The History Behind The White Princess

You guys were so into my last post about The White Queen (which you can read HERE) that I thought it was time to do The White Princess! If you haven’t read the books, or know a lot about the history, this might “spoil” the show. Enjoy!

Margaret Beaufort

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Margaret was the only child of the Duke of Somerset and upon his death, she inherited his fortune. But King Henry VI gave some of her lands to the Duke of Suffolk, whose son later married Margaret and became husband #1. But since she was still a toddler at this time and the pair were too closely related, the marriage wasn’t recognized. Still a wealthy lady, Henry VI called dibs on her and gave her to his half brother Edmund Tudor.

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Their marriage was a short one and Edmund died of the plague after being taken captives by the York forces, leaving her a widowed and pregnant 13-year-old. Taking shelter with her brother-in-law Jasper Tudor, she gave birth to Henry VII, the only child she would ever have. But the pair didn’t have much time together, as he was sent to live in exile for his safety and they could only communicate through letters.

Husband #3 came along, Henry Stafford, and the got along well enough and had a happy marriage. Until he also died when she was 28. Not a good track record for Margaret, who married Thomas Stanly as husband #4 after that. They married strictly to benefit both, as Thomas had political power and Margaret had wealth. They largely lived apart and she even took a vow of chastity, but the arrangement worked well for them. Together, they helped to put Henry VII on the throne.

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She was completely devoted to her son and was basically the royal version of a monster-in-law. She would wear dresses that basically matched Elizabeth’s and tried taking over all the usual tasks that would be given to the queen, like the naming of children and other duties. She was like Regina George’s mom in Mean Girls, only super pious and sour.

Henry Tudor

Henry was the last English monarch that won his throne through battle, taking the crown when his forces defeated Richard III. By marrying Elizabeth of York, he was able to solidify his right to the throne, as he assumed was his all along due to his mother’s constant pushing. In fact, his ties to the crown were distant, being related to King Edward III through the child of a mistress. Still, it was enough to get him an army.

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Once he married Elizabeth, he began a peaceful reign with any real threat to his crown. Together, they had eight children, with two daughters and two sons surviving childhood. From him came King Henry VIII and his infamous wives. But Henry VIII didn’t learn much from his father, who was notably faithful to Elizabeth throughout their marriage. When she died in childbirth, he was so saddened, he never brought himself to remarry, although he only had three living children left at that point and was still young enough to beget more heirs.

Elizabeth of York

This blonde beauty was the daughter, sister, niece, mother, and grandmother of kings. But it was a rocky road. After her father’s death and her brother’s confinement to the Tower of London, she was welcomed out of sanctuary and back to the court of the new King Richard III, her uncle. While this is under historical debate, it is possible that she and her uncle were having an affair while his sickly wife Anne Neville lay upon her death bed. It was true that the pair were often seen together, but there is no definite proof they were in a relationship, or that they planned to wed when Anne died. But it’s not like the pair would carry on their romance in public if it were true.

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By the time Henry Tudor defeated Richard to take the crown, it was accepted that he would marry Elizabeth. As the eldest York daughter, and the woman who could have been queen in her own right had she been born in a different time, their union would solidify his claim to the throne. So he had her parent’s marriage legitimized again and went to join the Yorks and the Tudors. But Henry wasn’t one to share power, so he had himself crowned king before he even married Elizabeth and didn’t have her crowned queen until after she had birthed a son.

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But the marriage may not have been completely loveless as many have thought. Henry was notoriously faithful to his wife, not even remarrying after her death at the age of 37 when he could have easily snatched up a fertile princess. He was even said to mourn her terribly. Far cry from the marriage seen so far in The White Princess, but it’s not like Elizabeth could have divorced him or flat out refused to marry him, so we’ll never know for sure went on behind closed doors.

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The Curse

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In The White Queen we saw Elizabeth Woodville and her daughter Elizabeth of York summoning the power of Melusina to curse the killer of lil’Edward and lil’ Richard. They said that whoever killed the boys would lose their own son young and their grandson as well and have their line end. As fun as that is, it’s a story created by Philipa Gregory to further history, as it’s a fun twist in her series that Henry VII lost both his first son (Arthur) and his first grandson (Edward).

