Book Review: “Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen: The Story of Elizabeth of York” by Samantha Wilcoxson

Hello!

I was on my Instagram stories the other day, and as I was passing through others, I saw a very small bit of Samantha Wilcoxson’s; sharing that the first book of her Plantagenet Embers series, The Story of Elizabeth of York was free for that day. In my mind, I thought it would be just like my other ‘freebies’ and store it for a later date once it was fully downloaded, but I didn’t wait to start it. I think I may have lasted about 12 hours total, which wasn’t a surprise at all. I have a strong weakness for historical fiction, especially if they discuss the Tudor dynasty.

In the midst of reading this book, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had died, and this story about another Queen Elizabeth (she was a Queen Consort, not Regent!) really helped me heal through the news of her death. I found these two women to have a similar story, they were not expected to ascend to their positions, as Elizabeth II’s father was the brother of the disgrace Edward VIII, so his younger brother Prince Albert, The Duke of York became King George VI in 1936, where his wife Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyons would later become referred as “Elizabeth, The Queen Mother” as their first daughter Princess Elizabeth would eventually be title Queen Elizabeth II. She obviously didn’t want to overshadow her daughter’s own name when she inherited the throne in 1952.

For anyone out there who would like to explore the story of Elizabeth of York’s story as a nonfiction, I definitely recommend Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World by Alison Weir, but if you should probably read something about her mother, The Dowager Queen of Edward IV and I suggest Elizabeth Woodville: Mother of the Princes in the Tower by David Baldwin.


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She was the mother of Henry VIII and wife of Henry VII, but who was Elizabeth of York? Raised as the precious oldest child of Edward IV, Elizabeth had every reason to expect a bright future until Edward died, and her life fell apart.

When Elizabeth’s uncle became Richard III, she was forced to choose sides. Should she trust her father’s brother and most loyal supporter or honor the betrothal that her mother has made for her to her family’s enemy, Henry Tudor?

The choice was made for her on the field at Bosworth, and Elizabeth the Plantagenet princess became the first Tudor queen.

Did Elizabeth find happiness with Henry? Did she ever discover the truth about her missing brothers, who became better known as the Princes in the Tower?

Lose yourself in Elizabeth’s world in Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen.

taken from Goodreads.

I find Elizabeth of York so fascinating! On one foot, she was born of Plantagenet blood, on the side with the “White Rose” full of Yorkists, with her father Edward VI at the head of the family and kingdom, with his common wife Elizabeth Woodville. She was their first child, and even though her parents wished for her to be a boy, she was still loved and could be a way to tighter alliances in the future of Edward’s reign, and she was brothel to a few people, the one Samantha discusses in the book was Louis, the Dauphin of France.

Elizabeth still wasn’t sure that she was ready for what she must face, but she had been given little choice.

Bess, as she was referred in the book, is a very important person in the aftermath of the Wars of The Roses, After the disappearances of her younger brothers and heirs to the throne, she has the unlucky advantage of becoming the wife to the Red Rose, the Lancastrian Henry Tudor. However, we see her in the presence of her uncle Richard’s eye at the start of the story and honestly, this arrangement could have worked, at this time she was considered a bastard, plus it wasn’t uncommon for royals to marry into their own family lines, I mean, just look into the lives of the Hapsburgs!

Another part of this though, Bess and her sister Cecily try to establish contact with their brothers who they assume are still alive and well somewhere in the country, away from court life in the thick of Richard’s reign. When Henry Tudor is proclaimed king, he and Elizabeth are married, and she gives birth to Prince Arthur, and they deal with the pretenders of the crown. Despite the fact there isn’t much about the real “Bess” opinions about politics as she wanted to be a submissive wife–the total opposite of her mother by the way!–I wonder what she really thought about these attempts of stripping her husband and son’s titles away. As a reader, it’s heartbreaking to try to decipher between her loyalty of her family, and if these men were in fact her brothers. I’m still reeling over the last paragraph of the book because it annoyed and stunned me at the same time.

The rose was white in the center and blood-red at the edges of the petals. A white York rose dipped in Lancastrian blood.

Back in 2020, I had read the second book of this series, Faithful Traitor, it was about Lady Margaret Pole, daughter of George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence (who was Edward IV and Richard III’s brother and Lady Isabel Neville oldest child, and this one gives you more of an insight into the events that happen after Bess has passed away.

I am currently reading the third and final book Queen of Martyrs which is about Queen Mary I’s rise to the throne. Once I’m finished with it though, I will not be reading the novellas that go along with the other books in the series–I’ve tried to get through Once a Queen: The Story of Elizabeth Woodville and Prince of York: The Story of Reginald Pole, twice so I’ve put them in my DNF shelf (did not finish) on Goodreads. However, I do have one other book by another author on my list that discusses this time frame but on the point of view of the Lancastrian side, as it follows Lady Margaret Beaufort and her son, the first Tudor king, Henry VII. I’m aiming to get a review out towards the end of October, but we’ll see what really happens there.

Have you read “Once a Queen: The Story of Elizabeth of York” or any of the other books I’ve listed above? If you have, please share your thoughts in the comments section.

