Elizabeth of York: The First Tudor Queen by Alison Weir

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RATING: 4/5

BLURB: “Elizabeth of York would have ruled England, but for the fact that she was a woman. Heiress to the royal House of York, she schemed to marry  Richard III, the man who had deposed and probably killed her brothers, and it is possible that she then conspired to put Henry Tudor on the throne. Yet after her marriage to Henry VII, which united the royal houses of Lancaster and York, a picture emerges of a model consort – mild, pious, generous and fruitful. It has been said that Elizabeth was distrusted by Henry VII and her formidable mother-in-law, Margaret Beaufort, but contemporary evidence shows that she was, in fact, influential”

REVIEW: As much as I have read about Elizabeth of York in the past, I have never before read a biography wholly dedicated to her, and as a fan of Alison Weir I was doubly excited to read this one. Weir’s research is thorough and her love and admiration for her subject clearly shines through, undoubtedly influencing the readers own views on Elizabeth of York and the difficult life she led on her road to power. Sometimes biographies such as this can be difficult to get through and dull to read, but this was as easy as reading a novel – an impressive feat, considering the high level of detailed information that was supplied by the author. I really enjoyed reading this and learning more about Elizabeth of York, but I did have one point of contention. Weir discusses the notorious mystery of the Princes in the Tower at length, as these young princes were the brothers of her subject, Elizabeth of York, but throughout the biography she seems fully content to stick staunchly to the view that Richard III was responsible for the murder of these two young boys. No other possible perpetrator was considered, and although this is clearly because Weir is openly convinced of Richard’s guilt, I feel that as a historian she should have perhaps considered the possibility that Margaret Beaufort was the murderer (as is my own belief), or any of the other possible villains, in order to widen the perspective and context of her research. It may be, of course, that this was only a problem for me because I do not believe in Richard’s guilt; I did, however, feel it was worth mentioning as it was the only problem I found in what was otherwise a witty and engaging biography of a woman who deserves to be remembered as a woman in her own right, rather than just as the wife and mother of two infamous Tudor Kings. 

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