Publisher: Amberley Books March 2014
Genre: Non-fiction, British History, Kings and Queens of England, House of York, House of Tudor, British History Reading Challenge 2014
Pages: 272, 40 illustrations
Rating: 4 Stars for Very Good
Source: Free copy from Amberley in exchange for a review.
Amy Licence blog
Barnes and Noble
Elizabeth of York, eldest daughter of Edward IV, and Elizabeth Wydeville, was born February 11, 1465. Elizabeth Wydeville, had two sons by her first marriage, and ten children by Edward. Elizabeth and Edward's marriage was unpopular, especially with Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, and with Cecily Neville, Edward's mother. Warwick was in the process of negotiations with France, to secure a wife for Edward at the time of Edward's "secret" marriage. Elizabeth Wydeville was of Lancasterian heritage and this was a strong cause of friction. Elizabeth of York's childhood dramatically changed at age three, by the Battle of Edgecote Moor, it was a Lancastrian victory. Edward was defeated and her mother's father and brother were both killed. During this period Elizabeth of York, was in sanctuary with her mother and siblings at Westminster. Edward had been apprehended but was released and returned to his family. Three subsequent York victories ended the struggle and there was a brief time of peace until Edward's death at age 41. Elizabeth lived during the tumultuous years of the Wars of the Roses, originally known as the Cousin's Wars. In addition, her two brother's disappeared mysteriously in the Tower, they were presumed dead. After the Battle of Bosworth, when Richard III was defeated and killed, she married Henry Tudor, the new king of England. Elizabeth and Henry had seven children, four that lived past childhood. Henry VIII, the couple's second son, ruled England for nearly 38 years.
Amy Licence considers Elizabeth a "lost Tudor." She's been minimized by other family members which had more documented sources, and dominant marks in history.
I have to admit, before reading Elizabeth of York, I'd thought of her as passive and demure. Her life dictated and ruled by others who were in charge, as she sat waiting for her life to begin. However, people esteemed her for both an outward and inward beauty.
"There seems always to have been but one opinion as to the gentleness and goodness of Elizabeth." From the Dictionary of National Biography.In the last year of life, documented sources tell us of her thoughtful gifts to the poor. Elizabeth was a thoughtful, caring, gentle soul. She'd lived among family members who were ambitious, calculating, vengeful, but this did not change her character. I admire Elizabeth. Despite how members of her family acted, or how life had brought about painful events, she continued to be a lovely gracious woman.
Amy Licence, has grafted into the story of Elizabeth of York, other notable historical figures and events. The Wydeville, York, Lancaster, Neville, and Tudor families, are all portrayed. The Wars of the Roses battles are described in brief. Pregnancy, birthing, caring for infants, diseases, childhood, and the history of printing press and books.
Licence remarks in the introduction:
"Tudor people can sometimes seem very close and at others, their behavior places them far from the twenty-first-century reader. To understand them, we have to try and get inside the Tudor mind, evaluate their actions according to their collective mentalite', if such a thing exists. Where the biographer and reader must be wary is in how their actions are interpreted. The late medieval 'environment' was very different from ours in social, cultural, political and religious terms. Thus the psychological backdrop of its inhabitants and the mechanisms by which they understood and acted on their emotions, indeed the very mental structures that produced them, differ widely from those of today. Put simply, our wallpaper has changed." Page 12.In each of the Licence's books I've read and reviewed, she reminds me to be careful how I "interpret" the historical people, especially in regards to the era in which they lived. I appreciate Amy bringing my mind back to where it needs to be, to not make hasty judgments, and to take in to account the society, and culture, and unique circumstance in which they lived.
I cannot say that I learned anything new from any of the other historical figures presented, but Elizabeth of York is certainly known to me now. I'm most impressed in learning that she probably taught her own children. Elizabeth took an active part in her children's present and future lives, this tells me she had a special and unique relationship with her children that many queens did not have.