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Book Review: Elizabeth Of York by Alison Weir

Back in November, I celebrated my birthday with a trip to one of my favorite places: Barnes & Noble. I hadn’t been there since 2012, so it had been a long time coming and even though I had a list of books that weren’t necessarily for pleasure, I still managed to find two books that I found interesting, one was The Kings and Queens of England by Ian Crofton and the other was Elizabeth Of York by Alison Weir.

If you remember, 2016 was the year where I watched a lot of documentaries and discovered the On-Demand button apparently! I watched The Tudors in the month of February and made a review and that June I watched The White Queen which is the story of Edward IV and his commoner wife Elizabeth Woodville and the lives of George, Duke Of Clarence, King Richard III, (brothers of Edward) Margaret Beaufort, Margaret Of Anjou, Henry V, Thomas Neville, “The Kingmaker” (cousin to Edward, George, and Richard) and his wife and daughters Isabella (later wife to George) and Anne (later wife and queen consort to King Richard III). I also reviewed the show on here after finishing the series.

I bought this book before I ever found out that they were continuing the TV series of Philippa Gregory’s books, what both shows were based off of, not Alison’s effort. I will say once I found out there was to be a show telling the reign of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, it did fuel my inspiration to finally read it. I started on it either before or on February 28, sometimes I read a lot in one sitting, but I am not sure when I actually started on it. On Goodreads, it states that the book is over 500+ pages long but the real last part of her story ends on 457! The rest of it explains references mentioned inside and Alison also gives you a list of some of her ladies-in-waiting, maid-of-honours, and gentlewomen.

If you were to read some of the reviews of this book on Goodreads, they might discourage you from ever purchasing it. Elizabeth of York wasn’t the type of queen who ruled the country through her husband, she wasn’t that type of person so most people think she was weak and maintained this goody-too-shoes attitude to her husband and the rest of the court, but I don’t think this is a bad thing! She was taught from a very young age what was expected of her as Queen of England and mother to her children. Despite the fact that she was a well-liked queen, some thought deserved to rule the kingdom than anybody else, but at the time no female had done that until her granddaughters Mary I, Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots.

So here are some sections you will learn inside the book!

Elizabeth Of York is the oldest daughter of King Edward IV and his Queen, Elizabeth Woodville. Her mother was originally a widow of soldier who fought with the House of Lancaster, her husband Sir Thomas Grey died on the battlefield. She already had two young boys, Thomas and Richard Grey. When the young King Edward met with them it was only to ask for her husband’s land back after they were confiscated when Sir Thomas died. They met under an oak tree and Edward was obviously very taken with her that he fought against his “Kingmaker” Thomas Neville and family’s wishes to not marry into royal blood.

Elizabeth was born in 1466, at that time they, of course, didn’t have ways to know whether or not the baby was going to be a male and heir to the throne. So when she was born, instead of her father being furious with her and his wife, he accepted her and hoped for heirs in the future. King Edward and Queen Elizabeth ended up having 10 children in all, but two of them died. There were three places that she and the royal family and court lived during her early childhood: Sheen, Greenwich and Westminster Castle. Her father had betrothed Elizabeth about five times, the first being to the Dauphin of France after he and his brothers were to go to war to fight back their lands against King Louis XI.

After the death of her father in 1483, her uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester was named guardian of her younger brother Edward V and he was taken by force to The Tower; later he would be joined by their younger brother Richard where the rumors would fly for many decades about what really happened to them as “The Princess In The Tower”. Also at this time, Richard got Parliament to accept that Edward’s marriage to Elizabeth’s mother was invalid and that the children were bastards thus the Duke of Gloucester became King Richard III.

I’ve chosen to leave quite a bit out of this review for a reason–it would ruin the entire thing if I told you more! The book itself is a little intimidating because of the amount of pages it has, but there’s always a thrill of learning about a person’s life, especially if they’ve been dead for centuries! I am generally a fan of biographies, so I knew I’d enjoy it!

I will say I did have some favorite chapters! Chapter 5: “Her Only Joy and Maker” which talks about what would be expected of not only Elizabeth of York when she’s married but her sisters, what their roles of both wife and mother if their husband was of royal blood, Chapter 9: “Offspring Of The Race Of Kings” you will see the birth of King Henry VII and Elizabeth’s first child Prince Arthur! Chapter 11: “Bright Elizabeth” tells you about her coronation as Queen of England in great detail and Chapter 15: “The Spanish Infanta” is about when the Princess Katherine of Aragon finally married Prince Arthur of Wales and some unfortunate events happen afterwards!

I gave the book on Goodreads four stars I think! It would have been five stars, if I hadn’t ruined a bit for myself between watching The White Queen last year and scooping out little pieces of information on the internet… That’s how I knew what year she had died and how many kids she and her husband had together! Also, if you are wondering whether or not to read the book, do not look through the reviews! Keep yourself away from the spoilers and let yourself be open to the story of the forgotten Plantagenet-Tudor queen!

Have you read Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World yet? Are you watching The White Princess on STARZ? 

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