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29 June 1509 – Death of Margaret Beaufort

Posted By on June 29, 2011

Margaret BeaufortOn the day after Henry VIII’s 18th birthday and one of his coronation celebratory jousts, his grandmother and the matriarch of the Tudor dynasty, Lady Margaret Beaufort, died. She was in her late sixties, a good age for a Tudor woman, and had outlived her son, Henry VII, her daughter-in-law, Elizabeth of York, her grandson, Prince Arthur, and her fourth and final husband. She had also lived to see her grandson, Henry, become King and get married.

David Starkey, in “Henry: Virtuous Prince”, wrote of how Margaret “had played a leading part in the preparations for the coronation”, meeting with the council to make the necessary arrangements, so she was obviously well enough between April and June to take that on. Starkey also tells of how Margaret watched the eve-of-coronation procession with her granddaughter, Mary, from a latticed viewing point in a house on Cheapside. Apparently she was joyous at the coronation the following day but then “cast a pall on things by muttering that ‘some adversity would follow'”. This feeling of doom didn’t stop her enjoying the coronation banquet, though, and Starkey wonders if she might have eaten a little “too heatily”, as Lord Morley, described how Margaret “took her infirmity with eating of a cygnet”.

A few days later, on the morning of the 29th June 1509, John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, was summoned to perform last rites and this formidable woman slipped away as he held up the host.

As Starkey points out, Henry VIII had now “lost the two dominant figures of his youth: his father and his grandmother” and “he was now not only king but paterfamilias and undisputed head of his family.” He was in charge and he was his own man at long last.

You can read more about Margaret in my article “Lady Margaret Beaufort”.

Notes and Sources

14 thoughts on “29 June 1509 – Death of Margaret Beaufort”

  1. Chocobasse says:

    A truly remarkable woman. I really have to admire her strenght.

  2. TinaII2None says:

    I’ve always found her a fascinating woman who underwent so much in her life, from nearly dying in childbirth, to her devotion to her only child, and her influence in the life of her grandson, Henry. It was one reason why I decided to read Norton’s bio on her because there never seemed to be a lot of information on her. It just makes her all the more incredible and you can see where the Tudors got their fortitude.

  3. Dawn says:

    I have not read as yet anything indepth about Margaret, though she has always been in the background of all the books I have read about Henry VIII. She has always struck me as being a very capable woman and a force to be met with, in control of her own affairs and destiny which was very unusual for a woman of that time. She seemed to be the’power behind the throne’ when her son ruled, even taking precedance over Queen Elizabeth of York at court in some matters. What an exciting and varied life she led, seeing both her son and grandson crowned king. I wonder what strong advise she would given her ‘lusty’ grandson in his persuit of the Lady Anne!

    It must have been a shock and a great loss for Henry when she died so suddenly only a few days after his coronation, and the day after his birthday, she was the last of his immediate family that he had close contact with, a part from Mary Rose I suppose. She must have left quite a gap in his life, that someone who could have given a new king good guidence that had no ulterior motive other than to keep a hold on the throne. I sure he must have felt a slight trepidation of fear without her there. Do they think that she died of food poisoning, after she had eaten ‘heartily’ at the coronation banquet and died soon after (the normal poisoning, not the sinister type)

    Am I right in thinking that she laid down all the procedure, rules and regulations regarding a Ladies lying-in period, a ritual that was followed for many decades after.

    I have just been given the book The Red queen by P.Gregory, and have been reluctant to read it as a first on Margaret, because as we know Ms Gregory has her own interpretation of events, and personalities of the people at that time, and not always historically correct, as she did with the character assassinations in the OBG. Has anyone read it, I would appreciate your oppinions on the book, and suggestions on a more accurate account on Margaret that would be better to read first.

    I bet Margaret would have been tut-tutting and shaking her head in dis-believe at some of the shenanigans that grandson of hers got up to…. I bet she gave him a right royal roasting when they met up again, ha ha.
    R.I.P my Lady Margaret, you will always be remembered. Immortal in history.

