On this day in Tudor history, 18th January 1486, twenty-nine year-old King Henry VII married twenty year-old Elizabeth of York at Westminster Abbey.

This was over two years after he had vowed to marry her and nearly 5 months after his victory at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Why did Henry VII delay in marrying Elizabeth of York?

Find out what delayed the marriage, and more about the bride and groom, in this talk…

Also on this day in Tudor history, 18th January 1510, King Henry VIII and twelve of his men disguised themselves as outlaws, or Robin Hood and his men, and surprised Queen Catherine and her ladies in the queen’s chamber.

Find out more about what happened in this video…

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One thought on “18 January – Henry VII and Elizabeth of York get married and Henry VIII dresses up”
  1. Henry’s delay in marrying Elizabeth of York was inevitable. For one thing legally Elizabeth was illegitimate. No matter what people think about the state of her parents marriage, Parliament had made Elizabeth and her swarm of siblings illegitimate in January 1484 after an investigation led Richard iii to have them declared so. That was Elizabeth’s legal status in August 1485..

    Next Henry was hardly going to marry her the moment he arrived in the capital. He had made a vow to wed her but she still had to consent. He hadn’t even met her and she wasn’t in London. She was up north on the border between the Midlands and Yorkshire. She was at Richard’s home for safe keeping. Henry had to have her brought to London. No his men didn’t ransack the place looking for hidden York males. Nor was she dragged to London. She was taken first to his mother and then to see the King.

    Henry and Elizabeth were also related so a dispensation was needed for their marriage which took time to arrive. Henry got to know her first.

    There was also the problem of Henry’s own title. Victory on the Battlefield didn’t automatically put the crown on his head. He had to present himself to the nobles and high borns and gained acceptance. He then had to arrange his coronation to show he had won the crown in his own right and that his claim didn’t depend on Elizabeth. To enter Parliament and have his claim recognised and have Elizabeth and her siblings declared legitimate again, Henry had to be crowned. A coronation cannot be made in one day. Henry wanted his to be as elaborate as Richard’s had been. The best date he could arrange was October. Parliament followed and reversed the Titular Regis. Well, it wasn’t repealed as it wasn’t read out in full and then it was destroyed with all copies. One survived. Hard luck Henry, we know the truth.

    The wedding was to be a public affair in Westminster Abbey and therefore took a long time to arrange. January 18th was probably the best date they could get. The dispensation only came a few days earlier.

    So in reality Henry didn’t delay his marriage to Elizabeth of York. He had to go through a series of legal processes first and formalities before he was able to marry Elizabeth. Her own coronation was delayed because she was quickly pregnant and the political situation in the country was unstable.

    Immediately after the birth and baptism of their first baby, Prince Arthur, there was a rebellion and a series of assassination attempts, conspiracies and a certain Lambert Simnel, the Battle of East Stoke etc, plus there was also plague to compete with. It was only after all this had settled down in 1487 that Elizabeth was finally crowned.

    Let’s get rid of the myths..

    No, Henry didn’t try Elizabeth out to see if she was fertile, that’s Philippa Gregory.
    No, Henry wasn’t reluctant to marry her.. His vow was binding.
    Elizabeth was expecting to marry Henry or be shipped off to be Queen of Portugal, depending on who won at Bosworth. She wasn’t expecting to marry Uncle Richard. Nor did Henry seriously think she had slept with Richard. He had heard rumours that Elizabeth may have been going to wed Richard as he made enquiries about Maud Herbert, another potential York Bride. He was given enough assurance by Elizabeth to dismiss the idea.
    No, Elizabeth didn’t want to kill herself, Henry or her unborn child. More rubbish from PG.
    No, Margaret Beaufort wasn’t the mother in law from hell. Her relationship with Elizabeth was helpful and warm.
    No, Henry didn’t need to marry Elizabeth to stay on the throne, his victory was good enough and he had enough support to remain there.
    No, Elizabeth wasn’t a love sick goose, over heads in love with Riii who resented Henry.
    No, Elizabeth didn’t mourn her brothers as she didn’t know what their fate was and no contemporary sources state this.
    No, Elizabeth Wydeville didn’t put a curse on her own grandchildren and no Elizabeth and her mother didn’t indulge in witchcraft.
    No, Elizabeth didn’t complain about going into confinement and no Henry wasn’t in York when his son was born. In fact she went to Winchester in great pomp and ceremony.

    The relationship between Henry Vii and Elizabeth of York may not have been a great love affair but they respected each other, showed tenderness and affection to each other and their marriage was a success. It was a strong bond and she was a good partner towards Henry. He missed her terribly when she died and was a different man after he emerged from mourning her death.

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