Elizabeth of York: The Last White Rose

Elizabeth of York: The Last White Rose by Alison Weir

Flame-haired, beautiful, and sweet- natured Elizabeth of York is the much loved oldest child of Edward IV of England and Elizabeth Woodville.

When her father dies unexpectedly at the age of 41 he leaves her young brother Edward as heir but Edward is under age so a power struggle ensues between the King’s brother, Richard, and the Woodville clan. Ultimately Richard III reigns and the heir & his younger brother are put into protective custody in the Tower of London. For a short time they are seen playing on the battlements then they gradually disappear from sight – never to be seen again!

Elizabeth, her mother and her younger siblings take sanctuary in Westminster Abbey fearing for their own lives while in Europe Henry Tudor, a son of the rival house of Lancaster, claims his right to the throne. Supported by Richard III’s enemies he raises an army and confronts the King at the Battle of Bosworth. Richard III is killed and Henry claims the throne by right of conquest to become Henry VII.

In return for military and financial support Henry had already promised to marry Elizabeth of York and so unite the Houses of York & Lancaster, symbolised by white and red roses. This union was intended to herald a new age of peace and prosperity.

Against all expectations the marriage is one of mutual respect and even love. Elizabeth bears Henry seven children, four of them surviving into adulthood including the future Henry VIII. She dies just after giving birth to her 7th child at the age of only 37 years old. To the end of her life she must have been haunted by the unknown fate of her young brothers.

Submitted by Karen