    1. Dianne says:

      I have read ‘The Red Queen’ and I did not know much about Margaret before ….. I found it a fascinating book but a tad repetitive (as how she was describing Margaret’s moods, thoughts etc) but it re-iterated a thought I had had before, that it was she who instigated the murder of the Princes in the Tower and it was through ‘her life’s work’ to get her son Henry on the throne. She was indeed a formidable woman and not one I would have liked to cross!

      1. Dawn says:

        Thanks for that Diane, I will save it for those long winter evenings, my other passion takes over in the summer, my garden. Have you read the White Queen too, about Elizabeth Woodville?, Ive got that as well still unread.

        1. Dianne says:

          Yes – have got that too. My sister bought them both for me for my birthday. Read the White Queen first….. I found it better than the Red Queen possibly because there was more ‘action’ so to speak! The Red Queen seemed a bit flat.

  4. Amanda-Leigh says:

    She really was an amazing woman. Her story and strength is almost unbelievable. It’s also interesting to see Fisher’s name pop up there.

  5. Emma says:

    I have to say that I really do not get or understand the the way Phillipa Gregory is portrayed in some peoples posts. Yes OBG is based vey loosely on fact as are her other tudor period books, but we would do well to remember that they are stories. they are meant to be entertainment. If she were claiming that her books were solid fact- and none of the interviews or pieces I have read on her do claim this- then you would ahve a point. Just read the books and be enchanted by the story she is telling. dont get too hung up on points that are fabricated or embellished
    I am vey interested in Tudor history, I have worked as a guide for several historical poperties, and I am devoted to dispelling myths about Anne Boleyn and the Tudor Dynasty, I just think that Phillipa Gregory, has made many people happy and even more importantly, has made many want to learn more aboout this facinating period of history.

    1. Claire says:

      Emma,
      I don’t have a problem with PG’s fiction, or historical fiction as a genre, but I do have a problem with The Other Boleyn Girl as PG actually does claim that TOBG is based on fact and talks of how she used Retha Warnicke’s work as her source. In the Q&A, she writes that Anne Boleyn “was clearly guilty of one murder” (???) and then talks about how all the “choices” she has made in the novel “can be defended as historical probability”, going on to say “I wouldn’t call the fiction a “fill-in.” It’s where my research historical persona stops and my creative fiction writing persona starts. The history is the skeleton and the fiction is the breath.” When asked what is fabricated in the book, she only lists “feelings and motivations”, the Boleyn/Howard family discussions, the winter fair, the courtship of William and Mary and the witchcraft”, the reader is therefore led to believe that the rest of the book is based on fact and I get emails all the time with people believing that this novel is a retelling of history.

    2. Dawn says:

      Hi Emma
      Honestly…I wasnt slagging P. Gregory off, I have read her novels and enjoyed them, in fact I read TOBG twice, because of the different personalities she gave to Anne etc. it fascinated me in a weird kind of way. What I meant was that before I read novels and the story they paint around the people, I like to read a factual history on the person so I can have a more informed idea of what is true and what is fiction, thats all 🙂

  6. Emma says:

    I really didnt mean to cause a row my dears! It was just a comment and I wasnt pointing fingers or being mean etc,( although I will just say, that the preface I read in my copy of TOBG states that it isnt accurate historically.)
    I just mean to say that a lot of people do seem to have a real bee in the bonnet about Phillipa Gregory, and it saddens me that some people cant take the book and read it as a story, and enjoy it purely on that basis. is all. No offence meant to anybody!

    1. Claire says:

      I know what you were saying, Emma, and I have really enjoyed Philippa Gregory’s novels, particularly the Wideacre trilogy, but it is hard to take TOBG as a story when the author claims it to be far more than that, that was the point I was making but I understand what you mean about some people being PG bashers!

    2. Dawn says:

      No offence taken Emma, not at all. I agree that the books should be read as a story, that are loosely based on fact. It is nice just to read something ‘light’ instead of factual history all the time, they give your brain a rest.

  7. Dianne says:

    Going back to the death of Margaret Beaufort…… perhaps she knew her life’s work was done and faded away gracefully?

    I think she is a good contender for the perpetrator of the death/disappearance of the Princes in the Tower.

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