WAS HENRY VII A RELUCTANT BRIDEGROOM?

Interesting article which raises many questions about the motives behind the marriage and Henry’s careful balancing of conflicting opportunities and threats in the early period of his reign.

I think that Henry remained very insecure about his legitimacy and it was important for him to establish himself as the ‘rightful’ monarch without having to look to a marriage to secure his right to rule. Also in the early stages of his kingship he may have found it politic to leave the position of queen vacant in order to boost his international appeal. Elizabeth’s illegitimacy was a stain on her which he may have worried would cause problems down the line and could have caused him to delay any sudden move towards marriage – Edward IV had a fairly shady track record on secret marriages after all! Henry was probably also cautious of re-introducing the Woodville affiliation into any position of influence, knowing how unpopular this had proved to be during the reign of Edward IV and wanting to leave lucrative offices free to reward his own affiliation. The way in which he dealt with the Titulus Regius suggests that he was deeply concerned about the potential harm it could still do to his authority and at great pains to obliterate it completely. Personally I think it is telling that Henry took 3 weeks to get to London after Bosworth and he knew the princes were out of the equation. He couldn’t reveal this because it implied his association with their killer so he pretended to have no knowledge of their fate beyond the general rumour that Richard had shed innocent blood. He calculated that the majority would want stability and the return to ‘normal’ government after a generation of civil war and perhaps he used parliament to urge his marriage to Elizabeth of York so that he could be seen to assent to their advice, thus appearing benevolent and have their mandate to proceed with the marriage. He was certainly an astute political operator and may have judged that he stood a better chance of retaining Yorkist support by legitimising and marrying Elizabeth than in trying to negotiate a foreign marriage when the question of pretenders and rival claimants still hung over him – the same factors would cause him to execute Warwick years later in order for the Spanish marriage to go ahead between Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon after all.

A MEDIEVAL POTPOURRI

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Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. Their effigies in Westminster Abbey. Artist Pietro Torrigiano. Photo westminster-abbey.org

I was recently reading an excellent article in the Ricardian discussing Henry Tudor’s enthusiasm, or lack of it, for his marriage to Elizabeth of York by David Johnson entitled Ardent Suitor or Reluctant Groom?It’s pretty much an eye opener and is in two parts – part 1Ardent Suitorcovers the positives, if you can call them that - that is to try to understand why Henry, who in Rennes Cathedral on Christmas Day 1483 had vowed to marry Elizabeth of York, seemingly developed a serious case of cold feet in 1485 after his success at Bosworth. This seems a major volte-face from a man who was reported by Vergil as being ‘pinched by the very stomach’when rumours had reached him that Richard III was‘amynded’, having been recently widowed, to

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