-bodied and three-dimensional. This is a must-read for Tudor fans!"--Historical Novels Review "This bracing biography reveals a woman of integrity, who . . . helped [her husband] lay strong groundwork for the success of the new Tudor dynasty. As always in a Weir book, the tenor of the times is drawn with great color and authenticity."--Booklist "Weir once again demonstrates that she is an outstanding portrayer of the Tudor era, giving us a fully realized biography of a remarkable woman."
  • Booklist Praise for Alison Weir's Mary Boleyn, named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Chicago Tribune "This nuanced, smart, and assertive biography reclaims the life of a Tudor matriarch."--Publishers Weekly "Weir has achieved the enviable skill of blending the necessary forensic and analytical tasks of academia with the passionate engagement that avocational history lovers crave."--Bookreporter "Top-notch . . . This book further proves that [Weir] is a historian of the highest caliber."--Washington Independent Review of Books "A refreshing change from recent books on the subject . . . If you want to learn more about this often-maligned woman of the sixteenth century, this is a must-read."--The Free Lance--Star "Weir's research is always first-rate and her narratives accessible. In her latest book, the author has to navigate the historical minefields of gossip, fiction, and conjecture to finally get at the truth."--Tucson Citizen "Engaging . . . Weir matches her usual professional skills in research and interpretation to her customary, felicitous style."

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