But Elizabeth was much more than a successful royal baby producer. In fact, she had a claim to the English throne in her own right, and it is believed that she may have been next in line for the throne after her uncle Richard III. However, when Henry Tudor (aka VII) defeated Richard in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 and took the crown for himself, Elizabeth did not contest him. She instead agreed to marry him in favor of unifying the two warring houses - hers, the House of York, and Henry's, the House of Lancaster. In this, she proved to be agreeable and willing to do what was best for her country. Perhaps she didn't consider herself cut out for ruling - but she would certainly prove capable of being a good queen consort.
One aspect of Elizabeth's life that I find particularly interesting is that she and her husband seem to have genuinely cared for each other. This is not necessarily the norm in Tudor history - as we well know after studying Henry VIII. Elizabeth actually seems to have been very much respected by her husband, and regarded as the only woman he wanted in his life. There are no records of Henry VII taking mistresses during his marriage (though of course, he could have), and he apparently mourned her quite deeply when she died at age thirty-seven. They seem to have been the epitome of the "successful" Tudor marriage - and of course, we know the price that was too often paid by wives if the marriage was anything less than successful.
She was born at the Palace of Whitehall to King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. She was christened at Westminster Abbey and her sponsors were all noble family members - including Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Duchess of Bedford, and Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick. In 1477, she was named a Lady of the Garter, along with her mother and her paternal aunt, Elizabeth of York, Duchess of Suffolk.
Clearly, Elizabeth's birth was one to celebrate. She was the daughter of the king - perhaps an heir, and certainly an English princess. She had more titles than her future husband would have had - until he was king, of course - and therefore she was seen as quite an important girl in England at the time. Sure, her life would end up being very different from what she may have originally thought or expected, but it would still be grand!
In 1502, Elizabeth became pregnant for the seventh time - much to the joy of both her husband and the entire realm of England. They already had three surviving children (the eldest - and heir - Arthur, had died in April 1502), but at least they still had a spare son to take over the throne when her husband died. In any case, another pregnancy was welcome and exciting, and Elizabeth probably had no reason to fear it. After all, she came from some of the most fertile stock of women in England! However, after Elizabeth gave birth to a daughter named Katherine on 2 February 1503, she was affected by a terrible, often fatal infection - (the same that would later kill Jane Seymour in 1537). She finally succumbed to the infection nine days later on her thirty-seventh birthday. According to one account, her husband was deeply grieved by his wife's death, and he reportedly "privily departed to a solitary place and would no man should resort unto him." He spent a great amount of money on her grand funeral, arranged for her to lay in state in the Chapel of St. John the Evangelist in the Tower of London, and had her buried in an elaborate tomb in Westminster Abbey, where he would join her six years later.
All in all, Elizabeth seems to be one of the most interesting and agreeable Tudor women in this period of history. She was successful, intelligent, beautiful, and beloved. I don't think there's anything not to like about her, really! Let's take some time today to remember this beautiful queen consort - celebrate her birth and mourn her death. What a great Tudor woman!