It’s accepted that Richard III didn’t actually kill his nephews lil’Edward and lil’Richard in the tower, as by the time they disappeared, he was already on the throne. Besides, his own sickly son had died and having his nephews as heirs would have benefited him. So Richard get’s a historical pass in my book!

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You know who would have benefited from lil’Edward and lil’Richard’s deaths? Henry VII. Those boys had the greatest claim to the throne over him and if they had been alive and accessible, the Yorks may have rose again. It’s also true that he would have never legitimized Elizabeth Woodville and Edward IV’s marriage if there was the slightest chance that the boys were alive and could come to claim what was rightfully theirs.

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There’s no saying how much/if we’ll see anything about Henry and Elizabeth’s kids, but let’s chat about them anyway…

King Henry VIII

This English monarch was the only surviving son of Henry VII and Elizabeth. Mostly known for his many marriages, he always craved sons. This may be partly due to his mother and grandmother being so fertile and maternal and the fact that the only sure way to hold the throne was to have a male heir. But, he was never lucky in love and fathered numerous children with wives and mistresses, only getting one legitimate son before dying gross and fat.

Katherine of Aragon

The young Spanish princess first came to England to be the bride of Henry’s older brother Arthur. But Arthur was weak and sickly and died soon after they wed. Since England still needed an alliance with Spain, the declared that Katherine and Arthur never did the dirty so she was allowed to marry Henry. At first, it seemed super awesome, but as Katherine continuously miscarried, with only one daughter surviving, Henry got antsy for a boy child. So, he did what any sane monarch would do…dump his wife of 20 years into a nunnery for his latest and most cunning mistress…

Anne Boleyn

Anne promised Henry the son he always wanted and he was all about that business. So the moment he had his new religion created, his marriage decreed invalid, and there was an opening in his busy schedule, he wifed her up. But, again, there were miscarriages and only one living daughter. Now, Henry felt pretty dumb. He ousted a beloved queen, married a mistress whose family was slowly taking over court, and still didn’t have a son. Apparently the only way to fix that was to accuse Anne of witchcraft and incest before chopping off her head.

Jane Seymour

Jane was Henry’s favorite wife. She was meek, obedient, turned the other cheek when Henry got a new mistress and finally gave him a son. But, she soon died of complications after childbirth and Henry was seriously torn up. She was the perfect wife and he honored her the only ways he knew how. He gave her a queen’s funeral, had family portraits painted throughout his life with her tucked in, and was later buried beside her, still his favorite long into his old age.

Anne of Cleves

This royal from modern-day Germany was the luckiest of the bunch, and you’ll see why. So, Henry needed a wife and Anne was rustled up from the list to be wife #4. Well, the moment Henry saw her, he declared her super ugly and swiftly had their marriage annulled, citing that she was so disgusting, the marriage couldn’t be consummated. But Henry then gave her an allowance, called her his sister, and the two generally enjoyed each other’s company in a platonic way for the rest of his life. Anne was even the last living wife, outliving everyone else.

Catherine Howard

This teenage bride lasted for 3 whole months. She first caught Henry’s eye as a lady in waiting to Anne of Cleves and the pair were almost immediately married once Anne was out of the picture. Catherine was young, impulsive, and really not a match for the sickly, portly, old king. Might be why she is said to have begun an affair with someone her old age…and why she was beheaded.

Catherine Parr

The final wife was probably a more appropriate choice for Henry. She was older, had already been married twice, and was no longer going to have children. She fit the kind, caring queen well and made for a nice enough helpmate to Henry in his final years. She even helped him reconcile with his daughters. And when he died, she went on to marry again, lucky to have dodged the bullet that took so many of Henry’s other queens.

That’s it for today, but if you’d like some more history fun, check out our Outlander page HERE!

And if you like my writing, I have two books out now. The first is a steamy contemporary romance titled The Non-Disclosure Agreement, which you can get HERE. But if historical romance is more your thing, my Scottish romance, Queen of Emeralds, is on sale HERE for 99cents this weekend!

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