18th January 1486

Most historical blogs are about the same thing today, I have noticed.

The marriage of Henry Tudor (King Henry VII, by this time) and Elizabeth of York.

It was the union that would end the Wars of the Roses/Cousins War, by uniting the houses of Lancaster and York.  Though as Elizabeth Woodville’s family had fought on the Lancaster side before her marriage to Edward IV, shouldn’t her marriage have been seen as uniting the houses??

Whether the two parties were happy about the marriage at the time is unknown, they had not met until just after Bosworth, when Henry’s men had slain Elizabeth’s Uncle Richard, who some say she was in love with.

Richard had in fact been negotiating a wedding match for Elizabeth with the Portuguese royal family, which would have put her on the throne of that country, had Richard lived.

Instead she was forced to marry Tudor, which put her on the English throne instead.

She was not even a true heir in the York line, if Titulus Regis is taken into account.  This was the document that made Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville’s children illegitimate when his prior marriage to Eleanor Talbot was discovered two years earlier.  That meant that Elizabeth was a bastard as were her brothers and sisters.

Henry Tudor ordered all copies of Titulus Regis to be destroyed and declared the York children to be legitimate after all.

This made Elizabeth’s brothers the true heirs to the throne, but noone knew where they were.

Contrary to what most people think today, noone had accused Richard of killing them at that time, noone even said they were dead.  Tudor did not even claim that Richard had killed the boys, and it would have been a perfect opportunity for him to have slated the guy, don’t you think?

Elizabeth, now as Queen, was in a perfect position to order masses or a chantry chapel for her brothers if she thought them dead, but she did not.  Her mother did not either, even though she was free to do so now.  To say masses for the souls of people who still lived was a sin, to not say masses for a dead person was a sin.  To me, this proves that neither Elizabeth nor her mother, or for that matter their grandmother Cecily or other sisters, thought that Edward and Richard were dead at that point.

The fact, though, that Edward (V) and Richard were now legitimate, meant that Henry could not claim a legitimate descent as heir to the throne.  So he was forced to claim it by conquest.  This made his crown a little unstable.  There were plenty of people ahead of him in the royal line, what if one of them came forward and wanted to challenge him?

This happened twice in his reign, in the forms of Lambert Simnel and ‘Perkin Warbeck’.  But that is another story.

Elizabeth was high in that royal line, so marrying her gave a modicum of stability to his position.

It appeared to be a hppy marriage, over time.  Henry is said to have mourned her terribly when she died in 1503.

So on this day in 1486, the couple met in Westminster Abbey, where they were married by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

And thus ended the Wars of the Roses…….in theory.


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